Santiago sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

What happens when your New Year’s resolution is “Draw More”?

My new year’s resolution for 2014 was a fairly complex one, but in essence it boiled down to two words:

draw more.

…and it has felt like I’ve drawn a lot this year. Not as much as someone who doesn’t have a day-job and a child, of course, but a steady stream of stuff nonetheless.

Some of it I was pleased with. Some of it I was not – and I’ve learned to call that stuff part of the learning process, rather than a failure.

January

It was my husband’s birthday and I made him this card:

Dude birthday by Myfanwy Tristram

February

February first is Hourly Comics Day! I entered into the spirit of things, and tried not to care about putting out unpolished work – after all, that’s what it’s all about.

MyfanwyTristram_Hour3_2014

I’m quite looking forward to the next one already – and let’s face it, February is not usually a month to look forward to.

March

I made another collage in my series of birds’ eye views, this time featuring lots of very small roofs made of stamps:

Birds island by Myfanwy Tristram

April

In April, I really enjoyed doing some life drawing.

Life drawing by Myfanwy TristramThis was also the month that we went to Bath for our family holiday, and I made a holiday sketch diary. Of course, sketch diaries are another form where, if you share them, you have to put out the pages you’re pleased with as well as the ones that didn’t work out quite so well.

Tree by Myfanwy Tristram

May

Straight after we got back from Bath, work sent me to Santiago in Chile! I was working, so keeping up a sketch diary was a bit more of a challenge, and I finished a good bit of it after I got home.

Myfanwy Tristram Santiago sketch diary

July

It looks like I had a month off from drawing in June! In fact, I was starting work on my 4-page graphic short story for the Cape/Comica/Observer competition: you have to start early if your time is limited.

In July, though, I started a series of pictures of the plants that grow alongside Brighton beach, where I go running and also spend a lot of time with my daughter:

Seaplants by Myfanwy Tristram

There are more plant drawings here and here.

August

Those sunny days seem far away now – hard to believe I was sitting drawing on the Level (our local playground) while my daughter mucked about in the fountains.

Sketches by Myfanwy Tristram

The weather turned, naturally, right before our week in Jersey – fortunately there was plenty to do there anyway. Not least,  drawing another sketch diary:

Toop and the telescope by Myfanwy Tristram

September

I shared my graphic short story competition entry:

Giddy_Heights by MyfanwyTristram_page3I’d entered it, all the while knowing it wasn’t quite the right thing to get placed – not polished enough (but I was very pleased, later on, to discover that my friend Beth had been awarded runner-up prize).

October

Never mind, I waded straight into another comic strip, this time based on recent experiences with a community archaeological dig:

GreenLadyHill_by Myfanwy Tristram – and, at very short notice indeed, I threw together a collage for the Association of Illustrators competition:

Fly Across London by Myfanwy TristramThat was also the month I created the Hashtag Underdog strip. October must have been the peak of my productivity! I should scrutinise what the prevailing conditions were, and try to bottle them.

Underdog by Myfanwy TristramNovember

I didn’t do Clovember but I did paint my daughter in her lovely bright clothes – right at the prescient moment, it turns out, as she’s recently announced a desire to wear only black:

Tabs watercolour by Myfanwy Tristram

I also made a short comic strip about working from home:

Working from Home by Myfanwy TristramDecember

Close friends and family had one of my linocuts bestowed upon them:

IMG_0757

– and I moaned a bit about how long they had taken to make. I must say though, that everyone has been very nice about them, which is what every homemade card creator really wants – so it was all worth it. :D

Clearly, the effort of all that lino-printing has taken it out of me because, other than a couple of sketches of my daughter and husband, I have not drawn since.

Next year

I’m hoping that a similar resolution for 2015 will result in just as much artwork – but I need to do some careful thinking as well, about just what I want out of all this endeavour.

This year brought a couple of commissions. I find these quite stressful, and it made me wonder whether to refuse all commissions from now on (on the other hand, that means relying only on my own inspirations to drive me forward, a situation which, of course, many artists would be envious of, but which may well narrow my horizons).

This was also the first year that I’ve sold my prints online, as well as in Brighton’s Open Houses. While this was not stressful, it did bring home to me how narrow the margins are – at the scale I was operating, and with the time I have to dedicate, you can’t earn much. It can only really be done as an exercise in spreading your name about a bit.

And as for that – spreading my name about – well, I haven’t done as much as I hoped. Reader numbers on this blog are pretty low (though boosted greatly every time someone tweets or shares the link on Pinterest or Facebook, so thank you very much to everyone who did that).

