My daughter’s 2017 stocking

It’s become my own personal tradition that each year, I draw my daughter’s Christmas stocking: a record of all those gifts of chocolate, stationery and small toys that Santa brings. He’s a clever man, that Santa: each year, his choices seem to accord directly with my daughter’s changing fads and preferences.

In this, her 13th year, I can’t help noticing that colours are duller and much less exciting to draw: less hot pink, more black.

stocking 2017 by myfanwy tristram

Click the image if you’d like to see it slightly larger.

In the ultimate mash-up of looking a gift-horse in the mouth and being a bad workman blaming my tools, I might also say that I got the most amazing box of watercolours for Christmas. They’re so good that the colours are deeper and more vibrant than I’m used to, and the whole picture came out a bit darker than I intended.

For comparison’s sake, here are previous years’ paintings:

stocking, 2016--by-myfanwy-tristram

Everything in my daughter's stocking by Myfanwy Tristram

Christmas Stocking by Myfanwy Tristram

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2017 – a year in drawing

Myfanwy Tristram cards

No matter how much time and energy I put in, I never feel like I’m doing quite enough drawing, so it’s always good to look back over the year and realise quite how much paper (and pixels) I’ve stacked up! Here’s a quick run-through of how 2017 looked.

February

On the 1st, I took the Hourly Comic Day challenge, where you draw one frame for every hour you are awake.

Inevitably, my piece reflected some of the day’s political events:

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

I’ve definitely got the Hourly Comic Day bug now, and I hope to participate again on Feb 1st next year.

Draw The Line logo by Karrie Fransman

On the 21st, having been beavering away since October 2016, we launched the Draw The Line project website.

This is the biggest comics project I’ve ever attempted: it brought together 114 artists from many different countries, each depicting a positive political action that anyone can take.

I’m still hoping to put out the print version of Draw The Line, and in the new year I’ll be looking at ways to make that happen.

April

Draw The Line safely launched, I spent the next few months finishing my comic Ladies of the Lakes. Follow that link to read it all online in installments.

Ladies of the Lakes by Myfanwy Tristram

I also had it printed up so I could sell it at various festivals and stalls over the year – as you might expect, the Lakes Festival was where demand was highest.

Julie Gough’s Illustrated Women in History project mounted an exhibition and I contributed a small image of the Boston marathon runner Kathrine Switzer.

Kathrine Switzer by Myfanwy Tristram banner

May

The Inking Woman exhibition opened in London’s Cartoon museum, and I was honoured to have a piece included in it. This coming March, an accompanying book will be published.

I was away so I couldn’t make the opening night, but here’s a picture from Myriad publishing’s Corinne, featuring many of the exhibitors (click to see it at a larger size):

and here’s a bit of my exhibited image from when it was still in progress:

go cross country by Myfanwy Tristram

April

This is the month when I shared some life drawing I’d done in pastels. I’ve been going along to life drawing sessions most weeks though, so there are plenty more where that came from. Here are a few (click to see them larger):

life drawing by Myfanwy Tristram

Some weeks I still come away with some awful drawings (and my attempts at the quick 3 or 5 minute poses seem to be getting worse and worse) but on the whole I do feel like I’m making progress.

August

I entered a strip into SelfMadeHero’s Jeremy Corbyn comic. Sadly it wasn’t selected for publication but at least I had fun drawing cat of the moment, El Gato.

Corbyn and el Gato header by Myfanwy Tristram

September

I designed some nice postcards to sell alongside my comics at festivals. I still need to sort out a shop so I can sell these online too! Click to see them bigger.

Myfanwy Tristram cards

October

My love/hate affair with the Comic/Cape/Observer Graphic Short Story contest continues and this year I once again submitted a strip. Needless to say it didn’t elicit even a quiver of notice! As usual, I did my round-up of other unsuccessful (and successful) entries once the shortlist had been announced.

I also spent every day of October doing an ink drawing in the name of Inktober, something I enjoyed (mostly, though it was occasionally a bit of a squeeze finding the time every day) and which I think taught me quite a bit about composition. That was my vague aim so I’ll count that as a win.

