Dear Cleo 17 06 14

Dearest Cleo

Hope you and your Mum and Dad and Auburn are well, I was up at Nana Betty’s, at the weekend, she was asking after you and promised to visit soon. While I was away my drawing dried almost and I went back into it with the charcoal. It looks like this now.

Figure 1 (17  06 14 01) The impetuosity of Youth, acrylic, oils and charcoal on A3 mixed media paper

I lost the proportions of the central girl in a kind of Ingres way, but apart from that it doesn’t look too bad, the layering scraping business is defiantly a way forward to create better paintings, because by the nature of it, it retains the structure of the drawing with interesting mark making techniques.

I look forward to catching up on Sunday, I guess we will go to Celica’s for lunch to celebrate Fathers day.

Love as always

Mickos x

Dear Cleo 17 06 14

Dearest Cleo

It must be nearly half term for you, I hope you are looking forward to the holidays. I have my swimming kit in the boot of the car, so bring yours with you on Saturday and we will catch a swim.

I found some more scratching the first is an old chopping board I like the idea that the scratching took place over a long time.

Figure 1(17 05 31 01) Knifed, scratch marks on a polyurethane chopping board 250 x 200mm

The second two are not really scratching but they are caused by removing the air from an inflatable bed so the act of removal is present but it is the internal removal rather than an external removal. The only way I can think of replicating this process would be to paint on a Mylar balloon or a zip lock bag let the paint dry and then deflate.

Figure 2(17 05 31 02) Flatbed 1, folds in a deflated airbed 2200 x 1500mm

Figure 3 (17 05 31 03) Flatbed 2, folds in a deflated airbed 2200 x 1500mm

I hung the painting I did yesterday on the wall and I have decided it would look better if I went back into it with charcoal so I did and now it looks like this.

Figure 4 (17 05 31 04) What is he doing with the bread? Last Supper in an Italian Restaurant, Acrylic and charcoal on A3 Mixed media paper

The last step was really pleasurable to do, it was like drawing on a cave wall, art pure and simple, and it was so easy to bring out the forms. It has I think a believable recession and sense of space, my eye is entering from the bottom right corner, swooping down through the arm of the jacket up into the group on the right, following their gaze to see what they are looking at back through the other figures and across the table top and back into the right hand group and round again. There are lots of interesting textural marks to linger over and try to resolve, it is animated and there is just enough detail for you want to construct the remainder of the scene for yourself, I am already imagining the bits that aren’t there from the title.

I was as you can probably tell extremely pleased with the result, so I had another go with oils over acrylics working from the same sketch; this is how far I got before I had to set it aside to dry but although I think I know where I think it is going to go we will both have to wait until the next episode when it is dry enough to work on again.

Figure 5 (17 05 31 05) Acrylic and oil on A3 Mixed media paper

I am looking forward to catching up with you at the weekend and it is Fathers day, so you can buy me a present for working so hard and being such a good boy.

Love as always

Mickos x


Dear Cleo 17 05 31

Dearest Cleo

I hope you are well and enjoyed your camping trip at the weekend.

I have been starting to deal with the scratching out technique, I started by taking photographs of the found pieces around the house, let’s start with the collaboration pieces done by myself and Freya. I did the painting and Freya, quite naturally, as she is a cat, did the scratching bit.

Figure 1 ( Collaboration with Freya 1, emulsion, blown vinyl and scratching on wall approx 100 x 400mm

Figure 2 ( Collaboration with Freya 2 emulsion, blown vinyl and scratching on wall approx 200 x 400mm

Figure 3 ( Collaboration with Freya 3 emulsion, blown vinyl and scratching on wall approx 200 x 400mm

Figure 4 ( Collaboration with Freya 4 emulsion, blown vinyl and scratching on wall approx 150 x 400mm

There are a couple more collaborations with Freya around the house, and there are even a couple of collaborations with Georgina, who was a dog that your mum and Aunty Loz knew well, but the illustrations given are the best examples.

Whilst found examples are admirable, I set to work with this sketch to produce an example of the scratching technique.

Figure 5 (  (SK02.16) ink on A6 cartridge

I worked in acrylics and brushed in a ground colour composed of viridian green and yellow ochre which gave a warm tone which I let dry. I then overlaid this using a palette knife with a cool tone of cerulean blue and titanium buff with lots of slow drying medium which I then scratched through using kitchen roll and the palette knife.

Figure 6 ( Restaurant, Acrylic on A3 mixed media paper

The painting has retained the lively feel of the sketch and is the serious beginnings of a painting, it has a feel of Ad Reinhart that could possibly be developed in the oil layers that would need to go on top.

I think that the experiment went well but it may go better if the second layer was in oils.

I’m looking forward to catching up with you at the weekend.

