Holly Mandala – Version 2

© Angela Porter 2018

I woke early this morning, it was still dark. The night has now lifted to reveal a dull, grey, misty, damp morning here in the Valleys of South Wales.

I wanted to re-colour the holly mandala in a more traditional colour scheme of red, green and gold, and so I have done so.

The colours help to give an illusion of dimension to the concentric rings in the design. Of course, the colours are kind of my signature – bright and jewel-like. I chose to change the background colour from stark black to a very dark, inky night-sky blue. I did add some lighter texture to the background to break the colours up just a tad.

It’s worked out ok. I think I prefer it muchly to the green foil version. The foil images are fun to do, that’s for sure. And of course they’ve allowed me to work out another way of creating art digitally, which is essentially by removing black to reveal the design. This has resulted in me drawing my motifs in a slightly different way to how I’d usually do them. They definitely have more of that lino-cut feel to them with the simplification of designs and lines. I like that.

I also like how the holly berries in the outer ring seem to be floating above and below the leaves. That wasn’t intentional! It’s just how it’s all worked out.

Sprinkling stars everywhere is one of my favourite things to do it seems and they do add a little magic to this design for sure.

Which version do you prefer? This one or yesterday’s green foiled version?

Tools used – Microsoft Surface Pen and Surface Studio. Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.

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.

Wednesday Work In Progress

©Angela Porter 2018

Wednesday is #wipwednesday around the interwebs and sometimes it manifests itself on this blog.

This is my current work in progress, well just a part of it. I drew the design using various pens on paper and then scanned it in. I’m part way through colouring the image. It’s going to take me many hours to finish it, but that won’t be today. I have appointments this afternoon.

I am coloring it digitally with the usual tools – Microsoft Surface Studio, Microsoft Surface Pen and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. I’m trying to keep to a winter/yule/christmas kind of colour scheme. That means the purple coloured ‘berries’ may have to be changed, but that’s easy enough to alter when working digitally.

#createdonsurface #quartoknows #autodesksketchbook

Winter Solstice 2014

Winter Solstice 2014

Happy Solstice to you all!

A time to let go of what limits you in your life’s progress, of what is now done with of what you no longer need, all in order to make space for the new.

I finally had time today to spend on art for pure pleasure for myself.  Much of my art of late has been for publishers as wll s in my art journal.  Doing this work is really enjoyable, but it has to fit a brief, whereas the work above just flowed from my pen without any thought or form to begin with.

Winter Solstice 2013

Winter Solstice 2013 © Angela Porter 2013

 

Another astronomical cycle completed as the Earth returns to the point of solstice once again.  The first day of Winter.  A time to reflect on the year behind, successes and otherwise.  A time to be willing to let go of all that has run it’s course, either by being completed or no longer needed, to make space for new growth as the Sun grows in power once again, increasing the amount of light flooding the Earth (well the Northern Hemisphere).

For whatever reason, it seems more natural to me to follow markers in time and the symbolism of the waxing and waning cycles of the Sun and how that relates to the patterns that we see reflected in our lives than does anything else. All a bit odd coming from a scientist, perhaps.

This year I will be looking on it as a continuation of a new start in my life.  I have been off work since the middle of November and it really is time to let go of the old patterns of negative thinking about myself that have so blighted my life and experiences.  It’s not going to be easy; fifty years of them whispering and disempowering and controlling me is a very long time.  It can be done and I have to see it as a long term process, with the help of my doctor.  It’s not been easy to admit I need help with all of this, or to acknowledge, truthfully to myself, the impact it has all had on myself.

However long it has taken me, I’m at that point where little steps are needed, and I do have to understand it is little steps, that this can’t be sorted instantly or overnight.

There’s been a complex set of circumstances that led me to this point of requesting help, not least of which was the nagging of a dear friend to get the help needed; it took them over a year to get through to me, that’s how much in denial I have been. However, we did get there.