November

‘Only’ seven months after returning from a trip to Florence, I finished the sketch diary I’d been drawing. I also sadly concluded that I probably won’t do any more of these in the near future – they just take up way too much time and the result, while very nice to have, doesn’t really help to further my work.

Florence sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

This month I also spoke at the Graphic Brighton / Caption event. My topic was Draw The Line and specifically how to organise a large comics project from a distance. I’d like to do more talks like this so I’ll be actively pursuing a few opportunities next year.

herding cats banner image by Myfanwy Tristram

December

Recent readers will recall that I made, and blogged, a four-colour linocut Christmas card. Despite a few hairy moments (literally in some cases, when the cats wandered past still-drying ink) I enjoyed this and would love to have time to get better at working with this medium.

Lino cuts by Myfanwy Tristram

I received the very welcome news that Draw The Line had been nominated for a Broken Frontier award. The results will be revealed in January.

And in my last drawing task of the year, I made a party invitation for my daughter:

It’s been a great year, and one aspect which perhaps isn’t reflected in this account of solitary work sitting at my desk, is how sociable and supportive comics people are. It’s been a pleasure to meet and chat with so many of them this year.

Deserving a special mention are Zara Slattery, who has been my accomplice at pretty much every comics event I’ve attended (not to mention all the lifts home from life-drawing classes!), and Simon Russell, who was on a one-man mission to make small press comic-selling more viable with his pop-up stalls.

And now… forward into 2019! Hope it’s a goodie.

Decorating eggs

decorated egg by Myfanwy Tristram

One egg with a chicken on it, one with flowers on it, one with experimental pastels on it (yes, it turns out pastels draw beautifully on an egg shell, but I hadn’t factored in the fact that the fixative would drip. A finer mist probably would have worked).

And one blank egg because the daughter has currently decided (despite my stance of ‘no such thing’) that all her drawings are rubbish. Hopefully she’ll pull something together before egg-rolling tomorrow. Since they all get smashed by the time they reach the bottom, rubbish drawings may actually be the best strategy!

decorated egg by Myfanwy Tristram

decorated egg by Myfanwy Tristram

decorated egg by Myfanwy Tristram

Ladies of the Lakes, part 1

Ladies of the Lakes by Myfanwy Tristram

As long-time readers will know, I often record holidays in the form of a sketch diary.

Now, my trip up to the town of Kendal in the Lake District last October wasn’t exactly a holiday; I was there for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, selling comics. Nonetheless, so much happened in the 4 days away from home that I felt I wanted to record it.

And while my sketch diaries normally comprise just as much text as they do images, it seemed appropriate to do this one entirely in the form of a comic. That partly explains why it has taken almost six months to finish it: the other reason, of course, was that a few weeks in, admin for Draw The Line started taking up all my spare time and I had to put it aside.

Never mind – it’s done now: all 34 pages of it. I’m going to serialise it in 8 parts and I hope you enjoy it.

Myfanwy Tristram Ladies of the Lakes p1

Myfanwy Tristram Ladies of the Lakes p2

Myfanwy Tristram Ladies of the Lakes p3

Myfanwy Tristram Ladies of the Lakes p4

Myfanwy Tristram Ladies of the Lakes p5

Myfanwy Tristram Ladies of the Lakes p6

Myfanwy Tristram Ladies of the Lakes p7

Myfanwy Tristram Ladies of the Lakes p8

Read on to part 2

Totnes & Lyme Regis holiday diary, part 6: in which we break everything and go home

Totnes & Lyme Regis holiday sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

This is the very final episode in our Totnes and Lyme Regis holiday. If this is the first page you’ve seen, you probably want to start at part 1, actually.

 

Totnes & Lyme Regis holiday sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

Totnes & Lyme Regis holiday sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

Totnes & Lyme Regis holiday sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

Ha! I only wrote that page (above) out a few days ago, and several new things have happened in politics. It’s as if someone has pressed the fast forward button by mistake.

This map (below) was available free, all over the town, for tourists to pick up — and it was drawn by Hugh, our B&B proprietor. Taking a proper look at it, it’s clear that there is still plenty to do in Lyme Regis, so we will have to return.

Totnes & Lyme Regis holiday sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

 

We were sad to come home, but drawing it all has, as always, helped me relive the holiday. Hope you’ve enjoyed it too!

