Dear Cleo 17 08 19

Dear Cleo

How are you today? I Hear that you are going to Dorset to see Granny C next week, I hope the weather stays fine for you and that you have a good time when you go.

I was quite busy today, I completed exercise 3 by seeking inspiration from the last of Butada’s drawings.

Figure 1 (17 08 19 01) Butada III.I Miranda and the singing fishes, Sharpie on A4 photocopy paper

Figure 2 (17 08 19 02) Butada III.II Stranger go tell the Spartans, Sharpie on A4 photocopy paper

Figure 3 (17 08 19 03) Butada III.III Madonna with the cat, Sharpie on A4 photocopy paper

Figure 4 (17 08 19 04) Butada III.IV Dance of the Tuesday Moon, Sharpie on A4 photocopy paper

Figure 5 (17 08 19 05) Butada III.V I really tried to please her, Sharpie on A4 photocopy paper

Figure 6 (17 08 19 06) After Butada, Dance of the Tuesday Moon, Conte crayon on A3 sugar paper


This is not something I would normally do but as Butada suggested the design and the composition I went with the flow. It reminded me of a Matisse so I decided to use bright colours. I deliberately didn’t refresh my memory of La Danse until I was finished and was surprised to find how blue Matisse’s was.

I was quite pleased with the figures without access to a model, I think it may have been easier at A2 with the chalks. I think the mark making is pretty varied, the marks on the male figure is the result of a bit of frottage on a drawing board that had become thick with fixative spray.

It is bright and happy even if the dancers are a little stiff and I like the negative shapes made by the limbs and the horizon.  I think with a little more sketching and models it would make a good painting.

Have a good time in Dorset and I will see you when you get back.

All my love

Mickos xx


Dear Bryan 17 08 07

Dear Bryan

It was good to speak to you yesterday following my the completion of the second part of the course, you like me, gave me the break for the tough time that I have been through, but just like you, I was a bit shocked how few drawings were in the portfolio, the sketchbooks though were full to bursting, and quantity wise were enough to save the day.

This is the second submission that has been made digitally, the next submission needs to be an analogue one so I  will avoid the use of pastels and chalks, so that this may be so and the works submitted will stand up to the rigours of the post office.

You suggested that perhaps more thumbnails would be helpful or more in progress views on the blog or even manipulating the photographs in photo shop. I think that I will need to revise my working process process to illustrate my thinking, and on reflection I did this much better in part 1. My current process is to go into deep thinking mode that may last as long as 2 weeks before putting pencil to paper in a flurry of activity to solve the problem posed. During the two weeks I do sketches that are mainly totally unrelated to the problem at hand, almost as a distraction from the problem at hand and although I am resolving the problem quite well, I am not providing the overflow around the problem, in that solving the problem is enough to do the course, but not allowing the voice to emerge and free flow around the course,

You were pleased with the final drawing in project 1 and how the mark making had developed and grown more confident and expressive over the course of the project. Whilst I was pleased with your comments, I was less than happy with the end result because it still had the sense of tightness from which I am trying to escape.

The first exercise in project 2 was inspired by Renaissance drawings which often combined pen and in the same the two media, now that you pointed it out, it would have been better not to use the pen as a shading tool.  The most important part of project 2 was that it all grew out of my sketchbook work, I have been struggling to incorporate my sketch book work, it was beginning to feel like a separate part of the course but now it is all coming together. I really liked the idea of “less is more” and your praise for the background figures in Girls at the bar 1. I am experimenting with space in particular how the lack of detail draws attention to the distance and the mark making techniques. The second part of the project with the scratching was again from the sketchbook and has retained the liveliness of the original sketches, you thought they were a good starting point for a full painting but I prefer them as they are.

We discussed at great length the subject of collaboration with reference to me and Freya the cat and me and Auburn in the parallel project and we talked about unwitting collaboration of the cat and Auburn and the pool players in the assignment piece, and how this was an avenue that I could develop and take further, and remember how, as the director of the unwitting collaborator, I am the author of the final piece. I am ,however, conscious of our own collaboration in this and was surprised to find that I referred obliquely to it in the first paragraph of my previous letter to you.

