Autumn is on the way!

Autumn Mandala 01Coloured Angela Porter

Autumn is nigh and it’s a lot more glorious because…

September has arrived at long last, along with the promise of the fiery blaze of glory that is autumn in a few weeks time.

Cooler mornings and evenings along with warm enough days, the quality of sunlight is softer, more golden too.

I really love this time of year, it’s my favourite!

Even more so that I no longer have the long fear/anxiety of returning to school as a teacher.

I don’t miss teaching one little bit!  I miss friends I had. I miss the more social interaction I had and the fun and laughter I had with colleagues and pupils.  What I don’t really miss is the constant fear, anxiety, worry, stress, pressure, bad attitudes, poor behaviour and constantly being looked at and assessed. All the things that led me to some very dark places that I found difficult to get out of.  No, it’s not ‘I don’t really miss’ these things – I really don’t miss these things, though I still get moments anxiety verging on panic when memories of various situations arise from the depths of my subconscious.

Arty pursuits

I’ve finished all the black and white line art for Eerily Entangled – my latest colouring book for Dover Publications.  I have two more to colour in for the book, but I’ll wait to see what my editor and her design team would like me to colour – there are so very many, if not all, I’d love to colour!

As well as this, I’ve spent quite a bit of time starting to organise my ‘pattern library’.  It’s something I like to do when I’m too tired to do anything else, when I’m feeling down and need a comforting not challenging activity, and when I’m lacking in inspiration; sometimes the patterns bring the inspiration I’m searching for, sometimes they just allow stuff to well up to the surface of my subconscious mind where my conscious mind can grab them and make use of them.

As a change of focus, I decided to draw some autumn themed mandalas, the one at the top of this blog entry being the first.

I’m a bit rusty at creating them after focusing on other things for a while, but the skills soon come back, often with new ideas or twists to old ideas, as well as new skills learned by my use of Autodesk Sketchbook Pro with my Microsoft Surface Book, which I used to create this mandala.

Half-term at last…pheweee!

It’s been a long half-term at school; eight weeks to be precise.  In that time there’s been two training days, a twilight training session. a memorial walk to raise money for school funds and the Senghenydd Mining Disaster Memorial, almost daily incidents of poor behaviour/attitude to deal with, lessons observations, book reviews (as in how well and regularly work is being marked), a consultation with my union representative, a stress-meltdown and hopefully the end of three year period of what feels like persecution/bullying in a particular situation at work (culminating in the union consultation and the stress meltdown).

I still have a pupil to be dealt with who has been making threats to physically attack me because I apparently ‘start on him’ by asking him to do his work.  How shocking is that, that I should request he stop shouting around the class, distracting others and to do his work?

Oh the joys of being a teacher.

Having said that, there are joys.  The shared smiles and laughter with pupils enjoying the lessons.  The ones whose faces light up when they see me and who never exhibit poor behaviour in my class, even though they may do in other lessons), the shared laughter with colleagues, morning breakfast with ‘the girls’, the helpfulness of the lab tech, the enthusiasm and questioning of pupils because they are interested in something, their kindness and thoughtfulness.  And so much more that it’s a shame it can become dominated by the negative things that occur and dominate my ruminating, over-analysing, over-thinking brain.

It’s been really busy for me with having to prepare work for a new course I’m running with my special needs classes, as well as teaching mainstream classes that I’ve not done for years.  It’s meant late nights at work and even bringing work home – something I avoid doing as I do not want to go down the route of being a workaholic as I was in the first decade or so of my teaching career.

This busy-ness has really eaten into my creative time.  Little art has been done, and I’m am doing my best to settle back into it in this half-term, especially as I have two contracts to create artwork for two books, though I have been waiting for direction for what the artwork is to be for a long while now.

I’ve barely stopped in the first four day so of the half-term.  I seem to be running away from time with myself.  I can struggle with being alone, feeling lonely and end up keeping moving, moving, moving to avoid it.  Today I am remaining at home and trying to get things out of the way so that I will settle to some arty pursuits, or de-stressing after the last half-term.

I do seem to be a lot more resilient than I was a year ago.  Though things can get to me (such as loneliness, lack of a sense of belonging, the constant worry I’m doing things wrong that have precipitated the situation at work that led to a stress-meltdown), I often find there’s a content ‘centre’ in me that I can access when I do things of a creative nature or things that focus my mind away from it’s rumination and negative thinking.  It’s a little easier to spot when this is happening, though I don’t always catch it in time to stop the tears, the self-loathing and the comfort eating.

I rejoined a choir I’ve been a member of since I was in school myself.  Sadly, I had to leave again once the stress levels rose as my voice was, and still is, affected by the stress.

Out of all of this, and at odd times during the last couple of months, I have managed to do some arty things.  Here’s two mandalas of mine.

Calmly Does It © Angela Porter 2013

Autumn Splendour ©Angela Porter 2013d

Theta 2

Theta2©AngelaPorter2013

I completed this yesterday.  It’s approx. A4 in size.  The major outlines were worked with an Umber Letraset Promarker with an ultrafine point.  The fine details were done using a UniBall UniPin fine line permanent pen.  There are gold highlights worked with a UniBall metallic gel pen.  The shading was done using a Derwent Graphitint pencil, Storm shade, and a water wash.  It took many hours of work…I lost count!

I’ve discovered Zentangles over the past few days.  The similarities between them and my art are remarkable, though I think my art has incorporated such things for a long time now without knowing about them, though it seems the first Zentangles were names as such in 2004 by their creators, Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas.

