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.

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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.

 

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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What I said at Gosh Comics

The launch for Salon of Rejects last night was really fun. Thanks so much to Gosh Comics for hosting it, and for all the people that came out on a chilly Wednesday night. Since the pessimist in me was expecting an audience of two people and a pet dog, I was really delighted to see that it was standing room only (I expect the people standing up weren’t quite as delighted).

Here are the slides I presented, if you’re interested to see them. They don’t make much sense without the words to accompany them, though, so you can see those here.

Thank you very much to Tom Plant for putting the comic together, to Michael Lomon for organising the event, and to my co-speaker Sarah Ushurhe. You can buy a copy of Salon of Rejects at Gosh Comics or online here.

The night was part of the Process series, a monthly event where artists talk about how they make comics.

It was rather nice to realise that the Salon of Rejects project initially came about because of my habit of collecting together people’s entries to the Cape/Comica/Observer graphic short story contest: a really good result.

 

A round-up of my favourite #HourlyComicDay strips, 2016

myfanwy tristram Hourly Comic day 2016

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)

Sarah Winifred Searle

 Swinsea Hourly Comics Day

Swinsea offers you lovely pencil crayon, fluffy cats and honest feelings.

Kristen Haas Curtis

Sleepless Beekeper Hourly Comic DayKristen (“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

Robin William Scott Hourly Comic 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.

Tillie Walden

Tillie Walden Hourly Comic Day

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 Noble

Danny Noble Hourly Comic DayDanny also managed to do something a little bit above and beyond with hers. Pfft, all these smart people.

Lucy Bellwood

Lucy Bellwood Hourly Comic Day

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 Bee

Vera Bee Hourly Comics Day

Vera is another new name to me, with a nice line in self-deprecating humour.

Joe Decie

Joe Decie Hourly Comic DayJoe‘s skilled drawings are always a favourite.

Dan Berry

Dan Berry Hourly Comic Day

And of course Dan is a perennial.

Jeremy Dennis

Jeremy Dennis Hourly Comic Day

Here’s Jeremy taking a loose line to the extreme — also features drawing while walking, which is impressive.

Moar Moar MOAR

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?

OK then, here’s my round-up from last year, and from 2014.

Or go and fish out your own favourites, via the hashtag on various social media:

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 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.

How I experienced the life of a model, with Gudrun Sjoden

I haven’t exactly been blessed with the looks of a model, so no-one was more surprised than me to receive an offer to be photographed for a fashion catalogue. In fact, my first reaction may have been a snort.

But it all makes sense when you find out that the invitation came from Gudrun Sjoden. They regularly photograph their clothes on models who are “non-industry standard” — older, more characterful or larger than most brands would touch with a bargepole. (Makes perfect sense to me: their clothes are made for all ages and spread across a massive range of sizes, so why not reflect customers’ own looks?)

In this case, the shoot was to feature ‘friends of Gudrun’: bloggers, artists, novelists and other creative types. I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved with some events in Gudrun’s London store, and that’s what put me on the early plane to Stockholm for two of the most pleasurable days I’ve had in a long time!

Drawing this sketch diary allowed me to relive the whole 36 hours, bringing back all the enjoyment again. Massive thanks to Gudrun Sjoden for such a fun trip, and wonderful memories. Oh and by the way, the friend D you see in these pictures is http://www.ivyarch.co.uk. Visit her blog to see the amazing clothes she makes!

Click on any of the images to see them larger.

Stockholm Diary p1 Myfanwy Tristram

Stockholm Diary p2 Myfanwy Tristram

Stockholm Diary p3 Myfanwy Tristram

Stockholm Diary p4 Myfanwy Tristram

Stockholm Diary p5 Myfanwy Tristram

Stockholm Diary p6 Myfanwy Tristram

Finally: my Frome holiday sketch diary

summer dresses by Myfawy TristramWell, this has to be some kind of record: I’ve only just finished my holiday sketch diary, 22 days after returning home. I think we can safely say that it’s time for another holiday now!

I’ve been thinking about why it’s taken so long, and my best guess is that I broke my own guidelines for making sketch diaries: I hardly collected any labels/leaflets/tickets this time, and did a lot more painting. I cared too much about pictures looking right (not that this means they all ended up perfect – far from it!)