I’m not prepared to air the circumstances here, where anyone and everyone can see them.  Those who know me will know what they are, maybe.  Those who don’t can infer for themselves what this may be about.

All I know is that I’m quietly on the mend now, slowly but surely, and that is all that matters.

My love and thanks go out to that dear friend who nagged me.  My love and thanks to my little sister who has made sure that I don’t totally lock myself away all the time.  My love and thanks to those I’ve seen and spoken to in the past few weeks, and before that, who have helped and supported me.

Calendar change-over eve…

The old to the new

Well, the end of the calendar year, and the astronomical year if the Winter Solstice is seen as the end of one cycle and the start of the next, has come with a pile of revelations from a friend and a series of bangs that have released some inner demons and tears and uncovered an emptiness and knotted-ness in my gut area.

I’m pleased for my friend, don’t get me wrong.  At last they are taking the little yet huge step they need to take to release them from a situation that is untenable for them and into a new phase of their life’s journey.  I wish them happiness and joy and love.  I worry that they are chasing a rainbow, a dream that will not live up to reality, they’ll find the grass isn’t greener, but I know that they’ll find themselves progressing forward in a way they couldn’t where the currently are at.

Their excitement, fear, trepidation, hope and all the other things their going through has stirred up some ‘stuff’ within me that needs to be worked on and examined, which are, in no particular order:

  • Job and Career – Teaching is no longer healthy for me and though I find pleasure and satisfaction in some areas of the job, increasingly I’m finding it harder and harder to cope with other aspects of it.  I need to look at myself and what I can offer in terms of being an employee and what I need from a workplace in order to feel appreciated, valued, successful and that I am achieving good and truly helping people.  What kind of career I want, I don’t know.  Maybe training as a hypnotherapist will lead me along the way.  However, I do know I need to identify what I’d like to do, and that starts with what I can do and so on.
  • Relationships – I’ve been single for, gosh, thirteen and a half years now.  Along the way I’ve had many experiences placed along the spectrum of good to absolutely goddam awful.  I’ve felt time and time again the hurt of rejection and the blow it delivers to my self-esteem, self-respect and so on, and of course I realise that I expected nothing else.  Well, it’s about time that changed and it’s time for me to learn about relationships…big step for me.  How I do this, I don’t know, but it will start with me looking at myself honestly at the qualities I have, good and not so good, and come to accept and care about myself.
  • Friendships – I have a small number of very good friends, but learning to ask for help and accepting it when it is given is … a big hurdle for me.  I’ve had to be strong and independent for so long, to prove I can do it, that admitting I can’t is a big thing.
  • Creativity – I do not do enough to develop my writing skills and to weave stories.  I doubt my ability to do this.  I fear plagiarising, being unoriginal, being boring or trite.  I fear failure (damn that ultra-perfectionist part of me that doesn’t recognise when something is good enough).  I feel a sense of being overwhelmed when I think about telling a tale.  The result is I do nothing.  I also am lacking inspiration in art, finding myself doing the same kind of thing over and over and over …

The common threads running through all of this involve me learning to love myself by knowing who I am and to accept myself for this, warts and all.  I need to raise my self-esteem, my confidence, to be brave enough to start something.  Above all else, I need to find the courage to be brave enough to share something of myself with others.

To follow tradition or not?

This year, more than at any other time, I’ve found the traditions and the significance of events more puzzling and confusing.

The rational scientist in me recognises that time is a continuous flow, the only markers on time are the ones we place there so that we can agree on when we are talking about and the meaning we attach to those markers is manufactured to satisfy a need for predictable events in our lives, to bring some kind of order to what appears to be an otherwise random and chaotic existence.

Then the more spiritual aspect of me kicks in and says that it’s OK to do this, to mark the various points on the wheel of the year, the various events that we celebrate, the things we give meaning to.  They connect us together, for we are all connected, not just to all other human beings, not just to all life on Earth, but to the very stuff the Earth and, indeed, the Universe is made out of, the energy that constantly flows round and round.

