The greatest form of flattery

Image by Maisie St Giles age 6

Image by Maisie St Giles age 6

Well, this really cheered me up!

Apparently, one young reader of my comic book Everything My 10-Year-Old Daughter Wore in November was inspired enough to draw her own version.

Maisie St Giles, age 6, you have made my day. I’m impressed by your great wardrobe and the many different ways you’ve styled your hair!

I do hope that this will also be available as a comic once the month is over — get your parents to print out a few and you could sell it to friends and family… and me.  Make sure you autograph mine, please. :)

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Everything My Daughter Wore in November: now for sale as a comic

Drawing all my daughter’s clothes last November is one of my favourite recent projects, so I was keen to get it printed up into a comic for people to buy.

They arrived today! These are a lot smaller than the other comics I’ve recently been involved in (Two Birds and Salon of Rejects), because I wanted them to be the same size as the original sketch book that I drew them in. The result is a comic that’s small and sweet. You can buy one here.

At the moment you’ll get a pound off when you buy more than one comic in my online shop.

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Clovember by Myfanwy Tristram

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I know I’ve been printing up a lot of comics lately – blame Comic Printing UK for making it so easy – and also the fact that I’ll be doing a few comics fairs this year, and need stock to sell.

As hobbies go, it’s an expensive one, though, so thank you for your support when you buy them!

Pick up my Stockholm sketch diary in any Gudrun Sjoden store, for International Women’s Day

Myfanwy Tristram: printed Stockholm diaires for Gudrun Sjoden

Stockholm Diary p3 Myfanwy Tristram

Happy International Women’s Day!

I’m truly delighted that my Stockholm sketch diary (detailing the trip I took to be an unlikely fashion model for Gudrun Sjödén) has been printed out and will be available to Gudrun shoppers around the world today.

Gudrun Sjödén stores always celebrate International Women’s Day (after all, their founder is a remarkable woman), and this year they are giving out “bulging goodie bags” as part of the celebrations. My diary will be making one of the bulges!

In the UK, the bags are a little extra gift for anyone spending more than £40. If you can’t make it, fear not – if you order via the website today, the same offer applies. Or of course, you can read the whole diary online here.

I have to say that I am really grateful for Gudrun’s support: I’m not a commercial artist nor one who approached them via standard channels. I so appreciate their willingness to share my work to their customers in this way.

And just to prove the whole thing wasn’t just a wonderful dream, here’s the evidence: the group of lovely ladies I met that day are all on the Gudrun homepage, in their catalogue, and in the recent marketing emails, and there’s me on the right:

Gudrun stripes

Visit the homepage and you’ll even see this as a moving image. Hoorah!

 

 

Can I be a mother and a successful artist? Hmm, let’s see

mother artist

This piece of graffiti is a fairly new addition to an underpass on one of my running routes. I enjoy graffiti and street art well enough, but my goodness, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a piece of it that spoke so directly to my own concerns. I’d like to meet whoever scrawled this and have a good long chat with her.

I’m not sure whether the big ‘NO’ underneath it is in answer, or whether it’s part of a previous piece of graffiti. Either way, it adds some hollow humour that I also enjoy.

Anyway, with all of that in mind, here’s my review of how I did on the ‘artist’ side for 2015 (the parenting side is always a work in progress, and another matter).

Comics

wild flowers by Myfanwy TristramLots of my work comes directly from motherhood and this year that was reflected in two cartoons: one about the school run, and one about my own mum.

In 2014, I drew Underdog, which relates a true experience of sewing with my daughter, and this year it was placed second in a prize, which is very gratifying.

I once again had a shot at the Cape/Comica/Observer graphic short story contest, but feel more and more resigned to the fact that I’ll never make a dent in that one.

I made a four-page comic about what happens when you take synchronised swimming to an extreme.

Feb 3rd brings the annual challenge of Hourly Comics Day. I’m looking forward to this year’s, although as it’s a working day, I’m a bit concerned as to how I’ll manage it…

Clothes

Clovember - illustration by Myfanwy TristramThe 30-pictures-in-30-days Clovember project was also a motherhood project: I drew everything my daughter wore (far more interesting than my own outfits).

