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.

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Florence sketch diary, day 7: you will not believe what we can do with balloons

Florence sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

Here’s day 7 of our trip. If you want to start from the beginning, page 1 is here.

Florence sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

Florence sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

Florence sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

Florence sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

Florence sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

Come back tomorrow when the conference begins.

Florence sketch diary, day 6: switching to work mode

Florence sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

Here’s day 6 of our trip. If you want to start from the beginning, page 1 is here.

Florence sketch diary by Myfanwy TristramFlorence sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram(Apologies for the wavy text, here and elsewhere: it’s because these pages are photographed rather than scanned, and not always perfectly flat)

Florence sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram(The usual apologies to my colleagues – and any other *real people* I might represent — for my failed attempts at capturing a likeness)

Florence sketch diary by Myfanwy TristramCome back tomorrow for a big surprise at the conference venue!

Florence sketch diary, day 5: the holy grail

alt="Florence sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram"

Here’s day 5 of our trip. If you want to start from the beginning, page 1 is here.

Florence sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

Florence sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

Florence sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

Florence sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

Read on to Day 6, when I switch over into ‘work trip’ mode.

Going digital

by Myfanwy Tristram

Now that Ladies of the Lakes is largely out of the way (I am going to redraw two or three frames and add a cover before I send it to the printers), I’ve finally had time to play with my new laptop.

We’re very lucky at my workplace, in that they provide us with a laptop to work on: our choice of model, up to a price limit. If we want to, we can add our own money on top to get a more expensive one, and that’s how I have come into possession of a machine that I’d never have considered buying outright for my own purposes only – the Microsoft Surface Book.

I’m enjoying it for my work needs, and getting used to the fact that it’s a tablet/laptop hybrid: you can remove the screen and use it on its own, and even with the keyboard part attached, you can still navigate and interact via the touchscreen.

But what I’m enjoying it for outside my work hours is the fact that, with the special pen it comes bundled with, you can draw directly onto the screen. Now, it’s not like I’ve never done any digital drawing, but this is different from what I’m used to with my desktop, where I plug in a Wacom tablet sometimes: there, you’re drawing on the flat surface in front of you, but seeing the results come up on the monitor.

I wanted some time to figure out the set-up, and after frustrating experiences finding out, for example, that my version of the Photoshop Elements program wasn’t compatible with the Surface Pen, and researching various other apps, I came across Leonardo, which was specifically developed with the Surface Book in mind.

Cannily, they offer a trial period, perhaps in the knowledge that once you try it out you’ll be hooked. Leonardo doesn’t offer quite everything I’m used to in Photoshop (for example there’s no way to export in CMYK, no importing of brushes, and no clone stamp – plus lots of other features no doubt that I haven’t yet come across) but I do like the ‘infinite canvas’ which ensures you never run out of space to draw on, and I’m finding the shortcut menus really handy.

Here’s me giving it some trial runs:

 

Myfanwy Tristram

Myfanwy Tristram

No need to tell you what my train of thought was at this point – you can see for yourself.

And then I decided to try it out on a cover for Ladies of the Lakes (I drew in pencil, scanned in and then coloured over the top – this is it mid-colouring):

Myfanwy Tristram

and finally I’ve been mucking about with an idea for the flyleaves:

Myfanwy Tristram

Myfanwy Tristram

Still needs a bit of work but I’m impressed with what you can do on  a screen. I think my next challenge is going to be learning how to make brush strokes look a bit more natural and less ‘digital’.

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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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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

 

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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.

Totnes and Lyme Regis holiday sketch diary, part 3: my baby steampunk gets a taste of celebrity

This is the third section of a holiday sketch diary covering a week in Devon and Somerset. Part 1 is here; and part 2 is here. Enjoy!

Click on the images below, and then click again if you would like to see them 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

Part 4 is here.

Totnes and Lyme Regis holiday sketch diary, part 2: otters, steam trains and Ballardian dystopias

This is the second part of a holiday sketch diary in which we stayed in Totnes and Lyme Regis. Probably best not to start on day 2: you can read part 1 here.

