On Anxiety

I haven’t blogged for a while now.

I haven’t even been online as much as I used to either. I am now feeling a bit more comfortable speaking about things right now and so I will write.  The struggle is real and I don’t even talk about it with a lot of people.

Anxiety can be debilitating at times. It is not like a voice from outside you. It’s a voice within you and it’s not always loud. Sometimes it’s like a whisper that comes and goes many times. Sometimes it works its way to twist a small worry into a big one. I thought that I could handle these anxiety attacks because I managed them around the beginning of the year. But it turns out that around May this year, the anxiety attacks got so intense that I began to isolate myself. Social situations have been rough for me even if it’s just online interaction, honestly.  Even meeting with people face to face has been tough. It’s like I am back to my old self from many years ago: the girl who would want to go home all of a sudden when she learns that there’s going be more than five people attending a meet, a meet that has been planned even before. Even if they are people I already know, I have been panicking just at the thought of seeing so many. It’s irrational, I know. Nobody said that social anxiety is rational, right? I used to think that I was capable of handling that already, that I outgrew it. Well, it’s back with a vengeance and even if I hate it so much, I cannot just fight it all the time because it gets tiring. I am learning ways to deal with it and if I need to speak with someone about it, I try to reach out. It’s a work in progress, that reaching out thing. But one has to start taking baby steps, right?

Just last week, I had this realization that my mind is like a hank of yarn.  You need to unwind/unloop it then wind it into a ball, skein or cake of yarn it so that you could use it for a crochet project.  If you just use it directly from the hank, you’d end up tangling the strands. That’s not fun at all.  Am I saying that my mind is loopy? Well, in a sense it is.  It keeps on looping back into the worries, the fears, and everything that gets me so stressed out.  So right now, I am learning to observe myself by logging my daily mood, food intake, exercise, etc. As well as taking note of things that I am working on, need to work on.  The latter part is hard for me lately because I cannot focus at all. Sometimes I work on something and then I stop because I am worried about how bad it will turn out.  It’s like working with a hank of yarn when that happens – I pull at an idea and work on it but it gets tangled with the worries and so I end up stopping in the middle of things.

One of the things that has been sorta helping me get back into things is crochet.  I think that the repetitions in the patterns have been helping me see that maybe there’s a pattern to things, that they are workable, just take it one row at a time.  Having a tangible output makes me feel that I accomplished something usable and that contributes to the good mood. I used to avoid working on shawls but I realize now why people like making them: the repetitions are predictable, and when you are done after so long and you’re using the shawl, it feels good to see what you have done.

I am still not ok but I guess by making this post, I am asking for people to be patient with me. I am sorry for being absent but I will try to get back into the world slowly, integrating myself with people.

 

Advertisements

Refreshing the self

Every person has ups and downs. Sometimes we feel so drained and we’re just going through the motions of daily life. Or just wanting to sleep through the day. It happens. It is normal to feel that maybe sometimes life is overwhelming.

Honestly the past month or so has been like that for me. Maybe it’s because of certain days reminding me of regrets that I have harbored all this time. It’s been blocking me from doing things. It’s been a source of feeling overwhelmed, to be honest. I couldn’t even do simple things like logging the number of hours I slept, the food that I ate, my mood. My planner has been blank because I couldn’t be bothered to list down the things that are supposed to matter. So yeah, I totally needed to refresh my mind. It so happened that I was sick last week. And I was so down, physically. I was mainly lying in bed for how many days and my sister made sure I had water and soup accessible. It was that bad.

Today I am feeling better and so I went out and sought counseling time. It’s something I knew I needed to do but I didn’t have the push to do it. I was actually sick when I called up the center to ask for an appointment.  I guess being sick made me realize that I needed to do this for myself. I think I might try writing more about my mental health experiences in relation to how it affects my general state, my art practice, etc. I am truly affected by downtimes and my moods.

