Dear Cleo 18 09 17

Dear Cleo

I trust you are still enjoying your summer holiday. It was great to watch Coco with you at the weekend, It was a really good film, and yes I will buy the popcorn next time. I am coming to the end of this part of the course and this is probably the last entry.

Parallel Project Assignment piece

I have done around twenty projects on this course of study so far and I know that a project is not complete without an assignment piece. So I thought long and hard about a suitable assignment piece to complete the Parallel Project.

I had treated the assessment process as an exhibition and had provided a hard copy catalogue to accompany it, but I was concerned that the catalogue is read either before or after an exhibition, and only the pieces in the exhibition make a true impact. If I could make a work that encompassed the whole parallel project, that would be quite something.

I thought long and hard about it and remembered my investigations into Cornelia Parker who used everyday objects in her work similarly to the way Duchamp did but with a subtle twist.

One of the reasons that Cornelia Parker came to mind is that she carried out a collaborative work with her seven year old daughter entitled “World on the edge of tricky small print”. The whole of the Parallel project is based on collaboration and the art of children, which has featured in both the Parallel Project and the Critical review and where is most children’s art displayed? On the fridge Door. There probably isn’t a fridge door in the world that doesn’t record the travels or artistic endeavours of the offspring of its owners.

A fridge door proved problematical due to the practical need for it to be posted so I constructed a facsimile Fridge door that could easier fit in the post.

Collage operates by sticking things to a ground, a fridge door operates as an art object by sticking things to it with magnets. There isn’t a name for this but I think aimantage is suitably French sounding to express the technique. Google has just pointed out that magnage isn’t even a word, I corrected her but I had better start with a definition.

Oxford English Dictionary

Aimantage: noun proper; a term describing a work of art created using an artistic technique invented by Mickos in the early twenty first century. It is essentially the use of magnets to produce an image on a flat metallic surface using elements of collage. The intention was that whilst the component pieces of the work remain constant they may be rearranged at will to suit the sensibilities of the viewer.


Almost every home in the world has an aimantage, it is a work of art constructed on a metallic surface such as a fridge door with the use of magnets. It is tactile and moveable by the viewer to suit his or her aesthetic sensibilities.

The first Aimantage was created by Mickos in 2018 and was entitled “Collaborations with my inner Child”

Figure 1 Collaborations with my Inner Child, Aimantage 60 x 90 cm on sheet steel


The beauty of the work is that it is easily rearranged to suit the sensibilities of the viewer with an infinite number of combinations almost like a Rubik cube.

It is a very tactile piece somewhere between sculpture and painting that allows the full engagement of the viewer in completing the work of art, rearranging it as seems necessary within the constraints given by the artist.

I have made some assembly instructions (Using drawing as instruction, probably the only form of drawing still missing from the coursework) so that the piece can be reassembled in accordance with my original intentions but I would be interested to receive photographs of any alternative arrangements proposed by viewer’s interventions.

Have a good time at Granny C’s and we will catch up when you get back.

My love as always,

Mickos xx

Dear Cleo 18 08 09

Dearest Cleo

It was good to see you in the week, I am glad that you enjoyed your holiday in France and I am looking forward to drinking the bottle of Bordeaux at the weekend. Before then though I get to babysit, so choose the film well, I will bring the popcorn.

I have continued to draw from the casts, I think I have now drawn all the casts in the house. I collected them mostly from the gift shops in the galleries and museums, I am getting quite proficient at drawing them, perhaps someday soon the master will allow me to draw from the model.

Drawing from the cast was part of an artist’s training from the Renaissance to the beginning of the Twentieth Century, there are cast drawings by Vincent in the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam and the Picasso museum in Paris. Casts formed the basis of the Bargue drawing course and all artists with any form of academic training drew from the cast.

Casts seem to be making a bit of a comeback, the newly extended Royal Academy has put some of their casts on display, they are old and careworn, but still magnificent. The academies of realist art produce magnificent cast drawings some of which are used in Nitram charcoal’s advertisements on the internet.