As ever, click on the images below, and then click again if you would like to see them 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

 

More in part 3.

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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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The mystery of the unobtainable sketchbooks

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.

sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

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:

Valentina sketchbook

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:

  • The same blog post that I’ve mentioned here before, asking if anyone knows where to find more. The follow-up comments are full of people who have found that post and shared the same desires and bewilderment:

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!

  • This Italian stationers appears near the top of results for “florence vip for valentina” but, despite offering many beautiful items, it does not stock the sketchbooks I want.
  • A company profile showing that Florence VIP shipped 1,572 kg of ‘journals’  from the port of Livorno in Italy to Georgia Ports Authority in the USA, as recently as 28 June 2016! This also provides an address for the company in Florence. If I was willing to pay for a subscription, I could view where else they shipped to…  But in general this is good news, surely, as it shows they are still operational.
  • Street view for that address does not look very much like there’s a stationer’s there, nor does it look like a particularly likely place for a notebook manufacturer. However, it would be a great excuse for a holiday to Florence, and while I was there, I could make another sketch diary… if I found something to draw it in. Heh.

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.

 

Return to the low-tech zine

colouring book cover by Myfanwy Tristram

make a zine

Above is a picture of a print that my husband picked up at Comica London. Sadly, my pedantic side will not allow me to hang it above my desk until I’ve added that missing apostrophe, but the message is a good one nonetheless.

As it happens, in the week running up to Comica I was already rediscovering the joy of self-made comics, unprompted.

It is a lot of fun to have your comics made by a proper printer, and have them arrive with their lovely silky covers and their professional binding, that’s for sure. But it can be expensive too, and I wanted to have something on our stall that customers could pay a little less for.

And so the Slightly Annoying Animals colouring book was born. Quite what possessed me to go into production the week before Comica, while also trying to hold down a full time job and all the other aspects of a busy life, I’m not sure, but never mind: I did.

Don’t leave the house

I work from home during the week, so couldn’t easily go out to buy new materials. So I decided to see if I could make something with only what I already had at home.

When I looked into my stock of paper, it was clear that – even for a print run of just ten copies – I would need to mix and match. As I pulled out tracing paper and sugar paper, along with nice thick watercolour paper, I realised that this could be a deliberate design feature, adding to the book’s quirkiness.

Fortunately, the inks in my printer were pretty full (such is my faith in printer inks that I am always surprised when they manage to print a single page, let alone a project like this). I quickly drew several animals, not thinking too hard about the theme nor stressing too much about making them my best drawings ever. After scanning these in, I chose a limited colour palette that I hope is reminiscent of the so-trendy-right-now riso printer, and changed the line colours.

Then I made a small dummy book so that I could remember which pages backed onto which others. That, and a label I stuck to my printer many moons ago, to remind me which side of the paper it prints on and which way up is the top, were my saving graces.

To the joy of my inexplicably printer-obsessed cats (seriously – the three of them came into the room at a trot), I switched the printer on and then fed the pages through mostly singly, by hand, to ensure there were no snarl-ups.

colouring book by Myfanwy Tristram

Then the next night, I bound them. The household machines were still clearly on my side, because when I got my sewing machine out, absolutely certain that last time I’d tried to use it, it had been irrevocably jammed, it was working like a song. That meant I could do some really quick and really rather pleasing stitched spines, and while I was at it, I sewed a silly little label on the back, too:

silly label by Myfanwy Tristram

Overheads were so low on this that I was able to sell them for just £3 at Comica: well within pocket money budgets, I reckon. Most of the paper had been sitting unused in my drawer for years, so the price really just reflected the time spent drawing, scanning, and worrying.

OK: so you always learn from making anything, even if you’ve done it before. What did I learn this time?