This year I was lucky enough to work on a couple of projects with the Swedish fashion label Gudrun Sjoden, purveyors of beautiful, sustainable clothes. In March, I painted customers in their shop, and then of course in August I had an amazing two days pretending to be a model. This has to be the wildest and most incredible reward that drawing has brought me yet.

The sketch diary I made around that trip has had an amazing amount of comments, likes and shares: it’s wonderful to have had it enjoyed by so many. And that’s not the last of it: I’ll be working with Gudrun Sjoden again this year, and I’ll share more details when that happens.

Travel

Barcelona SagradaFamilia by Myfanwy TristramWe had family holidays in Frome and Barcelona, and I drew a sketch diary for each (16 pages and 26 pages respectively). The Stockholm diary added another 12 pages.

I also recorded a trip to Madrid for work (26 pages). I was particularly pleased to find a way to combine my very interesting day job, and my drawing.

I love having my sketch diaries, and I do enjoy the process of making them, but as my drawing ability improves, so do my ambitions, until I am in the silly situation of having to spend a couple of hours a day on them for weeks after our return.

This time could be used for other types of drawing, so this year I will have to think carefully about whether to continue.

As it happens, my favourite type of sketchbook appears to be really thin on the ground at the moment: I haven’t been able to find any in TK Maxx and Homesense, where I usually pick up two or three at a time.

I have two unused ones in a drawer at home and after that it’s entirely possible I won’t be able to find any more, which is a real shame as I’ve never seen any other sketch book that’s quite as well-suited to sketch diaries. Maybe it’s a sign that it really is time to give up.

Other stuff

petting party birthday invitation by Myfanwy TristramAs I only just posted, I drew my daughter’s stocking and all its contents (twice in one year, as it turned out, as I only completed 2014’s stocking on January 3rd 2015).

I also made my daughter’s party invitation – more happy combining of parenthood and drawing.

People and events

This blog was given an incredible boost by WordPress when they featured it in a round-up post at the beginning of the year, and then in a couple of subsequent features. That recognition has brought almost 5,000 subscribers to my blog. That’s great, and makes me think of ‘success’ and ‘exposure’ in entirely new ways.

But sometimes you also have to meet people in the real world, right? Even if parenthood has put you in the habit of staying in of an evening.

I went to a few excellent drawing-related events this year: an talk put on by the Lewes Children’s Book Group, and the inspiring Graphic Brighton conference.

Then there was the Brighton Illustration Fair which had a strong comics slant. This year, I’m going to try and be on the other side of a table.

Finally, I rediscovered Cartoon County, a group specifically for cartoonists, and right on my doorstep – I really should make more effort to go.

So, can you be a successful artist and a mother? To answer that question quite seriously, I’d say that yes, you can.

I’m not pretending that I’m a successful artist myself – that must depend on your definition of ‘successful’, but I’d bet that most people’s definitions would include making a living from it. I am an artist who’s becoming more content with her work, and enjoying a burgeoning readership though, so that must be a good thing.

If I had to guess, I’d say that the anonymous graffiti artist is probably in the early stages of motherhood (or maybe even pregnant, and thinking ahead?). If that’s so, then my answer would be to hang on in there. The first few years of motherhood do not allow for very much else, but that’s not a permanent state. And motherhood will inspire your art in new ways.

 

 

Clovember part 4: the final week of drawing my daughter’s clothes

Here are the drawings of my daughter’s clothes for the final nine days of November (you can see the other weeks here: part one, part two, part three).

Click any of the small pictures below to see them at full size.

And here are all 30 pictures, nicely arranged in a Flickr album:

I did also make an Instagram stop-motion video of myself flicking through the whole sketchbook, but I can’t figure out how to embed that without losing quality, so meh, you can see it here if you are that fussed. :)

What have we learned?

