Feminist comics residence, part 2 (the text version)

 

What does a feminist comics residence involve, anyway?

I’ve already covered much of what I found in Helsinki in the comic I shared recently: the unique surroundings; the friendly participants who all had so much in common; the food, for which we didn’t have to raise a finger or pay a cent; and the inspiring speakers. Here’s a bit more detail about the elements that made it so useful and enjoyable.

Ice-breaking: Kicking the whole event off the night before in the historic Yrjönkatu swimming hall and sauna was an inspired move, and meant that even while the snow was piled high on the streets outside, the metaphorical ice was quickly broken. Hard to be aloof when everyone’s unclothed!

Drawing: Active events such as comics workshops, games and zine-making were a welcome chance to put pen to paper, and in between events many of us just went on drawing. We were a room full of captive models, none of us exactly in a position to object, given that we were all drawing too.

Talks: For me, the presentations were the high point. Some speakers were from amongst the ranks of the attendees, and some popped in from elsewhere. I appreciate that a programme full of speakers would have been a different event, more akin to a conference; I also imagine that they’re the most demanding aspect to arrange, logistically, but this was definitely my favourite element of the residence, and I really appreciated the range of experiences they shared.

Getting out and about: Finally, it was lovely to finish up with a trip into town, especially for those of us who hadn’t visited Helsinki before. We nipped into a comic shop (happy to say my comics are now available there!) and had a private view of the non-binary photography exhibition at the ArTAG gallery. We all ended up FEMSKT (the organisers)’ workspace and studio for a low key party. Johanna bought many of our comics to add to the feminist comics library, and to take off to Finnish comics festivals. It was inspiring to see just how much FEMSKT and Johanna have done for women and comics in Finland and beyond.

Links

Just in case you’d like to view some of the same artwork and ideas that we were lucky enough to enjoy, here are some of my personal highpoints.

Johanna Vehkoo is a journalist who collaborated with comic artist Emmi Nieminen to produce a visually impressive volume about online hate speech. From her talk it sounded well researched, and I am very much hoping it will have an English translation soon. Meanwhile, you can see an excerpt in English.

It’s depressing to think that Finland (and presumably everywhere) suffers the same problems with trolls and online misogyny as we do in the UK, but heartening to know that the subject is being thrust into the public consciousness with these beautifully-rendered comics.

Sunna Kitti is the Sámi comic artist you might have noticed in the comic in my previous post. “Yes, I have reindeer”, she began. Her website’s in Finnish but you can certainly enjoy her portfolio full of skilled illustrations.

Rachael House was my fellow Brit, who I was glad to buddy up with on the way to the villa. She gave a great talk about her work in zines and feminist artwork, which extends from banners and embroidered patches to ceramics and even piñatas.

Justine Sarlat spoke about the French collective of female comic creators against sexism, which has its own charter and a page (currently only in French) in which women in the industry recount tales of everyday sexism (“It’s long”, she said sardonically).

Helsinki is rightly proud of its famous resident Tove Jansson, and you can see early frescoes of hers at the HAM gallery.

How did it happen?

Sometimes you can look back and see the exact domino-fall of events that led up to a specific opportunity. In this case, it began with the uncharacteristically impulsive decision to contact a couple of unknown Finnish comic makers and invite them to the UK.

Knowing Siiri, herself an active member of the flourishing Finnish self-published comics movement, gave me good reason to chat to Johanna Rojola (perhaps best described as she is on that page: “artist, producer, publisher, teacher and an activist spanning causes such as feminism, gender equality, global justice”) at the Lakes Comics Festival that year.

After that, Facebook played its part. Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that social media is great when it comes to forging links and solidifying connections. A flyby conversation about Uniqlo’s forthcoming Marimekko line (I am consistent in my passions) was diverted into an invitation from Johanna to the residence. If the residence itself hadn’t been inticement enough, Siiri’s comment along the lines of ‘Are you crazy? The Helsinki charity shops are full of Marimekko at far cheaper prices’ was clearly calculated to hit me right in my known weak spots. Within days the plane ticket was booked.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of the residence, but ‘feminist’ and ‘comics’ were good lures, too. Michi Mathias and I had been tossing over the idea of organising a short retreat here in the UK, and I was keen to see how many of our half-formed ideas were in alignment with this established event. It would be interesting to see what worked well, and what we might be able to copy!

