“Transgender Flag Crackle”

Hi, everybody! I just wanted to share my latest piece with you. 


 
“Transgender Flag Crackle”
Mixed media on canvas panel
8×10


Since my last piece was mostly the product of me just playing around with my new paints and mediums, I thought I’d create a piece that was more meaningful to me. If you’re not familiar with the transgender flag, this is what it looks like, minus the cracking, of course. The transgender flag is meaningful to me because my wife is a beautiful, strong, sweet and kind transgender woman. I also have some amazing transgender friends, who struggle day to day to find their place in society, and sometimes even within the LGBT community. That’s what this piece is about.
 
These are tremendously strong and courageous people who mostly just want to be accepted and live normal lives, in alignment with their gender identities. Unfortunately, many people are not willing to take the time to understand. The small things are what hurt the most.
 
My wife, Beth, was fired from her job as a substitute teacher when she came out as transgender nearly six years ago. She is highly educated, and skilled, and yet she works for a ride share company and part time at McDonald’s. She pretends not to see the looks on people’s faces when we are walking through the grocery store together, but sometimes she comes home from work and tells me stories of people blatantly using the opposite pronouns when speaking to or about her and it kills her inside. Sometimes when we are out in public, she won’t use the restroom, even if she really needs to go. And she’s lucky! Her family are some of the most unconditionally loving and accepting people I have ever met, and I am proud to be a part of that.
 
 According to a report by the National Center for Transgender Equality, conducted in the summer of 2015, one in ten transgender people who were out to their immediate family reported that a family member was violent towards them, and 8% were kicked out of the house because they were transgender. A majority of respondents reported being verbally harassed, and some reported being physically attacked and sexually assaulted. Transgender people are three times more likely to be unemployed and nearly one third live in poverty (We’re just barely over the poverty line.). One third of transgender people have reported being homeless at at least one point in their lives, and 40% reported that they had attempted suicide in their lifetimes. These are just a few statistics outlined in this report. You can CLICK HERE to view the entire report.
 
Back to the painting…
 
I like to share how my paintings are made, so that other people might be inspired to create similar works of their own. This painting is mixed media on an 8×10 canvas panel. I began by priming the canvas panel with black gesso, then allowing it to dry. Then I drizzled rubber cement in a fun pattern onto the canvas. When that was dry, I painted the rainbow over the gesso and rubber cement. When my rainbow was dry, I rubbed the rubber cement off of the canvas, revealing the black pattern underneath. 
 
I used masking tape to keep my lines straight as I painted applied the crackle paste. I tinted the crackle paste with Napthol Red Light liquid acrylic, and the blue with Primary Cyan liquid acrylic. Since the crackle paste dries naturally white and opaque, the center stripe was un-tinted. I spread the crackle paste on rather thickly to create larger, deeper cracks. After my transgender flag was dried and cracked, I painted over each color of the rainbow with a matte medium glaze of the same color to brighten it up. 
 
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this painting. There are plenty more to come. This painting is available for purchase on Etsy!
 
Much love to you all,
 
T

“Bunny Feathers”

Hi, everyone! For me, happiness is peace and quiet and having time to paint again! When the kids are away… Mom gets to play! With Christmas over and the kids with their father for the rest of the week, I finally have some free time to play with my Christmas presents! I got some new liquid acrylics and mediums for Christmas and over the last few days, I’ve been messing around with them. The first painting I did with them turned out so terrible, I had to throw it away! Thank goodness I decided to use paper instead of one of my canvas panels! But mistakes are good learning experiences, right? I learned how my new paints and mediums work together, at least. 

I got some Liquitex String Gel, which is really fun to play with, I highly recommend trying it sometime. You can use liquid acrylics to tint it any color that you want and it’s about the consistency of Elmer’s glue. It dries hard and glossy. I had such a blast drizzling it on and then tipping my painting to watch it drip. So fun! String gel can be used as a finishing touch, or to add texture.

Another fun thing I got for Christmas was some crackle paste. It dries opaque, but you can tint it with liquid acrylics, and it cracks as it dries. The thicker you brush it on, the deeper and larger the cracks. Once it dries, you can paint or glaze over it and the paint or glaze will seep into the cracks. I’ll be playing with that some more of that stuff again later! I can’t wait. I have another canvas panel prepped and ready to go.

