Winter Solstice 2019

Winter Solstice 2019 ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

I’ve been awake since way before dawn drawing this mandala to celebrate the Winter Solstice. I’m looking forward to the increased hours of daylight, though it will be a couple of weeks, or so, before there’s any noticeable difference in the length of day.

It’s been a lovely way to spend the hours as night gradually gives way to the sun. Not that I can see the Sun itself; grey skies and patches of rain obscure the golden wonder of that glowing ball of nuclear fusion.

I created the mandala using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.

July 2019 Dangle Design

July 2019 Dangle Design © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
July 2019 Dangle Design © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

July Dangle Design

July is nearly upon us. It seems hardly anytime at all since June started! So, close to the eve of a new month it’s time for a dangle design.

This month I wanted to do a floral wreath with a little hand lettering. As I live in the Northern Hemisphere July means summer. So, my charms are a glowing sun, an ice cream cornet, and a tiny feather. I chose colours that remind me of summer too.

Now, for those of you in the Southern Hemisphere where winter has begun, feel free to substitute different charms – perhaps a snowflake instead of a sun and a steaming mug of hot chocolate instead of the ice cream cornet. Of course, a more wintry colour palette would be lovely.

I designed this to be A5 in size so that it would fit nicely in a BuJo, but equally it would look lovely in any planner, journal, diary or scrapbook. Of course the sentiment could be changed too.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the wreath has a seven-fold symmetry. Well, July is the seventh month after all!

If you’d like to learn more about how I design and draw dangle designs, along with plenty of designs to use or adapt, then my book “A Dangle A Day” is a good place to look.

I did create this dangle design digitally, using my trifecta of Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio. It would be quite easy to draw with pen on paper and then use any media you like to add colour.

So Angela, how are you today?

I’m feeling quite content today within myself. I seem to have rested quite well. My digestive system still doesn’t feel quite right, but it’s certainly a lot better than post-EMDR on Monday.

In my blog yesterday, I wrote about my CPTSD and the prejudices I seem to face for having therapy. I’m amazed at how that post garnered a lot of interest on twitter; a lot of interest for a tweet by me that is, the most I’ve ever had.

I was humbled by this, but the best thing for me was someone letting me know my blog post had helped them.

That’s why I write about my CPTSD, mental health and emotional health. It’s not for attention (I don’t deal well with being shown attention of any kind – all part of the CPTSD). I share my story and journey so that it may help others.

It took me nearly 50 years of life to work out that I had a problem, and a couple longer to work out that it wasn’t just anxiety and depression, that it was something more, that it was CPTSD.

This is a label I needed to have. As I learn more about CPTSD it helps me accept that I am stuck in the past; not in terms of reliving memories and events over and over, but in the way I behave, feel, react to life.

Being traumatised means continuing to organise your life as if the trauma were still going on – unchanged and immutable – as every new encounter or event is contaminated by the past.

After trauma … the survivor’s energy now becomes focused on suppressing inner chaos, at the expense of spontaneous involvement in their lives. These attempts to maintain control over unbearable physiological reactions can result in a whole range of physical symptoms including fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and other autoimmune diseases.

“The Body Keeps the Score” Bessel Van Der Kolk

Today, as I read a little of “The Body Keeps the Score” this quote really struck me.

If I think back to the weeks, months and years before my first bout of serious anxiety and depression, I can see how I was trying to control the inner chaos during my daily life. I struggled every single day with exhaustion, fear, fighting back the tears and wanting to hide away or run away. I also hoped I would die in my sleep so I didn’t have to continue with this.

I certainly had physical symptoms of illnesses for which there were no physical causes – upset stomach, losing my voice, problems with my lungs, outbreaks of weird spots on my skin. I’ve also developed a couple of chronic illnesses along the way too.

I don’t lose my voice anymore, but I certainly still get a dodgy digestive system and asthma attacks when the lightly napping anxiety monster is provoked and awakens. Oh, and I still get weird flare-ups of skin problems.