End note and photos

As with anyone who grew up with the Moomins as a bedtime story, loves a good sauna, and has come to appreciate Marimekko’s bold textile design, Finland has loomed large in my imagination for much of my life. Yes, I could have visited at any time to see if those Mymble, Snuffkin and Groke-sparked dreams held any reality, but the residence gave me, at last, a concrete reason to visit.

All in all, it made for a memorable and meaningful trip. I’ve already listed the gains on the comics side — what about the fringe benefits?

Well, I came home having seen the Marimekko outlet store but somehow (for which read ‘the exchange rate’) having resisted a purchase.

I did indeed visit those thrift stores with their promised haul of designer labels. I can report that the Moomin shop in Helsinki airport offers everything from Hattifattener rucksacks to Hemulen saucepans. I didn’t actually see a Moomin in the wild, but I did glimpse a huge white hare.

On the language front, I seem to have picked up the words for ‘comic’ (sarjakuva), ‘thank you’ (kiitos) and, by way of this apparently famous hedgehog, one of the more graphic swear words.

But mostly what I’ve brought home is the memory of those very white landscapes, and of those very inspiring women. All things considered, a highly satisfactory set of results, as I’m sure you’ll agree.

I often wonder to myself why it is that I bother with comics. They’re time-consuming; I’m seldom completely happy with my work; and they certainly don’t make me any money.

I always come to the same conclusion. Comics have been a gateway into the most inclusive and welcoming community I’ve ever experienced. They’ve given me a chance to travel to places I wouldn’t otherwise see, and meet people who can show me new perspectives on life. The Feminist Comics Residence was the perfect illustration of this.

Planning a comic based on the 80s – character design

punks by Myfanwy Tristram

I wouldn’t have said I was a particular expert on anything, but when I started planning a new comic based on my teenage years, I realised that we’re all extremely knowledgeable about one thing: our own lives.

And if you live long enough, that makes you something close to a historian.

Yes, it has come as rather a surprise, but I suppose the eighties can now firmly be described as a historic era — and one that I could probably use as my specialist subject on Mastermind, should that particular nightmare ever become a reality. Dipping back into my memories of those days, I found that I can strongly evoke the clothes I wore, the bands I went to see, and the lengths we went to in styling our hair (cue a half hour reverie about crimpers and backcombing).

crimping by Myfanwy Tristram

And where there are gaps in my memory? I’ve been gratified to find that even though this was, of course, pre-internet, there are plenty of websites whose owners have carefully scanned in pages of Smash Hits (my magazine of choice at the time) and photographs from their own nights out, with which I can complement my own photo albums.

All this is to say that, over the last few weeks, I’ve been living in an age of stripey mohair jumpers, Doc Martens and my old army jacket, complete with old lady-style brooches and CND badges on the lapel. This is turning out to be an absolute joy of a comic to research, and I’m enjoying being able to include all these little details that mean so much to me (and will, I hope, also mean something to its readers, especially if they are of a similar age).

When I say ‘research’, what I mostly mean is gawping at the internet in astonishment that there are blow by blow accounts of a gig I went to in 1984, or looking up what Bananarama were wearing on Channel 4’s the Tube, or trying to find a photo of exactly how we danced when we were trying to look like Morrissey.

Crass by Myfanwy Tristram

But back to the drawing. There’s something about this comic, probably the fact that it’s so close to my own experiences, that means I want to get it right. Of course, with every comic you want it to be better than the ones you’ve done before, but that feels particularly important in this case. So, before making a start on the drawing, I’ve spent a long time in preparation.

I spent ages on the script, and even got my playwright husband’s (very useful) input on it. I thought for a long time about what medium to draw in, trying to consider the cost and time involved with colour illustrations, and how best to depict the two different time periods (the action switches between the 80s and present day).

