Yesterday I took a quiet day at home, apart from a quick trip out to do a little shopping for vittles. I lost myself in drawing and this image is the result.
It took me around 10 hours to complete, using a Sakura Pigma Sensei 0.4 pen along with a couple of 0.1 and 0.2 Uniball Unipin pens on Winsor and Newton Bristol Board.
The drawing harks back in time where my love of Romanesque and Gothic arches and architecture showed in amongst entangled, rambling organic motifs.
However, I think the passage of time, increase in skill and/or refining of technique shows through. Perhaps even a bit more polish to the design.
Although drawn in black and white, I’ve added a background colour gradient and texture digitally (along with the rather over the top watermarks).
Talking of watermarks…
I had a response from Teespring.com concerning my copyright infringement complaint against ‘Dragonfly Lovers’ on facebook.
The agreed with me and have removed the offending listing.
I am most grateful for their speed and professionalism in dealing with this.
It may be a drop in the ocean, but if we all took care of just one drop at a time we’d definitely reduce the number of copyright infringements out there.
My mental and emotional wellbeing
It’s been over a week since my last EMDR session. In the UK we’ve had a bank holiday weekend, so no therapy this week.
Last weeks session was really draining emotionally. I expected it’s effects to linger long beyond Monday. However, although I was still a bit tired on Tuesday I’ve mostly been quite content with that gentle smile both on my lips and in my heart.
That doesn’t mean to say I’ve not had my moments, ‘cos I have.
However, the drama of stolen artwork didn’t affect me as much as it would’ve in the past. I did what I could about it. I spoke up rather than letting it slide. It also has given me a little bit of a mission as I go forward – to raise awareness of how to spot an ethical company that supports artists by properly licencing work and properly crediting the artists they work with. Compare this with an unethical company that doesn’t support artists, doesn’t even mention who the artists are, and is only in it to make money for themselves.
Copyright infringement is rife. The myth that things on the internet are copyright free and in the public domain has to be dispelled.
Back to the point. I’m doing ok in terms of my mental and emotional wellbeing.
Today’s been a tough day emotionally for me. Monday is, usually, EMDR day, and today’s was really emotionally upsetting. The memory I’m using led to quite a few insights that caused some distress, which was at a 7 out of 10 at the start and went up to 10 at the end of the session. This happens. I have a lot to think about and process before my next session in a fortnight.
I’m absolutely exhausted. I did have a sleep when I got home, but I’m still exhausted.
I’ve tried to sit and draw and I’m not able to work in a manner that is satisfactory to me. So, I thought I’d set up a colour palette in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro and colour the drawing from yesterday. Well, more like start to colour it.
Oddly, I’ve gone for rather muted, vintage colours in this one. Perhaps a reflection of how I feel. Or, maybe it goes with the lino cut ‘feel’ of this particular drawing with the strong, black lines.
Tomorrow, I hopefully start to colour in some of the templates for my next coloring book. My editor and her team at Dover Publications Inc have chosen their favourites. I do intend to give you some sneak peeks as the coloring progresses.
My tools for drawing this image were a Tombow Fudenosuke pen and a pencil. To colour it I’m using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro and Microsoft’s Surface Pen and Surface Studio.
I’ve had a lovely, quiet Sunday and I’m glad to say my emotional wellbeing is better than yesterday. Still a bit fragile, but there’s that hint of contentment that has been lacking over the past few days.
I’ve even had my oompf back to draw. This took the guise of adding patterns and outline drawings to my visual reference journal, and then using some of these ideas, plus some old favourites, in this drawing. I even added some dangles in places. Just little, delicate dangles, but still there’s dangles there.
For the drawing, I used a hard nib Tombow Fudenosuke pen. This has a flexible nib, not overly flexible, and so I could vary line weight while drawing.
I was inspired to try the Fudenosuke pen again after my experiments with digital brushes that vary line width with pressure and found that so much fun.
I found it much easier to use the Fudenosuke pen after my experience with digital brushes; it turns out working digitally does influence my work in traditional media and helps me gain new skills or confidence in new media.
I drew this design on an A5 piece of Winsor and Newton Bristol Board which is white and very smooth. Then, scanned it in and digitally added a background texture and some colour, along with my watermarks.
The drawing was mainly to try out the Fudenosuke pen, but also a bit of quiet self-care too. I’m quite happy with it, especially as it’s main purpose was to explore using the pen for drawing with.
I’ve relied on line weight to add some dimension to the drawing, though some colour and/or shading could help a lot. Maybe that’ll be my next task with this – to colour it either digitally or to use my Chameleon DuoTone and Color Tops marker pens after I print the image out.
This cutely whimsical dangle design is from my tutorial book ‘A Dangle A Day’, which has the step-by-step instructions for drawing this design. They really are simple to draw, and the hand lettering is based on your own writing style too.
For this design, I chose spring-time colours, more pastel than bright. Of course Easter eggs and a bunny balloon had to feature, along with all the lovely spring flowers and a sprinkling of hearts. I even snuck a star in, hearts and stars being some of my favourite motifs to include.
