Deer skull, Mycena interrupta and inaflux tangle pattern.
Digital drawing done using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro with a Microsoft Surface Pen and Surface Studio.
I’ve used a lot of geometric patterns in the skull to create depth and interest.
I kept the other elements quite simple and, for now, uncoloured. Mycena interrupta, the mushrooms, are a lovely blue colour.
Instead, of adding colour I used a copper background and added my drawing on top of it using the screen option. This has resulted in it seeming to glow a little. I quite like this effect.
There’s a very good reason I’ve not coloured this drawing yet. I am absolutely bushwhacked. I had a busy, nervy day yesterday followed by a long drive home mostly in the dark, heavy rain and high winds. I was too tired even to eat when I got in and was glad to go to my bed and sleep.
The Wales Health at Work Partnership Summit proved to be an interesting time. I was there to chat to people, along with Russell, the community outreach officer for Hafal who also works with Time to Change Wales to organise us champions, amongst other things, and Nicole, a newly changed champion from North Wales. I was also there to give a ten minute talk about my experience of mental illness while at work and the stigma, discrimination I faced as well as the helpful and not helpful things that were said or done. Russell said I did great, as did the other panel members.
So, I did more than my bit for World Mental Health Day.
I’m feeling really dozy again now, so I think I’m going to go and sleep for a while. It’s not just the two four and a half hour drives, not sleeping well away from home that has tired me out. It’s also the anxiety and stress and being with lots of people in noisy environments that has tired me out. It’s going to take today, maybe tomorrow, to recover fully. So, self-care is the order of the day for me.
This tiredness is worth it though. Plenty of people came to tell me how helpful they found my talk and how well I had spoken and I had given them things to think about.
Raising awareness of mental illness and that sometimes it’s the littlest things that can make the biggest difference to someone experiencing mental illness.
My experiment laying down areas of colour with Chameleon markers then adding colour inspired me to try the same idea out with my digital art tools.
Here is the result of several hours trying the idea out.
I’m not at all sure about lots of parts of it. I’m not happy with it at the moment. I have some things to think about going forward.
Firstly, the way I have my pen brushes set up is giving a black line that seems to be way too stark against the colour. Black ink in fine line pens isn’t quite so opaque. So, I need to play around adjusting this.
Also, I have the edge of the pen brushes set up as ‘sharp’, so I do get that very sharp edge to the line. I need to play around with adjusting this as well. It’s not enough to have an uneven line edge; if anything, the sharpness of the rough edge jars my senses.
The background colour is quite OK if perhaps a tad complex. Again, I need to spend time playing around with various brush types, properties and textures to work out the best way for me to create such backgrounds if this is a route I’m going to go down in digital art.
As always, by taking time to do experimental art (not that all art is experimental I think) I explore the tools, effects, settings, and so on that are available to me in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. Of course, I use my Microsoft Surface Pen on the screen of my Microsoft Surface Studio to create my digital art.
What’s important is that I make the time to do this regularly. It’s the only way I can learn and develop my digital art ‘voice’ as well as understanding how the different brushes and settings work.
So, Angela, how are you today?
I’m OK. Tired, but much better than earlier this week.
I’m tired from not enough sleep last night, but also from dealing with some difficult issues around a member of my family. I don’t mind myself becoming drained when it’s about helping another person. I know how to take care of myself now so that I recover and don’t stay stuck in this emotionally exhausted state. That’s what self-care is all about.
I did go out yesterday with my younger sister. We visited the Roman baths in Caerleon and ended up at the Honey Cafe in Bronllys for a late lunch.
I popped to the toilet at the cafe, and I got stressed out there. Children loudly screaming with a very loud hand-drier caused me to become anxious, stressed, hypervigilant. The children weren’t distressed at all, just screaming with the noise of the hand-drier for fun. Their mother was with them, so they were safe. So, I have no idea what my reaction was all about. All I know it’s grist for the EMDR therapy wheel.
Oh! The joy of the CPTSD triggers that hide from me. Well, this one has now come out into the light of a startle, so it can’t hide any longer!
Still, the startling left me twitchy, jumpy, on-edge and on the point of tears for quite a long while after this. Any slightly loud noise, someone walking past me in the cafe and I’d jump and catch my breath.
When I got home, I felt exhausted and collapsed into bed and slept for a couple of hours.
I did sleep well through the night, even though I went to bed a bit later than usual. However, I still feel tired, exhausted today.
I know it will pass. Self-care is required. I have some ginger chai that I’m sipping as I write this blog. I know that art, crochet, naps, music all help to soothe me. I’m not sure a walk in a people-y world would be a good idea today, well not if my by myself. I think I’m still on edge. It does take a good while for the stress hormones to leave my system so that I return to a less aroused emotional state.
Hmm, thinking about that, I do have this sense of anxiety today. There’s nothing I’m stressing about, nothing that is worrying me, so it’s just those hormones flooding my system still.
I think I deserve some gold stars for noticing that! Becoming self-aware, aware of my emotions and thoughts, is part of the healing process. It still amazes me when I see something that in the past that I would either ignore or bury deep inside me and put a happy smiley face on and carry on as if nothing was wrong.
Mostly gone are those days. I say mostly; there are times when I still return to the default setting of ignoring my emotions and needs to make sure whoever I am with is happy, even if it causes me great pain or a feeling of vulnerability and feeling unsafe.
I still find it very difficult to voice my own needs if I think someone is going to dismiss them or ignore them. Admitting I have needs make me feel even more vulnerable.
I am aware of this now, so that is a step forward. Progress is made through a series of small, manageable steps. In therapy, the first steps to change are recognising something that needs to change for healing and a healthier relationship with myself to occur.
