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

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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!

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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.

 

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.

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Hello, people: all about me

Hi! By Myfanwy Tristram

A funny thing happened at the beginning of Janaury.

My phone is set to ping every time someone likes one of my blog posts or follows my blog. This has not been, in general, exactly what you might call an intrusion: it normally happens in a cluster after I make a new post, or otherwise about once or twice a week.

But all of a sudden, one Tuesday night, the alerts started coming through every few seconds. “Spam”, I grumbled to my husband, as I turned off the light and went to sleep.

By morning, there were hundreds more – and there were comments, too. And, on closer inspection, those comments were not spam: they were well-written, friendly reactions to my posts.

It turns out that my post What happens when your New Year’s resolution is “Draw More”? was selected as one of WordPress’ “Freshly Pressed” picks, meaning that it’s gone into a stream that every WordPress user can access.

Which is amazing! I’ve been keeping this blog for just over a year now, and like any unmarketed corner of the internet, the audience was small and growing slowly. Now, WordPress tells me, I have 1,407 followers (and those pings are still coming, albeit at a more sedate pace). That one post has had 277 comments and 1,125 “likes”. Thank you to everyone who followed, commented or liked (and apologies that I haven’t replied to every comment).

This is me

It occurs to me that most of you don’t know anything about me, beyond that post, so here’s a brief introduction.

I’m an illustrator

booner by Myfanwy TristramWhat’s the difference between an illustrator and an artist?

The flippant answer is that illustrators are ‘allowed’ to draw black lines round things – something that I distinctly remember an art teacher telling me was no go in fine art.

A more accurate answer is perhaps that illustrations tend to accompany and complement text, whether that’s in a book or next to a magazine article. I grew up drawing comics, and I still identify strongly as a cartoonist. For me, cartoons and graphic novels are the acme of pictures and words going together.

I grab drawing time where I can

Schoolmates

 

I’m not a full-time illustrator: I have a day job, and I’m also a parent (albeit with a very patient husband who shares a lot of the childcare and housekeeping).

In practice, that means that if I want to draw, I have to work very hard to find the time. At weekends, I sometimes get up at 6 or 7 to draw (but I have to be really excited by a project to do that). Otherwise, I have to prioritise drawing in the evenings. Often, the answer is to draw the things or people around me, like my daughter and her friends.

Right now, I have a really satisfying, varied day job, with some of the best workmates I could wish for. A few years ago, though, I was working in an office in a very corporate environment, which was not a great fit for me. I used to dream every day of being able to do more drawing, and kick myself for not having pursued illustration as an occupation.

Now that I’m in a happier position workwise, I’m far more conflicted. I don’t want to leave my job, I just want to have double the amount of days in the week! Or, more realistically, I’d like to be in a financial position to work three or four days every week, and draw for the rest of the time.

Maybe one day.

I have other hobbies too

I like to go running – I do that in my lunch hours. Yeah, my days are pretty closely timetabled. I have three cats. I’m mildly obsessed by my hometown’s resident rock star, Nick Cave.

All of these things sometimes come into my drawings. Here’s a picture of our recently-departed and much-missed cat Buffy, and here’s one of our solid old tuxedo cat Iggy.

And here’s a silly cartoon that brings the unlikely topics of running, and Nick Cave, together.

I live in Brighton

red-roaster-in-shadeBrighton is a seaside city of about 160,000 on the south coast of England. I’ve lived here since 1990, having only ever planned to come and live with my best friend for a year while she finished her degree course.

Instead, I stayed here, having acquired a house, husband, daughter and the aforementioned cats.

I am very attached to my adopted hometown, and would like to draw a lot more of it, but see above as regards not having enough time in the day.

I am a bit of a clothes obsessive

Everything my daughter and I wore in November 2012I like buying clothes, but, fortunately, I also like charity shops, which keeps the habit affordable if not entirely containable.

Probably connected to this is the fact that I love drawing clothes. I like dressing the people in my cartoons, too.

And one November, I drew everything that I and my daughter wore, every day for a month. I’d like to make those drawings into a book one day.

