My prints at Spitalfields Market

I went to Spitalfields Market yesterday and saw my artwork in situ.

The printing looks really good, and the colours have come out just as vibrant as I was hoping.

spitalfields2

That’s mine, top left – the tins watercolour. If you want to buy a print, the stall will be there all weekend – it is in a dedicated part of the market that is all art, on the west side nearest to Bishopsgate.

There’s loads of other great stuff, too. I was really interested to see a Christmas card made from collaging maps (bottom row, extreme right in the image above): the same idea as my recent illustrations, but executed so differently. It’s beautiful – and if I find out the artist’s name, I’ll link to him or her.

spitalfields

My prints are available in two sizes, with the smaller one costing a very reasonable £10 (larger ones £25; you can see both sizes in the picture above).

Green Shield stamps paddyfields

Stamps landscape by Myfanwy Tristram

In the last few days, I’ve put the finishing touches to a complex collage of paddy fields. It’s made of tickets and postage stamps (many contributed by kind friends) and maps (including one I used to navigate around Japan, before the advent of smartphones in my life). These elements symbolise travelling over great distances.

I also used Green Shield stamps, which don’t symbolise anything, but which seemed so right for the landscape. Then there’s a bit of ink.

You might remember my first drawing of these steppes, which was a simple version in painted inks, from this post.

Paddyfields by Myfanwy Tristram

Then came this valley, also populated with random stamps.

stamps landscape by Myfanwy Tristram

Now the two ideas come together in a new landscape. I’m really pleased with it: from a distance, I think the details of the stamps and maps make it look like an aerial photograph.

I’ve been fiddling around with placing birds over the top of it*, and then I went away for a while and had the idea of just showing their shadows.

Stamps landscape by Myfanwy Tristram

This is all still work in progress, and I am going to have to get the original collage scanned professionally. As you’ll see if you click and view it larger, this is a composite of several scans. Why don’t they ever match up?!

* These are drop shadows, created from the airmail label bird I showed earlier. That took a bit of thinking through: once I decided I wanted the shadows, but not the birds themselves (because the background is so fussy, it’s really hard to make out any detailed birds, no matter what colour they are), I had to figure out how to do that. Make the bird layer invisible, and the shadow becomes invisible too.

In the end, I expanded the canvas, put the birds outside the main frame, pulled the drop shadows way out from their ‘parent’ shapes, then flattened all the layers and chopped off the margin with the actual birds in it.

I bet there’s a more conventional way to do this. As a self-taught Photoshop user, I am aware I often go all around the houses to do something that a pro would be able to do without thinking.

Now you can buy my prints!

I’m very excited to say that my work will shortly be available at the Art Market in Spitalfields market.

You’ll be able to find prints of the following (and just in time for Christmas!):

Washing Up by Myfanwy Tristram“If you have to wash up the same things every day, make sure they are beautiful things” by Myfanwy Tristram

Animal Tea by Myfanwy TristramAnimal Tea by Myfanwy Tristram

Tins by Myfanwy TristramTins by Myfanwy Tristram

booner by Myfanwy TristramSkittle Cat by Myfanwy Tristram

Iggy by Myfanwy TristramIggy by Myfanwy Tristram

I haven’t seen these in the flesh yet, but they should be available on Thursday until Sunday (I’ll be going up on Thursday to take a look). If they go down well, I will be looking at selling prints online, too.

I’m hoping people agree that the tins, the tea design and the washing up print would all look excellent in the kitchen. The cat pictures? Well, if you’re a cat-lover, you’ll appreciate them anywhere in the house.

Meeting Gudrun and the women who wear her clothes

Yesterday, I had the very singular experience of sitting in the London Gudrun Sjödén shop, sketching away while customers came to greet Gudrun herself, who was in town for a flying visit.

Gudrun Sjoden by Myfanwy Tristram

As I listened to the women who queued up to speak to Gudrun, and as I chatted to her in between times, it became clear to me what a feat the Gudrun label represents.

