It’s another day, another new dawn, and I needed to do some art to self-soothe. When I’m like this I nearly always draw mandalas.
Carl Jung, the psychotherapist, asserted that by drawing mandalas, we get a view of what is going on in the unconscious (subconscious) mind that we are unaware of. He also recognised that drawing a mandala gives a window into the current state of mind and emotions, it also allows ordering and healing to take place.
Yesterday’s mandala and today’s are quite different, but drawn for the same Yesterday’s mandala and today’s are quite different but drawn for the same purpose. To soothe my overwhelmed emotions, and it has helped in doing that..a bit, anyway.
I’m not entirely sure how I’d interpret my own mandala, however, but I’m sure that plenty of people will read a lot more into than I will.
Yesterday was one of those strange days where nothing goes as you hoped it would. Phone call after phone call coming in that needed to be dealt with. Other things that needed doing, and I ended up with absolutely no time for any arty pursuits. One of the phone calls ended up with me in a panicked state, anxious and in tears.
Today, I’m making sure I have some self-soothing time. I have a busy, busy evening ahead of me – a very people-y and noisy one and probably quite frenetic too. So, self-care, self-soothing, and probably a nap is required as I’ve just about reached the limit of my anxiety/stress about it for now.
Part of my arty self-soothing has been completing the dolphin illustration for Specatcular Sea Life for the Creative Haven series of adult coloring books from Dover Publications Inc. And here’s a sneak peek of part of that illustration.
I’m really surprised at the reactions to my little video of me drawing the other day. Plenty of people are asking me to do more. So, I will do so, as well as invest in some equipment I think…
Happy Hallowe’en to you all and here is my last skully Inktober drawing for 2019.
The skull prompt was ‘duck’, so I just had to draw a duck-billed dinosaur (hadrosaur) skull! I’ve always had a love of dinosaurs and prehistoric critters, so it’s fab I can include one of their skulls.
I wanted to do a woodcut style skull drawing, but I wanted to use white ink as well as black. So, I used some digital craft paper to draw on. I think it’s worked out well, though some areas of highlights look a bit too geometric. I’ve also just realised that I didn’t add highlights/shadows to the teeth. Oh well.
The mushroom prompt was, quite appropriately, Rubroboletus satanus, and you can see outline drawings of the mushroom in the mandala.
The tangle pattern for today was Florz, and that forms the tiled floor pattern.
When I’d completed the mandala on the same kraft paper as the skulls, I realised that I needed a lighter background, so I just added a different kraft paper to the background.
Reflecting on Inktober
I’ve enjoyed Inktober this year for sure. Picking prompt lists that appealed to me helped a lot. I did start off trying out different ways of approaching drawing skulls and the like. However, I settled on combining the skull illustrations with a mandala. I’ve also discovered a great fondness for woodcut-style drawings.
I now need to work out what to do with my Inktober artworks. Some of them will become available as tee-shirts and other products in the days and weeks ahead; I do want to tweak some of them first.
I’m feeling a bit sad at it being over. Having a ‘brief’ to work to certainly helps to focus my sparkly, grasshoppery mind and takes me out of my ‘comfort zone’ (I absolutely hate that phrase!). I’ve certainly found a passion for skulls; so many more to draw, so many different angles too.
It’s the focus that has been the most helpful. This is something I need to sort out, I think. I do have themes for the colouring books I do, but I think I could do with a theme (or series of themes that repeat over a week) that will help focus my creativity outside of the book.
Inktober has taken over my creativity this month. However, I think I needed that to freshen me up.
So, I shall look forward to Inktober 2020, while doing my best to put into practice some of the things I’ve learned from this year’s challenge.
So, Angela, how are you feeling today?
I’m OK today, a bit tired and the grey, gloomy, damp weather isn’t helping much. I have used my light therapy lamp this morning; that did lift my mood somewhat, to be fair.
Yesterday was the toughest day, emotionally, I’ve had for a while. I was really feeling rather low. It had been coming, however, for over a week. I’m not entirely over it; I’m still feeling emotionally vulnerable and fragile today, but nowhere near as bad as I felt yesterday.
