Dear Cleo 18 07 10

Dearest Cleo

What is it with this weather it thinks it’s 1976, when in reality we all think and hope that it is 1966. This is the story behind the Fairytale of New York, behind every good fairytale, somewhere there is hard work and effort. Now six months later after the euphoria has gone I remember the hard work that was invested into the fairytale.

Parallel Project Collaboration with the MoMA

The Fairytale of New York

The painting that went to New York was one of a series of eight, here are the paintings and drawings that didn’t even make my cut.

Figure 1 After Barnet Newman Acrylic on A3 canvas

Figure 2 After Yayoi Kusama Acrylic on A3 canvas

Figure 3 After Ad Reinhardt oil on 350 x 350 canvas

Figure 4 After Wilhelm De Kooning pastel on A3 tracing paper

Figure 5 After Agnes Martin pencil and acrylic on 360 x 350 canvas

Figure 6 After Mark Rothko acrylic on A3 canvas

Figure 7 After Wilhelm de Kooning acrylic on A3 canvas

Not only that, here is a link the research syllabus for the course.

That was the hard work before I even thought of entering my painting for exhibition, but having been successful with my entry, I realised that there was no point resting on my laurels. In the last six months I have built, with help from Frank, Mario and Loz, a website and an Instagram account, more work and continuing.

Is the hard work worth it? Yes and yes again, more people have seen my work than ever saw Vincent’s while he was still alive, and although art, like football, is not about money, (football keeps knocking on the door this week not for money but because it thinks it lives here) it is beginning to pay for a few books and has given me a free ride on my next course.

Maybe with much much more work I will get to be good, and you my dear, after I am gone, will be a rich young lady, me I don’t care, I am just happy to know that people that I don’t know like my paintings and drawings.

I have a mountain to climb for no other reason than it is there.

My love as always

Mickos xx



Dear Cleo 18 07 09

Dear Cleo

Today is, I think, the start of your last week at school so when I see you next weekend it will be the first day of your holidays, how busy next weekend is, will  depend on the result in Russia on Wednesday so we will postpone our weekend away until later in your holiday. Last night I dreamed of the alien queen she wasn’t that scary and the explanation is below.

Parallel Project Collaboration

03 Der der der der der

The things that are in our heads need to see the light of day so that we can share our unique visions with others. Some things are buried deep within our heads and surface only within our dreams and nightmares, the Alien Queen is one of mine. She can be tempted to the surface with strong cheese before bed but brings with her a restless night.

Dreams and nightmares have played a big part in the history of art, one only has to look at the work of Goya, Redon and the Surrealists to see this. In a different way, however, all the great religious paintings of the past are products of artists imaginations brought to life. Their imaginations were helped by careful observations of the natural world as a tool to bring their visions to believable creations in much the same way that Hollywood has created the aliens from Star Wars.

While I did have a vision of the Alien Queen in my head she didn’t really look like how she has turned out. I began by forming the grid using some black quilling paper that I found in the art shop, then drew into the grid using Sharpie and pastels increasing and adapting the grid as necessary as I went.  

Figure 1 A dream of the Alien Queen collage, pastel and sharpie on A2 sugar paper.

Don’t be afraid of her and just in case, don’t eat strong Cheese before bed.

My love as always

Mickos xx

Dear Cleo 18 07 08

Dearest Cleo

It was good to catch up this morning, even if things were a little bit rushed I hope you had a good time at your school fete and that it wasn’t too hot. England played probably the best they have played in the tournament so far, so something might be coming home, but I remain to be convinced that it is football.

Parallel Project Collaboration

1.1 Drawing with Auburn

Being Auburn’s curator is all very well but in order to collaborate I need to create, Auburns drawings are totally linear, this is an element that must be accentuated in any work I do that is inspired by the drawings of Auburn. I started by pinning a selection of Auburns drawings to the wall and out of these I chose this one:

Figure 1 Sharpie on A5 Cartridge by Auburn

I studied the drawing some more, photographed it and cropped it in Photoshop leaving the part I felt most attracted to, I printed two copies of this one that I pinned to the wall and one that I folded into four and kept in the back pocket of my jeans.

Figure 2 Digital photograph crop

I didn’t do anything then for two or three days except look at the drawing when I had the chance. I followed the marks Auburn had made and as best as I could the directions in which he had made them. Memorising and internalising the process and way in which Auburn draws. With the sharpie in my clenched fist I practiced the energy that Auburn instils in his mark making and then I drew this:

Figure 3 Apple still life, Sharpie and charcoal on A2 sugar paper

For me the underlying drawing gives it a lot of strength and energy and it retains a sense of the cheeky monkey that Auburn is. I had another go working from this drawing by Auburn.