Here’s my latest painting, made with both the string gel and crackle paste. I also used some matte gel glazes. This was all applied over a background of medium bodied acrylics in earth tones. I’m calling it “Bunny Feathers.” It’s available for sale on Etsy

“Bunny Feathers”
Mixed Media on canvas panel
8×10
 
I wish I had a better camera for taking photos of my paintings. I’m using my iPhone for the time being, and it just doesn’t seem to be working out very well. The lighting in my house doesn’t help either. I live in a small, single-wide mobile home. I just started painting, over the last few months and I don’t have a studio or the room to set one up in my house, so I have taken over one end of our quite small kitchen table for painting. I’m hoping I’ll be able to clear out our shed, or at least half of it, to set up a small “studio” and start working out there in the spring through the fall.
I think that’s about all I have for now. It’s nice and quiet around here with the kids at their father’s for the week, and Christmas is finally over. My anxiety levels are finally coming down out of the rafters to a much more manageable level. I’m looking forward to celebrating New Year’s Eve with my wife and in-laws. We plan to play Cards Against Humanity, which is bound to be very interesting because my father-in-law is a retired preacher. More about that on New Year’s Day! 
 
T

 

Inconvenient Triggers

Hi everybody! Dealing with PTSD is extremely difficult, especially when some of the things that trigger your flashbacks and anxiety attacks are objects and situations that you come into contact with on a daily basis.

For example, one of the most terrible things that has ever happened to me occurred in a woods that consisted of mostly pine trees. Now I live in northern Wisconsin, and my in-laws’ house is surrounded by pine trees. I go to their house several times a week. Most of the time I can redirect my attention elsewhere, focusing on the ground or looking through the spaces between the trees to the road beyond. But sometimes…. it’s bad.

My kids used to ride the school bus to and from their house. One morning, in the fall, which was the time of year that the traumatizing event occurred, I was getting the kids off to school on the bus, when a swift wind blew through the trees, blowing pine needles all over me. I immediately was back in the woods as a little girl, brushing pine needles off of my clothes. I went into a severe panic attack. It took me a few minutes to calm down and the rest of the day to shake off the heebie jeebies (I’m not quite sure how else to describe that feeling).



Another inconvenient trigger for that same event is seeing my daughter get dressed or helping her take a bath, because though she is older than I was at the time the event occurred, she is small for her age and is about the same size. I feel terrible that I can’t help my daughter get dressed and take a bath without averting my eyes so that I don’t look directly at her. I feel like a bad mother. Inattentive. In the back of my mind, I know that this doesn’t make me a bad parent, but I feel horrible about it nonetheless.

Does anybody else have inconvenient triggers like this? Please feel free to share your stories in the comment section below. No judgment.


T


T’s Big Book of Cuss Word Alternatives

Hi, everyone! I hope you all are having a great holiday season. I certainly did. I celebrated Christmas morning with my wife, her family and the kids on Christmas morning here in Door County, then we drove down to the Fox Cities area to celebrate with my family. As I have said before, dealing with my family is a major source of anxiety for me, but I made it through the day. What helped me the most was focusing on the good parts of the relationships, rather than the bad parts. I had almost forgotten how comforting it was to be around my sisters. I really missed them.

    
    My kids made out like bandits, as usual. Being the only grand kids to my parents, as well as my wife’s, they get spoiled rotten. We got the kids each an Amazon Kindle this year, and got a subscription to Freetime, which is pretty awesome. It gives the kids unlimited access to kids books, apps and videos. For two kids it’s $7.99/mo. The kindles also have really great parental control settings that allow us to monitor how much time they can spend online, reading and watching videos. I was always a big fan of Amazon. We use it all the time and have Amazon Prime, but setting up those Kindles for the kids made me fall completely in love with them!
 I got some really nice gifts this year too: slippers, a nice flannel shirt and some more Coca-Cola stuff (which I collect) but I was super excited to get some new liquid acrylic paints and acrylic mediums , which I’ll be playing with over the next week while the kids are with their father for the rest of winter break. I can’t wait!
 

    Over the last few days, in addition to preparing for the gift giving frenzy, I have also been compiling and publishing a book, available exclusively on Amazon (cause seriously, Amazon rules!): T’s Big Book of Cuss Word Alternatives: 1,001 Words and Phrases You Can Use Instead of Swearing. I know. It’s a little cheesy, but hey, somebody might be interested, right? I had a lot of fun putting it together, at least.
 