I’m not ‘talented’

It was really lovely to read all the comments you left on my New Year’s Resolution post: people were so kind and complimentary.

Two comments kept coming up: first, that my post had inspired that person to get drawing themselves; and second, that I had great talent.

I cannot complain about either of the sentiments behind these thoughts, but I will quibble the latter point.

I am more than delighted to have inspired more drawing in the world. I get great pleasure out of mine, and I am sure that pleasure is a universal reaction to seeing something take shape where previously there was just a sheet of paper and a pen.

I am more reticent about the word ‘talent’. Like anyone who draws, I am sure, I am never quite satisfied with what I’ve drawn, and can always tell you six ways in which it could have been better.

I can also look back on a long period of drawing – since my childhood – during which I can see my own improvement. It doesn’t feel like talent, it feels like practice. I’m pretty sure anyone can attain a level of drawing they’d be happy to share with the world, if they just do a little bit of it every day for a few years.

That’s me, now how about you?

OK, now you know a whole lot more about me. What about you?

I’d love to follow some more art, comics or drawing blogs on here, but 1,407 followers is a lot to go through and check all at once.

If you keep an art blog, please do let me know in the comments below, and I’ll check it out.

All my #hourlycomicday posts in one place

February 1st is Hourly Comics Day, when (mad) people commit to drawing a cartoon every hour that they are awake. I saw this happen on Twitter last year, somewhat wistfully, because by the time I knew it was happening, my day was half over.

This year I was no better prepared, but I did at least see a tweet about it just a few minutes after waking up. Typically, my train of thought went:

– Nah, I can’t possibly commit to that. How do people DO things, AND find the time to draw them?
– Well, I might just draw ONE cartoon…
– Argh, this is ON – there’s no way I’m stopping now.

And that’s how I always get sucked into these things. Click on each of the images below to see them bigger.

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Hourly comics day is huge

If you’d like to see what other people have produced, you could be in for a long read:

What I learned from Hourly Comic Day

  • It’s exhausting!
  • You don’t have to record every single thing that happens. I did, and that’s probably why I found it so tiring, but some of the best ones I saw just focus on one small event from each hour. Those cartoons tend to be funnier, too.
  • You have to let go of any desire to present perfect drawings. Actually, it’s quite liberating to discover that when people read a project like this, they tend to appreciate the content more than the fine art.
  • Use a smaller sketchbook, so that when you come to scan them at the end of a long long day, you don’t have to scan every page twice.
  • Don’t expect to set the world alight. I barely received *any* comments on Twitter – I guess there are so many people posting (and frantically drawing between times) that it’s hard to stand out. Conversely, things went down much better on Facebook – but then, the people who follow me there tend to be personal friends with a pre-existing interest in me and my life. :)

What I didn’t learn from Hourly Comic Day

  • How other people handle sex scenes. C’mon, people, really?

Will I do Hourly Comic Day next year?

Right now, I’d say ‘no way’. But when February 1st comes around again, you might just see me getting pulled in.

Meeting Gudrun and the women who wear her clothes

Yesterday, I had the very singular experience of sitting in the London Gudrun Sjödén shop, sketching away while customers came to greet Gudrun herself, who was in town for a flying visit.

Gudrun Sjoden by Myfanwy Tristram

As I listened to the women who queued up to speak to Gudrun, and as I chatted to her in between times, it became clear to me what a feat the Gudrun label represents.

Red hair by Myfanwy Tristram

Most of the women had one pressing sentiment to impart: a big, resounding ‘thank you’, for recognising that women come in all shapes and sizes, and that we need not stop wearing colour and pattern once we’re over a certain age. Gudrun, with her trademark bright green specs was one manifestation of that spirit; another was the broad range of ages who approached the table for a biscuit and perhaps a photograph.

Beret lady by Myfanwy Nixon

Old or young, slender or not, the customers all wore colour, and wore it boldly. It made for some interesting drawing (so would the shop itself: the colourful clothes all around, the artwork and lampshades, and the glorious coterie of shop staff provided almost too many potential subjects).

