Dear Cleo 18 02 12

Dearest Cleo

Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow you’re in luck, it’s going to be a Mickos day we will be gone early and come back late and plan as we go.

When I was sketching the other day, the first thing I thought of was this.

Figure 01 Perspectival sketch for Adoration of the Magi Leonardo da Vinci

You can see how carefully he has crafted the architecture or stage to give a sense of space for his actors to move around in. Notice how lightly drawn his actors are and how in places they are transparent with the set showing through. One of the best examples being the camel at the foot of his stairs, how the form looming out of the page is suddenly flattened when you notice the stairs grinning through.

The second thing I thought of was this.

Figure 02 Nude descending a staircase, reworked photograph with watercolour pencil and pastel Marcel Duchamp

Again, notice how solid the steps and the background areas opposed to the lightness of the figure, calling the stage to mind. There is another curious thing about this, while it looks like a sketch for the painting, it was actually done two years after the painting was completed on a photograph of the painting using chalks and watercolours.

So when you sit in the Mercedes garage in Waltham Cross there are always giants upon whose shoulders you can sit.

Thank you for the great time we had at the zoo, and I have to agree with you, I too thought the white tiger was the best

My love as always


Mickos xx


Dear Cleo 18 02 11

Dear Cleo

I missed seeing you and Auburn last weekend and I am looking forward to catching up this weekend I brought you something nice back from Paris which I think you will like.

There was a recall on the Mercedes which meant I had to wait around in Waltham Cross for half a day, it was an ideal opportunity to start to come to grips with project 1. In addition to my trusty A6 sketchbook and pen I took a new red A5 sketchbook and some pencils.

I am quite used to drawing in my A6 sketchbook and no one seems to pay much heed but I reasoned that if the bigger sketchbook was red it would look official and people would pay less heed, this proved to be the case and I sketched untroubled.

The girl at the reception desk in Mercedes directed me to a seat opposite the toilets and it was too good an opportunity to miss. I drew the figures moving by at speed and then drew in heavier the background that wasn’t disturbed by the motion of the figures.

Figure 1 A5 sketch on A5 cartridge paper

The sketch immediately reminded me of Leonardo’s perspective study for the adoration of The Magi and Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase and I resolved to investigate this further when I got back to the studio.

But more than either of those the sketch suggested a stage with actors passing through, this was a theme that was to stay with me throughout the day. There was something about the world being a stage where each and every one of us must play his part (TM Shakespeare/Presley) that kind of gripped me and probably influenced the rest of my sketches.

I did the next sketch in the bar of the Weatherspoon’s while I was waiting for my lunch to be served, as you know there is no music in Weatherspoon’s so I was fairly conscious of the conversations drifting around me when I had finished the sketch, I took a page of the sketchbook and jotted down recurring phrases, as I have said already, I was feeling fairly theatrical and this seemed to fit the mood. Looking at it now it seems to sum up a Weatherspoons on that particular day, I am not good at using words in my creations but maybe I will find a way to distil these particular works into a design that does conjure up a Weatherspoon’s on a cold Tuesday afternoon.

Figure 2 A5 sketch graphite on A5 cartridge

Figure 3 words graphite on A5 cartridge

I had realised that I only needed a brief indication of the figures to establish the perspective of the figures within the stage from observation, the moving figures could be conjured up from memory and imagination with maybe a little help from my lay figures. The stage is the solid part the figures are ephemeral, the emphasis I think of the quote from Shakespeare is on the permanence of the stage and the world and the ephemeral nature of the actors passing through this permanence over time.

It is a bit like life really, these bricks will remain after I am gone, solid, immovable whilst I once ghosted in front of them, your creations will outlive you, whether they be children, buildings or works of art that become increasingly valuable for having exceeded your lifespan, a relic from a former time.

This is getting a bit deep here, and I am sure this must have been debated philosophically by people far cleverer than I but I am just saying.

Figure 4 A5 sketch graphite on A5 cartridge

The last sketch was completed few days later in Farringdon while I was waiting to go to a meeting, you can see how the human presence has been reduced to a few Giacometti like lines to indicate the perspective of the actors that can easily be added later a la Degas.