Being a parent, I can’t finish off a project without asking that question. And every art project definitely teaches you something (or reteaches you the same thing you thought you’d learned previously, which is useful too…).

Here are a few key things I learned from this month:

What my weak points are: I definitely need to practice hands more. And I know that I’m no expert at skin tones, from the way my heart sank every time I had to paint a face.

Watercolour techniques: Doesn’t matter how many books you read about ‘wet on wet’ or ‘wet on dry’ – there’s no substitute for actually using the darn things to remind you what you can do and what gives the best effects. In fact, I think those books tend to be rather intimidating: it’s odd when you suddenly realise that you’re using a recommended technique, without ever having thought of it as such.

The first attempt isn’t always perfect: I didn’t actually go horribly wrong and start any of these pictures again (although there are a couple I can see glaring faults in), but I definitely saw myself getting better as the month progressed.

I always seem to need to remember that when I start on a project, it takes time to get into the swing of it, and that it’s actually fine to give yourself the time to find the right style and techniques.

Nothing about lettering: Lettering was not the main point of this project, but it’s an area I’d like to get better at.

You can see that my lettering did not improve or progress through the month. I didn’t experiment with it and really it was just a functional step to get through before I could start painting.

Sketchbooks: I really liked the small Crok’book sketchbook I picked up on impulse on holiday in Barcelona, but to be honest I could have done with something about twice the size (it’s 17x11cm).

I am quite used to doing tiny little pictures with a very fine pen, but it’s a habit I should probably attempt to break out of.

That aside though, it’s a lovely size to flick through, and the paper (despite not having any particular texture) took the watercolour well.

Clothes: As before when I did this, it’s been an education about just how many clothes we have in the wardrobe — and also, their provenance. I was genuinely surprised to see the handful of brands that we favour, and even more so to see what a very large proportion are hand-me-downs, or sourced from charity shops and boot sales.

It’s nice to see my daughter’s personal sense of style writ large, and I’m glad I have this record for the future. Right now, the clothes she wears are as much to do with my taste as hers: it will be very interesting to see how that changes.

Next year, she will be going to secondary school, and will be wearing a uniform every weekday, so this may well be the last Clovember I do for quite a few years.

 

Drawing all my daughter’s clothes for #Clovember (week three)

A tricky week: I was away on Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday – and as a result, found myself catching up by drawing and colouring  four of these images this morning.

The result is that I’m not very happy with a few of them, but never mind. Part of the #Clovember challenge, I think, like any of the ‘draw every day’ challenges, is that you get used to showing your work, whether it makes you cringe or fills you with quiet pride.

You can guess for yourself which is which in this batch. Click each image if you’d like to see them bigger.

Next week – find out what happens when you embark on a 31-day project using a 24-page sketchbook.

See week four

Drawing my daughter’s clothes for Clovember (week 2)

Here are the pictures of my daughter’s clothes this week (see last week’s here).

Next week is going to be more challenging, because I’m away tomorrow and then again for a couple of days, with work. My husband has been charged with taking the photos, and we’ll see when I have the time to do the actual drawings…

image by Myfanwy Nixon

image by Myfanwy Nixon

image by Myfanwy Nixon

image by Myfanwy Nixon

image by Myfanwy Nixon

image by Myfanwy Nixon

image by Myfanwy Nixon

See week three

Clovember 2015 – drawing my daughter’s clothes

Clovember is a project in which you photograph (or draw) the clothes you wear, each day in November.

A few years ago, I drew both myself and my daughter’s clothes.

But these days, I work from home, and I go for a run almost every weekday. Plus winter’s coming and it’s cold sitting in an unheated house all day.

Drawing endless pictures of myself in my running gear, topped with a rather ratty old fleece and woolly hat does not really appeal (albeit it’s the look I inflict on my poor colleagues during video calls).

So instead I’m concentrating purely on my daughter’s clothes this year. Here’s the first week. Click to see them bigger.