Totnes and Lyme Regis holiday sketch diary, part 5: Beatrix Potter’s windswept hair

Myfanwy Tristram sketch diary - Totnes and Lyme Regis

This is part 5 of our holiday in Totnes and Lyme Regis. If you haven’t seen prior episodes, you’ll want to begin from the beginning, so start here.

We’re nearly at the end of the holiday now: just one more installment after this.

As before, click on any image and then click again to see it at a larger scale.

Myfanwy Tristram sketch diary - Totnes and Lyme Regis

Myfanwy Tristram sketch diary - Totnes and Lyme Regis

Myfanwy Tristram sketch diary - Totnes and Lyme Regis

The final episode is here.

Totnes and Lyme Regis holiday sketch diary, part 4: cows, worms, moles & other animals

The image at the top of this post is a happy accident which happened on Photoshop, as I was trying to clean up the picture of the bookshop that appears in the third page below. I like it better than the actual painting, so here it is as a header.

Part 1 is here, part 2 is here and part 3 is here. If you’d like to see the pages at a larger scale, click on the image and then click again.

Totnes and Lyme Regis holiday sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

 

Totnes and Lyme Regis holiday sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

 

Save

Totnes and Lyme Regis sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

 

Totnes and Lyme Regis sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

 

Totnes & Lyme Regis holiday sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

Episode 5 is here.

My complete Hourly Comic Day 2016

Hourly Comic Day 2016 by Myfanwy Tristram p4

Hourly Comic Day 2016 by Myfanwy Tristram p1

Hourly Comic Day 2016 by Myfanwy Tristram p2

Hourly Comic Day 2016 by Myfanwy Tristram p3

Hourly Comic Day 2016 by Myfanwy Tristram p4

So – was it more difficult completing Hourly Comic Day on a working day?

You bet it was. There’s not very much of visual interest to draw, and it means you have to do a full day’s work and then put in several hours drawing into the night.

I saw a few canny people shifted theirs to Sunday, and I’m beginning to see what a good idea that is. If you were really clever, you could even draw your frames on the Sunday and then schedule them to go out once an hour on Twitter the next day… or is that just too duplicitous?

I was really looking forward to Hourly Comic Day but actually… I’d forgotten that it can be quite stressful, what with aching shoulders as you hunch over your pages, the insecurity of seeing everyone else’s work pouring out (and of course it’s *all excellent*), and the hardest thing for me, which is trying to keep up a decent standard of drawing in real time. It’s a real test of just how well you can extemporise, and that, for me, is a real challenge.

But enough moaning. Ignore my insecurities. I hope you enjoyed these cartoons. :)

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.

 

 

Illustration for a petting party invitation

petting party birthday invitation by Myfanwy Tristram

Sorry – you’re not actually invited, which is why I’ve deleted the time, date and venue details from this image (you’ll have to imagine how they are in the same lettering, to her right).

I just wanted to show you the most recent results of my favourite annual job: designing invitations for my daughter’s birthday party.

You can see some previous invitations here (the year she had a party at Lush) and here (ice skating).

Tabs did have the nice idea that we could display them all framed up on a wall at home, so that’s something I might try and get organised over the holidays. She also said that she’d definitely wear a t-shirt like the one I invented for this illustration. :)

petting party birthday invitation by Myfanwy Tristram

A week in Barcelona, final part: rainbows, closed doors and iconic pavements

Barcelona SagradaFamilia by Myfanwy Tristram

Here’s the final pages of my Barcelona sketch diary.
You can see part 1 here.

Part 2 is here.

Part 3 is here.

And part 4 is here.

As always, click and click again to see each page at a larger size. Now read on…

Barcelona sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

Barcelona sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

Barcelona sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

Barcelona sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

Barcelona sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

A week in Barcelona, part 4: giant heads, small press comics, and food colouring

This is part 4.

Part 1 is here

Part 2 is here

Part 3 is here

Click each image and then click them again to see them at a larger size.

Barcelona sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

That blue sketchbook ends up being the one I did my Clovember drawings in.

Barcelona sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

Barcelona sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

Barcelona sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

Barcelona sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

Barcelona sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

Tomorrow: the final installment.