    This book actually began as two articles that I had published on HubPages about 5 years ago. I wrote two lists of 101 cuss word alternatives, one of which went semi-viral. The two articles combined have gotten about 250,000 views so far and are still going pretty strong, so I decided, why not combine them, add some more and make a book? So that’s what I did. It took me about a week to put it all together: Researching, organizing and designing the layout and the cover, and on Christmas Eve, I published the e-book version on Amazon. The print on demand copy was published and listed on Amazon the following night and of course, right after publishing it, I thought of a few more things that I could have added that would have made it better. I am my own worst critic.
 To give you a taste of what you can find in my new book, I have decided to share the book’s description and a few of my favorites with you:
 

This book is for all you motherfathers in need of creative ways to avoid swearing. Whether you are at work, or around children, this book will give you a plethora of fun ways to express yourself without cussing.
    

  • Donald Trump!
  • Go Lick a Duck!
  • Gorram It!
  • Notafinga!
  • Shnookerdookies!
  • Jeebus!
  • What in the Name of Ron Weasley’s Left Buttock!
  • Jinkies!
  •  Zoinks!
  • Sweet Zombie Jesus!

 Like I said, I had so much fun putting this book together. You can access it at T’s Bookstore or on Amazon.com. If you have Amazon Prime, you can get the kindle e-book version for free. If not, you can purchase the e-book version for $2.99, or buy a print copy for $8.99.

Click Here to buy now!

Today, I also added T’s Bookstore to this blog. Here you will find my book, and hopefully more, as I write and publish them, as well as several other items like Amazon products, art supplies and publishing guides and reference books. You can find the link on the right side of the page, or Click Here. You may also view and purchase some of my artwork, buy visiting the Gallery, which can also be accessed by clicking the link on the right side of the page.
Happy Holidays to you all and best wishes for the year to come!

T

Paper Snowflakes

Hi, everyone. With Christmas fast approaching, and so much tension in my family at the moment, these last few weeks have been quite difficult for me. So, to lighten things up a bit, and since I haven’t had time to paint this week, I thought I’d share one of my favorite things about this time of the year. As I said in my last post, Christmas is my favorite holiday. I love to put up the Christmas tree and decorate the house. Every year I make paper snowflakes and tape them all over my windows. No matter where I live, (I have moved around a lot) you can always tell which place is mine during the holidays because almost every window will be plastered with these:

 

 

 



It seems as though no matter how stressed out I get during the holidays, making paper snowflakes helps me relax and gets me into the holiday spirit. When I start to make a paper snowflake, I never have a planned pattern in mind. I just start cutting and see what comes out when I unfold it. It’s the same way with my painting. Most of the time I don’t have a “plan” or design in mind. I just go with the flow and see where it takes me. I think that’s why I enjoy it so much. There are no rules, no pressure. I try my best to make it look nice, but that canvas or paper is my world and I can paint it as I see it.

I hope you enjoy my paper snowflakes, and since I most likely won’t have time to write another post until after Christmas, I wish you all a happy, safe and fun holidays season.

T.

How to Paint a T-shirt

Hello, everyone! I’m having a high anxiety week… well, high anxiety month, actually. Christmas is usually my favorite time of the year, but this year has been exceptionally difficult. Since the memories started flooding in, my anxiety has kept me from being able to work, so we’re struggling with money. My son got into some trouble at school and was suspended. And then there’s my family. Dealing with my family has been one of my major anxiety triggers. I love my family. We have always been pretty close, but lately, it seems as though we are breaking at the seams and almost everything I do or say is wrong. Luckily, with my new meds, and newfound personal strength, I seem to be handling things better than I normally would, and I’m proud of the progress I have made.

With Christmas upon us, I doubt that I will have much time to paint this week, so tonight I’d like to share one of my most recent projects. Last weekend I attended an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, and with little money to spend on a new sweater, I decided to paint one of my old t-shirts.





This project was fun and pretty easy to do. I painted this with acrylics mixed with an acrylic matte medium. You can also use fabric paint, but I prefer acrylics because you can mix colors more easily and have more control over the paint by applying it with a brush, as opposed to a squeeze bottle.