One of the problems with drawing the casts in the house is that rather than being casts from the original, because of size, they are casts from models and you are reliant in the skill of the original modeller and his or her interpretation of the original sculpture.

The drawings that follow are of the casts I have drawn in the house over the last couple of months, having a three dimensional model makes capturing the form relatively easy and of course the models remain perfectly stationary.

Figure 1 The Three Graces, charcoal and chalk, A2 sugar paper

Figure 2 Venus graphite 15 x 40cm cartridge paper

Figure 3 Angel white pastel pencil on black A3 cartridge

Figure 4 Greek Statue charcoal and pastel pencil on A2 grey sugar paper

Figure 5 Athena Charcoal and white pastel pencil on 15 x 40cm sugar paper

Figure 6 Stop Dad, it’s just a sculpture of a Wooden Horse, Charcoal on A2 Watercolour paper NOT

Maybe Athena with a cell phone is just a figment of my imagination or maybe I am beginning to make a small creative leap, however, perhaps the more plausible explanation is that Deus ex machina were time travellers complete with cell phones and teleporters.

I will see you on Friday night and if you don’t choose a good film it is my turn next time and you have to buy the popcorn.

My love as always,

Mickos xx

Dear Cleo 18 07 28

Dear Cleo

I hope the weather in France is better for you than it is here in London, for the past two weeks I never thought I would say that ever again after all the beautiful weather we have been having, but true to English form we have descended into rain and thunderstorms again. Do you think if Brexit goes ahead we won’t get European weather again and we will be left to wallow in our rains and winters?

Parallel Project Collaboration

Girls at the bar has come along a bit, it has haunted me throughout the course and Bryan suggested I added it to my Parallel Project.

This version started with a quick sketch of girls at the bar done in my A6 sketchbook

Figure 1 Girls at the bar ink in A6 sketchbook

I developed the sketch using a lay figure into this.

Figure 2 Girls at the bar charcoal in A2 sugar paper

I then zoomed in a little to get a closer crop.

Figure 3 Girls at the bar charcoal in A2 sugar paper

I switched then to tracing paper to do a more careful drawing.

Figure 4 Girls at the bar charcoal in A2 tracing paper

I then turned the tracing paper the other way around, conscious of the right hand edge I had learned from Elizabeth Blackadder

Figure 5 Girls at the bar charcoal and ink on A2 tracing paper

I then further cropped the composition so that the viewer was closer to the action and allowed the composition to fill the frame. I worked quickly with a Sharpie standing well back from the easel to bring a sense of looseness and vigour back into the drawing now that the proportions had been resolved.

Figure 6 Girls at the bar ink on A2 tracing paper

The final Drawing has a good sense of volume within the shallow picture space.I am pleased with the final result because it brings the image, although developed, back to the sketchbook albeit reversed. It has retained the immediacy of the sketch despite being a developed piece.

I hope you are having fun in France.

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 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 01 01

Dearest Cleo

I hope you are having a good time at Granny C’s and I will catch up with you in the week when you get back. In the mean time I am carrying on with my parallel project.

Parallel Project Collaboration

Collaborating with Cubism

The original cubists, Picasso and Braque, worked by intuition to produce the cubist vision, it is worth noting that around the same time another genius in an unrelated field formulated the theory of relativity and Einstein, like Picasso and Braque, was concerned with the distortion of the space time continuum.

That space is distorted in cubist works is beyond doubt with multiple views of the subject from different viewpoints exacerbating Cézanne’s vision so that space is distorted almost beyond reason. What is not immediately apparent is the time aspect of cubism, the time that the artist spent walking around the subject, changing his viewpoint and selecting from the subject aspects to form a coherent whole. The viewer of the work must invest the time so that they can see the objects depicted in the work defined usually by the title of the work.

