I wanted to try out an idea I had, and it’s worked out fine, I think. Mind you, I’m not thinking well today – I’m experiencing an ‘introvert hangover’ from being in a large group of people last night. I come across as quite an extrovert to people, but that is a well practiced mask and to keep it up is rather exhausting. It’s also tiring to be around people with all the noise, various emotions, and just the number of people there.
I have a couple of things that I need to get done this afternoon, and I also need to take care of myself and this ‘hangover’ of a headache and tiredness. I really need a good amount of alone and self-caring time. Maybe when I get home this evening I’ll manage to do that.
Anyways, the arty idea I had has ended up as a rather ghostly, faded design, which actually describes how I feel at the moment.
I like the softness of both the contrast but also of the lines that form the mandala. I do have a bit of a thing for grungy backgrounds at the moment. The texture really appeals to me and I like the contrast between the more orderly mandala designs and the chaotic grungy-ness.
Yesterday afternoon, I arrived home from EMDR therapy feeling very emotionally drained, fragile and vulnerable. Creating art is one of my self-soothing activities, particularly mandalas.
I’d downloaded a pile of new backgrounds in the past couple of days and wanted to make use of a chalkboard background. It was so dark I knew I needed to make the mandala full of light and colour.
This was a somewhat symbolic choice as my long journey to recovery from CPTSD has been about bringing light into the dark places of my trauma damaged psyche. EMDR has helped me turn the dark into light in terms of my mental and emotional health.
I really enjoyed creating this mandala. Usually, I work with black on white; here I started with colour – the abstract ‘flower’ ring close to the centre. I wanted the colours to glow against the darkness, so I chose lighter shades of aqua and violet. I even added some glowing golden seeds or pollen grains, which is also metaphoric for the personal growth I’m going through in my healing journey.
I then used a white, chalky pen ‘brush’ to draw patterns inside this ring and around it. I decided the white was too plain, so, to break up the white, I blended soft colours into it.
Finally, I added the ring of mushrooms. These had to be my favourite colour – purple. I added some dots to the mushroom caps in lime-green, which is kind of a complementary colour to purple. My last step was to add the stylised foliage behind the mystic mushrooms.
This mandala really helped to soothe me, and it was a pleasure to create. It gave me a break from Inktober and other work that’s ongoing too.
Talking of Inktober, I will be getting Day 29 done later today; I have some things that need doing first.
Oh, the mandala was created digitally using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro and a Microsoft Surface Pen on the screen of a Microsoft Surface Studio (the digital analogues of pen and paper).
Frog skull, Morchella (morel) fungi and Abundies tangle pattern from Inktober prompt lists by Instagrammers @book_polygamist @nyan_sun and @havepen_willdraw.
I decided I’d use the frog skull as a framework for some tangle patterns. It’s not so easy to pick the skull out, but it is there in the centre of today’s illustration.
I felt the need to add some mandala rings around the design, though I’m not sure that was such a good idea. Still, Inktober is about drawing and reflecting on what is created rather than aiming for something complete, polished, perfect. This reflection on artwork is what leads me to improve my art. Inktober also pushes me just a little to try different styles of drawing.
So, I’m not so happy with today’s offering. But it’s good enough.
So, Angela, how are you today?
Tuesdays are often post-therapy self-care days. I certainly need such a day today. I am absolutely exhausted after yesterday’s very emotional session.
I didn’t do any EMDR, but there were discussions about some issues that had arisen for me in the past week. One of which is preparing to leave therapy sometime in the near-ish future. This is both a good thought and a sad thought. Also, it has to be my decision when to leave therapy. Making decisions is not easy for me.
Some of the time was spent talking about the book I’m reading ‘Will I Ever Be Good Enough?’, which is about the daughters of narcissistic mothers. There are some issues from that which will need some working on before I leave therapy.