This design would make a really cute greetings card or notecard. The dangles can easily be drawn shorter. It would also make a lovely bookmark. As a BuJo page, planner page or an element on a scrapbook page it would be lovely.
Using Nuvo drops or Ranger’s Stickles or similar to make dots where the beads are as well as a sprinkling of them around the top of the design would add some lovely dimension and sparkle for sure.
I do hope you give drawing dangle designs a go. They are so much fun and a lot easier to do than you think they are. They can also be used in many, many ways, especially when it comes to sharing love with others at different times and events throughout the years of our lives.
About the drawing…
When it came to designing the dangle designs and monograms for A Dangle A Day, I started off by sketching the idea out on dot grid paper using either a pencil or a pen. I could then adjust the lines and draw guidelines in to help me with the design quite easily.
When I was happy with the sketch, I scanned it in and then re-drew it in a digital form. For drawing digitally I use a Microsoft surface pen directly on the screen of a Microsoft surface book or surface studio. This is like drawing with pen or pencil on paper, or even painting or colouring.
So, although my designs were created in a digital environment, they were still very much drawn by hand.
I used very little in the way of smoothing lines – only enough to remove the wobbliness that comes from the great sensitivity of the pen and screen position sensoring stuff, and never used the predictive line tools available in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. I worked out how to set up pens that would leave a line texture similar to the pens I like to use to draw on paper with. I determined I wouldn’t make everything perfect, that there would be that perfectly imperfect human touch to everything that I created. I also made sure I included examples of dangles drawn and coloured on paper and turned into cards, bookmarks and BuJo pages too.
Working digitally to draw and then colour the designs allowed me to edit, erase, adjust and keep the image free of smudges and blots that would require re-drawing. It also made it a lot easier to make the edits my lovely editors suggested to improve the work.
It certainly saved a lot of time scanning image after image in – something I find extremely tedious.
Although I may have used digital tools to draw with, the techniques I used were the same as if I’d drawn on paper with pen and then coloured with various traditional media.
I also have to say that the year to year and a half ago when I was colouring these I was only just starting to explore the realms of digital colouring and I hadn’t quite worked out exactly how I’d like to do it. They worked out good enough, but now I think I’d approach it a bit differently.
I had such a lot of fun creating the dangle designs season by season, month by month, celebration by celebration and I hope you have the same amount of fun doing this too.
Another cute and whimsical drawing with some hand lettering this day before I start on work for the book and then off to EMDR.
Line art drawn with a Lamy Fountain pen, coloring done digitally with Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.
My mood is back to being fairly content. However, the past week has been quite tough and emotional. It’s on days where I struggle to push the inner critic that tells me I’m stupid, horrible, unloveable, useless, a failure it can be hard to look for rainbows or stars. Yet, it’s on these days that it’s important to try to find just one spark of colour in the rainbow or just one teeny, tiny star that is barely visible to the inner eye.
I think I may need to make a list of things in my BuJo about myself that are small stars and little rainbows on my good days. A list that may bring little glimmers of light in the darkness that descends on my soul on the bad days.
Little reminders of the good things about me, the positive things I have done and do do, the kind words people have said to me. Little reminders that this dark time will pass. Little reminders that the inner critic hasn’t won, even though it’s trying to break me. Little reminders that I’ve survived time and time again. Little reminders of the progress I am making.
Little sparks to help ignite the light once again.
Francine Shapiro is the person who developed EMDR therapy and this quote from her exemplifies what I’ve becoming more and more aware of through my three and a half years of EMDR.
Today, I am really ‘not with it’ and feeling quite spacey and vague and very tired. I had a broken night’s sleep with very, very weird and disturbing dreams. This often happens after EMDR.
I know that I need some self-care time today, and maybe tomorrow given how I’m presently feeling. I’m also in need of a walk outside, but I’m awaiting a delivery from Amazon. I hope it arrives soon so I can get a walk in early this afternoon.
There were two particularly significant moments during my session yesterday.
The first one was a result of a suggestion by my therapist that I’m keeping secrets about things that have happened to me, particularly in my adult life. There are things I’m too, too ashamed and embarrassed about to talk about even with her. My throat closes up and becomes painful. I feel burning in my cheeks. There’s terror and huge anxiety in the pit of my stomach. She went on to say that in the article she had read it was suggested that clients write about these experiences. She suggested I do that. She added she did not need to read them or be told about them, that she can act as a ‘blind therapist’ where we just assign a code to the particular traumatic event and work with it that way. She even suggested I can burn the things I write after writing them so no one else can ever read them.
The relief I felt with this suggestion and discussion was immense. The discussion that ensued was enlightening in another way. That I’ve never ever really spoken to anyone about my feelings, especially when I was the one upset, hurt, abused in some way. I always put a smiley, brave face on and brushed all the emotions to one side, defaulting to the happy, funny, quick to laugh, person who chatters about faff and fluff.
By pushing away all that hurt and upset and so on I’ve also tried to tell myself that it’s ok, I can cope with this, that I’m incredibly caring about other people and their feelings and want them to be happy. Scared that if I spoke truly about how I was feeling that I would be rejected or that the other person(s) would become angry and would hate me and think badly of me.