Figure 4 Sharpie on A5 Cartridge by Auburn

My first attempt produced this;

Figure 5 Sharpie on A2 sugar paper

Although I have superimposed an invented still life on top of Auburns marks, the drawing still retains a sense of urgency from his marks and accentuating the linear qualities of Auburns mark making adds strength to the drawing. I placed a sheet of tracing paper over the drawing traced through the linear marks and produced this;

Figure 6 Still life with dancer Sharpie and pastels on A2 sugar paper

The linearality and the strength of composition derived from Auburn’s original drawing remains strong in the final piece. The tracing paper and pastels are a nod to Degas’ process, the dancer reminds me a little of Matisse, and I think, like Picasso, I am learning to draw like a child.

The exercises in the course have helped, bringing a piece of work from music or pixilation or improving on the random works of Butada, my drawing machine. Overall though I think that one of the best things the course has done is to give me the confidence to draw from my imagination and memory, which is of course another childlike ability.

It is good that you have now seen The Greatest Showman it is an old style Hollywood film but not nearly as good as the real old style Hollywood films. The next time I babysit we will watch The Greatest Show on Earth with popcorn, that really is a film.

My love as always


Dear Cleo


Dearest Cleo

It was good to catch up on Saturday morning the ice cream was excellent and we are slowly teaching Auburn to eat ice cream and walk at the same time, it is a very important Life lesson to learn but it is such fun watching his attempts to master the technique.

After I dropped you and Auburn off I went to the Ben Uri Museum to look at their current Bomberg exhibition I carried out some research on Frank Auerbach for the fifth part of the course and Bomberg was one of Auerbach’s Tutors so I was interested to examine the connection. I was not disappointed Bomberg’s late works were similar in style to Auerbach’s and both echo Bomberg’s mantra “to respect the spirit of the mass” One of Bomberg’s tutors was Sickert and it is easy to see this connection looking at Bomberg’s work.

The poster work for the exhibition features a magnificent self-portrait that is probably a meter and a half square and is but my favorite was a portrait of Bomberg’s wife Lillian entitled The Red Hat. The layering of the oil paint in this is truly magnificent.

If you like the paintings in the links I could take you to see them, it isnt far from your house.

My love as always

Mickos xx

Dear Cleo 18 06 24

Dearest Cleo

Last weekend I went to see The Life in Motion exhibition at Tate Liverpool, it was a joint exhibition of the work of Egon Schiele and the photographer Francesca Woodman.

I had seen Schiele’s work previously in the Courtauld exhibition The Radical Nude in 2014 and did not need much persuading to go and see his work again. I was curious however as to why he was paired with an American Photographer of the 1970’s.

The link, from reading the catalogue, appears to be Woodman’s ability to portray the emotional state of the subjects and Schiele’s ability to depict the emotional tension in contorted human bodies.

I am used to going to galleries to concentrate on the images on display and not the story and emotions behind the images, and concentrating on this aspect of the exhibition was unusual but recalled part 3 of the Drawing 2 course where I was asked to consider how my emotional state affected my process of working. I have thought about this since, and I think I have decided that the work takes precedence over my emotions, if the work is not good in the first place there will be no one interested in considering the emotions of the artist or his ability to display the emotions of his subject or his emotional reaction to the subject. It is an occupation of the chattering classes to discuss how insane Van Gogh was as he produced each of his great works.

All that having been said the works on display are superb my favourite Scheile was Self portrait in a crouching position the hatching on the legs is reminiscent of a similar technique employed by Cezanne, the intention of which seems to suggest movement.

I was new to Woodman but fell in love with Untitled Rome Italy 1977-8  and I liked her use of delayed exposures to give a sense of movement and synthesising the body with the architecture .

Once I had seen the exhibition, there were two further exhibitions that I looked at, the first was Roy Lichtenstein in Focus. They have just invented a way of cleaning Lichtenstein’s pictures and there was a video presentation of the technique and one of the gallery staff was giving a talk on Lichtenstein’s process.

In the ground floor exhibition space Ken’s show Exploring the Unseen was a celebration of one of the gallery handler’s Ken having worked at the gallery for 30 years. It was an exhibition that was landscape based and included major works from the Tate collection.

By far the highlight of the gallery is its permanent collection. This is laid out on a constellation basis and covers approximately half of the gallery space. The constellation basis is probably best explained on the Tate Liverpool website here. The interactive website, like the real life gallery, traces the links between modern and contemporary art and artists. The website is a great tool and for a change, women artists are well represented, but like all of the internet it is built for surfing, you have to be there in the gallery to really appreciate the artwork on show.

Following our tour of the galleries, we convened in the coffee bar to discuss our impressions of the Life in motion exhibition and the gallery as a whole and to talk of other things including course related issues.

Thanks to Bryan, Catherine, Bernadette, Kym, Roselyne and Karin for a great and educational day out.

On the train home I read Bomberg in preparation for an exhibition I am going to see next weekend at the Ben Uri Gallery in London. I hope to catch up with you before then.

My love as always

Mickos xx

Dear Cleo 18 06 23

Dearest Cleo

I am glad that you liked the Panda and the DVD but more importantly congratulations on being seven and a half, you are getting to be a big girl now and clever as well.

