Microsoft Surface Book, a dead printer and other stuff


My first digitally coloured and drawn line art created using my Surface Book.

The image to the left is my first digitally coloured drawing I’ve done with the Surface, but not the first drawing I’ve done with it.

The image to the left is my first digitally coloured drawing I’ve done with the Surface, but not the first drawing I’ve done with it.

I went and did it.  I really did.  I thought long and hard about it, I considered my various options, but after a lot of help and a play with a Microsoft Surface I decided that I was going to get one so I could explore the world of drawing digitally and digital art.

So, I ordered a Surface Book, it arrived and I picked it up from the shop at a time when the young chap who helped me with information about them was there so he could see it and try it out – my thank you to him. Apparently it caused a ‘nerdgasm’ as a fair few of the assistants came over to have a look and lust over the Surface.

That was around 3 weeks ago and I’ve certainly been giving it a good try out, and learning as I go, and I really do have a lot to learn! I will learn too, as and when I need to simply by exploring and playing.

One awkward task has been finding a program/app that will let me draw on the surface almost as if it is pen on paper.  So far, Autodesk Sketchbook Pro is my most used app.  I’m having to learn about using layers, the type of ‘brush type’ and thickness and the other settings to get my drawings to look the way they do.

One little tool that has been invaluable has been the ‘smooth’ function; the Surface screen is so sensitive to movement and there is such little friction between the SurfacePen and the screen that my usually smooth lines were all over the place!  This has solved it though, without making my drawings look like they’ve been computer generated.  I’d like some choices of amount of smoothing applied, however, and maybe that’ll be something the app designers will add to it in future updates.

I have already found it of great help as I had some small amendments to make to a couple of images for Color Me Grateful.  It was so easy to do these, once I’d worked out how to make the texture/randomness/spacing of the line drawn mimic the lines drawn with the pen I’d used on paper.  No messy white-out liquid, no dusty eraser mess, no awkward editing to do with a mouse.  I can do the editing and tidy up of lines as I work, easily erase ‘mistakes’ or alter elements wholesale.  That alone makes the Surface worth it’s weight in platinum!

Add to that that if I am going to do all my future drawings on the beauty then I’ll not need to do the rather tedious task of scanning in and then cleaning up the images laboriously, then it’s worth double its weight in gold-pressed latinum!

Oh, I know I’ll still have to scan in a few images – ones I’ve printed out and coloured using traditional media – but they will be far fewer than the numbers I’ve had to do.

I did consider a Wacom Cintiq, however I couldn’t find anywhere to have a ‘test drive’ of one, and that I really wanted to do before I bought one.  I was able to play with Surface and work out quite quickly that it would work for me, especially as there was software loaded on it that would do what I wanted to do with one.

Of course, it will lead me to exploring the world of digital art and how it will work for me and my style of art, but I also know it will open up new ways of working, new techniques and effects for me.



Playing with the Surface

I have a fair few drawings I want to print out to colour in traditional media, and also to check the line thicknesses and detail of the drawings as I’m still in the process of getting used to drawing on a screen that is smaller than A4 paper, and a lot smaller than A3.  However, the more I use it, the easier it is becoming for me to adjust to this way of working.

So, I went to print out some art yesterday, to find my printer had died on me.  I can’t even get it to turn on!

The hunt for a new printer began, and I chose an Epson printer that uses the DuraBrite Ultra ink as it’s supposed to be at least water resistant and someone has posted somewhere that it isn’t affected by alcohol markers such as Promarkers or Copics.  That would be great if that’s the case!  I also understand that the printer will take fairly hefty papers/cards too, which is even better considering I’ll want to put watercolour paper and mixed media paper through it.  My dead Brother printer coped well with both of these, though the watercolour paper had to be fairly lightweight in comparison to some I have in my stash.

The new printer should be with me the middle of next week…

Other things…

I have a break for a while from working for publishers.  I’m using the time to explore the Surface book, to visit places to gain inspiration, and to get my head around ideas I have for books and illustrations and so on.  I also need a break from the wonderful, crazy but overly busy time drawing for so many publishers and books.

Crazily busy, yes, but something I’m so grateful for as it’s all allowed me to leave teaching and become self-employed.

