I’ve had a busy day today. It started with therapy late this morning. Then, I took myself off to the National Botanic Garden of Wales in Llanarthne for a walk and to look at, photo and draw some flora and foliage. I must admit I took more photos than I made sketches.
If you’d like to read more about my trip then please visit Curious Stops and Tea Shops, my other blog which is all about my trips out and about.
I have been working on this artwork where I’m working on a dark background with a soft pastel type effect upon it.
The colours are a lot brighter on my monitor than on wordpress. However, I’m sure you’ll get the idea. I like the floaty, fuzzy, ethereal feel the soft edged ‘pastels’ give the art. I also like the way I can get colours to glow against each other – very coral reef I think.
I’m still finding my way through this way of working. I’m not sure that it really is ‘me’; part of me thinks that it’s quite childish. I will persevere though and see where it leads me.
I’m still in self-soothing mode after Monday’s emotionally draining trigger and EMDR session. I’m feeling a lot brighter, content, and not worried, but I’m tired as the stress from Monday is still affecting my sleep. It takes days for the stress hormones to leak away from me, bearing in mind I always have an elevated level thanks to the CPTSD.
Any way, back to art…
My self-soothing arty activity involved adding some patterns and motifs to my visual Zibladone (kind of a journal thingy). Always a soothing kind of experience for me. It also gave me the practice with pen on paper that I’ve discovered I need to do daily.
While drawing these patterns and motifs, I knew I wanted to try to create some of them in colour, with a lot of texture and dimension. So, the best way for me to do this is with a mandala. Well, that’s what I ended up starting work on. Originally I wanted to create a page similar to one in my Zibladone, with examples of motifs and patterns that are drawn/coloured digitally.
I may turn my attention to that after I’ve had some lunch. I’ll see.
Yesterday, I also completed the August template for the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group. I’ll post an image of it tomorrow, but it’s up in the group already, along with a colour palette challenge for August. The template is exclusive to members of the group, and new members are always made welcome there. I’m always blown away by the beautiful and unique ways in which the members of the group bring my line art to life with the magic of colour.
I’ve got some more of this design done today. It’s growing quite nicely I think.
I’ve also managed to save the WIP file as the cropped image, like above. So, I’ll have to try to either combine the original drawing with this one, or just work with the square format. Either way would work I think. Maybe. Perhaps.
For now it’s become too warm, too uncomfortable for me to work in my work area, which is upstairs. Time for me to move downstairs to a cooler room until this one cools off somewhat.
Today is set to be one of the hottest days in the UK on record. Here, my weather app tells me it’s 28ºC (that’s 82.4ºF for those who still measure temperature that way). While not hot for some parts of the world, it’s way too hot for me! I’m starting to wilt…badly.
We have a fifty-fifty chance of thunderstorms forecast for early evening and again later in the night. I hope they arrive, with rain to cool things down so I can sleep! So long as it’s not a little rain which then creates high humidity…
Us Brits are very good at talking about (read complaining about) the weather. We have quite changeable weather here on our little islands thanks to the location on the eastern edge of the Atlantic and right where the Gulf Stream can flow along our western edges. It makes for some interesting weather for sure.
No matter what the weather is doing, we find something to moan about it. It’s a national pastime!
Anyways, it’s too hot for me to continue working, even with a fan on, as the Surface Studio is blowing out hot air. The fan is circulating warm air. And being upstairs in a south facing room, it gets rather warm on days like this.
When it cools, I shall return to art, but for now I’m either going to go crochet or read in the cooler environs of my living room
I’ve managed to get a bit more of this design done today.
I’m finding I’m enjoying working ‘freeform’ i.e. without a sketch. I’m just adding shapes and patterns that I particularly like and trying out colour combinations that may work well together and alongside others.
Also, I’m finding that the more I work digitally, the more my head is getting around this digital lark.
As usual, my digital tools are Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, a Microsoft Surface Pen along with a Surface Studio.
So Angela, how are you today?
I had a good night’s sleep, sleeping through to nearly 8 am from just before midnight. I felt really upbeat and ticketty boo, once I’d come around. It takes me ages to wake up properly these days and I have no idea when that crept up on me!
All the same, I felt up to some ‘adulting’. Today, that involved posting a couple of packages off and doing some shopping.
I also have to say that I’m quite content, and today I don’t seem to have much anxiety. I noticed yesterday that I kept trying to find it or to make myself anxious so that I could feel it.
When did this happen that the anxiety has not vanished but diminished noticeably.
And here’s me thinking that Monday’s EMDR didn’t have much of an effect …
And that is all I have to say about that today, other than I do have to go and do a bit more ‘adulting’ in the form of cooking a healthy meal. I really fancy a curry … one with lots and lots of veggies!