In 2015, I think I will have an additional resolution to get some strips published in existing comics: that means that someone else is doing the distribution and the marketing, and probably doing so far better than I would have time to do myself.

Sounds like a plan…

292 comments

  1. Love your drawings! Keep it up! I was wondering if you could me give a tip on how you stay inpspired,motivated and consistent to draw? My boyfriend is an artist but hasn’t done some artwork for about 2 years now since their company closed down. He want to get his groove back again but he can’t seem to find inspiration. What is your advice? Thanks! :)

    • Thanks Pauline! It’s hard to pin down exactly what it is that’s made me prioritise drawing over the last year – there have certainly been plenty of years before then where it was less of a priority.

      I think, partly, it’s a result of following lots of artists whose work I admire, on Twitter and Instagram etc, and blogs: has your boyfriend seen http://www.urbansketchers.org/? I find that particularly inspiring because it’s just ordinary people from all around the world, sharing their sketches.

  2. Congratulations! You’re work is so engaging. Do you think everyone can learn to draw? I’d love to, but have’t been successful so far. I’m a teacher, and am thinking of giving time to simple drawing projects for my students each week this year. I’m not sure if everyone will agree that it’s a valid use of class time…

    • lisagai, you really should teach your students. I wish my art teacher had taught us the difference between oils, watercolours, preparing canvas etc. Now I’m teaching myself through youtube and painting by numbers! You never know what a simple drawing lesson will mean to a student in later life.

    • Hi! Thanks for the kind words.

      You know, like anyone else who can do something at a reasonable level, I’m firmly of the belief that everyone can draw. That’s because I’ve seen myself go through the whole process from not being able to draw at all, to getting better. And I still have a long way to go.

      The only way to get better is to draw and draw, so I think drawing projects are always a good idea. Also, you learn lots of other things from drawing. You learn to really look at your subject. You’ll find out things you never noticed before.

  3. Wow. You are extraordinarily talented! I love it all, but there’s something so lovely about your blue pen sketch of March. Please, keep at it! And keep sharing!

  4. I enjoyed looking at your sketches very much and add my voice to everyone else who is eyeing their mountain of empty sketchbooks and committing to fill them up! Your cartoons are lovely – the “working from home” is my favourite.

    • Thanks very much – I’m glad you enjoyed it. I know what it’s like to have a pile of empty sketchbooks for sure. A pile of full ones is so much nicer :)

  5. I discovered you on Freshly Pressed this morning, and I am so happy to see your work! Such talent. I’m now following your blog and looking forward to seeing more art, life, and fun.

    • That’s great – thanks so much! I’m a little amazed at having been picked for Freshly Pressed, but enjoying the connections with lots of new people.

  6. i enjoyed looking through your drawings. I know how hard it can be to dedicate time to draw and create. But, once you do and you look back it is one of the most fulling things. Keep going, can’t wait to see what you do this year.

  7. So refreshing to read about someone who actually sticks to their resolutions! This post basically retells the aim of my current blog; one of my resolutions was to start a blog so by December I can reflect on it; you basically did that in this post! And to think you even made some money with your art too; absolutely love the card you made in January, best of luck to you for 2015! :)

    • Ha, thank you! It’s still a mystery to me how I stuck to it, but I think if you really want to do something, and you enjoy the process, eventually it becomes habit.

  8. These are amazing! I love your travel sketch diaries especially. I always say ‘this year i’ll draw more’ but it never happens, but you’ve really inspired me and i can’t wait to get back into drawing things! ☺️

  9. You inspired me to resolve to draw more this year. I think it will be therapeutic. Life can be so hectic sometimes, I really look forward to sitting down and just drawing. It is such a simple way to unwind that even I should be able to do it.

  10. Wow! You are such an amazing artist! My resolution is to create a blog and for it to become succesful! The link is readenjoybeinspired.wordpress.com if you would like to see it! Thanks!

  11. It is simply amazing! I wish I could draw freely like you do. Nope I won’t say I am busy and I don’t want to cop out. Honestly because of my day job and goals I’m working on that I set aside one of my favorite hobbies – illustration.

    You inspire me and I am sure many are motivated by your achievements. Keep on drawing!

  12. You are so gifted ^.^ one of my goals in this year, as I mentioned on my blog, is to draw better so I hope I can do that :)

  13. Whoa really like your artworks! Kinda makes me wana take up watercolour cus urs look absolutley amazing :)

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