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.

 

 

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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

Wild flowers

Small thoughts sometimes come to me when I’m out running, and sometimes they’re just the right size for a one-page cartoon.

This one was small enough to be conceived, penciled and coloured in, all within one evening and one early morning session.

wildflowers by Myfanwy Tristram(I am still furiously fiddling with settings on my scanner. Pieces like this, with many bright colours, seem to really confound it).

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.

MyfanwyTristram_Hour1_2014

MyfanwyTristram_Hour2_2014

MyfanwyTristram_Hour3_2014

MyfanwyTristram_Hour4_2014

MyfanwyTristram_Hour5_2014

MyfanwyTristram_Hour6_2014

MyfanwyTristram_Hour7_2014

MyfanwyTristram_Hour8_2014

MyfanwyTristram_Hour9_2014

MyfanwyTristram_Hour10_2014

MyfanwyTristram_Hour11_2014

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.

November 2012: clothes project

Everything my daughter and I wore in November 2012

Everything my daughter and I wore in November 2012

In November 2012, I decided to draw the clothes I wore, every day, for a month.

And as if that wasn’t enough of a challenge, I also drew my daughter’s clothes. At the end of the month, a good friend commented that the illustrations would make a great comic.

She said one thing that really struck me: that these clothes may seem pretty ordinary now, but in a few years’ time, the picutres could stand as a historic document.

So I cleaned all the sketches up and started putting them into a printable format. What you see here is me playing about with ideas for the cover.

In my day job, my boss has a penchant for extarordinarily long blog titles – I think that’s influenced my choice of title here.

My summing-up post at the end of the whole project – complete with pie charts! – can be seen here, and clicking here will take you to all the pictures on Flickr.

Everything my daughter and I wore in November 2012