Red hair by Myfanwy Tristram

Most of the women had one pressing sentiment to impart: a big, resounding ‘thank you’, for recognising that women come in all shapes and sizes, and that we need not stop wearing colour and pattern once we’re over a certain age. Gudrun, with her trademark bright green specs was one manifestation of that spirit; another was the broad range of ages who approached the table for a biscuit and perhaps a photograph.

Beret lady by Myfanwy Nixon

Old or young, slender or not, the customers all wore colour, and wore it boldly. It made for some interesting drawing (so would the shop itself: the colourful clothes all around, the artwork and lampshades, and the glorious coterie of shop staff provided almost too many potential subjects).

Just discovered Gudrun, by Myfanwy Tristram

Gudrun shop assistant by Myfanwy Tristram

I was glad to have a moment to thank Gudrun for including older women in her catalogues, and catering for women no matter what size they are. It’s one of my personal bugbears that anyone who is a different shape from straight up-and-down has to look at photographs of clothes online or in catalogues, an then do a kind of tricky mental leap to translate that into what it would look like on them.

bought whole shop by Myfanwy Tristram

“It’s what’s inside that counts”, said Gudrun at one point. She was talking to Amanda from the Womens’ Room blog, who had popped in to do an interview.

Amanda from the Women's Room blog

I like the Women’s Room’s premise, too – that women over 35 just aren’t catered for by mainstream clothes shops, and that that’s a jolt for women who have grown up expecting to be able to express themselves through fashion.

It’s probably a strategic business error, as well, if the women I saw yesterday are anything to go by. Put it this way: these people are not gracefully sliding into an age of polyester twinsets.

Blue and red by Myfanwy Tristram

Anneka by Myfanwy Tristramyellow and blue by Myfanwy Tristram

London

This couldn’t have been more strongly illustrated than by the woman I sat opposite on the train back to Brighton. In her seventies, or perhaps even her eighties, she sported a shock of snow white hair onto which she’d splurged a mix of bright pink and purple dyes. She looked magnificent.

Pink haired lady

A note about the drawings: In the end I took pencil crayons, which allowed me to make colourful marks, quickly and without mess. I haven’t used them for a long time, and it was good to rediscover some of their plus points, like how nicely the colours can blend.

Drawing people as they quickly came to say hello was difficult, so I have not tried for exact likenesses. In most cases, I was drawing and colouring in long after the customer had departed, so colours and details are often from memory, or completely made up. Please don’t feel offended if you see an unflattering rendition of yourself – chances are I’ve mixed you in with one or two other people! Likewise, I’ve mixed and matched the things I heard people saying to Gudrun, so they probably aren’t next to the people who actually said them.

Airmail bird

Airmail bird by Myfanwy Tristram

Here’s a little collage bird I made while I was at my illustration class last night. Next week is the last session. We’re going to the pub, so I guess my learning  has come to an end.

At least, the kind of learning you do in a class. One of the tutor’s maxims was that we should keep on looking, and learning, and finding stuff out about oneself, and I hope I can carry on in that spirit.

I recommend the tutor: if you’re local to Brighton, you might be interested in his upcoming course. And in fact, the Phoenix always has loads of exciting and inspiring courses going on. A Xmas present for the one you love, perhaps? Even better if you are the one you love…

Ask and it will happen

In a recent post, I mused about getting a gig where I could just sit and draw people. To my surprise, last week I received an invitation to do just that!

Gudrun Sjödén, the founder of the exuberant Nordic fashion label, will be visiting her London shop on Saturday, and they’ve invited me to come and draw her, and any brightly-dressed customers. Wow.. that’s like my dream situation.

I’m wishing I could take my inks, as they’re my brightest medium, but I think I’ll draw in pen and colour at home. It’s not that big a shop, and I can well imagine an ink catastrophe among all those lovely clothes.  Perhaps I’ll take some pencil crayons…

new20Nov12

Here’s a picture from my clothes drawings last November, just so this post has an image. I’m not drawing my outfits every day this year, though I have been photographing them. I think I was dressing a lot more brightly last year.. maybe a trip to the Gudrun shop will shake that up a bit.

Trying things out

Here is a small bird I made from some Brighton bus tickets.

