I woke this morning with a dreadful migraine. Two emotionally draining days – therapy on Monday, an anti-stigma talk for Time to Change Wales yesterday – can cause such a reaction in me. It’s my body’s way of saying ‘Woah there Angela! Enough! Time out is needed! Self-care! Nothing else stressful for today at least, please!’.
So I’m heeding my body’s message. I was due to take all my accounts stuff to my accountant, but my vision and concentration is impaired enough that for now I don’t feel safe to drive. I know that with a quiet day and a nap later on I’ll recover.
Even though my eyesight is affected a bit, doing art actually seems to help with the headache. I think it’s a mindful activity that lets my mind and emotions relax.
So, I wanted to complete my days of the week in a Lombardic style script, and here’s my work in progress. You can see my pencil lines, both as a guide for letter heights and for the shape and spacing of letters. By drawing the outlines in pencil first it means I can easily make adjustments as I ink them in.
Next steps, when my head has cleared a fair bit more, will be to add the patterns in the letters. This really does help to define the letter shapes I think.
I definitely want to try some of these letters with dangles on them. Perhaps that’s what I’ll do while I’m waiting for this migraine headache to shift somewhat.
Today has been a bit of a busy day. I woke still drained from yesterday’s EMDR therapy session. No EMDR though as I was just too emotional and ‘raw’ to go through it, so it was a lot of talking around how one trigger event had caused several trauma ‘streams’ to rise and flood and confluence. I was stuck at that confluence where white water rapids had formed and I was being buffeted about in the eddies and currents and waves.
So, it was self-care last night when I got home, which involved a bag of chips from a local chippy, with curry sauce, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and starting to crochet an amigurumi ‘dumpling cat’ from a new book that was delivered yesterday. Then, there was the journal writing before I went to bed.
This morning I had to be up early to go give an anti-stigma talk to a group of police officers. That drained me emotionally once again. However, it was a good thing to do as they all found my talk really interesting and useful. My Time To Change Wales champions hat was polished up a little bit once again.
I came home and finally had some breakfast and ended up in bed to sleep. That’s one of my coping strategies when I’m so emotionally drained. I still feel dazed and dazzled by it all, but am on a bit of a more even keel now.
I didn’t want to let the day pass without doing something with pen and paper or screen. Hand lettering seems to be my thing at the moment so I thought I’d have a go at hand lettering some of the days of the week.
For reference I used the Lombardic Capitals set in ‘Decorated Lettering’ by Jan Pickett.
They appeal to me partly because the space inside the letters lends itself so much to adding patterns, but because of their oldy-worldy nature. I love Anglo-Saxon, Celtic and Medieval illuminated manuscripts and this style of lettering, in a slightly more modern form, appeals to me.
I discovered it’s a lot easier to form the letters when you draw them big – hence why their size increased from Monday to Wednesday.
Dot grid paper is a godsend as it helps with the consistency of size of the letters, though I suspect that as I become more comfortable with my skills that I may experiment more with that.
A nice way to spend an hour or so this afternoon, and I have the rest of the days to look forward to doing, along with adding patterns to the open letters.
Mind you, the letters without patterns would look lovely just coloured with colour gradients, and I’d love to add metallic highlights/accents too.
First, I need to get a bit more proficient at hand lettering and working on plain paper.
Of course, I can always scan my lettering in and remove the background and dotgrid so I can print it out on paper suitable for a colouring medium such as watercolours and metallic paints.
Cheating? No. I don’t think so. I would’ve already done the work in the first place. Printing and colouring is, to me, perfectly acceptable.
But that’s for another day. For now, I had to get myself sorted to pop out for the evening.
I’m also musing about adding some dangles to the letters – dangles with charms that are reminiscent of medieval ornament or jewellery, for example.
Oh, it’s also #furbabyfriday over on the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group. We’d love to see your furbabies there.
A busy couple of days
It’s been a nice way to spend a couple of hours this morning. A relatively easy and relaxing couple of hours too. I really need a day of self-care after a couple of crazy days for me.