Never mind, it’s done now, so here it is, a week in Frome (Somerset, UK).

Continue reading “Finally: my Frome holiday sketch diary”

Why I’m not out to play much this month: nine steps to make a comic strip

coloured in comic by Myfanwy Tristram

 

As you know, because I’m always moaning about it, cartoons are a really labour intensive form of artwork.

Back when I first got into comics, I’d draw directly onto the page with pen. “The page” was often the back of an A4 letter, or a cheap pad.

Sometimes I hadn’t even figured out the end of the strip when I was drawing the beginning. But that’s ok, because it was the days of Riot Grrls and photocopied zines and so many people *weren’t* drawing comics that you were way ahead just because you were.

The end result was a strip in which there might be some pleasing parts, but where there would always, always be at least one frame that made me cringe. The only thing this ‘method’ (if you can call it that) has to recommend it is that it’s quick – but as we all know, a little preparation goes a long way.

Time passed and I got a little more ‘fancy’ (ha). I started drawing my strips out in pencil first, then drawing with pen over the top and erasing the pencil lines.

This obviously has the advantage that you can rub out and redraw if your first pictures don’t look quite right, all before you start inking. You can also start thinking about layout and composition across the whole page, while you still have time to incorporate any great ideas that may crop up.

But there are disadvantages to this method, too: smudged ink, or pencil lines that just won’t erase, no matter how hard you try. I started drawing this way long before computers and Photoshop came into my life, so it’s not as if I could tidy things up digitally, either.

It’s really only relatively recently that I have refined my comic-drawing process. In part, I have to thank generous artists like Sarah McIntyre and Dan Berry, who talk a lot about their own processes (and in the case of Dan, produce a podcast talking to many other cartoon artists about their processes). It’s all gradually sunk in.

I’m working on a piece at the moment which, by the end, will have gone through, let me see… nine different stages, I think. Let’s count them out.

1. The initial idea

Inspired by a vintage photo I saw, I decided I wanted to do something around the idea of synchronised swimming.

So that I wouldn’t forget it, I noted the idea down on my phone.

2. The script

I knew I wanted this cartoon to be four pages long. I knew I could make the story fit nicely into that length. But how do you get from a subject and the desired length to an an actual script?

In between steps 1 and 2, there’s a period of time which consists of forcing myself really hard to think about the topic until a story pops to the surface. I think the last two lines of that note on the phone came later, during this process.

Writing the script down is a way of consolidating the story and making sure it can be spread across the length of cartoon that I want to make.

3. Character studies

Character studies by Myfanwy TristramI’m a bit impatient about this stage; once I have an idea, I often want to dive right in.

But drawing your characters (in many different ways, often, and then you pick the look you prefer) is a really useful step.

It means that their faces or hairstyles won’t change as the cartoon progresses, because I’ve already made all the decisions and I’ll have my  studies to refer to from the very off.

4. Thumbnails 1

Scratch thumbnails by Myfanwy TristramI think that this is one stage more than most cartoonists would do, and it does annoy me, but it turns out this is the way I have to work, and so be it.

First, I take a biro and a really scrappy bit of paper. This is a psychological way of telling myself that it’s fine to make mistakes, which I seem to need.

I already have the script I wrote, and that has pretty well divided the story into pages and frames within each page. What this first set of thumbnails does is help me make sure that those divisions are right.

This would also be the time to figure out any fancy layouts: not that there are any in this particular piece of work, but, say there was going to be a big plane flying across the page, or a large boot stomping down, now is the time I can work through all the difficulties I’ve given myself with that decision.

5: Thumbnails 2

Better thumbnails by Myfanwy TristramMy second set of thumbnails is larger, and transposes these decisions (which often contain lots of scribbling and notes) into a more coherent page. I use a big felt tip or a brush pen, again just to try and concentrate on basics rather than fine drawing.

At this stage I’m also trying to ensure that any words will fit into the speech bubbles and frames I’ve allocated them.

And, once that’s finished, I hunt down my husband and (if age-appropriate) my daughter and I read it through to them. If it makes sense to them, great. If they have questions, I know there’s still work to do.

6: Pencils

Margins by Myfanwy TristramNow is the point where I have to measure pages, frames and margins and make sure the finished work is going to be the right size for whatever printed medium it will end up on (I might work 1.5 size or even double size, in which case there’s even more maths involved).

