Dear Cleo 17 08 20

Dearest Cleo

Dorset is only three or four sleeps away and you will be back by a seaside where you can swim at will, Be sure to check out Durdle Door and see how close it is to the painting you did.

I am closing down on this part of the course, this is the last bit of Project 2, I still used the music but I reversed the order of doing. First I drew the sketch standing at the easel, if nothing else my drawing is inproving.

Figure 1 (17 08 20 01) Sketch enlarged from Sketchbook, Ink in A2 sugar paper

I then put Brams Piano concerto nr 1 on the Youtube and blindly followed the music with first he blue crayon then the red and finally the yellow I only took the photo with the blue so you will have to guess the other two.

Figure 2 (17 08 20 02) going with the music, Ink and conte crayon on A2 sugar paper

I then set about the image with Conte crayons and an eraser while listening to the end of the music and then listening to it one more time, this was the result.

Figure 3 (17 08 20 03) Back entrance to the school, Ink and conte crayon on A2 sugar paper

An artist is a child of his time and cannot recreate the past (Hegel) but is forced to stand on the shoulders of giants until his own feet can touch solid ground (Mickos).


The blind musical bit gave much movement to this drawing which has not been lost in the final realisation of the piece. The colours are bright and in your face, the shadows are cool, whilst the overall piece is warm. The tones induce recession which is emphasised by the linear perspective. the chimneys are out of proportion but in real life they grab the eye and seem in the end analysis to dominate in the scene.

I think I have one too many ears for this drawing to be a sucess, or maybe I was born a century or so too late.

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

All my Love

Mickos xx



Drar Cleo 17 08 05

Dearest Cleo

I hope you wasn’t too tired this morning, it was good to watch The Princess Bride together last night. I hadn’t seen it for a long time and had forgotten how good it was.

I am carrying on with the full arm drawings, it is more fun when the exercise is done and you can play and experiment. I was quite busy doing other stuff but I set a still life up on the table, put the easel next to it. I didn’t get as much of the other stuff done as the breaks got longer but it was worth it to create these.

Figure 1 (17 08 05 01) Still life 1 Sharpie and charcoal on A2 grey sugar paper

Figure 2 (17 08 05 02) Still life 2 Sharpie charcoal and Conte crayons  on A2 grey sugar paper

Drawing an arm’s length from the paper is starting to get easier. I saw some photographs of Cezanne painting in the week, they were still photographs but from the way he was standing, he looked like he was dancing. Maybe the wobbly perspective has something to do with that. It certainly felt like it today.

You will have to tell your Mummy and Daddy to go out more on a Friday night because you have several films I haven’t seen in a long while, don’t get over excited it’s only two sleeps until you go to Italy, lucky girl.

Love as always

Mickos x

Dear Cleo 17 07 27

Dear Cleo

I hope you are well. I was speaking to nana Bet on the phone, I sent her a copy of your school report, she was so proud of you and she thinks you are going to be a genius just like your Granddad. The apples don’t fall far from the tree, it was Newton who observed that, look him up on google, he was real smart.

There is an essay in the catalogue of the Raphael exhibition I went to in Oxford that extols the virtues of the hand and Raphael’s hand in particular in its sweetness and grace of movement, all but comparing his hand to a ballerina. The essay argues quite thoughtfully that it is the hand alone that is responsible for our evolution as the dominant species on the planet.

The exercises so far in this part of the course have emphasised this fact, it is the hand that makes the mark and if it is uncontrolled by the eye and the brain, or relatively so, it is graceful in its movements.

When I put a drawing or painting out there it is interpreted by the eyes and brains of the audience, it follows therefore that I should subjugate my eye and my brain to follow and interpret the marks made by my hand and not chain my hand to my eye and brain as a slave.

Figure 1 (17 07 27 01) SK 69

Drawing with sticks and pool cues has helped standing further away from the piece but it also got me to thinking, why don’t I use my arm to draw? I paint at an easel so why not draw at an easel. Working loosely from an A5 sketch I made at Newmarket races and using my whole arm and shoulder and moving my feet as well, I created this;

Figure 2 (17 07 27 02) Exodus, XL charcoal on A2 grey sugar paper

From the final eye level that has developed I must have been sitting on a horse or a camel following the Arc of the Covenant when I drew this rather than standing in the back of the Tattershall Stand.

I said I was working loosely from the sketch as my hand is bereft of eyes and it just wandered about on the end of my arm over the picture plane, I wonder if I could do it blindfold I am definitely going to give it a go.

I really enjoyed doing this and am very pleased with the result, it is a history drawing with a very old masterly feel, the Academy will be pleased.