Fussing around the changes

cropped-angela-porter-_-artwyrd-_-24-dec-2014.jpg“Changes are good.  Changes are good.  Believe this, Angela.”  Some of the self-talk I’m directing my mind to doing.  Trying to give it a positive job to do instead of the “What have you done now, I knew it was going to be awful” type of negative thinking.

I am generally very positive about all that is happening, I really am.  However, very sneaky grey clouds seem to find their way past the horizon to circle around my head.

Neighbours sparked not just one grey cloud but a whole storm of black ones a week or so ago.  I won’t go into the details, they’re not that important.  However, a grim couple of days ensued.  Days that concerned me as they reminded me of the weeks, months, years I spent in that kind of state and scared me in case I ended up back there.  I didn’t.  A day or two of self-care, distraction with art, and finally one and a half Star Wars films and some Ben and Jerry’s Karamel Sutra really helped to shift the darkening mood, thank the powers that be.  Must remember to add “Watch Star Wars, eat Karamel Sutra” to my self-care tool box!

Good things have come from this episode.

Firstly, a reminder of how I was and how far along I have come in my journey to heal from my past traumas, and how much more resilient I am.  Yes, I had a couple of very grim days, but it was just a couple, not an every decreasing spiral into the pit of darkness and despair.  That’s progress!

Secondly, it highlighted, with the help of my trusted counsellor, the fact that the one place I really should feel safe and secure in – my home – I didn’t feel that way after this episode.  That surprised me as I hadn’t realised that.  And that was part of the reason I took my work-space upstairs to my bedroom.

After a week or so of being up there working, yesterday morning I woke thinking that was a bit of a daft decision.  With my front room now cleared out of clutter, my meditation table and space set up, time spent watching Star Wars with the company of Ben and Jerry in the light of plenty of candles, that the room really needs to be used for relaxing in all kinds of ways, including creating art, even art that is earning me a living.  That may be ‘work’, but it’s always a pleasure, sometimes a little bit of a frustrating pleasure, but still a pleasure.

So, by 8am yesterday morning, the table, chair, art materials and so on had been moved down to a rearranged front room!  I was drinking a big mug of hot tea and getting myself into the mental state to go do some work in the front room, making it my own space.

The table is one that has panels that fold down so it takes up a tiny bit of space when that way – maybe 7″ wide by 32″ long, which can be cwtched away to make more space as required, or to turn the room into a purely relaxing or room for receiving guests.

Sometimes it really does take me a long time to figure out how best to use a space, to make the changes.  However, the best thing is that when it’s your own home, you decide how to use the space, and those decisions can, and do, change.

The only problem I have, is that the table is in front of the window which a particular nosy neigbour has been caught staring through; he does it to everyone, not just me.  So, I feel a bit exposed.  I really don’t want to go down the road of net curtains, but it may be something I have to do so I feel secure. I’ll see about that though, I’ll give it a bit longer or see if I can come up with a different, more creative solution to the nosy neighbour.

Changes are good!

I’ve finally done it!

I’ve left teaching to set sail on a new career as a freelance illustrator/artist and whatever else happens along my way.  It’s both exciting and scary.

A lot of things came together at once to get me to start a new path.  Another bout of long-term illness being one, a good look at the amount of work available to me from existing editors/publishers being another.

I think the financial aspect of the change is the biggest scary thing I have to face.  For 28 years I’ve been a teacher with a permanent contract that has a regular monthly salary attached to it.

Now, there’s no regularity in income, which is a tad scary when I stop and think about it in connection to my past.  However, I am doing my best not to do that, to think positively about my future, a future that is so good for me in so many ways.

One excellent thing about it is being able to choose as and when I work.  After 28 years of dancing to a regimented timetable and day the freedom is bliss!  I can make use of when I’m inspired and full of energy and motivation.  The deadlines I have to work to help with the focus, but I know that I do have a lot of flexibility in how I work to meet those deadlines. I also love the ability to have energizing afternoon naps when I need to!

Working from home is another plus.  It’s been my refuge and place of safety and security for so long that it’s nice to be here. My cat really appreciates me being home too; at 14 years of age and a clingy pusscat with some health problems I’m happy to be with him.  He’s good company and makes sure I go to bed at a sensible time; simply because he wants to cwtch up to me for his big nights sleeps.

Of course, the biggest wonderful thing about changing career is that I am doing something that I’m passionate about, that brings me joy and pleasure.