Love as always


Dear Cleo 17 05 21

Dear Cleo

It was good to catch up with you yesterday, we had so much fun discussing the sheep and I Think I have an answer to the problem. Today I passed by a field with two rams, eighty ewes and eighty lambs, that is a whole lot of sheep, they were all standing on their legs so I was either in England or Austrailia, because I wasn’t upside down either.

I have been researching the work of Angela Eames, I first came across her as a drawing researcher in the book Writing on Drawing cross referencing on the internet I found that she uses the computer and drawing based software in her process.

I watched a bit of a series on the Khan Academy about Pixar and animated computer drawing, the ground breaking trend at the minute seems to be algorithms where somehow you can programme a computer so that it makes its own mind up about what it does next. We don’t need any of that here thanks its hard enough working with this one that I have been taming for several years and still am.

The technique of computer drawing practised by both Eames and Pixar involves nets and meshes which caused me to wonder what Yayoi Kusama knew, that others didn’t, with her Infinity Nets way back in the nineteen sixties. A prototype of this kind of computer drawing was done by Paolo Uccello back in the fifteenth century.

Eames’ drawings are not animated, but use the same technology as Pixar with the meshes to produce a sculptural form on the computer screen which can, of course, be printed out on paper and displayed as conventional artworks in a similar way as CAD architectural and engineering drawings.

I was lucky enough to attend an exhibition in Brentford by The London Group that included four of Eames works two were prints of the front and back of a piece of knitting that had been computer generated and two were the front and back of a piece of chain mail that had been computer generated, all four were about a meter square you can read Eames own descriptions of the pieces here.

One of Eames’ more famous quotes is that “a jumper is a drawing that you wear” because the wool is a line and it is sculpted into a piece of fabric.

Going back to our discussion of yesterday do you think a sheep is a woolly jumper or is a sheep a drawing where the dashes haven’t been joined up.

All my love


Dear Cleo 17 05 09

Dearest Cleo

Just a quick note to tell you that I won’t see at the weekend something has cropped up that will keep me rather busy so we will have to put the swimming off until the weekend after.

I wont bore you with so much writing today because it is the day to update my sketchbook on the blog so more pictures than words today.

Figure 01 (SK01 56) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 02 (SK01 57) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 03 (SK01 58) ink on A5 cartridge

Figure 04 (SK01 59) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 05 (SK01 60) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 06 (SK 61) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 07 (SK01 61) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 08 (SK01 62) ink on A5 cartridge

This was an attempt to get the geometry of the Cantina right for the drawing I am weorking  on

Figure 09 (SK01 63) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 10 (SK01 64) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 11 (SK01 65) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 12 (SK01 66) ink on A5 cartridge

Mickos goes to Newmarket races

Figure 13 (SK01 67) ink on A5 cartridge

Figure 14 (SK01 68) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 15 (SK 69) ink on A5 cartridge

Figure 16 (SK01 70) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 17 (SK01 71) ink on A5 cartridge

Figure 18 (SK01 72) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure (SK01 73)Black chalk and ink on A6 cartridge

Trying out the new black chalk on the Charring Cross Road.

Now darling wasn’t that much easier than all that reading.

Love as always


Dear Cleo

It was good to catch up yesterday, Lunch at Celicias’ is always quite delightful and yesterdays was especially so.

I went on one of my favourite study visits today, the trip to the British Museum Drawing room, I have been before, but it is the trip that never ceases to amaze me. You get to see drawings by absolute masters real close up and see how they were created. Apologies to the masters I copied and in fairness, my copies include a link to the original.

Figure 1 (17 05 09 01) after John Napper, Dried plants 1958

Figure 2 (17 05 09 02) after Jan Van Breughel the elder,

Figure 3 (17 05 09 03) after Paul Signac, Still life with a bowl of fruit 1926

Figure 4 (17 05 09 04) after Frank Auerbach, Study for another tree in Mornington Crescent 2007

Figure 5 (17 05 09 05) after Frank Auerbach, Study for Camden Palace Spring Morning 2000

Figure 6 (17 05 09 06) after Henry Moore, five studies of figures in the underground, and after Boudin, Groups of figures near Planches, Trouville. 1866

Drawing in a Museum or gallery is always problematical even one as  private as the Drawing Room at the British Museum Art as performance kicks in and everybody likes to see a performance, the curious and in the case of galleries and museums the lurking expert. All art is a performance, the only factor is the size of the audience during the performance. Stand on the street corner at Leicester Square and for every portrait drawn there is a crowd of onlookers, only in the studio can an artist have solitude and peace and perhaps the solo performance is the zenith of art, as it is of music think Leonardo and his Giaconda, Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel, no spectators there then, and who could be bothered to watch Vincent perform?