So, instead, I brushed it all aside and swallowed it down, often with food, using the food to fill the emptiness within me, to hide the feelings of shame and fear and more. I’ve done this so much in my past that I’m having to learn what emotions feel like and what they are called as they crop up during EMDR.
I was with my older sister and younger brother visiting the British Museum and we stumbled upon the Sutton Hoo treasures. I was entranced by them, only having seem them previously in books. It was hard work to drag me away from the to go visit the mummies in the Egyptology section. My older sister said she’d never seen me so emotional and excited about something; she actually called me an ice maiden as I rarely showed any emotion at all, other than the happy, smiley, funny persona I put across. I was in my twenties then. No idea of emotions or how to express them, swallowing them down all the time.
So, writing about these experiences now, from a position where I understand more about myself, am more aware of emotions and feelings will mean that they are no longer secret, it doesn’t matter that others don’t know about them, but it’s important that I don’t keep secrets from myself and face up to the traumas and feelings I have suppressed from these events.
The second insight was during EMDR when I had a vision of myself looking into one of those mirrors that reflects things to infinity, but in this case it was like the reflections went around and around in a circle. The insight was that this is what has happened to me. I’ve got caught in a cycle of the same kind of things happening again and again – different but the same effects on me, the trauma they’ve caused me and continue to cause me as instead of knowing how to process them in a healthy manner I learned from a very young age to suppress anything I needed to talk about or needed help with because I was upset as no one wanted to know. I was bothersome. A whiner. An attention seeker. A liar. When I was upset the people supposed to care got angry with me. Or just ignored me. Or sent me away.
I am unaware of much of my past, particularly my childhood. I have few memories at all. That bothers me, but my therapist tells me I need to let it just be. People like me, who’ve had quite traumatic lives, often forget what has happened to them as a way of protecting themselves from that particular trauma, especially when there is no one they can talk to about it to help them work through it.
My past really does affect my present. However, I’m becoming more aware of the ways in which it has affected me, more aware that I do have emotions, and I’m trying to believe I deserve to think better of myself, that maybe I didn’t deserve any of this, and that although I’ve allowed things to happen to me I shouldn’t be so hard on myself as I need to understand why, what brought me to that point, why I can’t say ‘no’ easily.
So the quote is very appropriate.
About the art
This is very much a work in progress at the moment.
I printed out the quote and borders on Bristol Board. The design is a little less than A5 in size (4.5″ x 7.25″ approx). Then, I added the patterns around it using two Pilot Kakuno fountain pens – one with a medium nib and one with a broad pen.
After scanning the design in, I wanted to add colour to it, so I used my trusty trio – Microsoft Surface Pen, Microsoft Surface Studio and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.
I think the dark stars at the top could symbolise those parts of me I’d like to ignite after they were extinguished a long, long time ago – confidence, self esteem, the ability to say no, valuing myself, being a good friend to myself, and more …
The tangled nature of the design, with many parts seeming to blend one into another, sometimes not in a very comfortable manner, is like all the trauma and experiences I have had – a tangled mess where I pull on one thing in EMDR and a whole host of others come along with it, all linked by a common effect or effects they had on me.
Flowers blooming, leaves all signs of growth though, even if some are hidden at the moment.
I’m sure there’s more that could be said about it in terms of my journey of recovery from cPTSD along with developing mental and emotional wellbeing. However, not today as the chap from Amazon has delivered the parcels to me. In them are some basic things for me to try my hand at paper quilling.
I’ve been fascinated with some youtube videos on paper quilling, particularly the more modern forms and I was also struck at how some of them seem to be similar to my kind of drawing that has lots of spirals and swirls in it. So, I thought I’d have a go and see what I can do with it!
But first, it’s time for a walk … to see if that can help clear my head a little. I think a little trip to Barry Sidings is in order.
designed a template for Time To Talk day which is 7th Feb 2019 – a day where people are asked to start a conversation about mental health
designed and coloured a dangle design for the lunar new year
got my emotions, feelings, thoughts somewhat back into near balance after a brutal EMDR session yesterday for my cPTSD; as is often the case the session appears gentle, but it’s not till afterwards I feel the exhaustion, upset, and so on of the traumas being processed
get my Instagram account disabled for a breach of their rules, guidelines or something.
I’m not sure which is the most noteworthy or the biggest success!
I have no idea why Instagram have disabled my account. I’ve tried to contact them but the email address just bounces back, though the Messenger message has gone through. I suspect it may be to do with my rant about copyright infringement, but it was never directed at Instagram or anyone on instagram that I know … sheesh.
So, I guess if Instagram no longer want me there, then so be it. I shan’t be setting up another account with them that’s for sure if I don’t get some idea about what it is I’m supposed to have done!
Anyways, it’s Lunar New Year and the lucky colours for the year are red, green and purple, so that’s why that’s the colour scheme for the dangle. I thought a gold background would go with the opulence of the colours; I’m not so sure about that now!
It was a very quick drawing and colouring session for the dangle design.
Talking of dangle designs, my book A Dangle A Day is now published. In the book I show how to create dangle designs, one step at a time and there’s a whole host of different dangle designs you can use for various celebrations and events throughout the year.