  • I have to admit it – tracing paper is a fun material but it’s not really great for comics because (obviously) the picture on the next page shows through. Perhaps this could work if the subsequent pages were mainly blank, with an invitation to draw something for yourself.
  • Having said that, I think the mixture of different kinds of paper is really appealing and if I was going to do this again, I’d go and invest in some squared paper or something else with an interesting texture or pattern.
  • The pictures weren’t my greatest works of art. I’m not the sort of artist who does her best work within a tight timescale (unfortunately. I’m working on it) and in fact the whole concept could have been refined. I like the idea of ‘slightly annoying animals’; with a bit more time I reckon I could have worked up their personalities into something that would amuse adults while their kids enjoyed the colouring bit.
  • So maybe I’ll do that one day.
  • But the main thing that I learned was that, for low runs of cheap comics, it’s still totally practical to do it yourself at home. I mean, when you think about it, of course it is: the whole zine culture grew up before people had computers and printers at home, with copies made at print shops or on photocopy machines, so it’s a lot easier now.

So, here’s a pen and some paper and a typewriter scanner, printer, and sewing machine. Now what are you waiting for?

This one is for agents, travel magazines, brands and tourist boards

Barcelona sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

I’ve received my own copies of the Gudrun Sjödén sketch diary, and they’re lovely. I hope customers have enjoyed them too.

Myfanwy Tristram: printed Stockholm diaires for Gudrun Sjoden

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:

I can create a sketch diary for you.

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 by Myfanwy Tristram

Barcelona sketch diary: see the whole diary here.

 

p14 Alaveteli sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

Madrid sketch diary: See the whole diary here

 

Stockholm Diary p4 Myfanwy Tristram

Stockholm sketch diary: See the whole diary here

 

Frome sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

Frome sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

Bristol and Frome sketch diary: See the whole diary here

 

p15completefor web

Santiago sketch diary: See the whole diary here

 

Bath diary page 3

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.

Things you should know about me

  •  I’m a vegetarian, I don’t drive, and I tend towards the eco side of things. So I’m probably not a good fit for an off-the-beaten-track villa, a Mongolian raw meat restaurant, or that “Jeremy Clarkson meets climate change deniers” event you had planned (although, now you mention it, that does sound like the basis for rather a good comic strip…).
  • On the other hand, if you want to promote your craft retreats, veggie festivals, train rides across Europe, walkable city, or cycling tours, I am all over that.
  • But I will consider anything, so don’t be afraid to ask!
  • You’ll get the ‘real me’: that’s what makes my sketch diaries unique, and what (according to their comments) readers find most compelling. I record the ups and downs of any trip, but of course, I’ll never do so to the detriment of your brand. Unless I find out you are actually sacrificing baby chinchillas on altars made in a sweatshop. Then I’ll sever our agreement and sell my sketch diary to the press instead.
  • I have a husband and an 11 year old kid. If they’re also included in the trip, you’ll get some child-focused content too. And maybe some hilarious marital spats.
  • My main interests are drawing (well duh), design, visiting museums and galleries, shopping (especially at second hand shops and markets), running, cycling, and seeking out the things that make places a bit different from home.
  • Brands I really like include: Marimekko, Seasalt, Braintree, Fitbit, Asics, Nike, Lush, Bravissimo, Doc Martens, Birkenstocks and, obviously, Gudrun Sjödén.
  • I’m pretty good at drawing fashion, people, shopping and buildings. I haven’t drawn, but would certainly like to tackle: factories, industry, ships, manufacturing processes.
  • I’m based in Brighton, UK, but am prepared to travel almost anywhere by public transport. Brighton is close to Gatwick Airport for international travel, and most parts of the U.K. can be easily reached by train.
  • I’m especially interested in Scandi countries, the Scottish Isles, Iceland and Japan. But I am up for visiting pretty much anywhere.
  • Typically, I work on my return, from photographs I take during my trip. While a 2 or 4-pager can be turned around in a couple of weeks, longer sketch diaries may be completed up to 6 weeks after my return (depending on its length and complexity, and my other commitments).
  • Images will be delivered as high resolution jpegs for you to use as you wish – printing and distribution, or adding to your website will be your responsibility.
  • I would also love to work on longer projects. Artists like Wendy Macnaughton, Julia Rothman and my all-time favourite Miroslav Sasek give me hope that there’s a market for this kind of book.

 

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.

 

 

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