Monogram S dangle design

©Angela Porter 2019

Over the last couple of days we’ve had some glorious late winter, sunny, mild weather. The kind of weather that can uplift my spirits.

It’s also lovely to see the late winter flowers bursting into bloom – snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils – and even celandines and daisies showing the heads in the sunshine. I also spotted the first signs of pussy willow about to burst into its furry delightfulness. The cascading catkins always lift my spirits. They’re all signs that winter is coming to an end and spring is waiting ready to burst forth.

I woke this morning with the idea of a simple monogram dangle design in my head. I knew it had to have a pusscat in it along with a snowdrops. It’s been a while since I included a cat in a dangle design, but today is the perfect day for that. Actually, every day is a perfect day to draw a cute, cuddly cat. A white cat to match the white snowdrops. I also included a paw print charm; my beautiful white cat, Cuffs, certainly left very deep paw prints on my heart and though I said goodbye to him last year after over 16 years with him as my companion he lives on in those paw prints and my memories of him.

The monogram had to be an S for snowdrops and spring. The monogram also had to have a spring flower as part of it’s design.

I’ve chosen quite a pastel and simple colour scheme for this dangle design to reflect the more pastel colours of spring. I also included a black and white chequerboard frame for the monogram, to add some contrast and some ‘weight’ to the design, grounding it onto the paper.

A sunny blue background with the cooler sky colours of winter but with the warmth of the sun seemed appropriate. It reminds me of these glorious days we’ve had that are presaging the coming spring.

I started by sketching my design out with pencil on paper. I scanned this sketch in and then re-drew the design with a technical pen ‘brush’ in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro using a Microsoft Surface Pen on the screen of a Microsoft Surface Studio. Then it was time to colour, again working digitally in this instance.

My final job was to choose a square background and I wanted one that spoke of sunshine and the threshold of spring, so I went for a soft yellow watercolour wash.

The whole task has taken me around 2 hours to do. It’s a simple design, with simple colouring.

If you like this dangle design and would like to learn how to draw your own then my book ‘A Dangle A Day’ takes you through the steps and has lots of dangles you can use to create your own designs as well as suggestions for where you could use them.

February dangle design

©Angela Porter 2019

Friday is dangle day here in my arty world, and as it’s the first day of February the dangle needs to relate to that!

I created this design for members of the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group (where today is furbaby friday). If you pop over then, join, then you can download the template to colour yourself.

The world is still in the grip of winter; I woke up this morning to a coverlet of snow covering everything. Yet again, I’m am so grateful that I work at home and don’t have to go out until it clears, even if that takes a day or so.

I wanted the colours in the dangle to reflect winter, but I also made Valentine’s Day a focus for the design, and I used that as an opportunity to include some more bits of hand lettering.

I did sketch the design out on Rhodia dot grid paper then scanned it in. I then re-drew the design digitally using my usual trio of Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Book.

Today, I have a template or two to create for a colouring day at the Welsh Office in Cardiff on Time to Talk Day next Thursday. Time to Talk Day is the day where we’re encouraged to talk to people about mental health and well being. I don’t have anything to do on this day for Time to Change Wales, yet, or at any point in the week. I do have other projects to work on as well.

My own anxiety seems to have slid back to it’s usual constant background level after a stressful time earlier this week. It takes time. Mindfulness meditation helps somewhat, but it does take time for those stress response chemicals/hormones to leach out from my body even when I calm myself down.

Doing art does help too.

My book that takes you through drawing and designing dangles step by step – A Dangle A Day – is now published. Lots of ideas and examples of dangle designs are included in the book.

Monograms M and G

Yesterday was a day where I was out of sorts for some unspecified reason. Drawing little, intricate bits of art was the only thing that helped to soothe me and calm me. Along with comfort eating, which was not good way to cope.

I get days like this. I have no idea what triggered this response. It may have been a visit to my accountant on Tuesday and the tax bill to pay – I have absolutely nothing to worry about with either, but dealing with finances is a trigger for the anxiety and depression that are part of my cPTSD.

I know I was on edge about the meeting, even though I knew there would be nothing to worry about. The anxiety had been gradually growing through the previous few days. This anxiety provoked the warning signs of an incipient migraine/stress headache on Tuesday morning. Luckily I caught it in time with painkillers so that it didn’t develop into a full blown migraine and after the meeting I was left tired but feeling more at ease.

Yesterday, the anxiety ramped up again as I went to get the paperwork and bank card to make the payments. So, yesterday I needed to manage my anxiety and tiny, intricate drawings were what was needed.