Drawing comics continues to be a learning process for me, and this time around I added two new practices that I hope will pay off.

First: after drawing the first page’s outer margins, I stuck it on the lightbox and traced the other three pages, so I know they will be exactly the same size.

For some reason, no matter how carefully I measure, I *always* seem to end up with differing size pages (I blame the ruler, which is obviously changing length while I’m not looking at it), so hopefully this will see the end of that for good.

Second: Long-time readers will know that I’m forever moaning about trying to scan, and then fit together, pages that are larger than my A4 scanner.

This time, thinking ahead, I made sure that every page has a good clear break somewhere within the zone where A4 pages (ie, the size of my scanner) overlap. Hopefully, this will mean that I can scan the page in two goes, crop to this clear line, and fit them together without my usual issues of trying to precisely fit the page together in the middle of a figure or a piece of text.

pencils by Myfanwy Tristram Once the margins are drawn, I start drawing the cartoon in pencil, in its entirety. I do this on a page of not-so-good sketch paper: it won’t be seen, so there’s no point in wasting the expensive stuff.

Notice that this was the *very first* thing I did in the olden days. So everything that has come before represents just how much longer the process is now. It’s worth it though. My cartoons still aren’t as good as I’d like them to be, but they look a whole lot more professional.

I’m not the sort of artist who can always summon up figures and poses off the top of my head, so there’s a lot of rubbing out involved, and sometimes I have to google for images as a reference.

Sometimes there’s so much rubbing out involved that I have to start a frame again on a new piece of paper – the beauty of this method is that I can.

7: Line

cartoon before colouring by Myfanwy TristramThe cartoon I’m working on is line drawings with ink colouring.

First I put down the pen lines. I put the pencilled page on the lightbox, put a sheet of better-quality paper on top, and trace the drawings and frames with pen.

8: Inks

coloured in comic by Myfanwy TristramAnd then I add the colour.

9: Scan

Does this count as a step? I guess so: the cartoon takes on a different format, a digital one. And there’s often more work involved, too: I clean it up digitally, before sharing it online or in print.

And then, finally, it’s done.

The takeaway

No wonder it all takes such a long time! You might frown at all this and call it the death of spontaneity.

I wouldn’t go back to my old ways though… well, unless I suddenly became an amazing artist who could conjure up perfect pictures first time, every time. Or, y’know, on Hourly Comics Day.

This method breaks the process into such small steps that none of them feels too daunting. It also allows for the possibility of something going wrong at every single step.

Measured up your pages wrong? You’ll notice before you start inking, not, disastrously, once you’ve finished. Spill ink all over your page? No worries, you still have your pencilled sheets. And so on.

Multi-step processes like this can look really off-putting, I know. I still blanch at bookbinding or screenprinting, terribly afraid that I’m going to miss out a crucial step, and lose all my work.

For me, cartooning feels different, because I learned and tried out every step along the way. Also, there’s no expensive equipment involved (the most expensive part is the lightbox, but you can easily use a window on a sunny day, or a glass table with a light under it), and no-one to tut at you if you don’t follow a prescribed method.

My method’s changed a lot over the years, as I’ve described, and I expect it’ll continue to do so. How do you draw comics? Give me your tips and who knows, maybe they’ll also become part of my process.

Women of Lewes and Brighton

Women by Myfanwy Tristram

women by Myfanwy Tristram

These pictures are made by snapping women in the street with my phone, then working from the photos to paint a composite image on a A1 sheet of paper. The painting was done over a period of a couple of hours.

As I’ve just offered this idea to a potential client (painting their customers), I thought I’d better try it out and make sure it works.

I’m quite pleased with the results, and I’ve noted a few ways the whole thing could be easier, so it was worth doing a trial run.

Thank you – and sorry – if I photographed you yesterday! When I looked closely at the photographs, it did look like plenty of the subjects were looking straight at me, doubtless wondering what this strange person was doing pointing her phone at them.

Luckily, if the actual project goes ahead, I’ll be photographing people with their consent, and in a controlled environment.

And if it doesn’t? Eh, well… it’s all practice.

My complete Hourly Comic Day 2015

Whew! I did it.

Well, officially I didn’t do it, because I was over-ambitious with how much I wanted to depict (so what’s new?).

