so this is part 2 of my yearly round-up of stuff and things that happened to ME.
It's about ME. Not any debate on whether 2016 was a terrible year or not.
Actually I did address this issue in part one.
Go read that if you haven't already, because it also includes fun things I did in the first 4 and a bit months of the year. Including, but not limited to, puffins, getting trapped in a wobbly dolphin, googly eyes, good life advice and REVERSE BATMAN.
I ended that post with: What else happened in MAY 2016 to our intrepid heroine Jenny Robins? Some NICE things I hope?
I can now reveal that this was a joke. Because in May we went to Nice.
May you live in nice times
2016 really was very much the year of the mini-break for us, the brief sojourn. You know like when I definitely can't complain that I didn't go on a proper holiday all year because I went on so many small ones and that would make me sound like a dick.
Most of the time that we were there we made jokes about how NICE it was. That literally did not get old for me and I think if I lived there it probably would not.
Most especially we liked the cemeteries on top of the hill.
If you are going to the cost of azure I thoroughly recommend visiting them.
Here is Alex choosing some light holiday reading at the Musée d'Art Moderne
Here is Alex displaying the effortless chic of all residents and visitors to the coast of azure.
Here we are at a beach, It was hot but the sea was not hot. I went in the sea but I was a wus and I didn't stay in the sea long enough to acclimatise myself to the temperature which I've since dwelt on and this I believe is my biggest regret of 2016. Really, if I'd just stayed in another 5 minutes I could have had a proper nice swim.
I didn't even make the pun on purpose that time. That is what is so great about the nice pun. You make it by mistake all the time.
Also, it wouldn't have been a PROPER NICE swim, because this beach is in Antibes, not in Nice.
Also, we didn't see any puffins.
I drew this for awesome Lucy and Rory's wedding invitation:
You can see a blog about their brilliant wedding here on Down-to-earth Brides. It's worth having a look for Lucy's jumpsuit and cape alone.
In May I also officially became a godparent to Arthur.
Arthur is the one in the shorts. He's awesome.
Also we went to Fliss' wedding, the fabulous bride was able to take time out of her special day to salute the sun with Alex and this statue
I went to Comiket and saw nice comic book people like John and Paul and Anna and Kieron and Gareth (who I managed to thoroughly freak out) and Wallis (who gave me bad advice re: freaking Gareth out) and other people I am forgetting now. But also significantly I met Julia again (readers may recall I also met her in March) and handed over my then completed bundles of zines for her to sell through the awesome distro One Beat Zines, including the feminist poster I had designed especially for the occasion.
I blogged about it here, in June.
June know what I mean?
On the first of June I painted this winter portrait commission. Those patterns on the jumper were sooooo fun in that way that kind of pressures the edge of the brain because it's really hard.
Do you know what I mean?
I remember the first time I was aware of that feeling was at life drawing class when I was 17. Like you can feel the weight of the amount of visual data your brain is processing. It's super satisfying in a kind of cathartic way.
Might just be me.
Anyway I posted in progress photos of this painting they are here if you're interested.
Back on a wedding theme, by this point things had been building up to my Sister's wedding for a while, I based the invite around this portrait of her and her then fiancé from his best woman's wedding.
With the power of clumsily erasing offending details in photoshop, printing the result out and painting back over the top, I then magically turned this into a a picture of them in their wedding outfits which was used on the programmes for the actual day.
Monsieur I have conjured you a pocket square. Presto.
They really like that photo.
Of course they were even more beautiful on the real day, about which more in July.
Also, with previously mentioned lovely best woman Bella, I was in charge of a joint staghen picnic event which had been cleverly scheduled just two days after the EU referendum. We were tempted to allocate a special Brexit corner where people could vent/crow but opted for a blanket ban on discussion of the topic. A few days later again I posted a blog post in which I said a few fence sitty and yet still I feel, poignant or at least slightly pointy things on such matters. It's the same blog post as the one about the poster, so if you clicked that one don't worry about clicking this one. IF you didn't, here's another chance!
I just re-read it and spotted a grammar error. Don't worry it's fixed now.
Anyway, here are some photos from the staghen which was a great and glorious success.