I have quite a collection of Auburns drawings now for the parallel project but I am struggling to find a theme to string them together, I will think hard about the unwitting collaboration aspect and get back to you on this.

You were quite critical of my essay on Cornelia Parker in that it could be off putting to an assessor who was a fan. For my own part I thought that the essay was a positive criticism of Cornelia’s intentions with the 2010 pieces, but I will drop the cheap Alsatian quotes from academic essays. What annoyed me more than anything was that there are several pieces with the title Poison and Antidote 2010.

The Dear Cleo thing seems to be settling down for both of us but I think this may in part be as a result of Cleo’s more witting collaboration, in that she is now an avid  follower of the blog.

I was really disappointed that through my stupidity in labelling the blog that we didn’t get to discuss in full the assignment piece, as I felt it was my sine qua non of my creativity to date, never before have I let such a raw piece out of the stable, I love the way the balls hover over the trajectory marks and the net like feeling of the whole piece.

Going forward I need to expand my refection to established contemporary artists and compare my drawings to those and I need to explore further the tension between the subject and the background.

All the best


Dear Cleo 17 07 03

Dear Cleo

I missed you this morning, you were still asleep when I called to drive Auburn to his Nana’s, no problem, I will catch up with you at the weekend. I have finished part 2 of the course and this is how I think it went.

Demonstration of visual and technical skills

Again Mickos has used a wide range of materials, his visual skills are increasing and it was good to see the development of his sketches into fully worked pieces and great that he managed to retain the immediacy of his sketches in the worked up pieces. He needs to concentrate more on transferring his memories allied with his sketches to make believable three dimensional spaces and figures perhaps using models to fill in the gaps in his memory. Over this part of the course he has loosened up in his final pieces, striving less for realism and more for atmosphere. The portrait piece was a little tight, which is only to be accepted when striving to achieve a likeness, but there was still an exciting range of mark making techniques in the piece. He is starting to master the techniques of Charcoal and chalk and it is about time he begins to try ink to see if he can carry his developing expressiveness across into this medium. He has not forgotten the compositional skills he learned at part1 but maybe the assignment piece could have benefitted from the edge on the pool table I suspect the mount to perform this function. (30%)

Quality of outcome

Mickos is growing into the Dear Cleo format of his blog which remains easy to navigate and well written. There is also signs of discernment beginning to appear I think this may be due to Mickos being less afraid to show his thinking process and his faltering steps that add depth to the final resolution. He is beginning to feel original in his work and is slowly developing a voice that whilst still firmly based on a continuum is worthy but still needs more exercise in a Karaoke forum to help it develop. (11%)

Demonstration of creativity

I am pleased with the creativity that Mickos has shown in the assignment piece, he has shown that he fully understands the creativity of Cornelia Parker and has transferred it to his own work with ease, showing that he understands many of the concepts of what a drawing is or can be. There is a slight experimentation with collage in the assignment that I feel needs to be fostered and allowed to bloom to bring on Mickos’ efforts going forward. I was a little disappointed in the quantity of his work for this part of the course but I have a distinct feeling this is a temporary blip (12%)


Mickos’ reading of twentieth century texts is increasing his ability to follow the progression of art history into contemporary art, he appears to be taking his time with this, which in the long term can only be beneficial and deepen his understanding. Mickos has gone through a tough few months but he has harnessed his emotions and is beginning to release them in his artwork. His new found interest in the futility of politics will hopefully bear fruit in the future.(12%)




Mickos’ overall score is well down at 65% on his previous best of 81% and apart from the distraction he has been through, I tend to feel he is laying solid foundations for the course going forward. With more regular practice and maybe slightly less theory he may realise the promise he is beginning to show.

Well Cleo, Mickos has overcome the trials and tribulations of part two of the course by the skin of his teeth, but I am back on the horse now, and relishing the challenge again.

