Here is the final part:
Here is the final part:
In which we are on the last leg of our trip home, and continue to hit problems.
… and that was the end of our trip, but there’s an epilogue, so please do come back one more time tomorrow.
In which I have a mini comics epiphany.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We were sad to come home, but drawing it all has, as always, helped me relive the holiday. Hope you’ve enjoyed it too!
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.
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.
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.
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.
More in part 2.
I’ve finished my latest sketch diary, depicting our eight-day holiday in Devon and Somerset earlier this year.
I’ll be sharing it on here soon, as soon as I’ve scanned it, and fixed a couple of pages where the wording isn’t laid out in a very readable way. Such are the perils of drawing on the fly.
Here’s my daughter flicking through the finished article. If you click on the picture you’ll be able to see a short video of the whole thing on Instagram.
Perhaps you can tell from the video how thick the pages of this sketchbook are. If it had sound, you’d definitely be able to tell, by the particular timbre of the ‘swoosh’ noise they make.
For the last couple of years, I’ve been using these mystery 44-page sketchbooks which turned up in TK Maxx, and its sister store Homesense, for £3.99 each. The only indication of the brand is this inscription at the back:
I’ve never seen another type of sketchbook with such thick pages, and I love them. I tend to draw in pencil first, then rub it out when I’ve inked over the lines, then I add watercolour. While that would cause problems with many sketchbooks – scuffing of the surface, or wrinkling of the page – it’s no issue at all on this paper: in fact these heavy pages would take acrylic just as easily. Colours don’t even come close to bleeding through, so you could also use any type of felt tip, even a permanent marker.
So far so good: but there’s a problem, which I’ve mentioned before, and which, several months later, seems all the more certain. They’re not available any more. If you’re familiar with TK Maxx and Homesense, you’ll know that they’re basically overstock outlets: they buy up surplus goods from the manufacturers and sell them on at lower prices. They even have signs up all over the shop to remind you to pounce on that bargain because you can’t rely on it being available next time.
The Valentina sketchbooks were around for a couple of years though, so I became complacent, just picking up a couple every now and then. If I’d known they were going to become unobtainable, I’d have bought ten or twenty!
Now, I do fancy myself as a tenacious Googler, so I wondered whether, with a little work, I’d be able to find this stockist and buy directly. Here’s what I found:
Okay I’m an art student from Manchester and these are the only books I like using! me and two other of my friends have about 14 between us, after traveling to around 7 different TK MAXX we brought everyone we could find. you need to grab them while there in, its something that you just got to buy when its there! there an amazing price, I have everyone I know trying to find me a stockist to buy them from, no luck so far!
For the meantime, please yell if you see these in a TK Maxx or Homesense near you. I travel quite a bit for work, and my colleagues live all over the country, so I might be able to nab them one way or another!
Right, off to my scanner.
I’ve received my own copies of the Gudrun Sjödén sketch diary, and they’re lovely. I hope customers have enjoyed them too.
I really enjoy creating this type of work, so I’m going to actively seek more of it. In fact, over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to be approaching agents, brands and tourist boards with this message:
What’s more, as an introductory offer, if you are the first tourist board to approach me, I will do it in return for my travel expenses and accommodation.
Get in touch and we can discuss the fine details. Meanwhile, here are some examples of my previous work (click to see them bigger):
Barcelona sketch diary: see the whole diary here.
Madrid sketch diary: See the whole diary here
Stockholm sketch diary: See the whole diary here
Bristol and Frome sketch diary: See the whole diary here
Santiago sketch diary: See the whole diary here
Bath sketch diary: See the whole diary here
Not exactly what you’re looking for? Don’t worry, I can adapt to your needs — let’s talk.
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:
Visit the homepage and you’ll even see this as a moving image. Hoorah!
I hope you enjoyed my Hourly Comic Day comics this year (in case you didn’t see them, they’re here).
And if that whetted your appetite for this peculiar artform, here are some of my favourites from other people.
It was much easier to find the good ones this year than in previous years – it feels like more people are taking part, or maybe it’s just that I’ve had another year of making connections with comics people on social media, and I know where to find them… in any case, enjoy!
(Be aware, though, if you are a sensitive snowflake: some of them contain strong language and/or scenes of a racy nature)
Swinsea offers you lovely pencil crayon, fluffy cats and honest feelings.
Kristen (“American cartoonist in Switzerland”) tweeted me to say that we’d both felt parental guilt at exactly the same point of the day. :)
Robin William Scott is a new name to me but I really like his style. As far as I’m aware, these are only visible on Twitter at the moment.
Broken Frontier has gathered together Tillie’s comics, which I’m in awe of, because she actually managed to get something of a story arc in there, as well as having such an effortless-looking style.
Danny also managed to do something a little bit above and beyond with hers. Pfft, all these smart people.
Lucy‘s been doing hourly comic day since 2011, so no surprise that she’s also managed to raise the bar with a nice underlying analogy.
Vera is another new name to me, with a nice line in self-deprecating humour.
Joe‘s skilled drawings are always a favourite.
And of course Dan is a perennial.
Here’s Jeremy taking a loose line to the extreme — also features drawing while walking, which is impressive.
And if that little lot wasn’t enough for you, surprise! Here’s Zainab Akhtar’s selection which includes several that I haven’t mentioned above.
What? You want even more MORE?
Or go and fish out your own favourites, via the hashtag on various social media:
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. :)
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).
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…
The 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.
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.
As 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.
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.
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.