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