I was looking at the monogram I started a few days back and I’m really not happy with it at the moment. I don’t like the shape of the letter. So, I thought I’d try out a more ‘blocky’ letter. I also thought I’d try filling the letter with abstract patterns and shapes to see how that goes too.
You can see the result of my last two or three hours of work. I like what’s happening here, but I’m not too sure about my colour choices. Time to get limited colour palettes going again I think!
I’m perplexed as to how I can so easily create abstract mandalas that are really quite complex, but something like this seems to cause me no end of troubles.
I will persevere. I always do when it’s art.
As usual, I’m using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro along with a Microsoft Surface Pen and Surface Studio.
So, tell me Angela, how are you today?
I’m tired. I’m content but feeling ‘flat’ at the same time. The ‘flatness’ is draining some of the contentedness away from me today. I don’t feel as ebullient as I did in the last week.
EMDR yesterday was puzzling, confusing and overwhelming. I also think I went with the expectation of the same kind of thing happening as last week.
Last week, we worked with one negative belief about myself and the image that popped up when I thought of myself as a baby or child while holding that belief and the feelings it generated inside me.
This week I went to therapy with an image of a ‘monster’ that had cropped up this week.
While processing in EMDR, the negative thoughts just kept coming and coming. The pain and sensations in my body were quite overwhelming.
At the end of the session, my therapist said we need to go back to how we’d worked in the last couple of weeks.
I’m so glad that despite the tiredness and flatness, the contentedness is still there, despite me feeling deflated from EMDR yesterday. Me being overly tired isn’t really helping things either.
I left the session feeling tired and I wanted to sleep. I couldn’t, however, as I had a commitment in the evening. That left me more tired. I really haven’t slept enough overnight to overcome the tiredness. It’ll soon be time to nap I think!
However, I did wake up with an idea about what I could do about a monogram, and wanted to explore that.
I also have to remind myself that yesterday in EMDR wasn’t a step backwards. It was finding out that the way to work is with a negative belief, just one, to prevent overwhelming, confusing sessions. Maybe not a lot of processing was done yesterday, but a lesson was learned.
On a positive note, I did some ‘adulting’ yesterday that involved going into a branch of my bank to pay a couple of cheques in and to enquire as to whether I’d received a payment, and to get the online banking thingy sorted it. It won’t let me log on. I can’t log on until I recieve this card reader thingy, but it should be a lot easier to do so in the future – woohoo!
I also had lunch in the park in Neath. Eating while out and about can be a huge problem for me, but yesterday I had the courage to do this again.
So, when I see those two things, I can see how much progress I have made, even though the tiredness and deflation are sapping me of a little bit of positivity today.
It’s only temporary, the tiredness and deflation. A nap could seriously help me out!
It’s coming along as I take a break from drawing coloring templates. Working on something like this clears my mind of the coloring template just completed and lets me start afresh on the next one.
I’m not entirely sure about the darker ring of motifs. However, I know there’s a point in creating art that things seem to be going horribly wrong. All that I need to do is to push through that, keep going, and it will turn out OK.
I am trying to work within a palette of greens, green-blues and golds. I want to keep my palette fairly simple. So far, it seems to be working out ok.
So, Angela, how are you doing today?
I’m doing fine, feeling quite content with that soft inner smile, though I woke with a horrible headache. I think that was due to an anxious time at a meeting last night. I often suffer something that is migraine-like as quite elevated anxiety gradually leaks away to return to my usual background level.
Oh! The joys of CPTSD.
Today, I’ve also noticed that I have a hair-trigger for increased anxiety. A knock at the door, voices outside have had me feeling very anxious and somewhat scared. Need to get my noise-cancelling headphones, I think.
I often listen to either music or an audio-book while I create art. I also love to listen to a book as I crochet.
At the moment I’m listening to “Revan”, book number 2 in the Old Republic series of Star Wars books, just in case you’re interested in knowing that.
Anyway, back to my emotional health.
Being able to cut out the noise of the scary world outside the relative safety of my home is something that I do need to do when my anxiety is provoked. I am aware that too much of that and I can have a strong startle response and even head off into the realms of hyper-vigilance.
So, my next task today is to go get those headphones and put a load in the washing machine before returning to do some more art today. I think I may need some lunch too.
A bit more done this morning. Another 2.5 hours today for a total of 15.5 hours. Some hand lettering has been done today as well.
It’s coming along, slowly but surely.
I don’t think I’ll be doing much more today. I’m not feeling too well. More about that below though.
As usual, my tools for digital art are Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.
So, Angela, how are you today?
I’m not feeling too well. I woke up in the night all hot and sweaty with a very upset tummy again.
I was ok before my weekly EMDR therapy session. I think this bout of illness is linked to EMDR. It turned out to be a rather surprising session.
