Fly Away 2019 – re-imagined entangled dragonfly drawing

Fly Away © Angela Porter 2019 - Artwyrd.com - all rights reserved.
Fly Away © Angela Porter 2019 – Artwyrd.com – all rights reserved.

It’s been an *interesting* couple of days to say the least, and the root cause of the *interesting times* was the discovery of my dragonfly drawing entitled ‘Fly Away’ from back in 2012 (which you can see in my deviantART account).

I re-imagined it digitally, using my Microsoft Surface Studio and Surface Pen along with Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. It’s obviously hand drawn – I left lots of little imperfections in the drawing, including wobbly lines in places. I wanted it to have the human touch, not the slick perfection that can result from digital art. It took me around 12 hours or so to re-draw. That’s more than one day’s work.

Complaints, complaints and a heartwarming tale

I sent a message to the owners of the ‘Dragonfly Lovers’ facebook page explaining that they were using my artwork without my permission, effectively stealing my work for their own profit. Surprisingly I’ve not had a reply. My messages on their page have been deleted and I’ve been blocked too.

I have also submitted an official complaint of infringement of copyright/intellectual property to teespring.com, which is the website where they are selling merchandise with my dragonfly art on.

In the midst of this, with family and friends seeing what was going on and getting a good sense of righteous indignation, a woman from Texas sent me a message saying she’d seen the comments on the facebook page mentioned above and she’d decided to approach me directly. She was going to buy the dragonfly art from that page for her daughter’s birthday party. Instead, she asked if I would sell her a print so she’s supporting the artist who created the art.

I was touched. When people approach me I always try to help. Sometimes I waive my fees, such as when someone wants permission to use a design of mine to cover up a mastectomy scar.

Anyways, back to the tale. I told the texas lady that I’d have to re-draw the image as the original had been sold years ago via Etsy and I didn’t have a high resolution image of it.

More about the drawing

So, I got to drawing it again. The image above is the result of some 12 hours work.

I used a low resolution image of the original artwork as a guide and I worked digitally. I was quite keen to do this. I wanted to try out my new skills with brushes that change width with pressure, as well as showcase how my skills have developed in the 7 years since the original was drawn.

The drawing is NOT an exact copy at all. The dragonfly itself is pretty much similar, but the flowers are different as are the spirally branches in the background. I also added tiny seed pods and flourishes to add interest.

I let the varying line weight add depth and dimension to the elements of the image. Overall, I think it’s a more balanced design. Some of the branches look a little ‘flat’ and maybe would benefit from some grey shadows. But it’s good enough I think.

Did something good come from this debacle?

The intellectual property thieves did something good – they spurred me into action in terms of reworking an old image, using my new skills, the way my art has developed.

I also now have a very high resolution image which will print beautifully on many products – it’s up in my RedBubble Shop!

They’ve also made me realise that if my art is good enough for them to steal and use to profit from then my art must be good enough for me to sell.

My problem is promoting myself and getting word out there that I have stuff available to buy with my art on it, officially! I’ve given myself permission to put my artwork on products to sell.

A never ending battle…

I know I’m never going to stop the thieves. There are always unscrupulous people out there, willing to use anything or anyone for their own profit. But when I find them I will challenge them. What they are doing is wrong – WRONG I tell you!

The only way to defeat them in some ways is not to join them, it’s not to let it all slide, but it’s to offer my art with really good quality images on good quality products at a reasonable price.

It’s also getting the word out that this kind of thing is unacceptable, and to challenge the myth that just because an image is on the internet it’s free for anyone to use, even to make money for themselves.

So, from now on, I will be adding more prominent watermarks to my art and making sure it’s at a low resolution that will not print well. I’ll do what I can to make it more difficult for them to steal, to remove my signature or symbol and watermarks and so on.

I also have a plan to add a notice to my art warning people that it is copyrighted and it’s use without permission is illegal. Well, not quite those words, but that kind of meaning.