Just discovered Gudrun, by Myfanwy Tristram

Gudrun shop assistant by Myfanwy Tristram

I was glad to have a moment to thank Gudrun for including older women in her catalogues, and catering for women no matter what size they are. It’s one of my personal bugbears that anyone who is a different shape from straight up-and-down has to look at photographs of clothes online or in catalogues, an then do a kind of tricky mental leap to translate that into what it would look like on them.

bought whole shop by Myfanwy Tristram

“It’s what’s inside that counts”, said Gudrun at one point. She was talking to Amanda from the Womens’ Room blog, who had popped in to do an interview.

Amanda from the Women's Room blog

I like the Women’s Room’s premise, too – that women over 35 just aren’t catered for by mainstream clothes shops, and that that’s a jolt for women who have grown up expecting to be able to express themselves through fashion.

It’s probably a strategic business error, as well, if the women I saw yesterday are anything to go by. Put it this way: these people are not gracefully sliding into an age of polyester twinsets.

Blue and red by Myfanwy Tristram

Anneka by Myfanwy Tristramyellow and blue by Myfanwy Tristram

London

This couldn’t have been more strongly illustrated than by the woman I sat opposite on the train back to Brighton. In her seventies, or perhaps even her eighties, she sported a shock of snow white hair onto which she’d splurged a mix of bright pink and purple dyes. She looked magnificent.

Pink haired lady

A note about the drawings: In the end I took pencil crayons, which allowed me to make colourful marks, quickly and without mess. I haven’t used them for a long time, and it was good to rediscover some of their plus points, like how nicely the colours can blend.

Drawing people as they quickly came to say hello was difficult, so I have not tried for exact likenesses. In most cases, I was drawing and colouring in long after the customer had departed, so colours and details are often from memory, or completely made up. Please don’t feel offended if you see an unflattering rendition of yourself – chances are I’ve mixed you in with one or two other people! Likewise, I’ve mixed and matched the things I heard people saying to Gudrun, so they probably aren’t next to the people who actually said them.

The Perfect Storm

star fishnet tights by Myfanwy Tristram

Blue tights with green tops by Myfanwy Tristram

bright pink tights by Myfanwy Tristram

green tights by Myfanwy Tristram

Remember that film where George Clooney grabs an unexpected eBay bargain, finds a sketchbook with unusual dimensions, and follows an Instagram account that suddenly gives him an idea for an art project? It’s called ‘The Perfect Storm’.

Oh, wait. That wasn’t a film, it was real life. And it wasn’t George Clooney, it was me. However, I’m sticking with the title: a ‘perfect storm’ is when a combination of events create the ideal environment for something to happen.

In George’s case, that saw him looking noble in a slicker, square-jawed and pushing against adversity while sprackled with a light sea spray (I’m guessing; I haven’t seen it). In mine, it sees me happily noodling around with inks and watercolour paper.

To explain, my perfect storm came together like this:

EVENT 1: I’m looking for something on eBay. I can’t remember what now; we’ve just moved house, so there’s been a lot of eBaying for furniture and random stuff.

I come across a job lot of tights in my size – 14 or so pairs of them. Tights in my size are quite rare, as I’m far too tall for a lady, apparently. They’re going for something silly like £2.99. I put in a low bid and forget about them. A few days later, ta-da! I’m now the owner of a ridiculous number of colourful tights, some with fancy designer names and packaging.

EVENT 2: In said move, I’m unpacking my sketchbooks when I find the landscape watercolour sketchbook I bought at the Tate while we were on holiday in St Ives. Coals to Newcastle, incidentally, as it turns out it was made by Seawhite of Brighton.

This sketchbook is 29cm x 15cm. Long and thin. Ideal for landscapes, seascapes and… do you see where I’m going?

EVENT 3: I can’t pretend I wasn’t partly inspired  – even if subliminally – by an Instagram account I’ve been following with fascination: Stace-a-lace photographs women on the streets of New York – but only from the waist downwards. The results are intriguing.

And KABOOM! Perfect storm all up in yo face. New art project: I’m drawing my legs every time I wear a pair of these tights.

Oh, is that all? Why didn’t you say so at the start?

More of these as they happen.