In a span of two hours, she asked me a bunch of questions. Those questions made me realize that:

  1. I am still stuck in my bubble of regret. Or I am reminded of that bubble of regret recently.
  2. Some of the ideas that I grew up with are haunting me and prevent me from moving forward.
  3. I do not need to keep on thinking of what I could have done at certain points of my life. I need to accept that those things have happened already and that I should not put all the blame on myself.

Going out to see a counselor and speak with her today has been a refreshing experience for me. It’s been difficult to bring myself to talk with anyone about all these things that float in my mind because I am often afraid of judgment. I am not ready to speak with people who know me and may have certain ideas and expectations of who I am, so in that sense, talking with a person that I don’t know from before is somehow freeing.

Maybe this being the first week of the month makes me feel like that I can have a new beginning as well. And I do need this fresh beginning. Sometimes we do need to give ourselves the permission to begin anew. It’s not easy, and there are no set guidelines as to how this would work for anyone, but we can try to set our own parameters as to what is a new beginning and when it will happen.

So yeah, this is me restarting my journey into self-care. That includes my physical well-being, aside from my mental health. Mind and body affect each other after all.  I am still looking around for tips on what people practice to refresh themselves when tired or overwhelmed. If you have tips, send them my way? 😀

 

 

Regular practice through prompts

It’s been a while since I wrote about habits and I was honestly struggling with integrating them in my life again. Mostly struggling except maybe for art practice using prompts. This month, I’ve had three sets of prompts:

Some days I skipped, some days I was able to catch up to prompts. It’s not a perfect daily habit for me yet, but I try to keep up so that I could get enough practice every day.

For the lettering challenge, I wasn’t able to focus on fancy flourishing but I was able to use pastel colors on black paper. And I played with style variations on faux calligraphy and serif lettering. It’s not always pretty but I tried to reflect on the text and match the mood with the style and colors I’ve picked for each day.

For the mermay challenge, it’s my first time to draw more than one mermaid so I am happy that I found odnatamyra’s prompts. It had only 14 items on the list. I actually didn’t post the one I made for “ghost” because I wasn’t happy with the output, but I really did push myself to do every single prompt. I was able to try coming up with designs based on references I found in stock photo galleries and some image searches too.

Lastly, that Iron Strange week event wasn’t complete but I was able to make some artworks. Not the best stuff but I had something.

This month, I am reminded that my drawing skills are a bit rusty and so I need to push myself further if I am to make new sticker designs for the latter part of the year.

There are times when I find myself lacking the energy to make anything, honestly. But when I have the inspiration or drive, I try to get on it and work on things.

For June, I already have a couple of lists I need to work on so I at least am sure about getting enough lettering practice. But what kind of artworks will I produce this time around? Who knows? I actually enjoyed mermay. I hope to think of a theme if I can’t find a nice prompt list to draw this June.

Here are some of my favorite artworks from the prompt lists I followed:

Habits

These days I am struggling to reset habits.

What’s with these habits?

Habits help keep me grounded. Honestly, it’s one of the things I’ve been advised since I started seeing a therapist for my mental health. Habits are not just grounding, but they also help me get into some kind of default mode when I am not feeling quite good.

One of the habits that I have been trying to do is to write a blog post weekly. So far, I have been failing at it. I’ve been averaging twice a month or so? I am sorry. Sometimes I think that I have nothing to say. But it’s me escaping the habit, really.

Why am I running away from habits?

I honestly don’t understand myself completely yet.

A part of me feels that maybe I run away from habits because I want to run away from my reality. For example, writing forces me to sit down and process my ideas and experiences. Not every day is productive nor creative. And a part of me feels like it is not worth writing about. Why would I bother writing about an unproductive week? Who does that?

But a part of me has wanted to get back into the habit of writing so that I could find my voice. So here I am, sitting down, trying to find other perspectives instead of moping that I haven’t been as productive as I want to be. There are many sides to a story, including my own. Sometimes my mind wants to zero in on the negative aspects. It is a challenge to get into my head and pick it apart to find the positives these days.

Everyone struggles. Everyone does not always want to do the habits they set for themselves.  But good habits help us and prepare us for our growth. It’s one of those things that I struggle to remember when it’s much easier to run away from them.