Wednesday I had a very anxious kind of day. Anxious in a good way but it was also very emotionally draining. I spent the day on a media training course with Sarah Hibbert at the Mind Cymru offices in Cardiff. The day was all about learning how to be effectively interviewed by the media in reference to Time to Change Wales and it’s campaign to end stigma and discrimination around mental ill-health. A large part of the day was spent being interviewed and recorded on video camera then watching ourselves back and having feedback about how well we did and how we could improve.
It’s horrible seeing myself on video. I cringe so much. It provokes the inner critic so it rises up and attacks me, noticing every little flaw, mark, error, how the camera exaggerates features and so on.
It was a good day, the training was really excellent and gave lots of things to consider going forward.
I came home exhausted, barely able to string two words together. Having to travel in the rush hour so it took me nearly an hour and a half to get home, a journey that is usually less than half an hour, didn’t help at all.
I then tried to get to sleep early as I had to be up and into the shower at 5:15am so I could be dressed and ready to leave home around 6:10am to head out to Pembrokeshire College in Haverfordwest for around 8:30am, picking the lovely Russell up on my way.
The staff at the college had a wellbeing day and Russell and I were both involved for Time to Change Wales, with me giving two anti-stigma talks in the morning.
The day was lovely, the people were friendly and welcoming and some told me my talk was inspirational and I was brave for telling my story. The receptionist was an absolute darling; when I handed in my visitors badge she handed me a roll of papers saying ‘This is for you’. I had no idea what it was, thinking it may be a certificate for taking part in the day. When we had a look she’d gone online and found and printed loads of memes with wonderful words on that she thought would help me. I was really, really touched by her gesture.
The journey there and back again, a 200 mile round trip, went quickly as Russell and I chattered about all kinds of things. Russell did amazingly during the day as well, as he always does.
When I got home, I managed to empty the remains of the mocha in my travel mug over my handbag, and inside it. There’s no way I can salvage/clean the bag. It also went over my bullet journal, so I’ve ordered a new one as this one is wrecked. So today is a bujo-less day for me as the new one won’t arrive until tomorrow.
I had a very quiet evening, retired to bed earlier than usual and had a good 8 or 9 hours or so sleep. This is unusual for me, and I must’ve needed it.
I missed doing art over the last couple of days, but it’s been nice meeting new people, even though it does exhaust me, me being an introvert.
Digital or traditional art? My perspective.
Today, as I’ve said, it’s a self-care day, so art is definitely on the cards, as well as some flute practice I think.
I also have to think about, and ask for opinions on, digital drawing vs traditional drawing.
I love doing both. They both have their pros and cons.
I use a Surface Pen on the Surface Studio screen in just the same way I would use a pen or pencil on paper. I hold the pen the same way, I make lines and marks the same way. The only difference is that the paper is virtual and doesn’t exist unless I print it out.
With digital drawing I can make use of tools such as mirror and symmetry to help me with some elements of my art, particularly mandalas.
I rarely use tools like line smoothing and predictive lines (if anything predictive lines annoy me, they never end up as I want them). I do use line smoothing if I’m drawing a long straight-ish or curved line, but I still end up with wibbly bits.
I like to have the wibby bits, and I’ve carefully set up the pen ‘brushes’ I use so that they mimic Sakura Pigma Micron pens or Uniball Unipin pens in how the edge of the line is uneven due to ink bleeding.
Depending on what I’m doing, I do make sketches in pencil or pen on paper, scan that in and use it as a guide for my digital drawing.
The big advantage to working digitally, however, is the ease with which corrections and adjustments can be made.
I have, on very, very, very rare occasions, ‘copied and pasted’ a design element to create a design; so rare that I think I’ve done that once, maybe twice in the three years or so that I’ve been working digitally.
I love to draw traditionally too, with pen on paper. It’s a different kind of sensory experience, no better or worse than digital drawing. Just different.
It can be frustrating when an error is made or ink is smudged or the pencil line won’t erase properly. I then can use my digital tools to clean up the scanned in image, sometimes seamlessly erasing and re-drawing the area that needs correcting. No one notices when I do this as I’ve honed my skills and my pen ‘brushes’ so that they are as near the drawing pens I use on paper.