My love as always,

Mickos xx

Dear Cleo 17 07 02

Dearest Cleo

How are you, I have a surprise for you at the weekend to make up for me missing your quarter day, I am sorry I missed it, but things have been a little hectic lately, but I am sure the surprise will make up for my missing it.

Assignment 2

Well although this is the day 1 post for assignment 2, it is not the day one of thinking about it nor even the day 1 of doing it, but it is the day 1 of writing about it. After much thinking I decided the subject would be pool and the drawing would be done with my pool cue. I taped a piece of XL charcoal to the end of my pool cue and drew this;

Figure 1 (17 07 03 01) Pool 1 XL charcoal on A2 grey sugar paper

The drawing bit was not so hard as I thought it would be, I am quite used to the balance of my pool cue and as an aerobic exercise I often do Jedi training with my light sabre so I am a bit used to the cut and thrust of a weapon and I was able to brandish the pool cue with ease, even if it was a little longer than my light sabre.

For my second attempt I zoomed out and got the whole pool table in;

Figure 2 (17 07 03 02) Pool 2 XL charcoal on A2 newspaper

I had included some of the tracks of the balls in this attempt and I decided that this introduced a bit of movement so I tried again to depict the energy of making the break at pool;

Figure 3 (17 07 03 03) Pool 4 XL charcoal on A2 grey sugar paper

Over lunch I decided that it would be better if I could depict a whole pool match in my work. I opened a bottle of Chardonnay, found a suitable pool match on YouTube and proceeded to watch it several times in slow motion so that i could watch the movements of the balls and plot them with a set of ten different coloured Inktense pencils onto a sheet of graph paper. Mapping the break was the hardest, after that it became easier

Figure 4 (17 07 03 04) Inktense pencils on A3 graph paper

I was on more familiar territory now I had a sketch to work with and a modicum of experience with my tools and was able to produce this;

Figure 5 (17 07 03 05) For those of you watching in charcoal and chalk, the green is behind the blue XL charcoal and chalk on A2 grey sugar paper

The final piece works well on several levels, firstly it works as a diagram of a game of pool, secondly it records the passage of time while the game was taking place, thirdly it performs as a history painting recording a great event in the world of pool, fourthly it works as a map, fifthly it has a definate sense of movent to it for the eye to discern and follow a sequence and finally it was drawn with a pool cue and chalk to intensify the feel of the piece, using the materials of the piece to draw with.

I hope you like my drawings and I will see you at the weekend.

My love as always

Mickos xx

Dear Cleo 17 07 02

Dearest Cleo

I hope you are well, I was sorry to hear that you had had a virus in the week and had missed a day at school but you looked fine yesterday so hopefully you are now back to your best.

The unseen university have asked that I hold on to someone I love through an object that reminds me of them, I have chosen your Great Granddad Jimmy. I kept the, I don’t know what they call them, but it’s the booklet that they give you so you can sing along with the hymns, when you go to a funeral, and the last thing he gave me, a bottle of Tullamore Dew.

I drew a portrait of him in charcoal from a photograph taken about a year ago and this is it.

Figure 1 My old Fella, Charcoal on A3 Watercolour paper

He has been sitting on the wall for a week or two now and his smile seems to me to get a little bit brighter when I play music, especially Irish music.

They say it is an ill wind that blows no one any good, and when I think about it now, it has put me more in touch with my emotions; my Dad would have liked that, that he could teach even the smart one things.

The tears are drying slowly but the expressiveness will remain with me forever.

Don’t fret for me girl, you seen me yesterday, so you know I am back on the horse, but occasionally I think of the part of me that died when I am alone and it feels happier with each passing day.

All my love

Mickos xxx

Dear Cleo 17 06 26

Dearest Cleo

I hope you are well it was good to catch up at the weekend and I hope you are enjoying the book I got you, I hope you will let me read it when you have finished it. Me? I have just fished reading the book I was reading on Cornelia Parker so I will try to tell you a bit about her.

Cornelia Parker

I am charged with giving my opinion on a drawing entitled Poison and Antidote drawing (2010).