I am reminded to get back to writing because of the book “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. One of the habits that she has gotten me started on is the Morning Pages – a way to unload thoughts without judgment every morning. I’ve been skipping it – and that’s why I know there’s some kind of resistance. I feel like whenever I skip my Morning Pages, I am giving myself no space to improve, instead wallowing. And that’s one of those things I want to kick out of myself.

Maybe I am still wallowing a little bit as I write this. It’s a journey, after all. So I am hoping that as I struggle to write weekly blog posts, writing will eventually become natural with each passing week. That I wouldn’t struggle as much in the coming months when I sit to write my mid-week blog post.

As I struggle to get good habits, I think I will try to document them here as well. Not just the writing habit or the creating habit. I might write about other habits that help me and make sure that I keep at them so that I can improve myself. Mental health is important and that’s why I want to get these good habits back into my system.

What are these habits that I might initially talk about:

  • Participating in daily lettering and calligraphy challenges.
  • Writing a blog post every week.
  • Exercising at least 3x a week if not daily.
  • Eating properly.
  • Reading a book and reflecting upon it.

Some of these posts will not focus on art, but some of these future posts will help remind me and you that we are human beings who need to do other things too, not just focus on the process of creation. We need to rest as well. And keep learning too.

Do you have habits that you would want to cultivate? What are they? How do you see these habits helping you out?

2019 First Quarter Review

This is a rather late review but I did it anyway! Yay, I guess?

So in the first quarter of this year:

I’ve become more social. I’ve been attending pen meets as well as meeting up with friends.  But at the same time, I’ve also tried looking for online classes that suit my interests in calligraphy. Recently, I have been finding more online classes and workshops easier for some reason. I don’t know if it’s just coincidence or because of the people I’ve recently added to my Instagram feed as I participate in more challenges for lettering and calligraphy.

I’ve really learned so much from Loveleigh Loops in this first quarter. Their free style webinar as well as their flourishing starter class has been helping me break down elements in my lettering and calligraphy. It has been an enjoyable experience to practice along with their lettering challenges on Instagram.

I never thought that I would get to make a mural this year. In January, my sister and I passed by SM North Towers (?) and we saw lovely murals by local artists. I told myself that maybe one day I could try it out too. And it came to pass last March. Wonderful coincidence, isn’t it? And I think I’d love to try making another mural some other time. It is challenging to design one, and more to execute one. Through that mural painting experience, I learned that toothpaste can be a good eraser for pencil on the cream colored walls.

I am also lucky that I have friends who are kind and generous when it comes to answering questions that bug me about making art for a living, whether full time or as a side hustle. Through DMs and instant meet-ups, I get to converse with them about real concerns that I have about what to do when faced with certain situations. I could only hope to be as helpful to other friends some day, passing on their experience and wisdom to others.

April is almost over but I am glad that I took this chance to do a quick review of my first quarter. It’s not as bad as I dreaded after all.

How fan art helps me practice

Fan art is one of the things that you might notice I post on social media. For the longest time, I have been a fan of anime series and I cannot help but make fan works based on them. In the last couple of years, I’ve mainly worked on Yuri on Ice fan art but lately I’ve started dabbling in Marvel Cinematic Universe. From time to time, I also make fan art for Voltron and Haikyuu.

Why do I do fan art?

  • It reflects my interests.  I don’t have to struggle too hard to create a thing. Sometimes I think of random things and mash it up with fandoms I am interested in. Sometimes it reflects conversations that I have with friends who are interested in the same thing.
  • Fan art also opened up opportunities for me to collaborate with other people.  I see some zines, exchanges and big bangs where I could apply and get matched with other artists and writers.  I get inspired by the theme or the summary of the story. It has been a lovely learning experience to be working with others, fleshing out an idea that originated from someone else and I put my spin to it. It is nice to bounce off ideas with other people too. Sometimes I get challenged to make something outside my comfort zone too.
  • Fan art allows me to practice on something that is relatable and having something relatable paves the way for conversation with other people. Communicating is a challenge for me and I do enjoy making new friends, but I am an awkward person.  Having a fandom to talk about makes it easier for me to share something I love and it helps me converse with other people too.