I do know what has caused the stormy weather; being aware of such things shows I’ve come a long way from the start of therapy for CPTSD. I also know that these storms don’t last forever, and that self-care and self-soothing is needed.
That will be the order of the day today. I do have an errand or two to run as soon as I post Inktober, and I do have something happening this evening. However, the rest of the day will be self-care, starting with making a hot, nutritious meal from scratch. I’m tending towards a veggie bolognaise, the leftovers of which can be turned into a veggie chilli for tomorrow.
So, I’d better get this social media stuff done and get on with my day!
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).
Yesterday, I mentioned some things I’d like to try out after my experience creating a greeting card using vellum and Distress Inks along with some die-cutting.
So, rather than take the nap I’d said I was likely to, I endeavoured to make another card in the same kind of entangled art style. This time, the two Distress Inks I used were Peacock Feathers and Mermaid Lagoon.
I used these inks to colour the reverse of the vellum and to add colour to the card base – Mermaid Lagoon at the top, Peacock Feathers at the bottom and blending them in the middle.
I used the piece of card I’d cut the frame from as a stencil for the addition of colour, so I was sure it wouldn’t bleed out of the edge of the frame.
After dry embossing the design on the vellum, I passed it just once through a hot laminator. The vellum became flat without losing too much of the definition given by the dry embossing.
I trimmed the vellum panel so it would fit neatly under the frame. I adhered the vellum to the frame using strong double-sided tape.
I wanted to lift the vellum above the card base. I doubled up some double-sided foam tape, using thin strips. In hindsight, I would’ve been happier with just one thickness of the foam tape.
By applying the Distress Inks to the card base the colour has been intensified, and the dry embossing stands out better. I’m quite pleased with the result of this card.
I do wish I hadn’t added the gold dots around the frame though; I thought I needed some to complement the gold dots that I added to the entangled design.
On the whole, I’m much happier with the entangled in blue card.
I’ve just thought that it could be relatively easy to turn that panel into a shaker card by making sure the space beneath the vellum is completely sealed by the foam tape at the edges and then adding some sequins and/or glass beads — something for me to try another time maybe.
The drawings in both of these panels are an example of me slipping into ‘comfort art’ mode. I tend to draw this way when I’m feeling emotionally vulnerable or fragile. Entangled art like this is familiar to me, like a comfortable pair of old slippers, and it soothes me somewhat.
Entangled art is very much my ‘style’ of art. Digitally, I’m pushing my boundaries with it by not using black outlines or outlines in any colour. When I feel the way I have in the past few weeks, it can be tough for me to settle into art that challenges me even a little bit and digital art has been doing that. That’s why I’ve started many projects and not finished them; I get dissatisfied with what I’m doing and just stop it. That’s a sign that I really am not feeling as balanced as usual.
In the past, I’ve mentioned that redrawing my favourite patterns and motifs in a zibladone ( a mixture of journal and random notes or interesting things) is comforting, soothing to me. I have only just noticed that drawing in this way is also so.
The challenging thing in these cards is the die-cutting and the use of various adhesives. And scissors. Scissors always cause me problems. Although I’m mostly right-handed, I use scissors in my left hand. I use right-handed scissors, and I find that problematic, but left-handed scissors are even worse for me! Craft knives have their own added issues for me.
A little more of a challenge.
Today I received two die sets in the post, both from Lawn Fawn and from Seven Hills Crafts. They’re the foursquare landscape and portrait backdrop die sets.
I want to try to make a pair of dangle design cards with these for tomorrow. So that’s one of my tasks for this afternoon.
So, Angela, how are you feeling today?
I’m OK. I’m tired; I drove for over four hours yesterday, and when I got home, I was not only exhausted but cold as well. I didn’t sleep all that well as I didn’t warm up until around 6 am and I kept waking up shivering.
I’m experiencing a lot of anxiety and even fear about the current state of the world; I feel tearful about this a lot of the time and not very optimistic.
Other than that, I think my life is settling down into a new kind of ‘normal’ after spending time with my friend and his partner last week. I still have lots of things to sort out that were stirred up from the pandora’s box of trauma within me. But now they’ve been identified they can be processed in EMDR.
Being tired makes me a lot less resilient to all this.