I have also found out that NeoPopRealism was created by Nadia Russ in 1989, and she used lines and repetetive patterns as a way to heal herself and her life.  This is taken from her website

“In 1989, Nadia Russ (aka Nadejda Maloletneva) invented the new art style, very unique art form of visual arts. Sensitive and emotional, Nadia was trying to get rid of her stress and frustration when things in her life were going wrong. But wrong was, then in 1989 and a few more years, almost everything. She drew with ink pen the line, turning into different shapes, figures, faces. Sections, that appeared, she filled with different repetitive patterns. Nadia never uses eraser. If she makes a “mistake”, it disappears because of the following patterns that balanced the whole composition. This drawing is meditative. Later, she was using the same concept when she created her oil and acrylic canvases. This art form called NeoPopRealism; she created this term January 4, 2003. The artworks of Nadia Russ are in different museums’ permanent art collections worldwide and in private collections all over the globe. “

Of course, doodling has been around for a very long time … and I often think of this kind of art that I do as ‘doodling’.  It is also very meditative and it can be the one thing that cheers me up during one of my darker days, something I look forward to coming home to at the end of a tough day at work.  It has a similar effect upon my soul and mind that the first mug of hot tea on arrival at home does – a huge inner sigh on the conscious, subconscious, physical and spiritual levels.

I am finding it interesting to look at the Zentangle patterns and how they can be constructed, and I’m even trying some of them out in a sketchbook.  Ultimately, my art flows, with no conception of what the finished piece will be; that has always been the case with my art – I really do just go with the flow.

*Added Tuesday 11 Feb 2013*

I have been told that Indian Mendhi designs predate Zentangles and NeoPopRealism by a very long time thanks to 1artviewer on deviantART.  These are the kind of designs that are applied using henna to the hands/feet of brides.

You can read more about these designs on Wikipedia and can see more on this website.

Of course, and I’ve mentioned this many times before, I’ve drawn inspiration from prehistoric rock art, as well as neolithic and bronze age art, early celtic and anglo-saxon art too.

*Edit ended*

Half Term at last!

3pm last Friday didn’t  come around quickly enough.  It’s been a short yet incredibly pressured half-term.  The pressure has come from the inspection, voice problems, and another problem that has affected my sleep, stress levels and health adversely.  I’m glad it’s over and I can have a week away from the madness without anything hanging over my head.

My only plans for this week are art, reading and sleeping, well apart from the other absolute necessities of life such as bathing and eating and so on.

It’s always quite tough for me to be alone to start with, but by the end of the week I’ll value my solitude.  It will have allowed me the time and space to just ‘be’, to relax, to rediscover myself.  Then, I will feel thrown back into the fray for another manic half-term.

Synchronicity

Synchronicity 1

Synchronicity 1 © Angela Porter 2012

Approx. 16cm x 12cm

Rotring pen, Sakura Glaze pen, Derwent Inktense pencils with water wash on heavy watercolour paper.

Small, intricate, full of spirals and swirls.  Typically me when in a fussy, detailed mood.

Many of the patterns and shapes are inspired by ammonites, nature, cells, Romanesque architecture, Prehistoric pottery and rock art.

Synchronicity because there have been a lot of  ‘coincidences’ noted in my life recently.

Back at work

Oh the joys of teaching!  There is an element of sarcasm there.  The lack of respect, manners and cooperation seems to have increased over the summer – either that or I’m getting old, having passed the 49 year mark during the long holidays.

I find myself emotionally drained at the end of each day after the constant hard work to get pupils to stop making assorted weird noises, disrupting the lesson in a myriad of ways, and just trying to bet them to be polite.  I feel ‘battle weary’.  Yet, teaching should not be such a battle.

The worst thing for me, however, is the effect this has on my creativity and the time to create.  I miss the hours I could spend creating art during the break.  If only I could earn enough from art reliably and sustainably to become a full-time artist…or writer…or or or…

Hypnotherapy

Well, yesterday, the Autumnal Equinox, saw the end of the hypnotherapy course.  I have an extension to complete the case studies, so the work isn’t quite over for me.  I managed, finally, to get a merit in one essay – hurrah!

Not sure if I’ll be able to start a hypnotherapy practice up for a few years for various reasons, but I’d like to keep my hand in and practice the skills I have learned until I’m ready to take that plunge.

Endings

Yesterday, in fact the past week or so, have been rather weird.  I’ve found myself very emotional, on the point of tears or past the point of holding them back on a number of occasions, including today.  I have no idea exactly what is the problem.  I thought it was hormonal, but I’m not too sure about that now.

Anyway, the hypnotherapy wasn’t the only ending this week.

I resigned from a committee that I perhaps have stayed on for a few months too long.

I’ve had various bits of a jigsaw puzzle about a friendship that ended a few months ago.  I’ve spent most of this time blaming myself as I was made to feel it was my fault.  However, the jigsaw pieces show that it isn’t my fault at all!

All this is quite apt for the equinox I think.

Shell

Image

Approx. 12cm x 9.5cm.  Sakura Micron pens, Zig Art & Graphic Twin pens with water wash, Cosmic Shimmer gold watercolour paint.

Approx. 2 hours of work/pleasure.  It’s been a while since I’ve lost myself in a little bit of art … being at work does get in the way of creative time, but today I’ve taken the time to create!

Losing myself in the joy of creativity, finding something that inspires me, is important.  I’ve had a horrible time with a couple of pupils in work.  Stressful, frustrating, frightening too.

One week of the half term left and a week away from the madhouse.  There’s also a possibility of a different job … still teaching, but very different…more if it happens!