What can cause me problems digitally is that I lose sense of the scale of the patterns/designs I’m drawing and I can get way too intricate for traditional colorists to add colour to them. That’s why I often sketch at least an outline of the design out and scan it in draw the finished line work digitally. This is all because of the ability to zoom in to the area I’m working on. So, I often need that pencil/pen on paper guide to keep my drawing at the right kind of complexity.
Before I worked digitally, I thought that it would be easier, simpler than working traditionally, that the skill level would be lower, that anyone could achieve fantastic results.
However, I’ve found that opinion is completely false.
Yes, digital tools make certain aspects of drawing a bit easier, such as symmetry. However, it’s just as difficult to draw digitally as it is traditionally. It’s taken me a long time to get my pen ‘brushes’ set up so they mimic my traditional pens. It’s taken me a long time to be able to draw on the screen with the same precision and smoothness of lines as I can on paper. It’s been like learning to write and draw again.
I’ve had to learn, and continue to learn, a whole new skill set that you don’t need with traditional pen and paper.
I can do things digitally that I could never do with traditional media.
Digital drawing, digital art is NOT traditional art’s poor cousin. Drawing digitally, as well as coloring digitally, does not mean I’ve gone over to the dark side at all.
I’ve had comments made about mandalas I’ve drawn digitally, taking as much time over them as if I’d drawn them traditionally, that it’s a pity that they’re digital, as if my skill, my creativity is less because I use the digital tools. That made me feel pretty worthless at the time, to be honest, and comments like that say a lot either about the tastes or prejudices of the person making the comment.
They liked the mandala until they saw it was digitally created, which meant they no longer liked it.
More recently someone showed me a comment about one of my coloring books where the person didn’t like it because I’d drawn the images digitally so I’d sold out and gone to the dark side. There was none of the human touches or faint lines where pencil had been erased (erm, there’s never any of that in my work as I’m asked to clean it all up!), that the lines are too perfect, too much copying and pasting was used (never – except in one template) and so on.
Again, this said a lot about their prejudices. I work hard to keep the human touches in my art work – the wibbly lines, the imperfect circles and so on. The pens that have the irregular edges.
It’s almost like those who choose to do digital art are somehow less than traditional artists – less skilled, less hardworking, less human, less creative, less talented.
I don’t think I am. I think I do a fairly good job with digital and traditional media, often mixing the two together such as when I digitally color a traditionally drawn design.
I don’t think I’m lazy by drawing digitally – it takes me longer, even when I use the symmetry tool for mandalas, to create a mandala as I’m able to add more details.
I like to think I have a good level of skill in traditional art and that I’m getting better with the digital art.
I’m sure I don’t take full advantage of the digital medium as I seem to try to work in it as I would as a traditional artist! I just treat it as a different brand of pen, a different kind of paper, and a different kind of coloring medium, with the ability to layer and use a huge color palette.
I work hard to keep my style of drawing quintessentially ‘Angela Porter’ no matter whether I draw traditionally or digitally.
In my next book for Creative Haven, Entangled Forests (available for pre-order), I actually have a mixture of digitally drawn and traditionally drawn templates in there.
That’s a reflection of me, how I like to work, and how I can get the effects that I want in the drawing.
However, even with the traditionally drawn images there’s some digital ‘art’ going on as I have to scan them in, clean up smudges and errors and make corrections based on suggestions from the editorial team at Dover Publications Inc, and you’d be hard pressed to find these corrections and clean ups, though you may work out which is drawn digitally and which is drawn traditionally if you look hard.
One of the things on my list of things to do is to start a YouTube channel where I can show how I create my art. Perhaps that will help to end the stigma and discrimination that exists around digital artists, so that I, and others don’t get comments such as ‘ I liked it until I saw it was digital’ or ‘I used to like them until they sold out and gone to the dark side of digital drawing’.
A couple of years ago this would get to me. I’d lose my confidence in myself, I’d doubt myself, I’d want to give up. But not now. I take it in my stride. You can’t please all people all the time, especially as art is such a personal kind of thing.