The stage has time, the actors do not, their time is relatively short, instantaneous in passing through the stage. it is only through the changing of the stage, that a story progresses and is confirmed as a play or an instant as a painting.

Thank you to the Mercedes recall for the opportunity to think clearly about the bigger picture or bigger stage.

That was heavy darling, I hope you made it to the end and I am looking forward to seeing you at the weekend

My love as always


Mickos xx

Dear Cleo 18 02 10

Dearest Cleo

I am looking forward to catching up at the weekend, in the meantime here are the other weeks life drawings.

Figure 1 Sharpie on A2 grey sugar paper

Figure 2 Charcoal on A2 grey sugar paper

Figure 3 Charcoal on A2 grey sugar paper

Figure 4 Charcoal on A2 grey sugar paper

I have only just noticed that the figures are all called figures

See you soon

My love as always

Mickos xx

Dear Cleo 18 01 22

Dearest Cleo

Here are yesterday’s life drawings, I had a look back through and i think they are improving but I did make allowance for the fact that i havent been life drawing for six weeks. I watch developments a bit more closly this term.

Figure 1 Charcoal on A2 sugar paper

Figure 2 Charcoal on A2 sugar paper

Figure 3 Charcoal on A2 sugar paper

Figure 4 Charcoal on A2 sugar paper

I hope you had a good monday at school and with luck I will meet up with you tomorrow before I go to watch the Cezanne film thing

My love as always

Mickos xx


Dear Cleo 18 01 21

Dear Cleo

I had a great day yesterday playing with you and Auburn and Little Women was a better film than I thought it would be before you made me watch it.

Today’s consideration is time, specifically time in relative to drawing.

A small drawing in my A6 sketchbook rarely takes more than a minute or two, but that doesn’t include the looking, the sifting of the scene to decide which part of the scene is worthy of record or might grow into a painting someday. The looking and selecting takes the time, sometimes I can look for a whole evening before making a two minute sketch and sometimes I make a two minute sketch as drawing practice just because I need it, it is then that the sketch takes 2 minutes.

With regard to looking at the sketches, I suppose I am the one that looks at them more than most, contemplating, wondering how to make them grow into a painting, photographing them to put them on the blog and flicking through them to find the next page in the sketchbook. I have never been guarded with my sketchbooks and willingly hand them over to anyone who is interested, looking at them afresh to answer the questions, Where is that? or When was that?

My tutors look at the sketches, I presume looking for the rawness of my creativity, sometimes they seem to find it, other times not, for every sketch I have an opinion on, others have a different opinion.

The viewers to my blog see my sketches, the stats tell me so, but what the stats don’t tell me is how long a visitor spent looking at a piece of my work, time it seems is relegated to a click on the internet, the internet deals with clicks and not contemplation. I can hardly blame them, I suppose, I myself have visited major artists retrospectives in museums in less than two hours, but that of course excludes the research I do before I go, when I get there I have no need to read the writing on the walls, but only to confirm the nuances of brushstrokes tone and colour, only with knowledge can you look fast.

My other favourite mode of drawing is at A2 size, here the problem gets harder. I used my assignment 2 piece as a Christmas card, so including me, the tutor, the printer, the viewers on the blog and the people who received one and displayed it in their homes over the Christmas period, it is probably my most viewed drawing of all time, I have had only two requests for a copy from people who never received one in the first place, for a limited of fifty prints that is not a good take up but the drawing took only ten minutes in the first place. I am reminded that Picasso considered a drawing required a lifetime of experience regardless of the time involved in its execution.

Technique has a lot to play in the length of time it takes to do a drawing, careful rendering of a form can take many hours, but they are hours that never seem to drag, measured only by the empty wine glass, the empty packet of cigarettes or a feeling of hunger or sleep.

The life drawing class is the Olympics of art, you rush through ten second poses, thirty second poses five minute poses, ten minute poses and to take us into the break, a thirty minute pose. By the time the coffee break comes, everyone is so exhausted, including the model, that everyone takes in excess of half an hour to drink a single cup of coffee before returning sloth like to the life room, the second half is invariably a lying down pose so that the model can doze and be the least tired person in the building.

