My daughter’s stocking, 2016

This is the third year running that I have drawn everything my daughter received from that very generous old fellow, Santa Claus.

It’s a great way to fill the days between Christmas and New Year, and while I know it’s not exactly Cézanne’s Mont Sainte-Victoire, it’s also the closest thing I’ve got to a recurring theme.

If we remove Santa from the equation, it even becomes a great chance for me to meditate on over-indulgence. Yes, since you ask, she is an only child.

As I always draw these images from a photo, they sometimes feel a bit less like drawing and a bit more like copying, especially with all the lettering and branding to be drawn. Still, copying can be educational, a lesson I learned anew by reading Linda Barry’s fabulous book Syllabus this year.

When drawing the contents of an 11-year-old girl’s stocking, what you mainly learn is how to make things look cute, but that’s a valid lesson too.

Click if you’d like to see it larger.

stocking, 2016--by-myfanwy-tristram

And here are the previous years’ ones. As you can see, the quantity of goods, and my concerns, haven’t changed much year on year. Nor, I note, has the time of waking on Christmas morning, sigh.

Everything in my daughter's stocking by Myfanwy Tristram

Christmas Stocking by Myfanwy Tristram

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

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

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

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

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Clovember by Myfanwy Tristram

IMG_7565

IMG_7563

 

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

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

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

Myfanwy Tristram: printed Stockholm diaires for Gudrun Sjoden

Stockholm Diary p3 Myfanwy Tristram

Happy International Women’s Day!

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

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

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

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

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

Gudrun stripes

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

 

 

Three handmade birthday cards

tapir card by Myfanwy Tristram

It took me about 30 seconds to decide what to draw on my daughter’s birthday card this year.

We’ve both recently been charmed by Neko Atsume, a Japanese kitty-based tomodachi-style game/app, bonding over our collection of pussy cats and trying out different virtual cat food to attract them.

If you’re hooked too, you’ll recognise the smiley cats below (apologies for all the phone snaps in this post, but hopefully you can still get the general idea).

Neko Atsume birthday card by Myfanwy Tristram

The cats in Neko Atsume are almost all the same basic shape, and are seen in one of a limited repertoire of poses.

My original plan was to make a little rubber stamp of one of those standard poses, but it turned out too be too fiddly for the amount of time I had at my disposal. For my second attempt, I went for the primary-school technique of tracing paper and pencil (basically a monoprint if I want to make myself feel better about it).

As always, I learned something from sitting down to try and replicate someone else’s drawings. The Neko Atsume cats are all marked in some combination of a small group of colours: dark grey, light grey, orange, light tan, white, and black — and all marked in a combination of stripes, spots or one colour all over.

Neko Atsume birthday card by Myfanwy Tristram

Inside was the greedy white cat Tubbs, who comes and snaffles all the posh cat food from time to time.

The card went down even better than I’d expected: those Japanese kitties sure provoke some strong emotions!

Just a week after my daughter’s birthday, it’s my husband’s. Recently, he’s been going through a mid-life crisis sporting a surprising range of hair colours: I never know what my own husband will look like next!

This quick card is meant to be a gentle mockery of that.

Hair birthday card by Myfanwy Tristram

That t-shirt was one I picked up at Thought Bubble as a way of saying thank you for staying home and doing the childcare while I flitted off to Leeds.

Finally, while I’m showing greetings cards, here’s one from last summer.

My friend and colleague Dave has a particular fondness for tapirs. Sadly, he also has a particular dislike of people making a fuss for his birthday, but it was too late by the time we’d discovered that: a rousing round of ‘Happy Birthday to you’ and a candle in his cafe breakfast granola it was, then.

Hopefully a nice tapir card went some way towards making up for the embarrassment:

tapir card by Myfanwy Tristram

It was a layered accordion-style card so that it had room for all my colleagues to sign it.

Inside, we wrote the very best tapir-based pun we could come up with after several days of hard thinking: Hope the celebrations don’t TAPIR out too soon.

Dave accepted the card, read the inscription, then replied, I don’t mean to sound UNGULATE-ful, but…’. Ah, his pun was better than ours.

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

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.

A week in Barcelona, part 3: flea market, Parc Guell and a gypsy’s arm

Click each page and then click again to see bigger.
This is part 3 – part one is here
and part two is here
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: an incredible stationery shop and a nice bit of Miró.

A week in Barcelona, part 2: Gaudi, selfie sticks and a rainbow of shoes

Here’s the second installment of our holiday in Barcelona. Part one is here.

Click each image and then click again if you’d like to see them in more detail.

Barcelona sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram - page 5b

Barcelona sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram - page 6

Barcelona sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram - page 7

Barcelona sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram - page 8

In case you can’t see that very clearly, I learned that Peppa Pig is Peppa la Cerdita in Spain – Peppa Piggy.

Barcelona sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram - page 9

Tune in tomorrow for the flea market, Spanish sweets, Parc Guell, more friends and a hamster that stole Tabs’ heart.

A week in Barcelona, part 1: it smells of wee

In autumn half term we rented an Air BnB in Barcelona. It was a nice holiday – it gave us an extra little burst of summer weather when the UK was just starting to turn grey and damp.

As usual, I made a sketch diary of our activities; as usual, it took me several weeks after our return to complete it. But finally, here it is.

It’s twenty-something pages long, so, in order to spread the pain of scanning, I’m dividing it into five parts. Here’s the first, which just covers our arrival and a quick stroll around the neighbourhood.

Hope you enjoy it. As always, click and then click again on any image to see it larger.

Barcelona sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram page 1

Barcelona sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram page 2

Barcelona sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram page 3

Barcelona sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram page 4

Barcelona sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram page 5

Tomorrow: a bit of Gaudi, a trilingual boy, and lots of shoes.

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

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

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

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

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

What have we learned?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

See week four

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

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

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

image by Myfanwy Nixon

image by Myfanwy Nixon

image by Myfanwy Nixon

image by Myfanwy Nixon

image by Myfanwy Nixon

image by Myfanwy Nixon

image by Myfanwy Nixon

See week three

Clovember 2015 – drawing my daughter’s clothes

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

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

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

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

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

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

3rd Clovember by Myfanwy Tristram4th Clovember by Myfanwy Tristram

5th Clovember by Myfanwy Tristram6th Clovember by Myfanwy Tristram

7th Clovember by Myfanwy Tristram

See week 2