I came home from the appointment absolutely exhausted. I stopped off at the local Sainsbury’s for some tea before doing some shopping, as well as to wait out the crazy rush-hour traffic. I kept nodding off as I sat in the cafe.
When I did get home, I put my shopping away, got another drink and went to bed and fell into a deep sleep. I managed to stay awake for a couple of hours before the exhaustion overtook me once again, and I retired to bed.
I slept well; however, I am shattered today, as well as being emotionally drained, fragile and vulnerable. Even though I feel like this, that gentle contentment is present within me. Indeed, it was present during the emotionally distressing moments in therapy yesterday.
So, today is a self-care day, starting with my Inktober drawing for today. I’m just about falling asleep as I type, so I suspect I’ll have another mug of tea and then return to bed to sleep some more.
I’ve spent an hour or so creating this small design; the paper is 4″ (10cm) square. It’s been an enjoyable time. I needed to spend some time warming up my pen skills before returning to drawing the October colouring template for the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group.
My first step was to use a Tombow fudenosuke pen to hand letter ‘believe’. I wanted to make sure that the word stood out from the rest of the design, so I used a Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen to draw two ‘auras’ around the word.
The rest of the design flowed onto the page, starting with the flowers to the top right of the word. I used a variety of nib thicknesses in the drawing. I used quite a few of my favourite patterns and motifs in this design; this makes the drawing quite soothing for me as I don’t really have to think and concentrate on constructing the design elements.
Once I was happy with the design, I decided to add some shadows with some grey-coloured pencils. I’m not satisfied with this at all. The pencil ‘leads’ were too hard to get a soft line. In future I need to remember to use a 2B or softer graphite pencil and some kind of blending tool.
I am happy with the design though, apart from the bit I let spill out to the edge of the paper. I also need to note that I’m happy with my hand lettering here too! Using fudenosuke pens with flexible tips for drawing has allowed me to develop the pressure control I need to complete the brush lettering. The brush nibs on the pens are quite small, so the contrast betwixt thick down-strokes and thin upstrokes isn’t as noticeable as with a broader nib, but all the same, I’m still quite happy with it.
I have no idea what I’m going to do with this little panel. It could become the top layer of a greeting card, or frame it and hang it. Perhaps I may add it to my BuJo. It could, of course, end up amongst the piles of artwork I have stored away.
Why did I choose the word ‘believe’?
It’s something that I’m working on – believing in myself. Believing that I deserve better in life than what I grew up with and unconsciously seek to replicate to try to get a different outcome (one of the features of CPTSD). I am beginning to believe that I can turn the negative beliefs I was taught as a child into positive beliefs about myself.
Part of this is believing in my art, believing in my self-expression and not looking to others for approval and validation of what I’ve created. I want to believe that it’s enough to create art that makes me smile, and hopefully other people too. There are plenty of artists in the world who make social statements, political statements and thought-provoking images with their art. I’m not one of them. I just want to add some prettiness and smiles to the world.
Sometimes, part of my art may have quotes that are thought-provoking in them, but the art is, I think, pretty.
To believe that I am the opposite of what I was brought up to believe myself to be (which wasn’t very nice).
There’s so much more I could add here, but I’d need to explain it, and I’m not up to doing that in public. Maybe in the future I will, once I’ve overcome those negative beliefs about myself.
So, Angela, how are you feeling today?
I believe I’m feeling quite content, though that tiredness has sneaked up on me once again. However, there is that contentment there, and that’s a good thing.
I believe I’m feeling quite content, though that tiredness has sneaked up on me once again. However, there is that contentment there and that’s a good thing.
This is the same illustration I used for yesterday’s quote, however, after adding some textural lines to the drawing, I’ve coloured the design.
I decided to use flat colours as it brings a feeling of a coloured wood cut or lino cut print to the design. I used a grungy texture overlay to enhance the vintage feel of the coloured design.