I have had drawings on the easel or next to the easel for weeks searching for the next move or direction. I think that if more thinking had been done prior to commencement, these drawings would roll easier through the production line or at least not glare malevolently from the easel, making you fear entering the studio.

You have probably guessed by now, that I do not equate time with creativity, creativity = however long it takes, after all Leonardo spent a lifetime creating the Mona Lisa and Van Gogh spent a few years doing thousands of paintings, each to his own. I am content to create enough work to pass this course well, I can tell already that time is not a major factor of my process and the course is telling me it needs to be. I feel another challenge coming on, Challenge accepted.

Regardless of anything else you are definitely going to watch a Star Wars movie next weekend, with or without me (TM U2)

Love as always

Mickos xx

Dear Cleo 18 01 16

Dear Cleo

Well it was been a funny year in which I learned a lot, some of which I maybe didn’t need to learn but was schooled in anyway.

I have finished part 4 of the course and all that remains is to reflect on what I have done.

I sensed at the beginning of the course that this part of the course would be challenging and in actually doing this part of the course I proved myself right.

Something changed, I acted strange, why I’ll never know (TM Presley E) my definition of drawing and art and maybe even life was broadened. I completed reading Petherbridge which helped, I suppose now I get to graduate to a 500 page book by Maurice Merleau- Ponty with no pictures in it, that has been glaring malevolently from the bookshelf at me for some time

Is Photoshop and the camera art? As much as I have fought against it the answer is of course yes and it is now my duty to become a Photoshop geek in order that I can take full advantage of it as an artistic tool rather than using it to square up images of my work or de-pixilating it so that they don’t fill the blog too quickly. Leonardo was inventing science in his spare time, who am I to act as a Luddite and deny science’s very existence.

By a circuitous route I discovered printing (Using assignment 2 as a Christmas card, you will have to wait until the publication of the Parallel Project on the collaboration with printers for a fuller description)and also discovered by visiting Rembrandt, Durer, Raphael and Raimondi exhibitions that this was old hat.

I now have a print of Hitler on my wall that causes some my visitor’s discomfiture, until it is put into context and explained that artists also were persecuted for their minds, regardless of their beliefs, religion or ethnic origin. I am not the explainer, I am merely the artist who is beginning to understand the artistic merit of a situation.

God bless those who died at 9/11, in particular the 34 accountants who died at the Pentagon and precluded accounts being provided for the Pentagon in 2001 to 2002, when they had already unaccounted for $2.6 trillion in 2000 to 2001. It surely isn’t necessary for an artist to be political or a judge but then, maybe it is. As an apolitical person I am becoming a political artist and judgemental

There are so many unanswered questions from part 4 but I am glad of my ability to complete it without knowing all the true answers. It has given me serious cause for thought which I hope one day to resolve.

On the plus side I made the dogs of a few drawings, and maybe there it should rest, the marks and shades on a piece of grey paper expressing my outward beliefs, no tears and no heartbreak.

I hope the foregoing wasn’t too heavy, but having written it I am more relaxed, you relax also my darling and don’t worry about your granddad, he is well and more understanding of the world and its wiles.

My love as always

Mickos xx

Dear Cleo 18 01 15

Dear Cleo

It was good to catch up at the weekend, I missed you while I was in America and I am glad you liked the NYPD top I got for you. I have completed assignment 4 this weekend and here it is;


Assignment 4

Since the house next door burnt out there was not a lot of point keeping the front yard tidy because it didn’t make a lot of difference so I left it for a few months to grow a bit weedy, some of the weeds turned to straw, but I was proud of it being a wildlife zone, a natural looking place, as opposed to the carbon and blackness next door. To be honest I got to feeling quite cheery about it, but the year has changed and it is time to tidy the old place up.

I thought about tidying up the yard quite a bit, not because I was putting the job off, mainly because it rained everytime I tried to do it. I thought about it as a reductivism exercise a bit like Rauchenberg erasing a De kooning and that rather than just going out and tidying the yard up in a flurry of activity I could do the job selectively which would achieve a further objective in providing the materials to assemble a colle.

