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