I began with a long period of sketching to try and get the characters right, working first in pencil crayon for the freedom it affords in terms of how easy it is to overdraw any mistakes. Here are some of those very early sketches.

long fringe by Myfanwy Tristram

mohican by Myfanwy Tristram

teen by Myfanwy Tristram

carryint the tv out the window by Myfanwy Tristram

another mohican  by Myfanwy Tristram

punx by Myfanwy Tristram

punx by Myfanwy Tristram

coloured in punks by Myfanwy Tristram

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.

The Inking Woman

The Inking Woman

Go Cross Country by Myfanwy Tristram

It’s quite an odd feeling to package a picture up and hope that it arrives at its destination safely, but I’m delighted to have been asked to loan a drawing to the forthcoming exhibition ‘The Inking Woman’, at the Cartoon Museum in London. Not least because of its excellent name: extra biscuits to whoever thought that up!

The exhibition will show cartoon and comics work by women artists from the 19th and 20th centuries to the present day: I haven’t seen the full list of exhibitors yet, but I know that it will feature lots of my comics friends and associates including the brilliant Zara Slattery, Karrie Fransman, Kate Evans, Paula Knight and Hannah Eaton. It looks like it will also travel briefly, as I’ve loaned my work until the end of 2018.

I’m pleased, because this bright drawing didn’t scan brilliantly and so the version I show on screen isn’t as satisfactory as the original. Those who encounter it in the real world will also be able to see where I stuck paper over messy bits of wording, for a second attempt!

(And yes yes, I’m also pleased because it’s an exhibition that celebrates women in comics! More of this sort of thing).

Draw The Line is live: 120+ artists show positive political actions that anyone can take

As you may remember, back in October, I went for a run and came back with a glimmer of an idea.

Remind me not to go running again: that little seed grew into a project that has taken up every spare moment since then. But today, most of the hard work is over. Today we launch Draw The Line.

Draw The Line

It’s been astonishing to watch, as what I’d conceived as a modest small press project blossomed, and more and more comic artists came on board (139 of them at the final count). Every single one of them is a superstar in my books, but it’s perhaps worth mentioning the bigger names, just to underline how the project grew so much bigger than I’d imagined. So, look out for work by Rachael Ball, Hannah Berry, Kate Charlesworth, Hunt Emerson, Kate Evans, Karrie Fransman, James Harvey, Lucy Knisley, Dave McKean, Fumio Obata, and Nye Wright among many, many other equally deserving but less-known comic artists.

What’s it all about?

The project was a reaction to the nasty politics that is prevalent right now — politics that is leaving ordinary people feeling hopeless, voiceless and powerless. The original aim has stood fast through the project, even as this large group of comic artists worked together to brainstorm the content: every action would show a way to make things a little better, to get your voice heard, to counter the negatives in the current political environment, or to offer support where government is whipping it away.

Draw The Line logo by Karrie Fransman

Each artist was allocated a single action to draw (some took 2), and then came the fun part, as image after image flooded my inbox. Some artists interpreted the brief in a surprising way, some chose to draw a single image, others went for a full-page comic strip, and every one showed thought, attention and intelligence in the way that they translated the action into something visual.

At launch, what do we have? I hope, a toolkit for political action that is also immense fun to dip into. We’ve arranged the actions so that there are ones kids can take, ones you can take if you’re skint, ones that will help women, refugees, minorities, and many many more.

Many of the actions are, of course, obvious: everyone knows how to sign a petition or wear a badge — these will serve as a reminder. Some of them, like the Raging Grannies, were new to me, and a real delight to discover.

Finally, the Next Steps page is where the real action is: that’s where we link out to the many organisations doing solid work in these areas, to learn how you can support or even join them.

On a personal level, I have something too: a new network of comics friends and associates; an understanding of how simple (if time-consuming) it is to devise and actualise a project like this; and something approaching optimism, thanks to this concrete proof that there are many others who feel the way that I do.

Share it around

Please do tell everyone you know, via your blog, social media, email and in the street. we’d love this project to reach everyone who needs it. And, after a little break, we’ll be moving onto phase two, which is to see how we can create Draw The Line in book form.