At last a dry Saturday arrived and I set too with a will, but there has been another thing gnawing at my brain recently and that is the death of composition. I have been looking at lots of modern art as part of my research for this course and it suddenly came to me that along with the other things that had been discarded with the rise of modern art, composition had also been a victim. Yes, you can still find the golden section quite easily in Mondrian’s work but after that you start to struggle, technique and the process is all and composition has died.

My front yard is paved with 450 x 450 slabs so I decided that this would be a golden oportunity to reintroduce composition into some contemporary artwork. The golden section is derived from nature and is easy on the eye, I have bought a computerised Phimatrix golden ratio design and analysis software that works really well, but because I am not a computer wizard (geek) I have to supliment it with a lot of long multiplication sums. Armed with my Phimatrix, a mobile phone, a calculator and a sharp trowel I set out to do some selective reductive weeding.

Before I commenced I took these photograph as a record of my process and a measure of my performance.

Figure 1 (18 01 14 01) Golden section based on paving grid, cropped digital photograph

Figure 2 (18 01 14 02) Golden section based on object of interest, cropped digital photograph

I then set to work removing the dead straws from the paving and then re-photographed the result.

Figure 3 (18 01 14 03) Golden section based on paving grid, cropped digital photograph

Figure 4 (18 01 14 04) Golden section based on object of interest, cropped digital photograph

I then removed the dead leaves and rubbish carefully, using a large stiff paint brush leaving only the green weeds and re-photographed the result

Figure 5 (18 01 14 05) Golden section based on paving grid, cropped digital photograph

Figure 6 (18 01 14 06) Golden section based on object of interest, cropped digital photograph

Last of all I removed the green weeds leaving the bare paving slabs with just the ghost of the staining from the weed growth remaining and re-photographed the result

Figure 7 (18 01 14 07) Golden section based on paving grid, cropped digital photograph

Figure 8 (18 01 14 08) Golden section based on object of interest, cropped digital photograph

I couldn’t take the deconstruct any further, short of removing the paving slabs so I stopped deconstructing and with the material I had saved during the deconstruction I created a colle

Figure 9 (18 01 14 09) Weeding the front yard 1, (563.5 x 350 mm) colle recorded by digital photography

Figure 10 (18 01 14 10) Weeding the front yard 2, (563.5 x 350 mm) colle recorded by digital photography

What did I learn?

I remembered from part 1 of the course the composition of Elizabeth Blackadder’s work, which although not classical none the less has merit and I managed to incorporate this into my final piece. I managed to form an echo of Rauschenberg’s reduction of De Kooning’s drawing, however faint, whilst retaining the classical renaissance construct of the golden section. The whole piece is a record of a performance of weeding the front yard in real time. The process of the work is laid bare and a mundane subject has become art.

Whilst this is an online course and photography is no stranger to recording my progress I think this only the second time I have used photography and photoshop in an artistic way. (the first being in my parallel project). My feeling are a little mixed on this and I need to think about it more to fully resolve it in my head.

The final piece is definitely my first colle, colle is a technique invented by Picasso in the cubist years of the early twentieth century. The viewpoint chosen has allowed the subject to appear flat and two dimensional without almost any perspective, the shadows are so close in tone to the straws so as to blend in. Colle and collage have the ability to bring out my inner child and are always fun to do. I have collected quite a bit of material in the course of weeding the garden it is almost a Lego set for making colles of an unkempt path and maybe another two or three would make it into a series.

There is also a touch of Leonardo’s staring at a blank wall (or blank Floor) in the final piece if you invest the time investigating it. I will have a copy printed up life size, not just for assessment but to hang on the wall and contemplate. The real piece no longer exists as it has been deconstructed by Freya the cat, and whilst that loses some of the texture of the piece, the design and the idea of the piece are preserved. Having looked at it for a weekend I find it quite sublime, I hope others will too.

I know it was a lot of reading Cleo but I hope you enjoyed reading it.

My love as always

Mickos xx