It was of vital importance to Picasso and Braque that their work did not tip into the realm of abstraction but remained in the sphere of reality. Braque introduced stencilled numbers and letters into his work for precisely this reason, there is concreteness in numbers and letters, that draws an image back into the realist sphere, for the same reason colle and papier colle reintroduced reality into their somewhat abstract vision, grounding their subjects in the realist sphere. A way in, if you like, for the viewer to invest the time to see how the cubists distorted the single point perspective view to create an alternative space time continuum.

With the above in mind, I embarked on a series of cubist style drawings to investigate the how to of cubism.

Figure 1 (18 01 01 01) Have you read the news today 1, collage and sharpie on A2 sugar paper

My first effort was using a still life set up concentrating on the collage aspect I found the introduction of the collage particularly helpful in organising the composition of the piece and the addition of the mild cubist distortion to the bottle, glass and newspaper has produced an easy on the eye style of cubism beloved of Sunday supplement editors. It also calls to mind the work of Patrick Caulfield, I would not have previously connected Caulfield with cubism but it is surprising who you encounter when you embark on a journey. I was unhappy with the apples, as an apple is round from whichever angle you look, I switched to pears for my next experiment.

Figure 2 (18 01 01 02) Have you read the news today 2, pastel and sharpie on A2 sugar paper

I felt that starting with the collage restricted the freedom of the piece, after all Picasso and Braque did not start to use collage until after 1910, Gris later used collage extensively in his preliminary compositions but the constructive feel was not what I was looking for. The pears were a definite improvement on the apples, the objects are becoming more cubist like but in colouring and high viewpoint it reminds me of a Cezanne which is no bad thing, didn’t Picasso once say “Cezanne is the father of us all”

Figure 3 (18 01 01 03) Have you read the news today 3, collage, pastel and sharpie on A2 sugar paper

By the third attempt I was becoming aware of the need to introduce tonal graduation across the planes to flatten out the image. It is still heavily influenced by Cezanne but there are vast areas of space broken only by the post added collage, a tighter crop is required to get rid of the vast areas of empty space. Picasso and Braque both acknowledged that it is difficult to make cubism work in the corners of the picture plane by using oval frames for their works.

Figure 4 (18 01 01 04) Have you read the news today 4, collage, pastel and sharpie on A2 sugar paper

The objects are becoming more obscure requiring the viewer spending time reassembling them. This time the crop was closer and I spent a lot of time incorporating the table cloth as an object within the group. I like the way it writhes and steps up the picture plane, however the modelling on the apple on the left owes a little too much to Durer’s modelling of planes centuries earlier. I experimented with cropping in Photoshop and felt the below image busier and flatter and constricts the picture plane. I am becoming conscious of the influence of stained glass on cubism, maybe it is because of the flatness of both of the forms, or maybe because of the proliferation of stained glass in Paris and throughout the childhood of Picasso it was indeed a direct influence.

Figure 5 (18 01 01 05) Have you read the news today 4 detail, collage, pastel and sharpie on A2 sugar paper

That the crop works brings forward another problem that I have never seen discussed or reported, it is well known that Picasso received a “classical” art education, how does this or does this not impact on the composition of his cubist work? That is a problem I will have to research later because I am currently avoiding looking at cubist works in order to get an intuitive feel for it.

Figure 6 (18 01 01 06) Have you read the news today 5, collage pastel and sharpie on A2 sugar paper

Figure 7 (18 01 01 07) Have you read the news today 5 detail, collage pastel and sharpie on A2 sugar paper

I was quite pleased with this, the final colour work before deciding that the process may be a whole lot easier without colour.