I only managed to finish off the last three pages today, so I am posting my complete Hourly Comic Day comic 24 hours late. Here it is.

It’s now past my bedtime, so I will save any sparkling insights for later, and let the pictures speak for themselves. (I just spotted a spelling mistake. Never mind! Bed!)

As always, click if you’d like to see them bigger.

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2015

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2015

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2015

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2015

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2015

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2015

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2015

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2015

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2015

An evening in Lewes

 

Lewes Children's Book Group by Myfanwy Tristram

[Click to see bigger]

An evening featuring five children’s book illustrators and writers in conversation lured me onto a train to our neighbouring town on a dark and cold evening last week.

I was already aware of Miriam Moss and Leigh Hodgkinson: the former has written some excellent children’s picturebooks, including Scritch Scratch, a book about headlice (illustrated by the fab Delphine Durand) while the latter has an enviable and eclectic track record that includes working on Tiger Aspect’s TV adaptation of Charlie and Lola, as well as writing and illustrating her own books. She also does laser cut pictures, one of which is on the wall right in front of me as I type.

The others were new to me: writers Julia Lee, Jon Walter, and Dawn Casey. Between them they spanned writing for a wide age range, from toddler picturebooks to almost young adult fiction.

No doubt many were there to gather pearls of wisdom about breaking into children’s books themselves. I did not keep comprehensive notes of everything said, but here are a couple of points that stood out for me:

Writing for children means being true to yourself. It’s not ‘pretending’ to be a child. We were all children once; some of us still are, to a greater or lesser extent; you need to find that part of yourself.

Write something that makes you feel excited and alive. But then the craft comes in containing that passion and pulling it into a coherent form that works as a book.

There were also some amusing differences in approach: while for a couple of the writers, characters’ names were the very first thing to emerge, with stories unfolding from there, Jon Walter said that he used his writers’ software to generate names, has been known to change them for the final draft, and would be hard pressed to tell you the surname of some of his central protagonists.

Casey, who has worked in a publishing house, gave a rather depressing view of the slush pile: ploughed through only by interns, and unlikely to yield the next big thing. Her advice was that you can get the competitive advantage by having won a competition or been previously published in some form or other: that way, you’ll be on the commissioning editor’s (smaller) pile rather than on the gargantuan slush mountain.

As always with these evenings, you felt there was good advice, but that they could really only explore the tip of the iceberg within the short time allowed. All the same, I’ll be keeping an eye on the Lewes Children’s Book Group: it was a really interesting evening.

 

My daughter in blue

I posted a picture of my daughter in a jumble of different coloured clothes back in November, but I didn’t show you a second picture of her that I painted a few days later.

Daughter in blue by Myfanwy Tristram

That’s because I decided to give one picture to each set of her grandparents for Christmas. This one went to my own parents, who follow this blog, so I couldn’t put it up.

Now Christmas is over, I notice that I never scanned the original. Never mind, though – I still have the pencil drawing, and I put a photo of the finished piece on Instagram (which is what you see above).

Daughter in blue by Myfanwy Tristram

Thanks to my lightbox, I can draw the original in pencil, then trace over it on a fresh piece of paper in ink. That means you don’t have to start again right from the beginning if anything goes wrong with the inking.

Personally, I really like having these little safety nets. It means that while you’re pencilling, you can tell yourself, ‘oh well, it’s just the pencil, not the finished thing’, and when you’re inking/colouring, you feel like the hard work – proportions, composition, etc – has already been done.

And, of course, it means you get to keep the pencil drawing – in theory, I suppose, I could do more coloured pieces from it. I like it the way it is, though.

Lots of artists complain that the inked version is never as lively and free as the original pencil. I struggle with being lively and free at all, to be quite honest, but yes, I can see the pencil piece is a tiny bit more carefree.

What happens when your New Year’s resolution is “Draw More”?

Santiago sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

My new year’s resolution for 2014 was a fairly complex one, but in essence it boiled down to two words:

draw more.

…and it has felt like I’ve drawn a lot this year. Not as much as someone who doesn’t have a day-job and a child, of course, but a steady stream of stuff nonetheless.

Some of it I was pleased with. Some of it I was not – and I’ve learned to call that stuff part of the learning process, rather than a failure.