Today, I know I have to do these things, and I will. I don’t have the anxiety I had about them yesterday. I think yesterday was just too close to a few days of spiralling anxiety as accounts day approached closer and closer.

cPTSD can make doing the simple things in life far more difficult to do. I do get things done, though I do have to be kind to myself at times, making sure I have plenty of time before the deadline.

I used fountain pens on white paper to draw the designs. The M is on paper that is around 4″ x 4″, the G is a little narrower than 4″ for some reason.

After scanning them in, I did a bit of digital wizardry to fill the letters with a gold foil texture, just to see what it would look like, and they look OK to me. I’m not too keen on the black line around the G though. I do like the contrast of the golden letters and the black and white designs around them.

Today, I have to colour the cover for my next book for Dover Publications Creative Haven series. And keep warm and safe. I woke up to a lovely sunrise with a frosty world – everything was covered with white. I know the temperature was down to -3ºC last night as I came home around 10:30 pm, and it would only have got colder as the skies were clear and starry. It’s beginning to go now, but clouds have covered the sky.

The frost is beginning to disappear now, but clouds have covered the blue skies. Snow is forecast for a bit later on today. I like to see snow. I like the way the world falls silent in heavy snow as it seems to muffle the usual background noise of modern times. I’m wise enough to know that for me to go out in snow is never a wise idea; I tend to slip and slide and fall and hurt myself. So, as I have nothing pressing that requires me to leave home, I’ll be staying safe and warm indoors! Once the cover is coloured, my attention will go to February’s templates for the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans Facebook group. Someone there has asked for some simpler templates like my dangle designs, so I think that’s exactly what I’m going to do!

May You Know …

©Angela Porter 2019

…love, peace, joy, health.

I started drawing this one a couple of days ago using a fine nib fountain pen on paper. I’ve spent much of today finishing the drawing and I’ve just started to add colour digitally. Not sure about the colour yet though.

The words appeared intuitively, instinctively as I was drawing. Something’s obviously bubbling in my unconscious mind, most probably a result of the loving kindness meditations I’m continuing to do.

It’s always relaxing for me to draw in this way – just letting shapes and patterns flow from the nib onto the page without too much in the way of consideration or fretting about what appears. Partway through the whole drawing, or even sections, it looks like a total hot mess to me, but I push forward. To give in would be easy, to persevere takes a bit of effort. The effort is usually worth it though; my past experiences have taught me this.

I’m looking out of my window as I’m typing. I can see jackdaws swooping and wheeling in the now sunny skies. We’ve just had a wintry snow shower, which hasn’t lasted on the ground at all. The black feathery jokers are revelling in their fun and games in the air, exuberant in the dry but cool air and the sunshine. There are veritable clouds of them and I know they’ll soon return to their roosts, cloaking the winter-bare trees with their featheriness and raucous caws. I’m smiling as I watch them. I do have a big soft spot for the corvids of this world. Their antics delight me, especially the ones that zoom past the window next to my work area! They whooshed off to my left and now some are whooshing back to my right. What a lovely sight close to the end of the daylight hours!

It also brings back memories of sitting with my cat perched upon my chest, both of us looking out of the window and watching the jackdaws flying by, and in the summer dusk hours bats. His eyes would be wide and alert as his head spun back and forth, avidly watching the flying critters. I’d be equally delighted watching the antics of both the flying and cwtched up critters! So many precious times with my companion to treasure though he has been gone to pusscat heaven for nearly 9 months. I’m sure he’s still keeping an eye on things that fly , wherever his little soul, spirit is residing!

Watching the birds brings me some joy and peace too. And happy memories of my companion of sixteen years.

RSPB Newport – a mandala

Yesterday I took a short trip for a short visit to the RSPB reserve in Newport, Gwent.

With dark, leaden skies with golden sunshine pouring through gaps in the cloud cover the lighting was dramatic; it caused the winter colours to positively glow against the dark blue-grey of the sky.

This mandala is my response to those colours, along with some very stylised motifs from the things I saw – arching branches, dancing golden grasses, fungi and more.

I took photographs as I took a walk around part of the reserve. I also stopped to record my observations, my thoughts, in words in my journal.

I surprised myself…

It was all a bit of a spur of the moment decision to head to the wetlands reserve. I was still feeling headachy and emotionally drained after my Time to Change Wales talk to the police yesterday. I needed to do something to help shift this and to lift my mood and getting out and about is something I do struggle with, hugely. Anxiety about being around people kicks in and I can become almost paralysed with it. However, today I didn’t. Perhaps because the reserve is familiar to me; I have been there a few times before. However, I’ve never really taken much of a walk around it. That has always been a problem for me.