Not that teaching didn’t.  It did, for a long time, but it’s time for me to change.  I’m sure I’ll use my teaching skills in other ways as time goes on, but not in a school environment.  However, for the foreseeable future I’m going to be focusing on my arty pursuits, as well as learning about a lot of things such as accounts and accountants (I have one, I just have to collect together all that she needs from me …) and get into a routine of keeping receipts and a log of journeys made in connection with my business.

My home as had a HUGE clear-out to make space for me to work in comfortably as well as to store all my arty crafty supplies and completed artwork and various forms of paperwork and so on.  Eighteen years of accumulated stuff had to go as well as stuff I no longer need, value or find pleasure in.  My niece helped, rather, did most of the work, and between us we were ruthless! There are still bits and bobs to sort out and do, but deadlines take precedence for the next couple of weeks or so!  The clear out has me behind, eek!  Luckily I have so good and understanding editors who always build wiggle room into contracts for me without telling me what that wiggle room is.

The process is mostly finished, but a deep clean is on the cards for soon, and some repairs need doing so I need to find reliable tradesmen who charge fair price and do a good job, something else I need to learn about!

It is all exciting.

Add to that there’s more colouring books and stamps coming out that I’ve done the designs for.

I’m currently working on a Tropical Rainforest themed colouring book for Skyhorse Publishing and the sixth in the series of the Color Me books along with Lacy Mucklow.  The sixth book is appropriately named ‘Color Me Grateful’, and grateful is something I really am of my new career, my cleared out home, my family and friends who have helped in so many ways, and the many experiences from my past life as a teacher that have helped to get me to this point in my life, both good, indifferent and bad.

Friday last, I met up with a small number of colleagues from the school I taught at for 27 years for high tea in a local country house hotel.  There was lots of laughter as we remembered the good times over those many years, not a lot of mention was made of the not so good times.  All the characters we’ve worked with and known, both staff and students!  It was good to do.  I couldn’t go into the school for the official farewell gathering as my emotional/mental health isn’t strong enough for that yet.  But a quieter gathering away from the school was perfect!

One other thing I do hope to do is to make more frequent blog posts once I find my ‘voice’ for my blog. I’m thinking of adding some tutorials to do with the arty stuff I do, maybe.  Feedback or ideas are always welcome, whether for blog posts or ideas for future books, artwork themes and so on.

Color Me Stamps!

I have designed sets of clear stamps for Hampton Arts.  The range is called ‘Color Me by Angela Porter’.  It’s been a lovely challenge to do, and another string to my artistic bow too.

I’m being sent my own sets of the stamps and I can’t wait to play with them and embossing powder in particular to get the ‘stained glass’ kind of colours that I so love!

Of course I’ll post my versions here.  It’s all exciting for me!  Everything!


Color me calm – NYT bestseller!

We’ve done it!  Color Me Calm has made it to the NYT bestsellers lists!

A huge thank you goes out to Jeannine Dillon, editor, and Lacy Mucklow for being partners in this five book series.

Thanks also go to all the bods at Race Point Publishing, a division of Quartos.

Finally, but definitely not least, a ginormous thank you goes out to all those people who have supported me in so many ways that have helped me get to this point in my life, one where my creativity is being expressed and I am healing on so many levels as a result.


Happy 2016!

I’m taking a little break from drawing the templates for Color Me To Sleep, due to be released in a few months time.

2015 has been a year, one of great change in many ways for myself, as well as for others.  Highs and lows too.

The amount of art that I have been creating, particularly templates for adult colouring books, has increased, and shows now sign of tailing off. The books I have done seem to be really successful, not just in sales, but in the media exposure they have had, particularly in the USA. The last year or so with these has been a whirlwind ride.  I still find it hard to believe that my doodly, whimsical, imperfect, hand-drawn art has been, and continues to be so popular.  I am so grateful for this and the opportunities that I have been given.


Above all else, I’m so grateful for those who have helped me, encouraged me and been beside me as I have made my journey through life this year, as difficult as I have been at times when the ‘black dog’ overwhelms me.  Words can’t express my gratitude fully to these people, to those who believed in me when I had no belief in myself.

Thank you to you one and all, you know who you are.

Just before I head back to drawing, I’d like to wish everyone joy, peace, love and an abundance of good things in the days that come, not just with the calendar change over, but every day for the rest of existence.