The line art was drawn using Tombow Fudenosuke and Faber-Castell Pitt Artist pens on paper, but the colouring, textures and text have been added digitally. I used Affinity Publisher to produce the typography. A Microsoft Surface Pen and Surface Studio along with Autodesk Sketchbook Pro were used to complete the colouring
It’s always interesting how just small changes can make such a big difference to artwork.
So, Angela, how are you feeling today?
I’m feeling fairly content and quite optimistic. I am, however, still a little tired to say the least.
My trip to Llandridnod Wells yesterday left me exhausted. I went there to give an antistigma talk as a champion for Time to Change Wales. Telling my story of cPTSD still leaves me emotionally exhausted and vulnerable. This is, however, a small price to pay for giving people food for thought and getting people talking about mental illness.
As I was feeling so emotional after the talk I didn’t take a walk around Llandridnod Wells. When I’m feeling the way I was it’s all too easy for me to panic and enter flight-mode when I’m overwhelmed by noise or an unfamiliar place. The anxiety I feel about getting myself turned-about and lost and not able to find my way back to the car just adds to the vulnerability.
So, I thought I’d drive back and see if I could find the courage to stop at a cafe on the way. I’d passed a nice-looking one called the Wye Knot. However, I just couldn’t bring myself to stop there. I was still too overwhelmed.
My brain kicked in and I thought I’d head to Honey Cafe in Bronllys. I’ve been there a few times before and it’s a familiar setting to me. However, when I went in there were so many people milling around the counter and others coming in the door and pushing past me that I went into flight-mode and dashed back to the car in tears.
I just drove home then, doing a mental inventory of what I had in the way of food.
I had something quick to eat and a big mug of tea and then I curled up in bed to sleep; a nap is one of my self-care activities. I know that if I can sleep for a while I wake feeling refreshed and more resilient than I was.
The exhaustion comes not just from being emotionally overwhelmed and triggered but from the effort of keeping a happy smiling mask up. Yesterday the mask wasn’t as ‘solid’ as on Monday, but I knew it was still there. Once the talk was over, I let the mask drop and I was suddenly exhausted.
This is, as I mentioned earlier, worth getting the word out about the stigma and discrimination that surrounds mental illness, giving people some advice on what to and what not to do, and starting conversations.
I’m beginning to flag here; tiredness/exhaustion is catching up with me. I have managed to get some work done this morning. However, before I try to do anything else I need some more sleep I think.
So, I’m taking the advice of today’s quote – I’m going to be gentle with myself today.
This Nicola Lyons quote is another that resonated with me and brought some tears to my eyes and echoes of pain to my heart too. I just had to make it pretty – Angela style of course.
I used a script font and printed the quote out in a square format. I added the illustration around it using a combination of Tombow Fudenosuke and Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens. I kept to a small number of repeating motifs in this design. I can now see that I may go back and add some texture and pattern to the leaves, berries and some flowers that are quite bare to help to bring them to add depth and dimension.
I scanned the drawing in, cleaned it up digitally and then added a background to it rather than colour the elements in. I may return to colouring the design in, but I think I’ll use colours that are reminiscent of linocut artworks – flat colour and letting the lines add the shadow and texture, depth and dimension to the image.
So, Angela, how are you feeling today?
I’m tired. I got to sleep early enough but I woke around 3:30am and couldn’t get back to sleep until gone 5am. I’d set my alarm for 7:30am as I have to be in Llandridnod Wells before 11am to give an anti-stigma talk on behalf of Time to Change Wales.
I expect that I’ll be drained after the talk – I usually am. So self-care will be important later on in the day. I need lots of tea before I leave – I have less than an hour to sort myself out.
Warning – the following may contain triggers.
The quote above relates to me being a ‘people-pleaser’, which is one way that CPTSD presents in me.
From as early as I can remember, I tried to do and be what would make others around me like me or love me, even if it meant doing things that made me feel horrible. It’s a pattern of behaviour that carried on through my life.