I woke this morning and had a fancy to make a card along with a coordinating envelope. I’m going to be sending these to someone, so I didn’t want to show the whole design, so a sneak peek it is. I don’t think it gives much away about the mail art. I hope it doesn’t spoil the surprise for the recipient.
I used a pre-made card blank and envelope. The card is nearly 8½” x 4¼” in size and is plain white.
I cut a piece of Winsor and Newton Bristol board to 3½” x 7½”. I added some score lines ⅛” in from each edge and let them overlap to form little squares at the corners. To do this I used a score board and bone folder. I’ve never done this before, but it actually adds a nice touch. It also gives me an even border to work within, which is always useful.
My next step was to add colour to the top layer and the envelope. I decided to do some ink blending with Distress Inks. Here’s a list of the colours I used:
Once I was happy with the colour gradient, I broke out my Uniball Unpin pens and started to draw the design. As I had a coloured background, I made use of lines and patterns to add texture and dimension.
When I was happy with the design, it was missing something. It needed some colour or shading. I decided to add some colour with Copic markers, being mindful of using colours that would work harmoniously with the background.
My final step was to add some dots of gold glitter to add some ‘bling’ to the card.
My attention then turned to the envelope.
First, I added some pencil lines to help me keep my hand lettering level and neat. I then used a black Tombow Fudenosuke pen to brush letter the recipient’s name. I then used a grey Tombow Fudenosuke pen to add shadow to the letters.
I then used a Uniball Unipin 08 pen to add the address. For this, I used simple capital letters for the hand-lettering.
My next task was to draw the design on the envelope. I used some elements from the card for this, plus a couple of extra ones. I also added texture and shadow with lines.
My final task, after I’d written my name and address on the back of the envelope, was to seal the envelope art with a thin layer of Distress Micro Glaze, carefully avoiding the area where stamps will be affixed. The Micro Glaze creates a waterproof layer so the Distress and Tombow inks shouldn’t run if they get wet.
Once the recipient has the card, I’ll post a full image of the mail art, carefully obscuring their information.
So, Angela, how are you today?
I’m ok today. I’m a tad tired, but I don’t seem as emotionally fragile as I have been. There’s still a bit of ‘flatness’ or ‘heaviness’ inside me, but the contentedness is of equal or greater intensity.
Today I need a quiet day at home; the last week or so has been crazy busy with either emotional upsets occurring or commitments I have to keep. The next commitment I have is on Thursday evening, so I’m going to make the most of the time I have to myself. Creating mail art was one activity in self-soothing.
I doubted that I would find this more settled state any time soon. That it’s appeared today is a real bonus. How long it stays for I don’t know as I know what is in my diary.
I’m not going to worry about that, well not much. I’m going to enjoy the contentedness and Use my quiet time to soothe my still fragile emotions.
Yes, I feel mostly content, but I also know that it won’t take much to provoke me to tears and some emotional distress.
One thing we talked about in therapy on Monday was the need for me to protect myself in situations where I’m emotionally vulnerable. I’ve had a lot of time interacting with people over the past few days. I now need time to relax, breathe, re-energise.
I enjoy being with people, but it also drains me. That’s one of the consequences of being an introvert. When I’m socially exhausted, it makes me more emotionally vulnerable than I usually am. So, I need time to recover from this.
I will recover. Nowadays, I always do given enough self-care and self-soothing time.
I also am self-aware enough to know that to start important projects is not a good idea at this time. It becomes all too easy for me to find fault with everything I do and for me to end up spiralling downwards into a mood where I am harsh to myself.
It is still hard to be kind to myself on days like this. There’s a nagging voice that I should be doing this or doing that and not indulging myself in activities that help me to heal. Other inner critics join in, telling me I’m worthless, useless, a failure, unloveable then join in, sensing the vulnerability in me. So, I’m learning to ignore that voice, even if I still feel a little guilty. As I feel better, refreshed and re-energised and more emotionally resilient, the inner critics become inaudible once again.
So, as hard as it is to accept that I need to be kind and to spend today doing what will help me heal, this is precisely what I am going to do. And that starts with me writing a letter to accompany the mail art. I also want to create some designs that I can print to colour and use to create greeting cards.