I find this photo a little bit TOO hilarious. Despite my zero f**ks appearance on the right there, I actually did try really hard at egg and spooning.
Since Bella was secretly pregnant at the time, I was drinking for two.
This is my beauuuuutiful sister and me on the bus between the park and the pub.
I made us hats. I made a lot of hats.
Here is a photo of Hazel and Tristan that I clumsily photoshopped into McDonald's for jokes.
Like, it's funny if you know them. Probably.
That same blog post where I said pointy fence sitty things and wrote about the poster is also where I launched the new project, which was drawing lady folk coming out of cookie cutter shapes, and is still functioning under the title of the 3.52 Billion project. Although I would like to think of a new name. Or at least, I stated a vague intention to do so. I more officially launched it in August.
So I guess more about that in August, and I'll just carry on sprinkling them into the text whenever I fancy till then.
In the real world of the present this week (which is to say the past by the time you read this, of mid January 2017) I am channelling Almas quite a lot, having both finished my tax return and drawn portraits at a queer performance art night. I encourage you too to embrace your inner Almas.
Would I July to you?
So pretty much the first thing that happened in July, a week before I broke up from my teachy dayjob for the summer, was the actual wedding of Hazel.
Obvs all of the stationary and signage was on point
I was chief bridesmatron, here is a really excellent photo of my extended family making funny faces.
And an excellent one of just me and my parents looking very joyful.
This one is pretty great even though I am not even in it.
Also (because although this was obviously not MY day, this is MY blog) on the topic of me, I gave a really excellent speech. As well as being all touching and personal and shiz, it had a whole paragraph of alcohol puns in it, which I will share here because it doesn't have any mushy stuff in it:
It was a really lovely day.
But it was only the beginning of my dress wearing and three course meal consuming summer, as during July we also attended two further weddings.
And I'm not saying Hazel's wasn't the most important (double negative, can't nothing please me) but her's didn't include an adventure of going to a place other than the one I grew up in. #justsaying
So one week after the family wedding, we were off up to Yorkshire (EAST Yorkshire) to attend another happiest day, that of our friends Dom and Paula.
I was so organised I made the card before we even left and so was able to scan it.
Now, I want to stress clearly that I was very happy with how things went down. but there was one tiny detail that I was not entirely happy about.
We were on our way to Yorkshire on an evening only invite. And I had no beef with that. I had a plan, to go see puffins on the cliffs during the day, and come to the dancing at the wedding in the evening. We had done the best thing ever to do for friends weddings that are far away, which is rent a big house near the venue with 10 other friends. And of those friends there were 6 of us in on the puffin plan. But on our way to Yorkshire we got a message offering us a bumped up position as day guests. This is the second time this has happened to us btw, we are a very first reserves kinda couple. So obviously we were like yes please to singing in a church and eating a tasty sit down breakfast. And it was a lovely wedding of lovely people with pinwheels and the sea and a good joke about black holes and bubbles. But on this occasion.
See look how pleased we look to be in the church.
But no puffins guys.
Also, I really like Yorkshire and now I had been there 2 times ever and Andrew drove us through all of it and we saw lots of power stations.
Also in July I drew some cool commissions like this one of Adam and Emma
Which was for an anniversary, but still obviously, basically a wedding portrait.
And this one of Michelle and Sean
Who have since gotten engaged. So like, no theme here guys.
It was the year of LOVE. In my diary anyway.
Back on a more usual theme, I got some bird prints into GingerWhite gallery in Bethnal Green in July also.
And after drawing a few more Real TV Wisdom pictures, I finally had enough to bring out the second edition of the zine of the same name.
available here yo.
I went to another Broken Frontier Drink and Draw and drew this dystopian coffee shop.
At some point in July I drew this:
based on a true story, of course.
Then it was time to go on another adventure to Ireland for the wedding of my amazing cousin Jay.
She's the one in the white dress, it was 1920s themed so we all got dressed up and stuff.
We used to hang out the four of us here when we were kids and stuff and we were super cool cousins.
Here is an action shot of my parents dancing to the Irish band.
We went for some additional adventures in county Limerick and Clare before the wedding and then in Dublin afterwards. This was my first time in Ireland so that was super awesome.