We’re all switching to pre-loaded cards and mobile phone tickets these days, so it’s not as easy as it used to be to get hold of paper bus tickets. It’s funny to think that  maybe in a couple of years’ time, this picture will look really dated.

In any case, I need to make more of an effort to collect tickets while they’re still around. Our daughter still requires a 30p one for each journey, at least, so I can nab all the ones she hasn’t folded into paper boats.

bus ticket bird by Myfanwy Tristram

He stands pretty well on his own – I could see this image working for a simple Christmas card. But I have bigger fish to fry. I’m getting towards the point where I want to do some full pages for my children’s picture book.

Now, what follows is all still at the ‘trying things out’ stage; it’s not finished work, but it’s getting nearer to it. And nearer to saying ‘this is the style I’m happy with’. You’ve already seen a phone snap of the below:

Work in progress by Myfanwy TristramI’m enjoying the collage, but it’s flippin’ time-consuming.

Other things I am enjoying include:

– Ink (especially *on top of* the collaged paper – see how it seeps into the tissue, but misses out the gold birds?);

– Deciding the girl’s hair is pink because she’s *just that wild*;

– Loosely basing the dad on a Nick Cave type of figure, for all the mums who might appreciate that as much as I do (though a friend told me he looked more Frank Zappa-esque).

Oh, and although you can’t see it that well here, the girl’s top is collaged from this beautiful old shoebox I found. Triangles – they are very now, you know. I’m trying not to use it too fast, or maybe I just need to scan it so I can always sample from it. Or – here’s an idea – I could just buy more shoes. That’s always a good solution to most problems.

On top of that, lovely friends have been sending me tickets and stamps to cut up and glue and generally muck around with.

I got to the stage where I didn’t feel like I could go much further without having a text to work to, even if it’s not the final one. I’ve mocked up the dummy book, and that did help a lot in knowing where the double page image spreads should go, and where there will just be small vignettes, etc. So the next thing I did was to put together one of those spreads.

Bear in mind that this is very much just trying stuff out. Also forgive the scanner lines – it’s a big picture, my scanner is small, life is short, etc etc.

birds-carry[Click to see bigger]

There’s a lot I like about this picture, but for my money it isn’t doing its job.

To start with the positives:

– I like the window acting as a frame within a frame, and I like the extra 3D-ness the collage gives that effect.

– I rather like the colours, especilly the curtain rail being such an impertinent pink.

– And the curtains, despite being overly gothy (perhaps suitable for our Cave/Zappa dad?) are looking rather lush.

But what’s not working is the scene beyond the window. That little red ticket bird that was so clear in the first picture of this post just gets lost in all the detail behind. Faring even worse are his smaller pals on the telephone wires (which incidentally seem to be emanating from Dad’s mouth – layout fail). The idea is that birds will all be composed of tickets, but at this scale, they just can’t be read clearly. This page is a big reveal – birds! – so they really need to be much more prominent.

It all comes down to the background. I must say, I was having a lot of fun doing all those rooves and chimneys and smoke (tracing paper collaged on), but this isn’t the place for it. It doesn’t matter – it’s all a learning process, and perhaps I can use those ideas somewhere else.

I thought I’d try Photoshopping in some previous birds, and then cloning my little ticket bird, but I can’t say anything’s perfect just yet. Trying quick fixes like this rarely works – I reckon I’ll be better off taking everything I like about the picture, and using it to inform the next version.

Birds at the window by Myfanwy Tristram

Birds at the window by Myfanwy Tristram

In summary: it’s not perfect, but it doesn’t matter. It’s all good learning. And blinkin’ heck, inks are lovely.

sketch by Myfanwy Tristram

Myriad Editions First Graphic Novel competition

We’re lucky in Brighton: the city is home to Myriad Editions. Few British publishers really champion the graphic novel form as much as they do, nor take such delight in stretching the definition to embrace techniques such as embroidery and lino cut.

I’ve just come back from a talk, chaired by its Creative Director Corinne Pearlman. She, and the very personable Nye Wright and Hannah Eaton made a couple of hours pass very pleasurably, as they read from their own works, mused on the process of getting into print, and graciously took sometimes rather complex questions from the audience.