It never worked though; other people would get what they wanted and in return I would not get what I was hoping for or was told I would get. I’ve been left believing that I am unlovable and unlikable and not good-enough. There’s a good helping of shame around all this too, along with a lot of grief for what never was and never could be.
Nowadays, I’m more aware of my emotional, physical and mental needs now, thanks to EMDR therapy. However, I can still default to this ‘people-pleaser’ setting when I’m anxious or emotionally vulnerable.
It took a lot of work in various forms of counselling, self-reflection and EMDR for me to recognise that I have been a people-pleaser. Once aware of this tendency I could start to change my behaviour. I don’t know how successful I’ve been. One coping strategy I have is that I don’t let people get close to me, yet I yearn for meaningful, deep connection with like-minded souls, kindred spirits.
It’s a conundrum and I’m not sure how I’m going to solve it other than by valuing myself in a healthy way, being able to put up healthy boundaries, and being able to say ‘no’ if I’m uncomfortable about something or it would cause me difficulties.
I don’t know who said these words, but they resonated with me when I stumbled upon them. Not only did they resonate, but they also brought tears to my eyes and my heart too. I have words for one of my goals for recovery from cPTSD. This is why I had to do something with the quote in my own inimitable style.
So, I took the words and chose a pretty font for them, arranged them as I wished and then printed them out onto acid-free paper. I trimmed the paper to approx 21cm x 21cm and added some pencil guidelines for space around the quote and the edge of the paper.
Next, I used Tombow Fudenosuke and Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens to draw a design. I stuck to just a few motifs that I repeated to fill the space. I also let the design elements to spill over the pencil margins here and there to give a more organic feel to the artwork.
Finally, after erasing the pencil lines, I scanned the drawing in, increased the contrast a little to remove most of the remaining pencil marks. I then added a grungy, colourful, autumnal background.
I’m pleased with this one. I really like the way the Fudenosuke pens work for me now. I love the variation of line and the bolder line that I have used. I also think that using just a few design elements and repeating them to fill the space results in a more cohesive design.
I think I could have left a bit more space around the quote; however, it is good enough.
So, Angela, how are you feeling today?
And for me to say something is good enough is a sign that I am recovering from a bad day yesterday. I’m still somewhat emotionally fragile and vulnerable, but I’m able to see that my art is good enough.
Yesterday, nothing I did was good enough. I lost faith in my crochet, my digital art, my drawing. Nothing seemed to work out, and I really was doubting my abilities.
EMDR therapy for my cPTSD was rather distressing and left me exhausted. Mind you, I was exhausted to begin with. Monday I wore my protective mask as I had to go somewhere where I’d be with people I didn’t know, doing something I was really anxious about, and I didn’t know the place I was going to. I was exhausted after keeping my mask on for just four or so hours.
How on earth did I find the energy to keep the mask up for all those years?
One good thing has come from this experience – I can see how exhausting it is to keep up a mask for even a short time. I wonder how on earth I managed it for most of my life!
Anyway, after EMDR, I was more exhausted and came home and slept. In the evening, I thought I needed to be creative. It all led to me being hard and overly critical of myself. Little comments made to me just made it worse, even though the comments weren’t negative, my emotionally vulnerable and exhausted state twisted them that way.
Even though I was emotionally vulnerable and caught up in a storm of thoughts and feelings, I was still aware of this contentedness inside me, but I just couldn’t anchor myself fully to it. I was a little bit adrift in the turbulent waters of my emotions and thoughts.
I should know by now that I need to choose what activities I do carefully at times like this. Last night, I didn’t do that. However, I eventually got back to sleep, and I woke this morning feeling more content.
There’s not quite the sunshine within present today; there are still some emotional clouds covering it up. However, I know that they will not persist and will move along as I practice self-soothing and self-care and do creative activities that won’t push me too much and won’t engage the inner critics.
I’m still drained, physically, mentally and emotionally, but I am in a better place today. I think my drawing above shows that too.