So why the big modern idea of art as performance, “Can you see what it is yet”, it could be the influence of television or the speed of modern life. Even performance art must prepare the costumes or location although it is possible to go with the flow once the performance starts as almost every artist to a greater or lesser degree goes with the flow as he paints or sculpts even in his studio. I think art  as performance is overrated or about ratings, my blog on Word press makes an enormous play of how many views and visitors I have, I don’t really care, I just hope they come to see the  drawings, “Build it and they will come” (Costner), and not the words, the style, the affectations or my histrionics.

Rant over, one of the hard things about drawing in museums and galleries is that for the most part you are working in a different medium than the original work because of the institution’s rules. With drawings, however, copying seems to induce you to make strokes and marks at the same speed as the original because marks have their own tempo, you can’t drive at six miles an hour on a motorway and so you get an understanding of the way the original work was produced and hopefully that in some way feeds back into your own process.

These are the ones I didn’t copy, but probably will from the computer screen or print outs, having seen the originals should hopefully provide further inspiration, in the privacy of my own studio I can work in whatever materials are appropriate.

Figure 7 (17 05 09 07) Vincent La Crau from Montmajour May 1888

Figure 8 (17 05 09 08) Henry Moore, three figures in front of a bombed out building

Figure 9 (17 05 09 09) Barbara Hepworth, St Remy mountains and trees 1, 1933

Figure 10 (17 05 09 10) Thomas Girtin Blackfriars Bridge and St Pauls 1800-1

Figure 11 (17 05 09 11) Gabriel de Saint Aubin, Interior of the artist’s studio 1780

Figure 12 (17 05 09 12) Frans Snyders, Game and fruit

There was one other drawing on show by Margaret Stones for which there is no image on the web but you will get an idea of the style of this drawing from following the link.

All in all, if you are at all interested in drawings, it is a once in a lifetime experience and well worth the effort.

Another good thing about going to the British Museum, is that if you get off at Tottenham Court Road you have to walk past Cornelissen’s which is a pure treat, I bought some red chalk and some black chalk, the black was reconstituted and a little greasy, but with the red I drew this sketch when I got home I think it is the best sketch of Freya I have ever done.

Figure 13 (17 05 09 13) Freya, Red Chalk, graphite and white pastel on A4 cartridge

On the way home I went to see The American Dream pop to present and Howard Hodgkin Absent Friends, but those reviews will have to wait for another day as I am tired now and I am sure that you, my dear, must be exhausted from reading all this. Sleep tight.

Love as always

Mickos x

Dear Cleo 17 05 05

Dear Cleo

I hope you are well and I am looking forward to catching up with you at the weekend. Today I am doing the hard yards with research into M. Borremans, a contemporary Belgian painter.

Michael Borremans

“I try to draw from time to time. But somehow I’m losing interest in it. My sight is getting worse. I never buy paper; I work on found paper that doesn’t look too artistic. I like to work on a piece of paper that has a history that I don’t know.” M. Borremans.

Thinking about Borremans as a creator of art that both creates and denies three dimensions my first thought is of his depiction of the Bunrako puppeteers. In real life the puppeteers have zero dimensionality and are dressed thus so that they melt into the background leaving the puppets to star on the darkened stage. In making them three dimensional figures and the stars of his shows, Borremans induces a strange reality where the priest and the miracle become visible and puppeteer becomes puppet. Borremans says, “Painting is like a stage. Drawing is very different—it doesn’t have the weight of painting. In drawing, you can formulate all kinds of ideas, but in painting there’s a statement. It’s taken more seriously and in a different way. I really wanted to use painting like a stage, like Manet did.”

Figure 1 Black mould The Dance (2015) M. Borremans

In his paintings Borremans invariably has a shallow picture space and he himself said in an interview with Maggie Grey (1)  ‘I tend to leave some canvas visible, either by scraping off paint with a knife, or by using transparent paint, or by leaving some canvas open, I want to make it clear that it’s an illusion.’  This is a way of maintaining the flat two dimensionality of the picture space in what are very three dimensional figures.

Borremans cites Manet, Vermeer and Velasquez as the giants upon whose shoulders he stands and while the connection with Monet are readily apparent in the images of his paintings on the internet I would probably need to see some of his work in the flesh to make the other comparisons.

In his drawings, however, Borremans totally juggles the second and third dimension, the prepatory drawings, which according to Borremans could take up to a year to  complete, have a playfulness that is difficult to describe.

There are two scholarly papers one by Stefan Beys (10) and another by Jennifer Higge (8) describing Borremans process which are well worth reading for their insight into the  painterly process,  but by far the most interesting is the documentary A Knife in the Eye (17) where Borremans discusses his own process.


Well that was quite wordy my dear but I hope you found time to                 watch the video

My love as always

Mickos x