If you entered the Cape/Comica/Observer contest and felt like, actually, four pages wasn’t enough for you, you wanted to go on to, oooh, say, another 250, then you’ll be interested to know that Myriad will shortly be running their First Graphic Novel competition for 2014. Start drawing now, and you’ll have a head start!

As I’ve mentioned before, I can’t resist drawing people at events like this. Here are some sketches from tonight.

myriad event by Myfanwy Tristram

myriad event by Myfanwy Tristram

The woman in front of me had this great hair:

the woman in front of me's hair by Myfanwy Tristram

And here (below) are a few sketches from train journeys to and from London yesterday. As always, click to see them bigger.

traindrawings-nov13

I absolutely love doing this kind of drawing. I keep wondering if there’s a niche for it – like, I could get hired to go to someone’s wedding and draw all the guests (I’d hate that actually – it’d be so stressful and there’d be a terrible pressure to get flattering likenesses).

The most agreeable example of this type of work I can think of is when the Guardian sent Posy Simmonds to (I think) Paris Fashion Week. I can’t find any images from it online, though, so maybe I’m remembering the details wrongly. Can anyone point me in the right direction?

Cape/Comica/Observer graphic short story – update

Work in Progress by Myfanwy TristramJust a quick camera phone snap of some work in progress, so that this post has an image – it’s not actually relevant to the rest of the post : )

An update on my attempts to gather together entries for the Cape/Comica/Observer graphic short story contest. Apparently 180 people entered this year. I have managed to find and link to 14 of them (including my own), which is not even 10%.

I can’t believe that anyone who’s a cartoonist or comics artist these days doesn’t put their work online – surely! So perhaps people aren’t labelling them in the same way that I’m Googling. Do let me know if you manage to find more.

I was in Edinburgh last week. For some reason, I was waking insanely early each morning, which did at least give me time to listen to a Guardian podcast about the competition, while my daughter slept.

One of the judges, Rachel Cooke, talked a bit about it. I was hoping for some stunning insights into how they chose the winners, or what sort of strips almost made the grade, but no dice. To be fair, it was very interesting listening to previous winners talking about the projects they’ve gone on to create: Stephen Collins’  The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil, and Isabel Greenberg’s Encyclopaedia of Early Earth.

One thing that was mentioned, and which I’ve also seen online, is that there were fewer entries than expected, and they put that down to people being intimidated by the professional-looking entries that won previously. I wonder if that’s why they chose a strip that is technically less polished this year.

Apart from that, I haven’t seen much analysis online, either. There are endless re-announcements of the winner, but I’m not reading people’s thoughts about it, really. Again, maybe I’m just Googlin’ in all the wrong places. I haven’t seen the shortlist yet, either, though there’s a lead in the comments to my last post

While we were in Edinburgh, we experienced a few full-on torrential downpours. One of these rather serendipidously put us through the doors of Forbidden Planet, where they had a special offer on selected books. I picked up Guy Delisle‘s Pyongyang, about his two months as an animator in North Korea.

Ahhh, it was brilliant. Like many, I’m already kind of fascinated by North Korea, and my goodness. People often say that books make you feel like you’ve been to a place yourself – well, this makes it clear that graphic novels can do that for you, too. I gobbled it up, and by the end, I also felt like I’d spent two months in this utterly surreal country.

Shenzen next then, I think.

Jonathan Cape/Comica/Observer Graphic Short Story competition

The shortlisted entrants for the Jonathan Cape/Comica/Observer Graphic Short Story competiton (that is *such* a mouthful. I think they need to rebrand it as ‘Plonk’ or something) have been decided.

For me, as someone with a history in cartooning, it looms large as ‘THE competition’. This year I was determined to enter, because, apart from anything else, it’s super to have such a well-defined comics project to work on. I’m not sure I’d have the impetus to sit down and work on a four-page graphic short story without a good reason.

Anyway, now that the shortlist has been announced, I feel I can blog my entry – there’s a clause in the rules about the work not having been published anywhere before, and I’m always a bit paranoid that that might mean ‘even on your own blog’.