How does fan art help me practice?

  • Fan events like exchanges, bingo, theme weeks, zines and big bangs usually revolve around certain themes. I tend to stick with things that are familiar.  I expand my horizons when I try to work on themes I normally wouldn’t think of.
  • I get feedback from other fans. It’s not necessarily praise or criticism on my work. Sometimes they add to the story or concept and I get to refine the idea or I get to work on a related theme.  Feedback is definitely helpful for me.
  • Fan art helps me work on something comfortable but not always too comfortable, if that makes sense. The comfortable part is all about having characters that I already relate with but as I mentioned above, the themes from the challenges, zines, etc. help me expand my horizons.

Speaking of fan art, I recently made one for the Not Victuuri Bang.  I got matched up with schaladresdan and cerisebio so we collaborated on “The Day the Music Died.”

It is an emotional fic and I thought that I could try doing a rather sad mood for an illustration of my favorite character, Yuri Plisetsky. It was such a challenge for me but I am happy that schala was ok with what I made and so here it is. I hope you could drop by AO3 and check the fic if you are a Yuri on Ice fan too.

I also take requests from time to time so in case we share fandoms, let me know! Let’s see if I could draw something for you. 🙂

notvictuuribang-finished

 

StickerCon MNL 2019 experience

stickercon2019thankyou

First of all, I’d like to thank everyone who dropped by and bought some stickers, said hello, and helped me with StickerCon MNL over the weekend.  It’s my first event of the year and I had a great time. 🙂

I wasn’t as prepared for the event compared to last year but I am glad that I gave it a shot despite me not feeling so good about my works.  I think that what’s important is that I am giving things a try and making it work.

I am thankful that I have friends who I shared a table with again this year. I was just sad that one of them wasn’t able to attend StickerCon itself. 😦 But at least things went ok.

Vending at an event always gives me the jitters but I have friends who passed by and chatted me up from time to time. So from 10am to 7pm, I had moments when I was able to chat with people who checked out the stickers.

I released a new set of stickers during StickerCon. Two mini sticker sheets to help with tracking caffeine consumption in the form of coffee and tea. 😉 People seem to love the coffee set a lot but there are people who got the tea stickers too!

I even got ideas for a new sticker set! People who noticed my small sticker sheet were requesting for milk tea. Hopefully I could work on it next week so that when I open up for online orders, I could include the new set of stickers. 😀 I am considering things for a milk tea sticker sheet and a junk food sticker sheet as well. Lemme know if you have any ideas for that. Suggestions are definitely welcome. 😉

I wish I was able to get to the venue early that day so I could have given myself time to go around to check out the other artists’ stickers. Oh well! I am now looking forward to a next time because it was such a fun event. ❤

 

Flourishing Fun

It’s been a while since I posted. The last post I made was about the Loveleigh Loops flourishing class that I took online. I am starting the Style Study Boot Camp this week because I wanted to finish the flourishing class first before I dive into the Style Study Boot Camp.

I’ve found a couple of calligraphy challenges on Instagram.  There’s #flourishit and the theme for February is names. There’s also #loveleighlettersfeb with the interesting word list.

What I like about these challenges is that I learn new words, names. Aside from that, when I go through the tags, I get to see various examples of how people do calligraphy, flourishing included. It’s not always easy when you’re doing self-study. And I must admit that I am not as brave about doing flourishes, which is exactly why I took their course.

Here are some examples of the names I wrote for the #flourishit challenge:

For some reason, I thought that writing the X names were more fun. Maybe it’s because I don’t usually write names that start with this letter.

For #loveleighlettersfeb, I found these words interesting:

I have been focusing on my lettering and calligraphy this time because I’ve found online classes that I like and enjoy. I miss painting but we’ll see. Maybe I could sneak in a painting or two in the coming days. But for now, I am just glad for the chance to learn more as I practice daily. My Instagram stories has some behind the scenes or stuff that don’t get posted on the main feed.