However, comments such these say far more about the person making them and their likes/dislikes than they do about my art. On the back of a comment about me having sold out, it turns out that my newest book ‘Entangled Butterflies’ was fully stocked in a Walmart on Monday; by Thursday it had sold out, and one of the members of the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group had let me know they’d had the last copy.
Just a quick post today; I have a busy day with media training for Time to Change Wales at the Mind offices in Cardiff.
Feeling a bit panicked about parking somewhere I’m not familiar with and then walking to another place I’m not familiar with and doing something with people I don’t know.
It will be fine I’m sure.
Yesterday was very much a day of being kind to myself and taking care of myself. Therapy on Monday really caused some fall out and I was emotionally exhausted yesterday (and I think that is lingering today).
So, one way I take care of myself is to draw. This time, however, I lost myself in drawing detailed, abstract entangled art, like this one above. I do have another on the go which I’ll be hoping to complete tonight as part of my self-care after the training today.
I drew this using Sakura micron pens on dotgrid paper. After scanning into the ‘puter I used GiMP to remove the dot grid. Autodesk Sketchbook Pro was used for the finals steps of adding the background and watermarks, as well as placing the artwork on a black square so the image fits nicely in Instagram posts.
Today’s #inktober2018 prompt is ‘Flowing’, so I knew I had to incorporate ripples into my art for today. I also wanted a blue-green colour scheme, so I used Distress Inks and an ink blending tool to colour an A4 piece of Bristol Board from Frisk.
After drawing pencil lines to allow me margins, I set to work with a range of Uniball Unipin pens to draw my design.
I started with the wavy lines in the bottom left corner and just let everything flow out from there quite intuitively, as is usual for myself.
It’s taken me quite a while to do; I think I started it around 7:30am and it’s now nearly 3pm. Sheesh, that’s nearly 8 hours! Here was me at the beginning of Inktober stating I was going to do little drawings and so on.
However, there’s a dual purpose in today’s art.
Although I’m not doing anything specific for World Mental Health Day (#wmhd #worldmentalhealthday #wmhd2018) I am taking care of my own mental and emotional health by creating this drawing.
Yesterday was a tough day for me emotionally. In my role as a champion for Time to Change Wales (#ttcw) I gave an anti-stigma talk to HR people in a college, both of which triggered some quite strong emotional flashbacks for me.
A couple of hours after that talk ended, I had my weekly EMDR therapy session which resulted in some strong and painful releases of trauma stored in my body as well as some emotional flashbacks of trauma in my childhood that I’d dissociated from.
So between the two, I was emotionally exhausted yesterday evening and night and I woke up headachy and tired today.
Part of my self-care for my emotional and mental well-being is being creative and it just so happens that Inktober’s prompt was a perfect one for today, yet again.
When I get lost in my artwork I enter a state called ‘flow’. It’s a kind of meditative state of calm, peacefulness. My self-talk (which is often so very negative) is either quieted or loses it’s power over me. It’s almost like I’m outside of time and space.
So, the approx 8 hours of drawing (well more like 6 or 7 as I had a break to meditate mid-morning and took a short time out to get a veggie bacon sandwich for a late lunch) had just flown by.
I’m still tired, but there’s a peace there within me that wasn’t there when I woke.
Creating a drawing that is rather intricate is something I don’t get to do often when I’m working on coloring books, but it is definitely something that soothes my sore emotions and mind.
Not only is it time that the stigma and discrimination around mental health is brought to an end, it’s time we all looked after our mental and emotional health as much as we do our physical health.
I have a couple of chronic health problems and during my regular checkups I’m asked about my mental and emotional health as it’s known that people can develop mental ill-health when they live day to day with a chronic illness.
I know from personal experience that when I don’t take care of my emotional/mental health I become physically ill, so the state of our mental health, emotional health and physical health interact with one another, of that I’m sure.