I’d also like to use this blog post to collect links to other entries – so, if you entered and your work is online, leave a comment. I’ll keep editing the post to add new links as they become apparent. Here’s what I’ve found so far, via a quick Google (there must be LOADS more than this… please shout if you have a strip I can add).

Now here’s mine. It’s called ‘Overstock’. Click to see each page larger.

Overstock by Myfanwy Tristram page 1

Overstock by Myfanwy Tristram page 2

Overstock by Myfanwy Tristram page 3Overstock by Myfanwy Tristram page 4

Drawing is bad etiquette during meetings

Colleagues by Myfanwy TristramI do worry that it’s really rude to draw people, especially when you’re in a meeting with them. Presumably if it were a meeting of illustrators, we’d all be drawing each other, so it wouldn’t matter. But it wasn’t, so I’ve probably broken every rule in the business etiquette book.

The thing is, I don’t always get a chance to attend life drawing classes, and it’s really hard to resist when there are all these people sitting (almost) still right in front of me.

And – this is the crucial part – I can draw and listen at the same time, honest.

After a weekend of meetings and drawing, these are the results. I wasn’t striving too much for accurate likenesses,  so I hope that if any of the attendees are reading, they won’t take offence. For me it was all about the joy of practising – and the joy of the meetings themselves, too, of course.

Colleagues by Myfanwy Tristram

[Above] Bit of Photoshop added for lazy colouring-in, at home.

Colleagues by Myfanwy Tristram

Colleagues by Myfanwy Tristram

Colleague by Myfanwy Tristram

Colleagues by Myfanwy Tristram

[Above] Biro, giving a particularly harsh representation of people who are perfectly attractive in real life. : )

Colleagues by Myfanwy Tristram

Trees by Myfanwy Tristram[Above] When the people-drawing starts seeming too intrusive, there are always the trees outside the window.

Drawing characters – and two kinds of eye-openers

I’ve had a couple of eye-openers this week – one artistic and the other cultural. Let me try to explain…

birdkid by Myfanwy Tristram

Eye-opener one: mess

So, it’s time to think about the protaganist in my picturebook – the one who’ll be telling the story. Here’s what I know about her so far: she’s very, very sad because her mum’s gone away on business, not just for a day, but for LOTS of days, AND THE NIGHTS too.

And that sadness is manifesting itself in a wild, uncontrollable rage. It is ALL NOT FAIR.

Well, that unfettered emotion fits in rather well with this week’s class, which was all about mess and letting your water-based materials go with the flow – literally. The tutor showed us various methods of creating textures and backgrounds that might kickstart creativity.

Sure enough, when he painted over an old painting with black ink, then rubbed a little away, it was – shall we say? – miraculous.

In portait orientation, I could see a cartoon cowboy’s head. In landscape, I saw a spooky marsh, lit by a single light. Either way, I could have grabbed that paper and started drawing. That was eye-opener number one.

The tutor went on to show us things we could do with window-cleaning squeegees, edges of cardboard boxes, emulsion paint, acrylics, squirty water bottles, bleach, and more.

Ideally, I’d have come home, taped tarpaulin on every surface, and gone wild. But I use the same desk for my day job as I do for painting, and I haven’t yet found the time to prepare that thoroughly for a painting session.

All the same, I would definitely say that I was inspired to let myself go a bit, to unfurl plumes of ink into water-sodden patches of paper – and that suits the wildness of this particular kid very well. I will be pushing it further, and I’ll report back.

birdkid studies by Myfanwy Tristram

Eye-opener two: feathers

I posted an Instagram snap of the page these two sketches come from, and a friend, who is from the US, asked me about the feather headdress. My first response was, well, the book is about birds, and I want to weave in as many visual references to birds as I can in every image, plus, in this picture, she’s meant to be wild, and being dressed up in warpaint and feathers is kind of a visual shorthand for that.

But then I took a couple of moments to contemplate why she had asked. And I understood why. Because in the US, there is far more sensitivity, and indeed understanding, around the whole issue of the Native Americans’ culture, traditions and ceremonies being appropriated for children’s play.