Got an interesting name or word? Feel free to comment below and maybe I’ll pick it as calligraphy practice prompt. 🙂

Learning how to do flourishes

 

I’ve been an on and off student of calligraphy since around 2012.  I haven’t been very disciplined about it. Sometimes I have a regular practice, sometimes I don’t. This year I wanted to give it more time again. Thankfully I learned about Loveleigh Loops. Last month, they held a free online webinar for analyzing and developing a calligraphy style.  They had a great way of breaking down concepts and that encouraged me to look for their facebook group. They do monthly themed challenges on Instagram too so that is a great way to get some calligraphy practice.

The free online class is Simple to Spectacular. One week’s worth of learning about flourishes and today’s class focused on descenders.  Our exercise is to flourish descenders so I thought I’d try with some uncommonly used words.

I wrote a whole bunch more in my notebook and posted other words in the facebook group. The nice thing about their class is that they conduct live videos where people could ask things and they could do demos as response to the participants.

I love the way they break down the things we need to look for, the things we need to do.  There are worksheets given per day and they are very useful for practice. Even if you don’t have a printer, you could follow the worksheets in a lined notebook for practice.

One of the things I like about their class is that they use actual output by participants as examples so I could relate with the common mistakes and points to improve on. I have heard about thinking of ovals before but I think the way that they point out places where to put flourishes, how to balance the shape of the word/piece, etc are very helpful to me so I am finally beginning to understand a little bit each day that I join the class.

Flourishing in calligraphy is quite a challenge for me. It’s like a new way of seeing shapes of letters and how they relate with each other is even more of a tricky thing to balance. It will take a whole lot of practice and I am glad that I am learning techniques for it.

I feel lucky that I was able to sign up for this class. I think this is just an introductory class but I think for now that it is enough for me to start this flourishing journey and add character to how I do my calligraphy and lettering.

Why I use fountain pens

Fountain pens are lovely writing tools. Once you start using and loving one, you can’t help but get more. It’s been a while since I first started using one and the pens have been  with me for years, some getting more used than others. For quite a while I was mainly using Pilot Metropolitan pens and Lamy Safari pens. But in the last year or so, I’ve discovered cheap but reliable enough pens from China, the Jinhao Shark and Lanbitou 3059. Also Wing Sung pens.

What I love about fountain pens:

  • Once you get a pen you like, you can use it for life – well, until it lives up to the wear and tear.
  • People are not very familiar with using fountain pens so there’s less possibility of them borrowing a pen from you and that lessens the chances of losing your pen. Maybe fountain pens can look intimidating to some and that could be something to your advantage.
  • Fountain pens look amazing. I might be a stationery addict and so they appeal to me a lot. I sometimes get into a writing mood as I stare at the pens. They do brighten up my day.  I also have serious looking pens and I think they can bring a more serious work mood.
  • There are plenty of ink colors to choose to fill up your pen with. Some inks have wonderful sheen, shimmer and shading. They make your writing look like they have additional character. Honestly, the sheen and shimmer can make my day happier even if it’s just for a while.
  • You could get a reliable writing tool. The more you use it, the more you get to know the pen’s quirks and which inks work best with it. You could predict how reliable it could be with your paper stash. It may take a while to get the best pen, ink and paper combo but once you get that, you’d definitely have a wonderful writing experience.

I already have a preference for fine and extra fine nibs but somehow I am currently learning to enjoy my medium nib pens. The ink properties look more obvious when I use medium and broad nibs but because I am a fast scribbler when it comes to my thoughts, extra fine and fine nibs work best for me.

Online there are many fountain pen groups and reviews.  If you are curious about them, you could do a quick search for fountain pens and I am pretty sure there’d be a lot of reviews. I like reading the Serial Doodler‘s reviews as well as Mountain of Ink reviews.

Maybe next time I post about a pen or two I could do writing samples as well. We shall see. 🙂