Figure 8 (18 01 01 08) Have you read the news today 6, pastel and charcoal on A2 sugar paper

Figure 9 (18 01 01 09) Have you read the news today 6 detail, pastel and charcoal on A2 sugar paper

It was easier but gave rise to a further problem. I can see tribal masks and artefacts in it. I am an aficionado of neither, it cubism merely an offshoot of an earlier vision of an African Shaman? Whilst I am sufficiently experienced to examine at sufficient length the problem of composition raised above, I would not know where to start to research this new problem and anyway it would probably take a lifetime or two to establish any plausible link, maybe it is better to accept the conventional wisdom that Picasso was influenced by tribal art and leave it at that, but I do hate an unfully answered question.

Have fun at Granny C’s and we will talk in the week.

My love as always

Mickos xx

Dear Cleo 17 12 31

Dear Cleo

While you were doing maths this morning, I spent time watching Auburn draw on his new drawing machine, I don’t know what it is called, but you can draw on it and then erase the drawing by sliding a button across.

Parallel Project Collaboration

1.2 Drawing with Auburn

Figure 1 (17 11 10 01) Drawing 001 by Auburn progress stylus on drawing machine

Auburn’s attention span is quite short, there are so many things to capture his attention and his developing mind, so it was not so difficult to catch progress shots of his work.

Figure 2 (17 11 10 02) Drawing 001 by Auburn completion stylus on drawing machine

Figure 3 (17 11 10 03) Drawing 002 by Auburn progress stylus on drawing machine

Figure 4 (17 11 10 04) Drawing 002 by Auburn completion stylus on drawing machine

Figure 5 (17 11 10 05) Drawing 003 by Auburn stylus on drawing machine

Figure 6 (17 11 10 06) Drawing 004 by Auburn stylus on drawing machine

Figure 7 (17 11 10 07) Drawing 005 by Auburn stylus on drawing machine

Figure 8 (17 11 10 08) Drawing by Mickos stylus on drawing machine

One thing that struck me was the ephemeral nature of this type of art, you can’t stick a drawing machine to the fridge door, but there was something else as well, I am stopping analysing Auburns art as a psychological measure of his progress but beginning to look at it as Art with a capital A.

Twombly and Picasso for instance created art that resembled childlike drawings, but this was something they had to learn how to do whereas Auburn is a natural. People find the drawings of children delightful, could there be something in them that appeals to our DNA, primitive and childish art was incorporated into 20th century fine art, there could be more to this than meets the eye. It will definitely take more research I will report back when I have considered it some more, so many questions and so few answers

Congratulations on the hundred percent at maths class and I will catch up with you in the week.

Love as always

Mickos xx

Dear Cleo 17 12 19

Dearest Cleo

I hope you are getting excited about Christmas, I am, it’s only a few days away now before the magic begins. In the meantime I am carrying on with my parallel project.

Parallel Project Collaboration

02 Dancing at the easel 

There is a famous photograph taken by Ker-Xavier Rousse of Cezanne at his easel and for all of the world you would swear he was dancing. I have been taking an easel to life class and am beginning to understand this phenomena, the tendency to dance at the easel seems to be a natural human reaction to an easel. There is another famous photograph of Cezanne by Gertrude Osthaust where he is dancing with a chair, maybe that day the easels were all busy, dancing with someone else.

Continuing with the theme of collaboration, when Cleo came round, I gave her my easel to play with along with some pens and some pastels. Having command of the easel, Cleo assumed the role of teacher, which was illuminating but far more important than that, she danced at the easel. Being young she is not so conscious of the camera and was quite natural in her movements.

Figure 1 (17 11 27 01) Cleo dancing at the easel 1 Digital photograph

Figure 2 (17 11 27 02) Cleo dancing at the easel 2 Digital photograph

Figure 3 (17 11 27 03) Cleo dancing at the easel 3 Digital photograph

Figure 4 (17 11 27 04) Cleo dancing at the easel 4 Digital photograph

Figure 5 (17 11 27 05) Cleo dancing at the easel 5 Digital photograph

Figure 6 (17 11 27 06) Cleo dancing at the easel 6 Digital photograph

Figure 7 (17 11 27 07) Cleo dancing at the easel 7 Digital photograph


Figure 8 (17 11 27 08) Cleo dancing at the easel 8 Digital photograph

Figure 9 (17 11 27 09) Cleo dancing at the easel 9 Digital photograph

Figure 10 (17 11 27 10) Cleo dancing at the easel 10 Digital photograph

Figure 11 (17 11 27 11) Cleo dancing at the easel 11 Digital photograph

Figure 12 (17 11 27 12) Cleo dancing at the easel 12 Digital photograph

While all this performance art was going on, some traditional art was produced as a record of the performance.