I had a bit to talk about with my therapist, Linda, to do with interesting bits of the book I’m reading “The Body Keeps The Score” by Bessel Van Der Kolk who is one of the foremost experts on traumatic stress.
For real change to take place, the body needs to learn that the danger has passed and to live in the reality of the present.
“The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel Van Der Kolk
Linda and I had a little chat we had about how important she thinks it is that I blog and talk about my CPTSD and how trauma in my life has affected my life so much.
Our scans had revealed how their dread persisted and could be triggered by multiple aspects of daily experience. They had not integrated their experience into the ongoing stream of their life. They continued to be “there” and did not know how to be “here” – fully alive in the present.
“The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel Van Der Kolk
She said she thinks its particularly important as people assume that PTSD/CPTSD can only come from major traumas in life, sexual abuse, physical abuse. We talked about how neglect from birth – emotional and physical – can be traumatic and can cause problems with relationships with others and the self, and how it sets up the patterns for the negative beliefs about oneself.
I certainly did experience emotional and physical neglect and I never really had somewhere that was safe. I do now. I live alone. My home is my sanctuary, my safe place, and I rarely invite people into my home. Even though my home is safe for me, noises outside – doors slamming, car horns beeping, loud voices (even happy ones) can provoke a startle response in me. This is relevant to what happened in EMDR this week.
Scared animals return home, regardless of whether home is safe or frightening. I thought about my patients with abusive families who kept going back to be hurt again. Are traumatised people condemned to seek refuge in what is familiar? If so, why, and is it possible to help them become attached to places and activities that are safe and pleasurable?
“The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel Van Der Kolk
It’s not just having a safe home that’s important for me. I can feel safe here. However, leaving my home can mean I feel unsafe, anxious, on edge and this prevents me from doing things that I’d like to do. Simple things like going into a cafe for a cup of tea, or into an unfamiliar shop, to get out of my car in an unfamiliar place and walk around, to name just a couple.
I never felt safe at home or anywhere else for as long as I can remember.
That one thing has had a huge impact on my life, and though I now have a safe place, there’s still so much to work on when I attempt to venture into the world and interact with it and with the people that inhabit it.
Anyway, back to yesterdays therapy session.
We went on to continue EMDR processing of the traumatic event that we were working on last week.
Lots of pain/feelings in my body as the trauma was being processed. The front door to the building was slammed and the noise caused me to become startled. Linda was really surprised at how strong my startle response to the noise was, especially as this hadn’t happened before. She asked how long I’ve had startle responses; I informed her for as long a I can remember. She checked back on a PTSD questionnaire (not the right word but I can’t think of what that is now) I’d done a number of years ago now and the startle response was there.
I was instantly on edge, anxious, wide eyed and hypervigilant and we did some calming and grounding exercises before going back to the orginal memory.
It was obvious that the memory we were working on was being flooded by the startle response. So the EMDR was brought to a close for this week.
We did some calming and safe space work before I left.
Apart from feeling a little more anxious than usual, I felt ok on my drive home, other than I was aware that my body was still processing trauma in the way I experience it during EMDR – so odd aches, pains, sensations. Linda did tell me to be prepared for this happening as the startle response had really upped the ante on the processing and has brought forward new stuff to work with, even if I don’t know what it is at the moment.
However, as time went on I started to feel more anxious, extremely exhausted, and rather teary.
I still feel that way now, even though I also feel quite content at the same time.
The contentedness is that ocean that is me, the other feelings are the weather that causes waves on the surface of that ocean. The weather is rather stormy today.
Doing art helps me to be more aware of that contentedness, that’s for sure, which is why I focus on doing art on days like this, or at least on creative ventures.
Having an an upset stomach after therapy is quite a common occurrence for me, and Linda tells me it happens to a lot of her clients. It’s part of the continuation of the processing and/or the heightened anxiety that I experience in EMDR and in the startle response and I feel that anxiety in my stomach/abdomen strongly.
It’s always there and it’s part of the reason I tend to overeat; if I’m overly full I feel uncomfortable from food not from the anxiety I feel.
So, I’m feeling exhausted today, my digestive system is feeling tender, fragile, and still a little (maybe more than a little) yeuchy. A quiet self-care day is in order I think with light food for sure. I suspect a good sleep will be on the cards too.
As much as I find comfort in doing art, there comes a time when I become dissatisfied with all that I do, and I reached that point with my ‘Be Brave’ WIP. I think a day of crocheting hexagons and adding them to the blanket I’m making for a friend may be in order, and watching something on TV or DVD that soothes me, so that may be Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter or the like. It may be that I listen to an audiobook, though I tried doing that earlier and I kept having to rewind as I couldn’t pay attention to it in the way I’d like to.