Figure 1 (17 06 36 01) Poison and antidote drawing (2010) Cornelia Parker

Figure 2 (17 06 36 02) Poison and antidote drawing (2010) Cornelia Parker

These are the two drawings that are easily available on the internet both look like lungs, I suspect there are others with exactly the same title. These two are reminiscent of lungs. Cornelia seems to have a fixation for breathing with her squashed musical instruments in Breathless and the loss of breath would accompany rattlesnake venom poisoning.

Cornelia has been making Poison and Antidote drawings since at least 1996 and maybe still does. I sense she may only return to the series when she is in need of a few new pieces for her latest exhibition for surely the original joke must be wearing thin by now, unless she has other reasons to return to what has proved to be fertile ground

I can understand the basic concept relies on opposites of the black and the white, texture and smoothness, a sort of yin and yang, good and evil relationship, and even the allusion to danger and poison pen letters introduces by the use of ink in her process, these facts are almost a given.

Parker is prone to repetition but with subtle variations in the theme as can be seen in the various reincarnations of Thirty Pieces of Silver as Thirty Pieces of Silver Exhaled, Thirty Pieces of Slver (with reflection),Alter egos Still life with Reflections and Rorschach. Similarly Cold Dark Matter, Mass (Colder Darker Matter) and Anti Mass all of which are destroyed buildings The flattened musical instruments that have made at least two appearances as Breathless and Perpetual Cannon, It goes as far back as her early works with lead models of miniature cities but with each new reincarnation comes a new Slant on the original context, and a new title to explain the reincarnation. The Poison and Antidote drawings have never changed their title except once, when the two became one.

The two drawings in the British Museum are an early incarnation and the poison and the antidote are on two separate distinct drawings, only the black poison drawing is a Rorschach blot, the antidote drawing is an uncontrolled abstract piece, they are noted as a pair and said to represent Hitler and Freud. As a further difference the back venom of death is combined with silky smooth ink whereas the white antidote is combined with correction fluid to give it texture.

Later the Poison and Antidote are combined in the same Rorschach blot, maybe she saw the video on YouTube about Hitler being kind to his Alsatians or read a damming text about Freud and made the connection that good and evil are not nearly as far apart as we would like to imagine.

By 2010 it would appear that the poisoned ink went on first and the antidote correcting fluid was administered to return the paper to its pristine state, just as would happen in the real life snake bite situation. What was she trying to do, who knows but Parker herself, but I would wager her thoughts being far away from Hitler, Freud and Alsatians. I just had a horrible thought that it could be rude to call a German Sheppard an Alsatian.

With regard to the fact that Cornelia uses bits of her subject in her works, well yes and no, when did you last call your shed Cold Dark Matter or your church Mass or Anti Mass. You only know that it is a shed or a church because Cornelia tells you it is. They could just as well have been called A pleasant Arrangement of Objects and Light l, ll and lll and you would be none the wiser. Knowing the process increases the interest of the interested viewer and also gives rise to the “my five year old brigade”, do you think they would put your church in a gallery if your five year old set fire to it? Cornelia is more interested in art as a process than art as an object, art as an object shaped by time or circumstance.

I have stood in front of and all around of the David, the Angel of the North, a cast of Degas’ Fourteen year old dancer, the Venus of the Rags and countless Moore’s and Hepworth’s, they all had a big physical presence that have never adequately transferred to two dimensions. Sculpture has a wow factor that two dimensional art always fails to capture purely, I think, due to the lack of the third dimension and that the light is always so perfect whatever the viewpoint. However, when I saw the Birth of Venus at the Uffizi they had a small bas relief of the painting so that blind people could understand the painting, whilst I can appreciate the sentiment, I could not be asked to judge between the two, at least not while I was in the same room.

Well Cleo you now know a little bit about Cornelia Parker, I will bring the book with me at the weekend and show you the pictures in it.

All my love

Mickos x



Blazwick I. (2013) Cornelia Parker London: Thames and Hudson.|34484,|assetId=554866001&objectId=691359&partId=1

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