So, try everyday to take the time to do something that lets you relax and find joy and peace in doing. There are so many things that people use for this – drawing, coloring, painting, playing music, gardening, walking, cooking, exercising, dancing, singing, meditation, mindful activities, taking a relaxing bath by candle light, a massage, a cup of tea somewhere with a beautiful view, a walk in the surf’s edge on a sunset beach, yoga, tai chi….the list goes on!
What do you do for your own mental and emotional self-care? What do you love to do where you can find yourself in ‘flow state’ or a meditative state that gives your mind a rest?
Today sees me do my third anti-stigma talk for Time to Change Wales as part of Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) 2018.
I am tired this morning. Each talk I do is emotionally draining. It also takes a lot of energy for me to keep up a happy, smiley and laughing mask when in public and not to get overwhelmed by my story and allowing aspects of it to re-traumatise me.
I put myself through this for some good reasons, and one of them is NOT attention seeking (which is what my narcissistic mother would say).
I really do believe it’s time for the stigma and discrimination that surrounds mental illness comes to an end. I know it’s not going to happen overnight, but little by little. I tell my story to give people an insight into what it’s like to experience depression, anxiety, hyperperfectionism, hypervigilance, emotional flashbacks, being overwhelmed by choices in a supermarket, not being able to get out of my car when I go to somewhere I want to visit, being in fear of going to do a job I used to love when I was a teacher, and more, CPTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder) is so complex.
I also want people to know that little changes in the work place can help people remain in work.
I want people to know that the social stereotypes of depression, anxiety and so many other mental illnesses are incorrect and that they lead to be people being stigmatised/prejudged and treated differently/discriminated against as a result of the urban myths that exist.
The more we can have conversations, the more people open up about what it’s like to experience mental illness, the more people will, hopefully, have a better understanding and the urban myths will lose their power.
Not only that, the self-stigmatisation that results in people not seeking help, acknowledging they are not thinking well of themselves, will result in people seeking that help and advice they need earlier.
On a more personal level, telling my story is helping me ‘own’ it, and though I still minimise the traumas I’ve experienced from a very young age, it’s helping me understand that they are not small little things that everyone goes through, as well as me understanding that it’s profound effect they’ve had on me that is the important thing as well as having counselling/therapy to help me heal from my past and have a healthier way of thinking about myself and living my life without avoiding all kinds of things for fear the same things will happen again and again.
I come home from a talk emotionally drained and tired; I either want to nap or just draw, or both, but not at the same time!
When I draw I like to just draw intuitively, drawing on my visual vocabulary of favourite shapes and patterns, and just let them flow onto the page. I can lose myself in that flow, I’m able to enjoy drawing familiar motifs and patterns and the intricacy of my work. Just letting things flow, drawing for the pleasure and contentment it brings me, the calmness that results, lets me put to oneside the anxiety I can feel when I’m creating for a particular contract, to put aside my hyperperfectionism and just go with the flow in a way that can be difficult when I’m drawing for a publisher and can add anxiety and frustration when I need to draw for peace and calm.
And that’s what this drawing helped me to do. Today, I hope I’ll be able to draw again, however after the talk today I’m taking a friend out for ice-cream and I think I have something occurring this evening too.
This year, in my role as a champion for Time to Change Wales, I’m giving (at the moment!) four anti-stigma talks to various organisations this week.
The aim of the Time to Change Wales campaign is to help to bring about an end to the stigma and discrimination that surrounds mental health. In my anti-stigma talk, I talk about the campaign and tell my own story of my mental health issues.
It’s not a secret, I have complex post-traumatic stress disorder (cptsd) that has resulted from constant trauma from emotional neglect, emotional and mental abuse from a very young age and that persisted throughout my life until the past two or three years.
EMDR therapy with a fabulous therapist is really helping me and my mental health is so much better than it used to be.
If I help just one person through my talks, then it’s a worthwhile exercise.
For myself, it’s helping me to ‘own’ my own story and to not minimise the effect the traumas of my life have had on me, on the way I think about myself, about how I behave to avoid triggers or more trauma, and to begin to live a healthier more rewarding life.
Art is not only how I make a living now, but it is also my therapy, my way of helping myself when I’m anxious or depressed or stressed. It helps me to find my balance again, even if temporarily.