1st Clovember by Myfanwy Tristram 1st Clovember by Myfanwy Tristram

3rd Clovember by Myfanwy Tristram4th Clovember by Myfanwy Tristram

5th Clovember by Myfanwy Tristram6th Clovember by Myfanwy Tristram

7th Clovember by Myfanwy Tristram

See week 2

How I experienced the life of a model, with Gudrun Sjoden

I haven’t exactly been blessed with the looks of a model, so no-one was more surprised than me to receive an offer to be photographed for a fashion catalogue. In fact, my first reaction may have been a snort.

But it all makes sense when you find out that the invitation came from Gudrun Sjoden. They regularly photograph their clothes on models who are “non-industry standard” — older, more characterful or larger than most brands would touch with a bargepole. (Makes perfect sense to me: their clothes are made for all ages and spread across a massive range of sizes, so why not reflect customers’ own looks?)

In this case, the shoot was to feature ‘friends of Gudrun’: bloggers, artists, novelists and other creative types. I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved with some events in Gudrun’s London store, and that’s what put me on the early plane to Stockholm for two of the most pleasurable days I’ve had in a long time!

Drawing this sketch diary allowed me to relive the whole 36 hours, bringing back all the enjoyment again. Massive thanks to Gudrun Sjoden for such a fun trip, and wonderful memories. Oh and by the way, the friend D you see in these pictures is http://www.ivyarch.co.uk. Visit her blog to see the amazing clothes she makes!

Click on any of the images to see them larger.

Stockholm Diary p1 Myfanwy Tristram

Stockholm Diary p2 Myfanwy Tristram

Stockholm Diary p3 Myfanwy Tristram

Stockholm Diary p4 Myfanwy Tristram

Stockholm Diary p5 Myfanwy Tristram

Stockholm Diary p6 Myfanwy Tristram

Painting staff and customers at Gudrun Sjödén

gudrun shop by Myfanwy Tristram

Today is International Women’s Day, and it was very nice to be invited to celebrate the day at the shop of Swedish fashion label Gudrun Sjödén. I took my watercolours and brushes up to Covent Garden in London, and had a really pleasant, if somewhat hectic, afternoon.

You might remember my post a couple of weeks ago, in which I tried out a technique of photographing women and then painting them in a composite image. That was in preparation for this project.

This time, I approached women in the shop to ask if I could snap them. If I’d been worried about people saying no, or looking at me oddly, I needn’t have been: everyone was lovely (even the woman who didn’t speak English, but had a kind husband to translate for me).

I love drawing clothes anyway, and you can rely on Gudrun customers to be brightly-dressed and a bit different from the mainstream. There was plenty of detail to work with.

After four hard-working but fun hours, I had a finished piece of work, which I’ve donated to the shop.

It’s not perfect, but it does, I hope, sum up the diversity and cheerfulness of both the staff and the customers who were in the shop that day.

 

Gudrun Sjoden painting by Myfanwy Tristram

Gudrun Sjoden painting by Myfanwy Tristram

Footnote: Gudrun Sjödén don’t just celebrate International Women’s Day for the sake of it. They’re a company who actually do quite radical things for women, within the norms of the fashion world, anyway.

For example, their models are all ages, including far more elderly women than we’re used to seeing in catalogues. Their clothes come in all sizes, up to XXL: unlike lots of shops, they’re not telling larger women that they have no right to dress in bright colours or bold patterns. They don’t use sweatshops and they have a fair trade policy.

For all these reasons, I’m a fan. And also for the less noble reason that I really like wearing their clothes.

Women of Lewes and Brighton

Women by Myfanwy Tristram

women by Myfanwy Tristram

These pictures are made by snapping women in the street with my phone, then working from the photos to paint a composite image on a A1 sheet of paper. The painting was done over a period of a couple of hours.

As I’ve just offered this idea to a potential client (painting their customers), I thought I’d better try it out and make sure it works.

I’m quite pleased with the results, and I’ve noted a few ways the whole thing could be easier, so it was worth doing a trial run.

Thank you – and sorry – if I photographed you yesterday! When I looked closely at the photographs, it did look like plenty of the subjects were looking straight at me, doubtless wondering what this strange person was doing pointing her phone at them.