I’m still in self-soothing mode after Monday’s emotionally draining trigger and EMDR session. I’m feeling a lot brighter, content, and not worried, but I’m tired as the stress from Monday is still affecting my sleep. It takes days for the stress hormones to leak away from me, bearing in mind I always have an elevated level thanks to the CPTSD.
Any way, back to art…
My self-soothing arty activity involved adding some patterns and motifs to my visual Zibladone (kind of a journal thingy). Always a soothing kind of experience for me. It also gave me the practice with pen on paper that I’ve discovered I need to do daily.
While drawing these patterns and motifs, I knew I wanted to try to create some of them in colour, with a lot of texture and dimension. So, the best way for me to do this is with a mandala. Well, that’s what I ended up starting work on. Originally I wanted to create a page similar to one in my Zibladone, with examples of motifs and patterns that are drawn/coloured digitally.
I may turn my attention to that after I’ve had some lunch. I’ll see.
Yesterday, I also completed the August template for the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group. I’ll post an image of it tomorrow, but it’s up in the group already, along with a colour palette challenge for August. The template is exclusive to members of the group, and new members are always made welcome there. I’m always blown away by the beautiful and unique ways in which the members of the group bring my line art to life with the magic of colour.
It’s that time again – starting to fill in my bullet journal (BuJo) pages for the upcoming month of June.
I’ve set up part of my bullet journal for June. I decided to go with daises again. They’re such happy little flowers, bright spots in the green grass. They remind me of innocence and hope. Pale pink, green and flashes of gold will be the colours I use, where I use them, for this month.
May has been a very stressful, upsetting and emotional month, and my bullet journaling, along with lots of other things, went out of the window.
My little smartcar, Smartoo Deetoo, broke down. I had the stress/anxiety/panic of a very long time for the car and I to be recovered and taken home, and then organising recovery of the car to the Mercedes dealership in Cardiff for repairs. Eventually it was diagnosed with a terminally broken gearbox.
Instead of paying to have it replaced, I decided to buy a brand new Smartcar fortwo, which then had the added stress/worry/anxiety/panic of applying for finance.
Very quickly though, Binky was with me – my third Smartcar. Binky is fantastic and I can’t be happier with it.
Just after I signed all the paper work for Binky, I went to check on my cat who had been poorly for a day or two and who had rallied round that morning. I found he’d gone seriously downhill, so to the emergency vets we went.
After a night at the vets, test results and observations of my beautiful boy Cuffs, the diagnosis was brain cancer, so I had to make the decision to let him go, and went to say goodbye to him.
Cuffs was amazing. I had 16 years companionship with him. He was with me for some of the best and the worst times of my recent life. He always greeted me when I came home and he often tried to stop me leaving for work, especially when teaching had become so very, very hard for me when my mental health was plummeting downwards.
There’s just too much to say about him here. To say I’ve been upset would be a gross understatement. I’ve grieved for him, and it’s knocked me not just for six but for 6 million I think.
I’m beginning to feel better, I still have moments when I miss the purrfurball, when a lumpy bit of the duvet will make my heart leap that he’s under it, only to remember he’s not and to feel that disappointment and sadness.
I am feeling better and getting back into my creative stride.
I’m working on the illustrations for Entangled Butterflies.
I will be working on the June colouring template for the members of the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group later today.
No quote, no lettering, just pure mandala. Drawn using my Microsoft Surface Pen on my Microsoft Surface Book with Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. The background was created using Rangers Tim Holtz’s Distress Inks on mixed media paper then scanned in.
Just a quick one to start the day. I have some editing to do for A Dangle A Day (available for preorder) before going out to a Lebanese/Moroccan restaurant called Mezza Luna with my sister. For the first time, she gets to drive!
My car is still poorly; the Mercedes garage seems to be having problems working out what has gone wrong with Smartwo Deetoo. I hope I get her back soon; if not, I’ll have to hire a car for a day or two for some appointments I have later in the week.
I’ve still not calmed down after the drama of last weekends car breakdown. I’m all of a dither, my mind all over the place, my digestive system is still upset, and I’m so tired all the time. How I ever managed to function as a teacher when I felt like this all the time is beyond me, but I did until my precarious mental health crashed in on me.
Over on the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group it’s #supplysaturday.
I tried four or five times to create this quote illustration using traditional media this morning. I failed each time; they just weren’t right at all. I’m still really anxious/stressed from the debacle of a car breakdown at the weekend. Once my stress hormones are elevated, it takes a goodly while for them to leach away. It takes a good while for this to happen as I’m much more susceptible to being startled or becoming even more anxious. I know from past experience that eventually things will return to a less stressful level.
So, in frustration, I turned to my trusted trinity of Surface book, surface pen and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro and created this one.
I’m learning how to set up pens in Sketchbook pro, and finally have one that mimics a roundhand nib. My hand-lettering is still a bit wonky, but I finally have something I like.
The background was made using traditional media by myself – distress inks on mixed media paper, scanned in to the ‘puter so I can make use of them.
Drawing on the surface is almost like drawing on paper, but without the eraser mess.
I do need to create more backgrounds for me to use now I’ve got my head around doing that.
I chose this piece of wisdom for #wednesdaywisdom because it is relevant to myself at the moment and the healing I’m going through in my EMDR therapy. I’m sure, however, that it is relevant to many, many people.
On another note, it’s #wipwednesday over in the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group. I keep saying it, but they’re a lovely bunch of people, friendly, supportive and appreciative of each other. Why not pop along, join up and say hello?
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.
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.