It’s taking me quite a while to read this book. I lost my ability to read during my first big ‘breakdown’; I still have problems retaining what I read. Sometimes I even have trouble making sense of what I’m reading. I used to be an avid reader. I miss that. However, I am aware that my ability to read is returning… slowly. In the meantime, audiobooks are a great source of pleasure for me.

June dangle design

June Dangle Design © Angela Porter 2019 - Artwyrd.com
June Dangle Design © Angela Porter 2019 – Artwyrd.com

It’s dangle day Friday!

Elsewhere on the interwebs it’s #furbabyfriday, but here, in the tiny corner of the web that is Artwyrd.com it’s dangle day.

It’s getting close to the end of May, so I thought today I’d create a dangle design for June. This would work really well as the monthly cover page for a BuJo or in a scrapbook, journal, planner, diary, greeting card, or anything else you can image it being used.

I did sketch this out in pencil on paper, but then I re-drew, hand lettered and coloured digitally using my usual trifecta of Microsoft Surface Pen, Microsoft Surface Studio and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.

On Wednesday I had a trip to Hereford for a meeting in the evening. On the way I stopped at my most favourite Romanesque church in Kilpeck to do some drawing. I included some patterns based on this visit in the charms and also the border under the plant pots.

As the Summer Solstice occurs in June, I wanted to include a lovely golden Sun, as well as plenty of golden tones. Also, the clear blues of summer skies and the aquas of sea and lake were a must as well. Cacti, succulents and flowering plants reside in the simple plant pots, with simple monograms on each pot. Of course I have beads and a heart as part of the design too.

I added a textured background upon which I layered a drop shadow for the dangle design.

So many ways that this design could be coloured. I’m quite happy with my design. I’m certainly happy with the line art, but I’m really not confident about my choices of colours. I do feel I’m struggling with colour at the moment.

A Dangle A Day” is my tutorial book that shows you how, step by step, to create dangle designs.

My CPTSD healing journey

Wednesday I was surprisingly content and managed to stop at Kilepeck Church, just outside Hereford. I usually visit the church once a year to soak up the awe and wonder and joy I feel looking at the Romanesque sculpture of this tiny three celled church.

I had my Dingbats quadrille A5 notebook with me, which is my current sketchbook. I spent a happy or or so inside the church taking my time to look at patterns and textures and to deconstruct then reconstruct them in thumbnail sketches.

It was really quiet and serene there; just what I needed.

Also, I’d packed up a light meal in a cool bag so I could have a late tea before going on to my meeting in the evening. I thought this was wise as the problems I have eating out when on my own could preclude me getting something to eat/drink. I found somewhere quiet with lovely views to park up and enjoy my light meal and some more quiet time.

My evening was long and I didn’t return home until nearly midnight. The stress being around people I don’t know also took its toll on me. So yesterday I was wiped out yet again.

I had to find my strength to get out to go and vote in the EU elections and to do some shopping, but this absolutely drained me.

When I’m this tired it is all too easy for me to be emotionally fragile and for this to impact on my mental health.

I caught myself having thoughts that were very unkind and hateful towards myself at times yesterday.

I’m still tired today, but feeling a bit more emotionally resilient. I’ve found the confidence to create art, something I didn’t have yesterday.

The ripples from EMDR and other stuff over the past couple of weeks still have energy, sometimes they’re more like storm waves. Storms pass. Waters calm eventually, with ripples that are easy to ride.

I think I’ve had a couple of storm waves approaching the size of tsunamis in the past couple of weeks and they’ve really drained me.

However, it’s all part of the healing journey. After all, I am a lot better now than I was a few weeks ago, a few months ago, a year ago, a few years ago …

Hello Friday – a dangle design

Hello Friday - a dangle design © Angela Porter 2019 Artwyrd.com
Hello Friday – a dangle design © Angela Porter 2019 Artwyrd.com

A cute, whimsical dangle design today to say hello Friday, the gateway to the weekend.