We are not disconnected from the cycles that we can observe on this planet.  We may rationalise that they are caused by scientific laws, that they have no meaning.

However, I’m coming to realise that they do have meaning.  They bring us together and remind us that we are not separate, that what one of us does impacts on the whole, to a greater or lesser degree.  By honouring the traditions we connect to the patterns that are stored in the universal consciousness for humans have been honouring the same observed patterns and events over many, many generations.  It’s a way of honouring our forebears, of connecting to the present day, and of speaking to the future too.

It’s important, however, to decide if the particular traditions or observances fit in with your own philosophy, why you celebrate in the way you do, and to recognise that it is perfectly acceptable to change them as you grow and develop as a person, and not to just follow them blindly because you have always done them.  It is, of course, perfectly acceptable to create traditions of  your own too.

It may be that because I lead a very solitary existence, traditions celebrated by oneself have not really had any particular meaning, or have changed as my spiritual philosophy has grown and developed over the years.  Perhaps it is important that I find which traditions, which celebrations have meaning to me, and develop ways of observing them that lets me understand where they have come from, the meaning they have for me at this time, and how they will impact on the future.

Of course, I’m not sure if all of that made any sense at all!  Sometimes I need to get it out of me by writing and mithering and wittering on.

Winter Solstice 2011

Today is the Winter Solstice, well the astronomical solstice at least.  The Sun left Sagittarius and entered Capricorn at 05:31GMT this morning and that is the exact point of the solstice.

The Winter Solstice has long been marked as a special time for many millennia.  Our ancient forebears built stone monuments that tracked the passage of the Sun across the sky as the seasons changed; to them it was important to know when it would soon be time to plant the fields so that food would be plentiful once again.

The pattern of observing the Winter Solstice, and other festivals throughout the winter, and indeed throughout the rest of the year, is set in the fabric of our society, though the names of the celebrations, and the precise date of them, have changed over time, and what was once a religious celebration has become, for many in Britain, a secular celebration involving the exchange of gifts, the consumption of food and drink and time with loved ones (though this is not the case for all – let us not forget there are many who have no friends or family or home at this time of year).

There are plenty of places on the world-weird-web where you can find out about the origins of the various traditions that people observe at this time of year in the many cultures that have winter festival.

It has become my own tradition on this day that I spend time in the morning writing in my journal, reflecting on where I have come from and where I’d like to go in the coming months.  Well, that’s the plan, but that rarely happens as my pen gets hijacked by my unconscious mind and lots of things flow onto the paper, many insights and things to consider and ponder, much of which I won’t share with others as it is for me.

Part of my musings I will share concern the passing of time and the meaning we put on various events to help bring order to our lives, and some kind of certainty to the future amid all the seeming chaos and randomness of our lives.  I realised, that it’s important to me to understand why something is celebrated or why a particular traditional activity is done at any particular time of year.

I am finding that as I grow and develop as a person, as a spiritual being, that what I once did no longer makes sense to me; rather than beating myself up about abandoning something that once made sense, worrying that I was being too lazy or turning my back on things, I’ve realised that things do change as I change and understand more.  That is, for me, an important realisation.

Of course, I feel the pressures to conform and I make sure I respect others’ beliefs and traditions and do as they would wish at this time.  However, I have to feel comfortable in my own skin, in my own view of how the Universe seems to work from my point in it.

Another important realisation to come from this mornings musings is that it is most important to remain open  minded about all kinds of things; even though I may have my own views, ideas, theories, experiences, observations and so on at this time, that may change as I experience more and grow and develop.  Being blinkered to other possibilities, to there being no other ways may be what underlies so many of the world’s problems (and greed, never forget the power of greed …).

As I’ve said, there was much more and it made sense to me.  Maybe I’ll share more once I’ve worked through and processed it all.

What this leaves me with is to wish you all the very brightest blessings of the season, the most wonderful wishes for the next cycle of the seasons, no matter how you celebrate or why you celebrate!