When I was a kid, in sunny Devon (where, funnily enough, my American friend has settled now), we were untroubled by such issues. I suspect most of the UK was, actually. I’m pretty sure you could buy ‘cowboys and indians’ costumes in Woolworth; I know I had a Ladybird book with an exquisite painting of some lovely middle class children playing ‘Indians’ in a toy teepee. The phrase ‘Native Americans’ had not percolated to our corner of the universe, and indeed I don’t think I heard it until well into my 20s.

But when I thought about it, well, I realised that I probably should steer away from using a feathered headdress in the final images. Not just for reasons of self-interest, though goodness knows, no-one would want to draw a book that would be reviled in the States. And perhaps avoiding what was, to me when I sat down in class and started doodling this picture, the ‘obvious’, I will find myself driven to greater creativity.

You never know.

Landscape with stamps

Landscape by Myfanwy Tristram

I am having *SO MUCH FUN* drawing birds’ eye view landscapes and playing about with ideas. Above (click to see larger) is as far as I’ve got with the latest one, actually physically on paper.

The plan is to collage some stamps onto it – the insomniac eBay shopping I mentioned in my last post – but although I’ve done this digitally, I haven’t yet taken the plunge and stuck them on for good, because I really like how it looks now. Eep. I might stick them on a transparent layer and take it from there.

Landscape with stamps by Myfanwy Tristram

Here are a couple of blurry phone shots of the work in progress:

blurryphone-pic2

blurryphone-pic1

EDITED TO ADD: Here’s the ‘final’ piece – as it’s only an exploratory drawing it’s not exactly final as such, but it’s as far as I’ve taken it. I decided not to wimp out with a layer of acetate and stuck the stamps (ie stamp scans) down on the page. I experimented a bit with trying to bring out the perforations on the scanned stamp images: I tried a threadless sewing machine, and in the end settled for a not-very-realistic but symbolic frilled pair of scissors.

I dithered about that final piece of map leading off to the horizon, because I liked the image just as much without it, but in the end I liked the vision it gave of endless worlds to be explored.

I also cut round the various trees and bushes where the stamps overlap; perhaps I should have just painted them over for a neater finish.

I’m quite pleased.

stamps landscapefini

Birds

After the first week of the course, I went away and started thinking and drawing and thinking some more. I’ve had this one idea for a children’s picture book for ages (along with many others), and now seems like a really good time to explore it.

It’s a funny thing: the course itself? It’s just three of us in the room with the tutor (one of the women who was there for the first week didn’t turn up this second week). That’s all.

But I know that I am going to get more done, and with more freedom and a better chance of success than if, say, I’d decided I was going to draw at home for three hours every Tuesday night until I’d made a book.

Plus, there’s something about speaking an idea that shows it up for what it is – naked, shivering against the wall, nowhere to hide. And there’s something about people answering back to your idea that catapults it off into new directions.

The book I want to make is about a bird.

So after that first week, I went home and I drew these:

birds

Well ok, so far so good, but, y’know, I’ve drawn something like this before.

And I doodled a lot – I had to work in London on one day, so on the train up there and back I could draw.

And at the weekend, I sat down and I drew this:

kite

(You can click on all the images in this blog to see them bigger – or, in this case, to see how poorly I have stitched together the various scans it took to get this large image in.)

And, while they were fun to do, I didn’t feel happy, or like I’d discovered anything new, or happened upon a style I wanted to use for the book.

I felt, I dunno, like they were really constrained, and flat. I wanted to scale them up six times bigger and work with a paintbrush the size of my arm.

The night before the next class, I started thinking, well, kites are made of paper, right? And I started piecing together this:

Fevvers by Myfanwy Tristram

And, ooh!

That, that has lit a firecracker under me. A slow-burning one, sure, but put that together with some ill-advised insomniac eBay purchasing, and I have thought of a route that I find really, really exciting. All will be revealed, at some point…

Meanwhile, a couple of us actually cracked open the paints at the class this week. I started drawing without much thought, but I like what came out.

Oddly enough, it is the opposite of the huge, splashy, free painting I thought I wanted to do.

Paddyfields by Myfanwy Tristram

Someone saw it on my Instagram feed and said that at first glance, they’d thought it was a rug. Wouldn’t that be nice?