Me and Alex and Hazel and Tristan reflected multiple times in a sculpture thing in Dublin.
Cool spooky church we stopped and explored.
Also we went to the cliffs of Moher.
There are meant to be puffins at the cliffs of Moher.
We didn't see any.
It was pretty tho.
I have quite a lot more puffin drawings in my backlog I can do that to btw. But on most days I accept it's not a thing to not see a puffin. Though I would be into it if one just came at me one grey London afternoon. You know like how in post apocalyptic films the animals have always escaped from the zoo so there's just giraffe's chillin in the park? Not that puffins would survive an apocalypse. They are evolutionary culs de sacs for sure.
That's part of why they are so great.
August is the proper summer
So come August I was into the proper summer. Which is to say, there were no weddings in my diary (until September anyway). I didn't have to go to school 3 days a week like I do most of the time (love my day job btw) and I could get down to some serious drawing and stuff.
I had a plan, and I had already put some of it into motion.
So this is kind of awkward to talk about, but I actually find school holidays kind of stressful.
I'm always trying to balance the three aims of resting, seeing friends and also getting lots of work done. Because I rely on my freelance work to fund anything outside of mortgage, food and bills I also feel under pressure to make the good money while I have the more time on my hands, which often leads to me spending more time scheming and cold calling than actually making anything (such is the freelancer life). But hanging out with so many comic book people was starting to rub off on me and I'd been feeling like I needed to put some serious time in to my personal work. So I came up with the plan. Which is this: In term time, I would start doing supply teaching work on the days when I didn't have a paying illustration client, starting in September 2016. In July I had done the getting the agency teacher job part and I was set to go for this. Now because I knew that I had that extra money coming in in September, I could spend August doing my own work without feeling guilty that I wasn't pitching or stalking art directors. I have a network to the extent that work trickles in, sometimes the flow is light and sometimes it's heavy, if you pardon the period parlance. But I had basically given myself permission to not worry about it. Which is pretty great.
And I had bought myself August to do things like do some work on my Etsy shop after attending a really cool speed dating style shop critique session run by London Local Team.
Also excitingly I got around to something I've been meaning to do for ages, which was to set up and film all of my personal sketchbooks from since I started having one, which was like, in 2001. So a LOT of random stuff that I drew/collaged/painted in my spare time in the intervening years.
You can read more about this in the spiel I wrote on youtube here.
You can pause it to look at individual pages, but I feel obligated to warn you that in the early 00s I drew a lot of boobs. There's some pretty embarrassing stuff in there tbh.
This is the classy professional setup I made to film them:
Bunny was executive producer.
There are a lot of pages though that I still love a lot.
That's a lot of years of making pictures, and when I'm stuck for inspiration, they're almost as reliable as Pinterest when I look back through them.
I also drew some strong Facebook portraits, and by some, I do mean 2.
This is Julia
This is Julian. I really love drawing pinstripes by the way.
But mainly what I was doing in August was putting in time on working on a plan and starting to put that plan into action for me making a book. A big part of that plan is the (name still under discussion) 3.52billion project. I spent a lot of July and August drawing these ladies. As of the time of writing (now slightly later in mid January 2017) I have done almost 50 of them. For most of August I was posting them DAILY guys, on the gram of insta, I slowed that down to 3 a week once I went back to work and now they are as and when.
They are basically really fun to draw and caption. I could do a book just of these pretty easily, but because I am a) a masochist b) creatively ambitious c) obsessed with doing a comic d) interested in telling deeper stories than can be told in a glib one liner e) still figuring out ways I can do this project and somehow not look like an arrogant white feminist because that's what my internet bubble tells me to worry about f) all of the above, obviously, I am going to use them as part of a bigger book project that will include comics and stories. I estimate this will take me about 2 years to complete if I am able to be strict enough with myself with my time allocation and not get tempted into little side projects and low paying commissions that sound fun.
Which sounds pretty unlikely, so maybe 3 years is a safer bet.
There's still more stuff that I did in August, but I feel like this has got super long and super late already. So I'm going to continue that in the next instalment.
What to expect:
books, hats, blogs, more wedding stuff, more Yorkshire misadventures, and the most exciting new addition to our small family.