The easiest way to stop the unscrupulous out there would be to stop sharing my art. However, there’s been people saying they hope it doesn’t stop me as they like to see what I’m up to…so I’m going to have to learn how to protect my images, my art more and more. And if I find someone using my artwork for their own gain without my permission then I will do what I can to stop them.

Entangled garden

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

Drawn with a Tombow Fudenosuke (hard) pen on A4 11¾” x 8¼” Winsor and Newton Bristol Board.

I worked on this one over three days, both to get used to working with the Fudenosuke pen but also for some self-soothing self-care.

It does need some colour and I think I may try a more vintage/distressed/grungy color palette with it, once I get round to adding color.

At the moment, my focus is on colouring the sample colored templates for my latest book for Dover Publications Creative Haven Series –Entangled Christmas.

I’m feeling more content today and less exhausted too, which is a good thing after this weeks rather intense EMDR session.

Monogram P – entangled art

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

This became yesterday’s self-care drawing. When I’m not feeling all that right my default setting is this kind of drawing. It really does help soothe my unbalanced mental and emotional health. Thank goodness that today I’m feeling a lot more myself, whatever that means. In this context I think it means more emotionally calm and kind of content and a less worrisome and fretting mind. My background anxiety levels are still a tad elevated, but not as bad as they were over the weekend and through to yesterday.

I hand lettered the monogram on an A4 sheet of Daler-Rowney Bristol Board using Uniball Unipin pens. I then just let my pens draw some new and old favourite motifs and patterns to create this abstract, entangled art.

Yes, the P is a bit off-centre, but I didn’t measure it out! I just drew it. I didn’t plan on doing the entangled drawing stuff. I was just going to spend sometime with hand lettering…just goes to show that instinctively I knew what I needed yesterday to help soothe me. I could lose myself in the flow and give my mind and emotions a bit of a break.

It took me several hours to complete, and this morning I scanned it in, added a background texture and the watermarks with digital wizardry.

My only consideration for it at the moment is whether to leave it as is (black and white), to add shading in greys, or whether to add colour. I’m also quite tempted to add some gold to the monogram, just in places. I could print it out and try that on a copy before I commit myself to altering the original.

Today I do need to settle to inking in some sketches for the next coloring book. Maybe do some more sketches as well.

Self-care

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

I drew this one with Uniball Unipin pens using both black and dark grey pens, though the difference betwixt them hasn’t shown up all that well in the scan and the digital wizardry that followed to add colour, texture and watermarks!

The glyph in the box is the Zibu symbol for ‘self-care’. Most appropriate for me today as I’m reeling more than a tad from yesterday’s EMDR session. I keep thinking I’m ok, then I get overwhelmed by a wave of sadness, despair and such like. The wave eventually passes and I feel ok, but a tad light headed. Then, the wave returns …

I had some appointments this morning and after a quick lunch I thought I’d draw something small and found this blank postcard template in my pile of stuff, with the symbol already drawn upon it.

I’m not entirely sure I’ve done a good job with this one. The overall design has a feeling that it is disjointed, that the parts of it don’t flow from one to another at all easily. It feels stilted and stiff.

Perhaps that is just how I’m feeling at the moment and I’m just projecting it onto my artwork.

As I said the EMDR yesterday had me reeling both yesterday and today. My therapist took up the role of ‘blind therapist’ where I chose a memory that is too difficult for me to speak about, and we just went with the emotions, feelings and thoughts about myself as the EMDR session progressed.

There were some observations made yesterday that were quite upsetting, okay very upsetting to me. They’re not something I can talk about at the moment.

Even though it’s upsetting, I still think progress is being made. That is all that really matters at the moment, I think.

The past affects the present…

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

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.

EMDR yesterday

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.

A simple mandala

©Angela Porter 2019

Yesterday was very much a quiet, self-care day. Today, I’m feeling better in terms of energy and concentration.