Luckily, if the actual project goes ahead, I’ll be photographing people with their consent, and in a controlled environment.

And if it doesn’t? Eh, well… it’s all practice.

My daughter in blue

I posted a picture of my daughter in a jumble of different coloured clothes back in November, but I didn’t show you a second picture of her that I painted a few days later.

Daughter in blue by Myfanwy Tristram

That’s because I decided to give one picture to each set of her grandparents for Christmas. This one went to my own parents, who follow this blog, so I couldn’t put it up.

Now Christmas is over, I notice that I never scanned the original. Never mind, though – I still have the pencil drawing, and I put a photo of the finished piece on Instagram (which is what you see above).

Daughter in blue by Myfanwy Tristram

Thanks to my lightbox, I can draw the original in pencil, then trace over it on a fresh piece of paper in ink. That means you don’t have to start again right from the beginning if anything goes wrong with the inking.

Personally, I really like having these little safety nets. It means that while you’re pencilling, you can tell yourself, ‘oh well, it’s just the pencil, not the finished thing’, and when you’re inking/colouring, you feel like the hard work – proportions, composition, etc – has already been done.

And, of course, it means you get to keep the pencil drawing – in theory, I suppose, I could do more coloured pieces from it. I like it the way it is, though.

Lots of artists complain that the inked version is never as lively and free as the original pencil. I struggle with being lively and free at all, to be quite honest, but yes, I can see the pencil piece is a tiny bit more carefree.

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

Santiago sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

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…

Really not, in any way at all, doing Clovember

Tabs watercolour by Myfanwy Tristram

Every first of November, I have to decide whether I’m going to join in with Clovember again.

Clovember (clothes + November) is a tradition in my small corner of the internet, whereby one photographs what one is wearing, every day in November, and blogs about it. If that sounds dull, you’d be surprised at how much there is to say about clothes. There are stories, insecurities, and beliefs. There is wishful thinking, disappointment and elation. And that’s before you even get to the ‘Oh, that dress is lovely, where did you get it?’ type of comments.

Clearly finding photography a bit too… convenient, two years ago I decided I’d far rather spend every evening in November in a complete panic, and drew everything I wore, instead, and then decided to add everything my daughter was wearing, too. And that was fun, and the results were colourful and people liked them.

But my goodness it was time-consuming. So I didn’t do it last year, and I have decided – a little reluctantly – not to do it this year either, largely because I hope to complete some other drawing projects this month.

HAVING SAID ALL THAT, well, this morning I looked back at my bookworm of a daughter as she was trudging slowly to school, and I thought, that combination of layers and patterns and colours is kind of irresistible. So although I am not, repeat not, doing Clovember 2014, I did allow myself to do just this one drawing.

Here it is in pencil:

PencilT by Myfanwy TristramAnd here it is inked over with a dip-pen and then coloured with watercolour:

Tabs watercolour by Myfanwy Tristram

[Click to see it bigger]

A Bath holiday sketch diary

Bath diary by Myfanwy Tristram

We’ve just returned from a family holiday in Bath, Somerset. One of the things I enjoy most about going on holiday is having the luxury of time to draw – I kept a sketch diary while I was there.

Click each page to see it at a readable size.

Day 1: The journey

Bath diary by Myfanwy Tristram

Key learning: light grey, light pink and light blue are not the *best* colours for text that you later want to scan in. This makes particular sense when you remember that illustrators often use blue pencil to sketch under their illustrations because it can be so easily removed afterwards…

Day 1: Arrival, plus bonus page of holiday purchases under £5.00

Bath diary by Myfanwy Tristram

Day 1: shops; Day 2: Hedgemead Park

Bath diary by Myfanwy Tristram

Day 2: Walk and an afternoon with my bro; Day 3:Roman Baths

Bath diary by Myfanwy Tristram

Day 4: Fashion museum
Bath diary by Myfanwy Tristram

Day 4: Fashion museum, Japanese food, the Makery; Day 5: Postal museum

Bath diary by Myfanwy Tristram

Day 5: Postal museum, lunch at St Swithin’s Church, park; Day 6: book shopping

Bath diary by Myfanwy Tristram

Day 6: The American Museum in Bath, Kaffe Fassett

Bath diary by Myfanwy Tristram

 Day 6: the American Museum; Day 7: swimming and adventure golf

Bath diary by Myfanwy Tristram

Looking back over the week, my primary thought is that while it was a lot of fun, and relaxing, it was a very tame holiday: well, I guess that’s what you get for going, with a family, to genteel Bath.

