Visual stimuli

I’ve put my Arts Council funding in! Done. Even if it’s unsuccessful, that feels like an achievement. (And even if it is unsuccessful, Karrie‘s been telling me that it’s imperative to take on board their feedback, tweak and try again).

I thought I’d start a list of all the cultural input I’m getting this year so far, in the light of my new year’s resolution to see more art, and expanding that out to other visual inspirations.

Ten Years With Hayao Miyazaki: a newsletter about artists’ working habits alerted me to this free documentary, a four partner, about the founder of Studio Ghibli. Things that stood out: he works really, really hard – basically does nothing else but devise and draw. His drawing skill is amazing – no reference pictures in sight and he can seemingly just draw figures in any position and from any angle like *that*. His process is loopy: he doesn’t write a script, but begins with diving straight into the storyboards. I was thinking ‘well no wonder he’s in such creative anguish’ – but then I’ve always been a ‘words first’ person. And he chain smokes; that’s a bit disconcerting. Overall a recommend, though.

The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House I almost gave up on this series, as it seemed slow and, I guess, unlike anything else I was used to, but I gave it a second go and I’m glad I did. It’s like a gentle soap opera. A lot of small things aren’t really explained, though it’s hard for me to know if that’s just stuff that hasn’t been translated, or if the storytelling style is to leave the viewer slightly befuddled. Visually it’s very soothing and overall it’s just wholesome. I wonder if it is an attempt to bring tourism back to Japan.

Brighton Museum I popped by last weekend to look at three exhibitions: a small one about Aubrey Beardsley, who spent much of his short life in Brighton; ‘Down From London‘ (great title) displaying paintings that were displayed in Brighton 100 years ago; and a collection of memorabilia from the group The Jam.

The West Pier by Spencer Gore. An oil painting showing the gardens in the foreground, then the beach, with bathing huts, then the pier mauve against a bright blue sea. Stunning colours.

The main thing I took away from the exhibition of Edwardian paintings was their frequent pairing of greens and violets, which I liked a lot.

Also, a caption about how the original show had been received with some outrage (what? It’s just oil paintings of scenes!) reminded me of how often in my Art History A’Level the tutor would say ‘this exhibition caused a riot’. Like, so often, people were so incensed by, I don’t know, impressionism, or a new use of colour, that they’d literally be breaking chairs over each other’s heads. You just don’t get that sort of passion over the arts any more.

On the way to the museum I took a slight detour to see the newest developments in Brighton. These replaced some old college and market buildings, including the redbrick block where my MA lectures were held and of which I was rather fond – but I must say I was surprisingly taken with their replacements, which actually have character.

Tall pointy black buildings with lots of windows

Julia Rothman’s Patreon I splashed out on this for a year, and I’m so glad I did. I couldn’t tell you specifically what tips and advice I’ve picked up or will act on – I mean, she lays them out and they’re there for the taking, and it’s clearly invaluable stuff for a anyone launching a career in illustration or pattern design – but that’s not me. I will say that I’m absorbing her entire approach to sharing work, putting a very real self out there, which is just A++.

I am greedy and I want more more more! I’ve been eyeing up the Fashion and Textile Museum. I mean, if I want colour and pattern, Kaffe Fassett has to be it. I’m in London for work next month, so I might see if I can squeeze a visit in or if that’s too optimistic in two long days of meetings.

It’s going to be a year of travel, so that should also help. Nothing wildly ambitious, but it makes me happy to see new places, or revisit old ones.

Over the Xmas break I booked our summer holiday, Eurostarring to Lille, Brussels and Dordrecht. Brussels is a comics paradise. Museums, murals, even a comics hotel (that I didn’t book because it was tons more expensive to go for a flexible rate, annoyingly).

I’m accompanying my daughter to a university interview in Liverpool soon; I’m down in Devon next month for the Pen and Ink convention. If my funding applications hit the mark, I’ll be returning to Rhondda for some more interviews and research. In June, it’s our 20th wedding anniversary and I’ve been trying to think of somewhere special (but achievable with sustainable travel). I thought maybe Portmeirion.

There’s a possibility of my being selected to speak at a conference in Oxford; at work, there’s another potential conference in Gothenburg that we’re trying to shape a business travel policy around (ie, is a staff member taking 21 hours by train, each way, an acceptable outcome of our environmental commitments). That last one probably won’t be me, but I will say that I’m willing to try out the train travel and see if it works for us! Oh and we’re definitely presenting at another event in Sheffield in May.

Comics pals have been discussing the possibility of going to Angouleme in January 2024 for the comics festival. Yay for travel.

Published by Myfanwy Tristram

I am an illustrator, situated in Brighton on the south coast of England, and with a special interest in comics and graphic memoir. I also work for a non-profit which encourages people to be active in democracy and to exercise rights such as the right to information through FOIA.

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