Sunshine and grey clouds fill the skies today in the Valleys of South Wales, so if it rains there’s a good chance of rainbows. That’s why I chose a rainbow and sun design to hang the dangles from today. I love rainbows!

A bit of hand lettering in the ribbon banner to proclaim Friday is welcomed. Hearts feature simply because I like hearts and i used little gold beads as spacers.

I also included a bluebell. The hedgerows, shady spaces and woodlands are coloured blue at the moment with all the bluebells that are still flowering. It’s a beautiful thing to see, and every year I’m always wowed by their appearance.

Behind I’ve put pale blue and a little drop shadow so the dangle designs appears to float a little.

A lovely little design that would look rather pretty in a BuJo, planner, journal, diary, scrapbook, greeting card, notecard…the list is as endless as your imagination or needs!

I did draw and hand letter this one using digital media – Microsoft Surface Pen, Microsoft Surface Studio and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. However, it’s a cute and simple design that would be easy to draw on dot grid paper for sure.

Just a little reminder that my book ‘A Dangle A Day’ is available from various outlets. It’s my tutorial book that takes you step by step through creating your own dangle designs.

A year has passed me by …

A year ago today I picked up Binky, my then brand new Smartfortwo SmartCar. Just five days before that I said goodbye to my furbaby companion of just over sixteen years – Cuffs the whoosh kittencat.

A year. One whole year. We have so many days in our lives that mark the end of one cycle of time and the start of another.

I still have and greatly enjoy driving Binky.

I still miss Cuffs. I’m still not ready to have another cat yet, for lots of complex reasons, a lot to do with me becoming so attached to my furbaby companion that I’d not do the exploring and travelling that I want to be able to do as I progress in my CPTSD healing journey.

Colouring ‘Entangled Fantastic Fungi’

Entangled Fantastic Fungi WIP © Angela Porter 2019 Artwyrd.com
Entangled Fantastic Fungi WIP © Angela Porter 2019 Artwyrd.com

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.

Entangled fantastic fungi

Entangled Fantastic Fungi © Angela Porter 2019 at Artwyrd.com
Entangled Fantastic Fungi © Angela Porter 2019 at Artwyrd.com

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.

Entangled landscape

Entangled Landscape © Angela Porter 2019 - Artwyrd.com
Entangled Landscape © Angela Porter 2019 – Artwyrd.com

I’ve really not been myself the past few days. With a couple of busy days this week, the emotional fallout from EMDR on Tuesday finally caught up with me as I slowed down Thursday afternoon. I’m so tired, and my mood isn’t the brightest to say the least.

It’s always a sign that even when I’m tired I can usually draw and create, but not much this week. I haven’t been able to find the inspiration to draw, nor have I found the interest or energy.

Today, around a meeting, I managed to draw this.

It’s a throwback to the more familiar art of earlier days. It has given me a chance to use some new motifs, as well as some favourite ones that crop up often.

The process of drawing was soothing, and I did my very best not to be too judgemental, though I did want to throw it out and restart several times as I wasn’t at all happy with what was coming out of the nib of my fountain pens or Uniball Unipins.

I switched to the Uniballs as the fountain pen ink was smudging lightly. I’ve fixed that, mostly, by digital wizardry. I also added the Distress Ink background digitally.

I know my inspiration and energy to draw will return, I’m just not feeling at all myself at the moment.

I do have a new self-care activity, which is sitting in/on the bed, crocheting shawls and listening to audiobooks – currently working my way through the Harry Potter series.

The rhythmic nature of crocheting is soothing. The familiarity of the Harry Potter story is also soothing. Being upstairs makes me feel safe, secure and it’s also comforting.