January

It was my husband’s birthday and I made him this card:

Dude birthday by Myfanwy Tristram

February

February first is Hourly Comics Day! I entered into the spirit of things, and tried not to care about putting out unpolished work – after all, that’s what it’s all about.

MyfanwyTristram_Hour3_2014

I’m quite looking forward to the next one already – and let’s face it, February is not usually a month to look forward to.

March

I made another collage in my series of birds’ eye views, this time featuring lots of very small roofs made of stamps:

Birds island by Myfanwy Tristram

April

In April, I really enjoyed doing some life drawing.

Life drawing by Myfanwy TristramThis was also the month that we went to Bath for our family holiday, and I made a holiday sketch diary. Of course, sketch diaries are another form where, if you share them, you have to put out the pages you’re pleased with as well as the ones that didn’t work out quite so well.

Tree by Myfanwy Tristram

May

Straight after we got back from Bath, work sent me to Santiago in Chile! I was working, so keeping up a sketch diary was a bit more of a challenge, and I finished a good bit of it after I got home.

Myfanwy Tristram Santiago sketch diary

July

It looks like I had a month off from drawing in June! In fact, I was starting work on my 4-page graphic short story for the Cape/Comica/Observer competition: you have to start early if your time is limited.

In July, though, I started a series of pictures of the plants that grow alongside Brighton beach, where I go running and also spend a lot of time with my daughter:

Seaplants by Myfanwy Tristram

There are more plant drawings here and here.

August

Those sunny days seem far away now – hard to believe I was sitting drawing on the Level (our local playground) while my daughter mucked about in the fountains.

Sketches by Myfanwy Tristram

The weather turned, naturally, right before our week in Jersey – fortunately there was plenty to do there anyway. Not least,  drawing another sketch diary:

Toop and the telescope by Myfanwy Tristram

September

I shared my graphic short story competition entry:

Giddy_Heights by MyfanwyTristram_page3I’d entered it, all the while knowing it wasn’t quite the right thing to get placed – not polished enough (but I was very pleased, later on, to discover that my friend Beth had been awarded runner-up prize).

October

Never mind, I waded straight into another comic strip, this time based on recent experiences with a community archaeological dig:

GreenLadyHill_by Myfanwy Tristram – and, at very short notice indeed, I threw together a collage for the Association of Illustrators competition:

Fly Across London by Myfanwy TristramThat was also the month I created the Hashtag Underdog strip. October must have been the peak of my productivity! I should scrutinise what the prevailing conditions were, and try to bottle them.

Underdog by Myfanwy TristramNovember

I didn’t do Clovember but I did paint my daughter in her lovely bright clothes – right at the prescient moment, it turns out, as she’s recently announced a desire to wear only black:

Tabs watercolour by Myfanwy Tristram

I also made a short comic strip about working from home:

Working from Home by Myfanwy TristramDecember

Close friends and family had one of my linocuts bestowed upon them:

IMG_0757

– and I moaned a bit about how long they had taken to make. I must say though, that everyone has been very nice about them, which is what every homemade card creator really wants – so it was all worth it. :D

Clearly, the effort of all that lino-printing has taken it out of me because, other than a couple of sketches of my daughter and husband, I have not drawn since.

Next year

I’m hoping that a similar resolution for 2015 will result in just as much artwork – but I need to do some careful thinking as well, about just what I want out of all this endeavour.

This year brought a couple of commissions. I find these quite stressful, and it made me wonder whether to refuse all commissions from now on (on the other hand, that means relying only on my own inspirations to drive me forward, a situation which, of course, many artists would be envious of, but which may well narrow my horizons).

This was also the first year that I’ve sold my prints online, as well as in Brighton’s Open Houses. While this was not stressful, it did bring home to me how narrow the margins are – at the scale I was operating, and with the time I have to dedicate, you can’t earn much. It can only really be done as an exercise in spreading your name about a bit.

And as for that – spreading my name about – well, I haven’t done as much as I hoped. Reader numbers on this blog are pretty low (though boosted greatly every time someone tweets or shares the link on Pinterest or Facebook, so thank you very much to everyone who did that).

In 2015, I think I will have an additional resolution to get some strips published in existing comics: that means that someone else is doing the distribution and the marketing, and probably doing so far better than I would have time to do myself.

Sounds like a plan…