Parallel Project Collaboration

1.2 Drawing with Auburn

Today while you were at maths class I gave Auburn my A5 sketchbook and sharpie, he gleefully produced the following while stopping on the second drawing to get mummy to draw an owl, a train, a bird and an umbrella. Drawing is a game to Auburn, and he wants everyone to play, but is it art? Picasso said “Every child is an artist, the problem is to remain an artist once they grow up”.

Eric Ericson a child development psychologist said much the same thing but in more words “You see a child play, and it is so close to seeing an artist paint, for in play a child says things without uttering a word. You can see how he solves his problems. You can also see what’s wrong. Young children, especially, have enormous creativity, and whatever’s in them rises to the surface in free play.”

Figure 1 Sharpie on A5 Cartridge by Auburn

Figure 2 Sharpie on A5 Cartridge by Auburn

Figure 3 verso Sharpie on A5 Cartridge by Auburn

Figure 4 Sharpie on A5 Cartridge by Auburn

If it is art, I should be able to write about it as art, so considering figure 4;

The work is full of energy and the strong diagonals lead the eye through the work and give it a sense of depth, whilst the work as a whole retains and respects the flatness of the picture plane. The work extends beyond the picture plane at both the left and right hand edges, so that the viewer is aware that the work is a part of something much larger, this cropping technique was much practised by the Impressionists.

The varied marks are extremely fluid and the planes formed by the linear marks, some of which are not completely enclosed allowing the planes to breathe, are irregular and non repetitive adding to the movement within the work.

The work ignores the classical compositional guidelines and instead introduces a sense of tension in the conflict between the two closed and one open form in the upper right that is somewhat unnerving.

If you read that on the gallery wall you would think that you were looking at the work of the great artist, Auburn Roughton Whyte, maybe Picasso was right and every child is an artist.

Once again Happy Half Day

My love as always

Mickos xx

Dear Cleo 18 06 19

Dearest Cleo

Well I suppose first and foremost congraulations are in order on the imminent arrival of your new brother or sister, I know it will be a while yet but it is nice to have something good to look forward to. Me , I have almost ended my labours on this part of the course and am just filling in the bit I was not enthused with first time around, so here goes;

Reflection on time spent by the viewer and how it relates to what you do as an artist.

In the Modern era with the constant surge of images that bombard our vision and the speed of modern life it is difficult for a viewer to invest time in a particular work.

In past times when images were much rarer in comparison they were used as devotional aids and were placed in contemplational places such as cathedrals and churches and monasteries where time naturally moves as a slower pace. Still today such places maintain a reverential timeless quality and it is much more fulfilling to view an altar piece in its natural setting than in a gallery, it seems to gain something from the leisurely pace of the atmosphere of the building. I have particularly enjoyed my trips to Venice and Florence in this regard and would recommend rising early avoiding the more crowded parts of the day.

The gallery is a different kettle of fish, the blockbuster exhibitions with their timed entry and exits are not conducive to spending time contemplation the work on show. I deal with this in several ways, before visiting I have a copy of the exhibition catalogue delivered by Amazon. With a little pre-study you save the time spent reading the walls of the museum and can concentrate more on the artwork. Another excellent strategy I have found is to become a member of the gallery. Living close to London this works well for me as I can visit at off peak times or make several trips to the same exhibition spending more time in front of what I find most interesting. The one thing that that never ceases to amaze me is that you can be standing in a room with untold millions of pounds worth of images on the walls and the one that gets the most attention is the stencilled words by the door that was done by a painter and decorator.

I find that because the galleries are quite local, a better way to deal with them is to browse their permanent collection and just wander and stop as you will in time you will get to know more artworks intimately and if you need to read, read a book or the internet not walls.

Another thing about time and the viewer is that no viewer ever spends as long as the artist looking at a work so an artist needs to distil all his looking into a wham factor that can impress in 45 seconds, the average viewing time of a work of art.

A further factor in the viewer spending time looking at a work of art is the commission. In olden times most artworks were commissioned and thus the commissioner would hang the piece in his home or chapel where he could grow accustomed to it over a number of years. Artists began painting what took their fancy around the time of Turner or Constable and about this time it became possible to buy viewing time with money but this of course gave rise to the artist as superstar. Once you are established as a star people will hang all sorts of your rubbish on their wall just for your name’s sake.

In my limited experience of selling paintings, people buy a painting because they are interested in the subject so a tiger which you could knock off in a day is worth more to a tiger lover who will look at it more often over the years than you masterwork next to it that took over year to complete and that you are still enjoying.

If someone feels the need to hang one of my works on their wall, I am pleased but I realise my influence is limited in determining the amount of time any specific viewer invests in my work. I enjoy the time spent doing, the process, the viewing of the record of the process and the length of that viewing is the prerogative of others over which I have little influence. However, if someone takes the time to like or comment on one of my works on the internet, I tend to be proud and think that the viewing lasted longer than a click and a millisecond.

When I see you at the weekend I want to talk to you a bit about knitting, I never knitted any thing for you or Auburn so maybe this is my chance to make good.

My love as allways

Mickos xx