The memory being worked on in EMDR certainly has stirred some stuff up. I’ve had some very upsetting insights into how I’ve viewed myself. Releasing the trauma associated with this particular memory will be accompanied by a better view of myself. I may not fully believe it, but if I can believe a little of it then that is good enough for now.

I have to believe that with each memory and its associated traumatic experiences that are processed via EMDR I’ll believe the healthier, more positive statements about myself more and more.

These are some quotes I’ve found recently that are helpful to me in understanding me, helping me through this.

Trauma creates changes you don’t chose. Healing is about creating change that you do choose.

What happened to you was not your fault. The struggles you have today, like your cPTSD symptoms, are a normal response to abnormal events. So, please be kind to yourself.

The poison leaves bit by bit, not all at once. Be patient. You are healing.

Winter Solstice 2018

©Angela Porter 2018

Winter begins! It’s the end of one astronomical cycle and the start of a new one. Winter Solstice is one of my favourite days of the year, along with All Hallow’s Eve. There’s always a feeling of excitement on this day that’s associated with ending and beginnings. Time to lay to rest that which is completed to make way for the new that replaces them as the Sun symbolically ‘dies’ on this day and will begin to ‘grow’ again in the days that follow until the Summer Solstice. It’s also a time to be grateful too.

I know there are many endings and beginnings; every moment in our lives is both an ending and a beginning. However, I feel that days like this, where we can focus on this never ending process in a bigger, more symbolic, more formal way, is important. Traditions are important as they bring a semblance of order to our rather chaotic lives.

I spent some time yesterday drawing this mandala to go with today. The dull gold represents the weakness of the Sun, relatively speaking. I’ve included mistletoe, holly and ivy as they’re traditionally associated with this day. I’ve also added berries as symbolic of the fruits of gratitude I carry for all the days since the last Winter Solstice. And, of course, there are plenty of sun-ray-like motifs and patterns. And stars. Plenty of stars, which from a distance look like snow drifting down.

Yes, I can say I’m rather pleased with this mandala. That’s not something I say often as I’m highly critical of myself and my work. But this one I really do like. I like the more graphic nature of the motifs. I like my hand lettering. I like the rhythm and flow of the design with the rings of designs radiating out.

So, I wish you all the very best that comes with the Winter Solstice, for today and all the days ahead of you and yours.

This was created using a Microsoft Surface Pen and Surface Studio along with Autodesk Sketchbook Pro and a gold texture purchased via Creative Market.

Yuletide dangle design

©Angela Porter 2018

Tomorrow is the Winter Solstice, or Yule. So, I wanted to create a dangle design for Yuletide, and wish you all the blessings of the season.

On the Winter Solstice here in the Northern Hemisphere, it is the shortest day and from here on in the amount of daylight begins to increase once again, albeit very slowly at first.

People gather at prehistoric monuments, such as Stonehenge, Newgrange and Avebury, to watch the sunrise on this day. These monuments have Winter Solstice alignments. That’s why I’ve got a pair of big stones framing the sun.

Of course I had to include holly, mistletoe and some evergreens in the design, along with stars, hears and a couple of cute robins.

It is a digital piece of art which started life as a pencil drawing on dot grid paper. The design was scanned in and re-drawn using a Microsoft Surface pen on the screen of my Microsoft Studio in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. I did make use of the mirror symmetry tool to help me with the symmetrical nature of the design. I hand lettered the sentiment in the ribbon.

I did colour this quickly using gradient fills – yesterday I really wasn’t up to doing much. I am feeling a bit better today, though drained after a quick visit to my local town to run a couple of errands. I’m really easy to startle at the moment and me being jumpy at every noise and the number of people out and about was something I kind of expected but hoped I wouldn’t experience today.

I’m safely back home now and am starting to calm down a little, though I feel exhausted. So, the rest of the day will be spent quietly for sure.

I do have a Winter Solstice mandala to share tomorrow, and I’m rather pleased with this one. So, do pop back tomorrow.

‘A Dangle A Day’ is published on 8 Jan 2019.