Figure 13 (17 11 27 13) Perspective pastel on A2 grey sugar paper

I think this is lesson one in perspective from one who could only intuitively know the meaning of the word, the close up flower, the middle distant tree and the far away sun. You can see from the dancing above that the tree came first, the flower pushes the tree into the background by overlapping and chroma and the sun though small asserts its power through colour.

Figure 14 (17 11 27 14) Freya charcoal and pastel on A2 grey sugar paper

I watched this being drawn and was overwhelmed by the single shapes that were drawn, Cleo drew the legs and tail with a single lines encompassing both sides of the contour, it was breathtaking to watch.

Figure 15 (17 11 27 15) Trace of an Artists book Sharpie on A2 grey sugar paper

Cleo made an artist’s book from her third piece, and together we drew around the holes in the page to trace the holes onto a new sheet of A2 Sugar paper

Figure 16 (17 11 27 15) The Boxers Sharpie and pastel on A2 grey sugar paper

A collaboration later in the evening inspired by the earlier work

What did I learn? Lots really, the perspective and linearality of the cave paintings is maybe an inbuilt human trait, needs more experiments and investigation really but it feels like a truth. I learned to have more confidence in my contour drawing, perspective is more relevant to the mind than the eye and dancing at the easel is the future and the past.  These are very big truths to draw from a single observation but are not to be forgotten lest a recurrence should occur.

Thank you darling for your help in my investigations and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Love as always

Mickos xx

Dear Cleo 17 11 27

Dear Cleo

I hope you are well, me, well there is always something new to do at the OCA, today’s new thing is the parallel project, I m not really sure how to deal with this but I think if I Keep going with the head down it may turn into something good.


Parallel Project Collaboration

1.1 Drawing with Auburn

The start point for my Parallel Project is to chart the growth of drawing in human beings from an early age, I am going to collaborate with Auburn and chart his drawing ability. At eighteen month he has only just started to hold a pencil so I think that by charting his progress, I may discover some of the secrets of drawing.

For three months I have collected Auburns drawings and watched Auburn draw. This is the first drawing that he produced during that period.

Figure 1 (17 11 09 01) Drawing 001 by Auburn 25 March 2017 ink on A5 Cartridge

This, the first drawing I collected is particularly impressive, Auburn was new to drawing and seemed keen to impress his adult friend who had trusted him with the pen and a sketchbook. What did he know, not an awful lot. I didn’t interfere being careful not to disturb the tabula rasa that was Auburn except to invert the drawing. What can Auburn see in it? I will never know, he had not yet the vocabulary to explain.

What did I, his collaborator see in it, Joseph and Mary on their way to Nazareth with an embryonic infant Jesus X rayed in the Virgins womb, complete with a shadow of the cross. That is probably the problem with no longer being a child, the tendency to over think things. I also thought it reminded me.

It also reminded me of Head of Germaine Reynal by Juan Gris and it was from Gris that I collaborated with Auburns drawing to produce this.

Figure 2 (17 11 09 02) Star Wars character inspired by Auburn and Gris, ink on A5 Cartridge

As an aside, Juan Gris was the first student of cubism, although Gris was an early cubist, it fell to him to provide rules and explanations that assimilated Picasso and Braque’s intuitive cubism into the continuum of the Western Art Cannon.

Hope you like the drawings of Auburn, Gris and me and I will catch up with you at weekend.

All my love as always

Mickos xx