 
Here’s How You Do It:
 
You Will Need:
  • A t-shirt
  • A piece of cardboard or any thin flat object about as wide and long as the t-shirt
  • Acrylic paints and acrylic matte medium, or fabric paints
  • Paintbrushes and a palette
  • A pen or marker
  • An iron, hair dryer or clothes dryer
 

 

 
Instructions:
 
  1. Place your piece of cardboard, or other thin, flat surface inside the t-shirt. Make sure that the surface is about the same width as the t-shirt, so that it holds the fabric taught and creates a flat and wrinkle-free surface to work on. This will also protect the back of the shirt if your marker or paint bleeds through.
  2. Sketch your design onto the t-shirt with a pen or marker. Make sure that the color of the ink you are using will be easily concealed by the paint. If you plan to paint with light colors, or onto a light colored shirt, a pencil or chalk might work best.
  3. Prepare your paints. If you are using fabric paint, not much preparation is needed. If you want more control over where your paint goes, you can squeeze your fabric paint onto a palette and apply it with a paintbrush. If you don’t have a palette, you can use any piece of disposable plastic. I use clear disposable plastic plates because they are inexpensive and can be washed and reused. If you are using acrylics, mix your paint with plenty of matte medium. About 1 part paint to 1 part medium. This will help the paint adhere to toe fabric keep the paint flexible so that the shirt can be comfortably worn. 
  4. This is the fun part. Paint your t-shirt! Have fun and be creative.
  5. Allow your shirt to dry. This may take several hours to one day, depending on how thickly you applied the paint. Once the shirt is dry you’ll be able to see any areas that you may need to touch up. 
  6. Add any finishing touches you’d like and allow your t-shirt to dry again.
  7. Heat-set your t-shirt. There are several ways you can do this. You can use an iron, set on a low heat. Be careful not to burn the paint! Another easy way to do this is to use a hair dryer on a lower setting, blowing over your design for about 10-15 minutes. The easiest, but longest way to heat-set your t-shirt is to put it in the clothes dryer on low heat for a normal cycle.
  8. Once you have heat-set your t-shirt it will be ready to wear and the paint will be permanent, holding up through regular wear and washings.  
 
I hope that you find this post useful and inspiring. I had so much fun with this project that I’m considering doing shirts for my kids. I’ll post photos when I do. 
 
This blog is just getting started, so please bear with me as I add and rearrange things. I just added a Gallery page, where you can view some of my work. Over the next few weeks, I will be adding some of my prose and links to some articles that I have written. I may also put together some e-books. 
 
Thanks for reading and Happy Holidays!
 
T.

Hello, World.

Hello, world. I’m T. Cathers-Mitchell, and this blog will be all about my journey to recovery from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) through art and writing. In this post, I’d like to share a few things about myself so that you can get to know me and decide whether or not you’d like to keep reading.

I’m a 30-something lesbian and atheist, married to a beautiful transgender woman, and I have two wonderfully intelligent and imaginative children from a previous marriage, who are both on the autism spectrum. If that life wasn’t tough enough, I also suffer from PTSD.

I was a victim of childhood incest when I was 3-4 years old, and witnessed the sexual abuse of two siblings when I was 10-12 years old. I had suppressed the memories of that abuse for nearly 30 years, and those memories have recently resurfaced, and through memories, extensive research and conversations with relatives, I have uncovered a long and gruesome family history of incest, physical, sexual and emotional abuse, spanning at least three generations.

I started seeing a doctor and a therapist for these issues this summer and after several months, I’m finally on the right cocktail of anti-depressants to level me out, and I’m getting treatment for my PTSD.

Whew! Now that that’s over, we can move on to better things. I have always enjoyed writing. In high school, I wouldn’t go anywhere without a notebook. I had some of my poetry published in my high school’s literary anthology, and put together my first book of poetry at 17. I have published several semi-successful articles online, and have ghost-written articles and blog posts for others.

I never considered myself to be artistically inclined. I’m not very good at drawing, but I had remembered that when I was a child, I used to go through our junk drawer and create “sculptures” out of found objects. Then a few months ago, I was really bored and flipping through Netflix, and I saw that old painting show with Bob Ross. I had remembered watching him when I was a kid on PBS, with his ‘fro and his “happy little trees,” and decided to watch a few episodes. Watching him paint, I thought, “I can do that.” So I got a set of paints and started messing around and found that I enjoy it. I am, by far, no Michelangelo, but I enjoy it and I think some of my work is good-ish.

This blog will combine these two outlets, writing and art, to share my journey. To show others that are suffering with depression, anxiety, PTSD… anything, that you are not alone, and that it’s okay to talk about your problems and to express yourself.

T.