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 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

Dear Cleo 17 04 23

Dearest Cleo

I was sorry to have missed you at the weekend but I had booked to go on a study visit in Manchester. I will catch up with you at the weekend and give you the small present I brought back for you.

I went on the train to Manchester which gave me time to catch up on my reading and I did a few sketches on the train.

Figure 1 (17 04 23 01) Inter-city, graphite on A5 cartridge

I used the structure of the train as a compositional device to give the right hand margin to the sketch a la Blackadder and I am consciously trying to emphasise the wirey open feel that my tutor was keen on when viewing my sketchbooks from part 1. When I was on the train it felt quite spacious but I think the sketch reveals a claustrophobic crowded space that feels quite cramped. It is a new thing for me to be thinking of my sketches like this, and perhaps it is a good thing because it is introducing self critical thought earlier into my creative process.

Figure 2 (17 04 23 02) Landscape, graphite on A6 cartridge

This is an experimental sketch out of my head, I am just practicing with using the wax crayons and I am trying to do sketches from memory and invention.

Figure 3 (17 04 23 03) Reading a heavy book, graphite on A5 cartridge

This is my thoughts on Petherbridge on the train on the way to the exhibition, the only comfortable way I have found to read her weighty book, “The Primacy of Drawing” is to do so sitting on the floor. The figures in my head are very slowly becoming more lifelike, it probably won’t be long before I start listening to their voices. In previous times this sketch would have been consigned to the bin but I now think it is necessary to trace the evolution of the figures in my head. I am already beginning to see the difference between the wirey and the scribbley, the wirey people are in the  process of evolving from the scribbly people.

Well that just about covers the journey to the exhibition, tomorrow I will write to you about the exhibition proper and my thoughts and feelings about it. I hope you are looking forward to it with baited breath. Oh I almost forgot, I saw your Aunty Loz at the weekend and she sends her love also.

Love as always