But not today. Today, I walked along some paths that were unfamiliar to me. I didn’t go all that far, though my walk took an hour. I did fear getting lost there, but I kept my eye on some fairly obvious landmarks such as wind turbines, the lighthouse at Nash and the huge powerstation. Being able to see these gave me some confidence that I knew what direction to head in to return to the visitors centre. If I strayed from where I could see at least one of them, I backtracked and took a different route.

Most of the people walking and visiting the reserve smiled and said hello, as did I, and that helped me feel at ease too. That, and the rhythm of walking, the sounds of nature – birdsong, rustling leaves in the breeze – and I took pleasure in moving my body, which is something that is new to me.

It’s also something I need to remember and try to get a walk into my schedule most days, somewhere where there’s nature but also where I feel safe to walk. In the wilds by myself is not a good idea, but somewhere like RSPB Newport, with it’s structured. signposted paths is a good idea. Or the beach…somewhere I’ve not been since July, yet it’s only a 40 minute drive away from me.

I forget all too easily how good it is for my mental health to take a walk where there’s nature, birdsong, and not too many people.

As I walked, I could feel the tension leach from me, down through my feet into the forgiving and loving earth. With each step and each breath I felt the anxiety ease little by little. The headache began to lift as well. By the time my walk was over I felt much better. There were still cobwebs left by the headache, but they were manageable.

When I returned to the visitors centre, I browsed in the shop and finally managed to find a raven pin badge! I also bought a small guide to trees. I also had a nice lunch and a very welcome mug of tea in the cafe there, where I continued to write and reflect in my journal until it was time to return home ahead of the rush hour traffic.

Back to art…

I love the stained glass feel of this design. I did try working with the colours in the style of my latest mandalas, but it just didn’t seem to work out for me. Perhaps I was trying to work a step, or several steps, too far for me to be comfortable with that change.

There’s also something about the black lines that gives a definite form to the mandala and this reminds me of how in winter I can can see the underlying form, the architecture that usually is hidden beneath leaves and flowers.

As is my way, I used my Microsoft Surface Pen, Microsoft Surface Studio and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro to draw and colour this mandala.

I used my photos of my visit to get the colour palette I used. And for me this is an unusual colour palette, but it reflects very much nature’s palette on the day and time that I visited.

There’s a bit more about my visit on my other blog – Curious Stops and Tea Shops.

Hello Gorgeous – A dangle design card

©Angela Porter 2019

Friday is dangle day! Well, it is for me. I like to finish the working week off with a cute dangle design, and today I chose to do a greetings card or note card with a decorated envelope.

The media I used were :

  • pencil and ruler
  • 05 Uniball Unipin pen
  • Copic markers
  • Kuretake Zig Wink of Stella brush pen
  • Claire Fontaine mixed media paper
  • Distress ink and sponge applicator
  • Kraft card and envelope
  • Sticky foam squares
  • Two self-adhesive gems
  • White Uniball Signo gel pen

As it’s still winter I thought some snowdrops would be appropriate, along with some crocus buds along with an evergreen wreath. Stars and hearts are always favourites of mine to include, as well as some swirls and spirals.

I chose quite cool and pastel colours for the design, along with very simple shading. The Wink of Stella added a little sparkle to the hearts, stars, beads and snowdrops in the design. A couple of self-adhesive gems added a touch of interest to the ribbon banner.

I used faded jeans Distress Ink to edge the paper panel, which I adhered to another slightly larger panel which I found in my stash of Distress Ink coloured papers ready to use. This one was also edged with faded jeans Distress Ink.

I then used Tombow Mono glue to stick the panel to the card blank.

I drew a simple arrangement of snowdrops and buds on the envelope in white ink and added some spirals and swirls to ‘ground’ the pot. I’m not happy with the spirals/swirls though, but it’s only an envelope so if I send this card to someone I can always decorate another envelope!

Replace the wreath with a photo of the recipient and you’d have a lovely, personalised keepsake of a card.

This design would also make a lovely page in a bujo (bullet journal), planner, scrapbook, or journal too.

My hand lettering is a little rusty; I’ve not done much in the past week or so as my focus has been on mandalas and work for my next book.

My book ‘A Dangle A Day’ shows how you too can create lovely dangle designs like this one, with ideas of how to use them.

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.