If you’d like to follow Draw The Line elsewhere, we have a Facebook page, a Tumblr, an Instagram account and a Twitter feed.

Many thanks to my co-administrators:

Karrie Fransman
Graeme McGregor
Simon Russell
Zara Slattery
Martin Wright

And now, since this is my blog, I’m going to share the two pieces I drew. If you’d like to see everyone else’s work, of course, you’ll have to visit the Draw The Line site. :)

Eschew the New by Myfanwy Tristram, from the Draw The Line comic project at www.drawthelinecomics.com
Buy second hand. You’ll be benefiting a charity if it’s from a thrift store, or helping out the seller if you buy direct. Either way, you’ll be circumventing big business and shrinking your carbon footprint.

Go Cross Country by Myfanwy Nixon, from the Draw The Line comic project at www.drawthelinecomics.com

Taking fewer flights can be a reward in itself, if you take time to enjoy the journey as well as the destination. Work in some extra time to go by train, boat, bus, bicycle, or a combination of all the above.

My #HourlyComicDay 2017 in full

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

I’ve been absolutely up to my neck in the Draw The Line project (comic artists drawing positive political actions that anyone can take), but when Hourly Comic Day rolled around, I couldn’t bear the thought of not taking part.

I’ve participated for the past three years, and the concept chimes very well with my tendency towards diary-based comics. This year though, I’d be in Leeds with work, for an all-day meeting that would neither allow for the luxury of regular drawings and uploads, nor provide very interesting or varied content. So I cheated slightly, and completed my hourlies on the Saturday beforehand.

As with every year, it was slightly stressful and time-consuming, and I ended up feeling a bit unhappy about sharing rough work. But also as with every year, I believe that the narrative supersedes the quality of the drawing in the end.

Anyway, awkward preamble over, here’s my Hourly Comic Day. Click any of the images to see them at a larger size.

If I have time, I hope to do my usual round-up post of other people’s too, but it might not be as quick off the mark as it usually is.

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

Sketches from Kendal

Our trip to the Lakes Festival was so eventful that I plan to make a comic about it — that’s always supposing life quietens down enough to allow for a bit of drawing soon.

Meanwhile, here are a few sketches I did from behind our table. Click any of them to see at a larger size.

ears-that-move-sm

If you’re drawing directly from life, you end up with a lot of views of people’s backs, which isn’t the most compelling subject. That’s because the ones who have their faces towards you are probably also talking and/or buying stuff.

early-customers by Myfanwy Tristram

These were the very first three people to come to our stall. No-one sticks around long, and I soon remembered how much more comfortable I am working from a photo — so a quick snap on the phone it was.

great-hair-sm

Zara and I both drew these ladies, having been struck by their super hair – here’s Zara’s version.

could-not-wait-sm

On the way to the loo, I spied these young adults in a shaft of sunlight: clearly they couldn’t wait until they got home to start digging into their new comics.

balloon-boy-sm

And finally, I drew this child and woman from a photo, while traveling home from Kendal. Not bad, if I do say so myself, on very little sleep and a bumpy train table! I don’t know if the two subjects were related to one another, nor whether the woman’s slightly disapproving look was directed at me for pointing my phone towards her, but I do like the resulting picture.

 

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See you at the Lakes – & I’ll have a new comic with me

featured-image-by-myfanwy-tristram

It’s not long now until my compadre in comics, Zara Slattery, and I hop onto a train to make the long journey to the Lakes International Comics Art Festival. If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll come and see us.

lakes-map

Here’s a map of the Clocktower building (click to see bigger) — we’ll be on the ground floor, not far from the entrance. And here’s a very large photo of my face so that you can recognise me.

I’ll be selling comics I’ve mentioned on here before: Two Birds, Everything My 10-year-Old Daughter Wore In November, and Salon of Rejects, plus postcards and stickers. All being well, I’ll also have Hello World, a brand new comic about Instagram.

