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 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 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 11

Dearest Cleo

It is time for you to relax and sit down and read a modern day fairytale.

Parallel Project Collaboration with the MoMA

The Fairytale of New York


Figure 1 (18 10 01 01) Greenberg contradictions 01, Tempera, Acrylic and black enamel paint on A3 canvas

Once upon a time Mickos was doing mundane research on the internet when all of a sudden he came across a Coursera that was run by MoMA. The Coursera involved studying and researching the methods and techniques of the abstract expressionists. Having recently seen the exhibition of the Abstract Impressionists at the Royal Academy, this was of course a subject dear to Mickos’ heart.

Mickos counted his beans, decided he had more than enough and sent some to the good people at MoMA to allow him to study the course.

The course was hard split into weekly units that involved reading, answering questions and doing a painting each week in the style of several abstract expressionist artists. Mickos stuck with it and at the end of the course Mickos was awarded a certificate for all his hard work.

Figure 2 (18 10 01 02) Certificate from MoMA course

Mickos was proud of his certificate but was just as proud of the works he had produced for the course. Around six months later, when MoMA issued a call for submissions for an exhibition Mickos chose the work he thought the best and submitted it by email. In mid December 2017 Mickos was thrilled to learn that his submission had been accepted for exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and that he was invited to the opening reception of the exhibition on the 8th of January 2018.

Mickos looked on the internet quickly and found that tickets to New York were £1800 each and he was sad, but then he remembered that his daughter Loz was an internet wizard. He phoned her and left the problem in her very capable hands.

Some days later Loz rang back to say she had sorted the trip out for both of them for £1200 this pleased Mickos immensely, especially so, because he wasn’t going to be home alone in New York.

The Christmas Holiday intervened which was lucky because a flurry of activity was needed, buying and reading of guidebooks, finding the cold weather clothing, it was after all, going to be minus fourteen in New York, this worried Mickos somewhat but he reasoned that the bars, hotels and the MoMA would be warm.

The weather intervened to close JFK and Mickos and Loz eventually arrived in New York a day late, but in plenty of time for the opening of the Exhibition on the eighth of January.

Mickos and Loz did tourist New York for three days before attending the opening, they were overwhelmed by the 9/11 Museum, delighted by the Met, uplifted by the Empire State and Top of the Rock and cold in Central Park and Times Square. While they were dressing for the opening, Mickos confessed to having butterflies in his stomach, something he hadn’t felt since playing Rugby League as a young man.

A big Yellow Taxi delivered them to the MoMA, where MoMA provided wine, nibbles and speeches to oil the proceedings, Mickos was pleased to meet fellow artists from around the world and discuss art and their practices with them.

If you aren’t too busy and find yourself at a loose end in New York, the exhibition runs until the twenty fifth of January, and as an added bonus, for the same entry fee you can see the “Demoiselles d’Avignon” by Picasso, “Starry Night” by Vincent and a host of other modern masterpieces too numerous to mention, five floors above “Greenberg Contradictions 1”, Mickos is on the low floor, of course, to catch the passing trade.

Despite accepting the accolades of the New York Art World, Mickos was quite busy in New York, after all it is the city that never sleeps, the following sketches were done in New York and the collage was completed shortly after Mickos’ return with material collected during the brief trip. The digital photograph was of course inspired by Cecil Beaton’s work for Vogue in 1951

Figure 3 (18 10 01 03) NYNY sketchbook 01 ink on A6 cartridge

 Figure 4 (18 10 01 04) NYNY sketchbook 02 ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 5 (18 10 01 05) NYNY sketchbook 03 ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 06 (18 10 01 06) NYNY sketchbook 04 ink on A5 cartridge


Figure 07 (18 10 01 06) NYNY sketchbook 05 ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 08 (18 10 01 08) NYNY sketchbook 06 ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 09 (18 10 01 09) NYNY sketchbook 07 ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 10 (18 10 01 10) NYNY sketchbook 08 ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 11 (18 10 01 11) NYNY sketchbook 09 ink on A6 cartridge


Figure 12 (18 10 01 12) Ticket tape NYNY, collage on A3 cartridge

Figure 13 (18 01 11 13) Hair by Victoria Price, shirt by M&S, suit by Florence and Fred, shoes by Clarke’s, painting(detail) by Mickos, wine and museum space by MoMA New York, Digital image.

We didn’t get to the happy ever after bit yet but I am sure, after this experience, that it is not far away. Oh and by the way, if you meet anyone that wants to buy a painting that has been exhibited in MoMa by a living artist be sure and give me a call.

My love as always

Mickos xx