Dear Cleo 17 08 10

Buongiorno bella Cleo

How much of the phrasebook that you had me reading to you when I babysat last week have you managed to use this week? I hope you are having a great time and be sure to send me a postcard.

The Radetzky March is one of my favourite musical pieces; the reason for this is a little obscure. I hear it often, at least once a week, Dawn, the Karaoke girl, plays it and it is an excuse for her and the bar staff to play the tune with spoons on the optics behind the bar.

The first pass was with a Sharpie with eyes closed, the second pass was with Indian ink and a brush with eyes open. I kept my eyes open for the third pass with Conte crayons and charcoal.

I forgot to take a progress photograph but these people came to visit during the second pass and stayed the night out the back in the shed. They said they were marching to Egypt for Jesus.

Figure 1 (17 08 10) Assignment piece Flight Sharpie, ink, Conte crayons and charcoal on A2 sugar paper


I knew these people were in my head, my Mum, Dad and Nana put them there a long time ago and I still cherish them. Whilst it is a very traditional subject I feel I have treated it in an original way, it retains however a strong link with the colour plate I knew as a child, in my Nana’s bible, that so long ago sparked my love for art. I have been lucky enough to go to Florence and see the original since.

I have used a narrow palette of colours with the blue contrasting with the yellows and browns in much the same way as Vincent did in his Pieta. The colours are mainly bright which is probably a result of the speed of working, but the image has an overall warmth due to the extensive use of browns and yellows. The variation of the blues modelling the dress of virgin, draws attention to the importance of the virgin in this scene.

The variety of mediums used in the piece gives me as much freedom as possible. The blind use of the Sharpie got rid of the blank canvas giving me confidence and the ink was used freely to model the figures. The Conte crayon recalls the soft tones of the early Renaissance frescos and the lack of blending gives a certain vitality to the piece. The combination of the various media contributes to the expressiveness of the piece.

The space in the picture has been achieved by the overlapping of the main forms and the diminishing scale and atmospheric perspective of the background. Interestingly on the right of the background a cross has manifested itself, this was not intentional is could be classed as a happy accident. The faces of the figures are composed around the rule of thirds so as to draw the eye to them.

The use of the Sharpie line in the final piece gives vibrancy to the work that prevents the eye from settling and the inked contour lines of the figures, which have been softened by the later addition of the Conte crayon have a flowing quality in contrast to the sharpie marks.

It seems odd to be painting a Christmas scene in August, but perhaps it will give plenty of time to sort out a limited edition print run for the people on my mailing list and to discover the trials and tribulation of that process.

Well Cleo there you go, Christmas in August, almost as unseasonable as the weather

Love as always

Mickos x

Dear Cleo 17 08 09

Dearest Cleo

I would imagine you have been swimming today, to escape the heat in Italy, London is swimming today, it has not stopped raining all day, the internet says a month’s rain will fall here today, I think it is about two weeks in with more to come. Anyway I am not getting too overcast or downcast, I am listening to music and drawing to pass the time.

This is today’s tune;

It is only a short piece about five and a half minutes long on the first listening I created this with my eyes closed.

Figure 1 (17 08 09 01) Meditation I Sharpie on A2 gray sugar paper

I have turned the image upside down because that is what I did before listening the second time. The second time I worked with the brush and ink as I did yesterday, in my excitement I forgot to take a picture but on the third listen I used Conte crayon to create this.

Figure 2 (17 08 09 02) Meditation II Sharpie, ink, Conte crayon and charcoal on A2 gray sugar paper

I am not really sure where this images came from, but taking the view that this image was somewhere inside of me, and was coaxed out by the music, I will discuss it on that basis.

The top half on the female face is remarkably similar to an ex girlfriend, and before I get loads of comments saying do you still think about me, it ain’t you babe (R Zimmerman 1965) The skull part signifies it ain’t me you were looking for. The male figure is probably a self portrait of sorts, they were once my lucky green underpants, the luck, the girlfriend and the underpants all disappeared in 2005, the date has been changed to protect the innocent and not so grinning skull like.

My synthesesia (see here for the uninitiated) sees most classical music as predominately yellow, maybe I have the same brand of synthesesia as Kandinsky, I should be so lucky. (Stock, Aitken and Waterman)

The bright unsullied colours are probably a result of the speed of working, and the lask of blending, the whole thing took just sixteen and a half minutes and I have just noted a ffs in the clouds and have no idea of the significance of this. Space in the piece is achieved predominantly by overlapping of the forms and cooler back ground colour.

The grinning skull is well placed compositionally in accordance with the rule of thirds and the sharpie underdrawing gives the piece a liveliness and immediacy.

Enough already let’s try a different piece of music.

A single listen eyes open working with brush and ink created this;

Figure 3 (17 08 09 03) Joplin rag I ink, on A2 gray sugar paper

I doubt if I can begin to explain why this is inside my head, suffice it to say that the monochrome image looks good and I feel it can live without colour.

Buena notte, signorina

Mickos xx

Dear Cleo 17 08 08

Dearest Cleo

I hope you are having a good time in Italy. I am sure the weather there will be better than here, it is raining and miserable, but the music is lightening my mood a little. Today I am listening to this;

First listen closed my eyes and created this

Figure 1 (17 08 08 01) Concerto I, graphite on A4 cartridge

For the second listen I watched and became entranced with the musicians and how into it and emotional they were and created these.

Figure 2 (17 08 08 02) Concerto II, ink on A4 cartridge

Figure 3 (17 08 08 03) Concerto III, ink on A4 cartridge

I listened to this with my eyes closed and created this

Figure 4 (17 08 08 04) Concerto IV, graphite on A4 cartridge

The pencil drawings remind me of Auburn’s drawings, perhaps I am learning to draw like a child after all or maybe Auburn has natural rhythm.

It has given me a bit of insight as to why Kandinsky extolled the value of music in art, perhaps they need to go a little further maybe like this; I first traced from concerto 1 and 2,rotated and combined them in a new trace.  Re-traced with a bit of reductionism and then drew the result in Conte crayon

Figure 5 (17 08 08 05) Trace music I piano, Sharpie on tracing paper

Figure 6 (17 08 08 06) Trace music II violins, Sharpie on tracing paper

Figure 7 (17 08 08 07) Trace music III an arrangement for piano and strings, Sharpie on tracing paper

Figure 8 (17 08 08 08) Trace music IV An arrangement for piano and strings with full orchestral accompaniment, Sharpie on tracing paper

Figure 9 (17 08 08 09) A music, Conte crayon on A2 sugar paper


For me it is the soaring violins over a rolling piano.

The piece is a square format and drawn in bright colours both of which are a trifle unusual for this artist. The colouring calls to mind a bright summer’s day in a faraway place almost as if the artist is preparing to go on holiday to sunny climes. The bright red and orange highlights cause the eye to flitter across the piece in a pleasing manner,

The mark making is visible and varied I particularly like the economy of stoke that captures the reflection of the land in the sea. There is an energy and a roughness to the mark making that adds vibrancy to the final piece.

Space is introduced into the piece by using overlapping; perhaps paler mountains would have increased the sense of depth but I like the contrast between the purple and the yellow, so perhaps it is a moot point.

For context, the artist seems influenced by both the post impressionists and the early abstract painters, there is also something of Odd Nedrum in the curving horizon but the shape of the land mass surely means the biggest influence of all is Venus de Milo’s bum.

Have fun in Italy

Mickos x