If you follow me on Instagram itself, you’ll have seen some of the drawing process and, far more challenging, the cutting, sticking, unsticking and resticking that ensued when it dawned on me that a comic about Instagram could only really have one format: it needed to be a vertical scroll. Cue lots of rough print-outs and mock copies in various configurations.

hello-world-workings-by-myfanwy-tristram

hello-world-artwork-by-myfanwy-tristram

hello-world-mockup-by-myfanwy-tristram

This proved to be a more difficult printing job than I’d anticipated. Fortunately, Rich at Comic Printing UK was far more patient than he needed to be for such a small print run, and after several emails back and forth we hatched a plan which means it won’t be impossibly expensive to produce (partly because it is to be printed in three parts, which I’ll be gluing together myself) — and therefore, crucially, won’t need an impossibly high price tag either.

While I’m talking technical stuff, this is also the first comic I photographed rather than scanning: you may remember my recent blog post when I compared the results of the two methods and how scanning negatively impacted some of the pencil crayon drawings.

The comic deals with a mobile phone app and was shot via a mobile phone camera: how’s that for consistency? Maybe I should pretend it was all part of a high-concept plan.

 

Scanning pencil crayon drawings

rats-drawn-in-pencil-crayon-by-myfanwy-tristram-scan-showing-errors

I know I’ve been quiet on here lately, but that’s not because I’m not drawing.

In fact I’ve been drawing quite a bit, between a weekly life drawing class, comic stuff, and even a visit to the museum to sketch with my daughter. I just haven’t managed to blog about it.

I’ve nearly finished my latest comic, which I’m hoping to have ready for sale at the Lakes and Thought Bubble festivals. (By the way, you can see all the other wonderful comics people we’ll be sharing a hall with at Thought Bubble, here.)

While I normally do my comics in inks or watercolour, for some reason I blithely drew this one in pencil crayons, without a moment’s thought about how well it would scan in and print out. That may have been a little foolish, especially given that scanning is always my nemesis.

It turns out that pencil crayons scan horribly. You get all the harsh contrasts and none of the subtleties.

Fortunately, though, after some Googling, I have a couple of plans up my sleeve. First – I might just photograph the images. It turns out that the camera on my phone is pretty good – the resulting pictures certainly look better than the scans.

For example, compare this photo:

wild dogs drawn in pencil crayon by Myfanwy Tristram - photo

With the scanned version:

wild dogs drawn in pencil crayon by Myfanwy Tristram - scanned showing errors

Urk!

Other images are slightly less alarming, but you can certainly see a difference:

rats drawn in pencil crayon by Myfanwy Tristram - photo

Above, photo; below, scan:

rats-drawn-in-pencil-crayon-by-myfanwy-tristram-scan-showing-errors

Second, I read that covering the images with transparent cellophane or acetate can help deflect the light. If the photos don’t work out, I’ll try that.

I’ll let you all know when I’ve finally beaten the reproduction issues into submission and these comics are ready – and of course, any that don’t sell at the comics fairs will be available via my online shop.

Meanwhile, if you’re curious to see some more of the work in progress, you can visit my Instagram account. You might have to pick through pictures of my cats and various flea market finds, but there are plenty of drawings too, promise.

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Totnes and Lyme Regis holiday sketch diary, part 1: one man and his gluestick

So, here it is! Every time we go on holiday I swear I’m not going to bother with a sketch diary — and every time, I end up spending more time and attention on it. I suppose I have to admit that there’s no escape now. This is what I do.

So here’s part 1 of 6, chronicling our recent family trip.

We started in a part of Devon we know well, Totnes, before a few days in Lyme Regis, which was new to us. As usual, the whole holiday was by public transport — well, it had to be since none of us can drive. :)

Click on each image, and then click again, if you’d like to see the page at a larger size.

Totnes and Lyme Regis holiday sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

Totnes and Lyme Regis holiday sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

Totnes and Lyme Regis holiday sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

 

Apologies about the next page; I know the wording is badly placed for reading – but it turned out to be difficult to fit it in any other way, so in the end I left it as it is. I hope you can still get the gist.

Totnes and Lyme Regis holiday sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

 

More in part 2.

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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.