The only real wildness came in the form of all the yarn-bombing and colour explosions at the American Museum, and to be honest even that is the sort of anarchy that one’s grandparents might find thrilling.

I am off to Santiago in Chile for work next week, though, and I still have half a sketchbook left – so, if I have time to draw, it may end up being a diary of two very different parts.

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.

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.

Myriad Editions First Graphic Novel competition

myriad event by Myfanwy Tristram

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?

The Perfect Storm

star fishnet tights by Myfanwy Tristram

Blue tights with green tops by Myfanwy Tristram

bright pink tights by Myfanwy Tristram

green tights by Myfanwy Tristram

Remember that film where George Clooney grabs an unexpected eBay bargain, finds a sketchbook with unusual dimensions, and follows an Instagram account that suddenly gives him an idea for an art project? It’s called ‘The Perfect Storm’.

Oh, wait. That wasn’t a film, it was real life. And it wasn’t George Clooney, it was me. However, I’m sticking with the title: a ‘perfect storm’ is when a combination of events create the ideal environment for something to happen.

In George’s case, that saw him looking noble in a slicker, square-jawed and pushing against adversity while sprackled with a light sea spray (I’m guessing; I haven’t seen it). In mine, it sees me happily noodling around with inks and watercolour paper.

To explain, my perfect storm came together like this:

EVENT 1: I’m looking for something on eBay. I can’t remember what now; we’ve just moved house, so there’s been a lot of eBaying for furniture and random stuff.

I come across a job lot of tights in my size – 14 or so pairs of them. Tights in my size are quite rare, as I’m far too tall for a lady, apparently. They’re going for something silly like £2.99. I put in a low bid and forget about them. A few days later, ta-da! I’m now the owner of a ridiculous number of colourful tights, some with fancy designer names and packaging.

EVENT 2: In said move, I’m unpacking my sketchbooks when I find the landscape watercolour sketchbook I bought at the Tate while we were on holiday in St Ives. Coals to Newcastle, incidentally, as it turns out it was made by Seawhite of Brighton.

This sketchbook is 29cm x 15cm. Long and thin. Ideal for landscapes, seascapes and… do you see where I’m going?

EVENT 3: I can’t pretend I wasn’t partly inspired  – even if subliminally – by an Instagram account I’ve been following with fascination: Stace-a-lace photographs women on the streets of New York – but only from the waist downwards. The results are intriguing.

And KABOOM! Perfect storm all up in yo face. New art project: I’m drawing my legs every time I wear a pair of these tights.

Oh, is that all? Why didn’t you say so at the start?

More of these as they happen.

November 2012: clothes project

Everything my daughter and I wore in November 2012

Everything my daughter and I wore in November 2012

In November 2012, I decided to draw the clothes I wore, every day, for a month.

And as if that wasn’t enough of a challenge, I also drew my daughter’s clothes. At the end of the month, a good friend commented that the illustrations would make a great comic.

She said one thing that really struck me: that these clothes may seem pretty ordinary now, but in a few years’ time, the picutres could stand as a historic document.

So I cleaned all the sketches up and started putting them into a printable format. What you see here is me playing about with ideas for the cover.

In my day job, my boss has a penchant for extarordinarily long blog titles – I think that’s influenced my choice of title here.

My summing-up post at the end of the whole project – complete with pie charts! – can be seen here, and clicking here will take you to all the pictures on Flickr.

Everything my daughter and I wore in November 2012