This mandala was a product of yesterday’s quiet downtime doing art for arts sake. Though it was this morning I thought I’d like golden outlines to the design rather than the usual black. It took me a while to get my head around doing that!

I like the way I’ve repeated the simple spiral pattern in three layers. Keeping the colour palette simple has also worked nicely for me, even though the combination of colours is an unusual one for me. The colours remind me of cacti with flowers and a soft, golden sun.

I could mention that green is about achieving balance, the red is the energy I need to stoke up on, but a softer, more gentle kind of motivational energy. Golden sunshine is the healing I see. The way the spirals flow outwards and are unfurling suggests growth , springing forth from seeds long lain dormant in the ground of my soul. There’s hints of buds ready to bloom there too. Maybe the golden background and lines are suggesting that I am worth more than I think I am, that I do deserve better.

Oops, I have mentioned that! But somehow this mandala seems to show how I’m progressing in my recovery from cPTSD.

Now how’s that for an insightful piece of art?

No matter whether you agree with the interpretation of the mandala or not, it was definitely a calming and soothing experience, both the drawing and colouring.

It is a piece of digital art. I used my usual Microsoft Surface Pen, Microsoft Surface Studio and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro to create this mandala.

Entangled art

©Angela Porter 2019

I found this lovely quote a couple of days ago and knew I wanted to add entangled patterns around it.

About the art.

Rather than hand letter, I decided to print the quote by J.M. Storm out, along with the outlines to the boxes. I do very much like a well defined space to work within. I know I’ve done art where I’ve left an organic, uneven edge in the past, but I still like those clear boundaries.

To draw the patterns I used a Sheaffer fountain pen along with 06 and 04 Pigma Sensei pens from Sakura. The 06 led to me using some heavy lines to define the patterns and sections, something I’ve not often done for a very, very long time and I find it pleasing. Again, clear boundaries. I also like when art like this is coloured; it looks like stained glass and I love stained glass.

I may spend time colouring this today. I woke with a terrific headache this morning. Although it’s mostly passed, thanks to some Anadin Extras and copious quantities of tea, I still feel kind of spacey and tired and not able to focus much.

Why I like this quote.

She is a beautiful piece of broken pottery, put back together by her own hands. And a critical world judges her cracks while missing the beauty of how she made herself whole again.
J.M. Storm

I like it because it almost perfectly describes how I think about what is happening to me during therapy, about my journey to recovery.

The traumas of my life, right from a very young age, left me cracked and over time those cracks led to my mental health and emotional health breaking into pieces.

I’m the one who has to put the pieces back together, however I don’t have the skills and tools to do that. That’s where my therapist, my counsellor comes in. EMDR therapy helps to reprocess the traumas that led to me developing cPTSD and helps me to change the old, unhealthy, harmful thoughts and behaviours that I have into healthy thoughts and behaviours. My therapist helps me learn the tools I need to do this as well as to be more resilient as my life progresses, and so much more I’m sure.

I don’t know if it’s possible to make myself whole. My aim, though, is to be whole enough to have a life where I can do what I currently am unable to do – set healthy boundaries, be confident in myself, be less scared of the world around me, and so on.

I’ll always have cracks – evidence of the life I have led – but I want those cracks to be filled with gold or silver or copper so that they are things of beauty in themselves. They are evidence of where I’ve come from and what has led me to be the person I am.

I’m well aware that as I heal I won’t be quite the same person I was and many people won’t be happy about that. But those are the people who have wanted me to fit into their image of how they have thought I should be for their own ends, not least of which is my narcissistic mother.

No doubt my becoming the person I was meant to be, a mentally and emotionally healthy, resilient, self-aware, self-compassionate woman would be a source of great criticism for those who don’t like the changes in me as I heal the mental and emotional wounds.

Part of the process is learning from the past and freeing myself from the limitations placed upon me in the past by others with their own agenda, whether conscious or unconscious.

I’m sure there’s a lot more reasons why I like this quote, but the fluff-filled post-headache spaced out mind just can’t focus just now.