Don’t forget to look up the Newton guy on Google, I will ask you questions about him at the weekend.

My love as always

Mickos x

Dear Cleo 17 07 24

Dearest Cleo

Well today is the first day of your summer holidays, the weather has not been that good but I’m sure you will have made the most of it. Once again congratulations on your school report, for it to be so good you must have worked hard all year, you are a good girl and I am very proud of you.

I have been drawing with a sharpie taped to the end of a four foot stick, it is something that Matisse did, and it is supposed to give more gesture, grace and freedom to your mark making, you know what, it does exactly that.

At first it is difficult to control, but I think I got over that hurdle doing assignment 1 with charcoal taped to my pool cue; I am really enjoying the sense of looseness it gives to my drawing. This is what I created.

Figure 1 (17 07 24) All around my hat, Sharpie and charcoal and chalk on a four foot stick on A2 grey sugar paper

I am very pleased with the outcome, I think it has a strong composition, a good eye lead in through the bag and the hat is a good focal point, its curves contrasting well with the linear shapes around it. I especially like how the curve in the top of the bag echoes the curves in the hat.

I suppose with the chair and the hat and the brushes it owes a little something to Vincent and now as I sit back and look at it, it is my chair, my hat and my brushes and looking at it I can tell that, it is becoming a far more personal drawing than I first imagined.

I am looking forward to catching up with you at the weekend and hope you are having a lovely holiday.

All my love



Dear Cleo 17 07 14

Dear Cleo

I hope you are well and I am looking forward to catching up with you in the morning. I have a new favourite painting, The reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks and here are a few of my thoughts on it and its detractors.

I am asked to respond to the quotation by Clement Greenberg “Picasso paints cause, Repin paints effect” and relate this quotation to Jackson Pollock.

The quotation needs a sense of context, Greenberg was writing in the Partisan Review that was anti Russian and financed by the CIA. While Picasso was still very much alive at the time of the Greenberg’s article Repin had died 9 years previously but was championed by the Soviet Communist Government as a realist painter.

Greenberg who frequented the same drinking dens as the future Abstract Expressionists was perhaps lobbying the United States Government to get behind the American Art and promote it to the world. The CIA may not have been on the right page in 1939, but it was right up there with the KGB in the cold war years of the 1950’s in promoting Abstract Expressionism, painted mostly by left wing minded painters, as a true product of the land of the free.

Everybody knows who Picasso was but Repin is slightly off the radar if you are only familiar with Western European Art. Repin exhibited at the Paris Salon between 1974 and 1876 thus being one of the artists that kept the Impressionists out of the Salon and thereby giving birth to Impressionism. Repin greatest work is, in my opinion, the magnificent 3500 x 2000 meter Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks (if you read the attached article you will understand what it is that the Cossacks find so amusing) that took him eleven years to paint he also painted a second version that was never completed. It is said that Repin made as many as 100 sketches for each finished work, his drawings are breathtaking, on a par with Raphael, who Greenberg is also quite dismissive of in his article.

To class Repin as kitsch is akin to saying Leonardo is an idiot or ”only with Rembrandt do “lonely” artists begin to appear, lonely in their art” Greenberg actually states that in the same article, at least Ruskin could draw.

With regard to “inflections of the personal”, as an artist, I consider that anything I create is full of my personality, whether what I produce is abstract or realist. Kitsch is not created by artists it is created by museum gift shops, booksellers, chocolate box manufacturers and Governments. Superior culture is one of the most artificial of all human creations (Greenberg 18) this is the KGB with their realist painters, the CIA with their abstract expressionists, the Catholic Church with its Renaissance or the French with the impressionists you chose, Greenberg chose the CIA.

Greenberg was of the vanguard that promoted abstract expressionism to the level of kirsch, champion and protector of the Abstract Expressionists but his first review of Jackson Pollock in The Nation Magazine in 1943 is as follows;

“There is both surprise and fulfilment in Jackson Pollock’s not so abstract abstractions. He is the first painter I know of to have got something positive from the muddiness of colour that so profoundly characterizes a great deal of American painting.” While he critiqued Pollock’s larger paintings as the artist taking “orders he can’t fill,” Greenberg did find the smaller work “much more conclusive… among the strongest abstract paintings I have yet seen by an American”

In an article on Artspace Greenberg is quoted as saying “I would not deny being one of those critics who educate themselves in public.”  In the language of the proletariat this means he was making it up as he went along, like a good politician.

It is nice, however, that in the footnote to the article, when it was re-published in 1965, Greenberg had decided that Repin was not Kitsch, it was just that at the time of writing Greenberg did not know who Repin was or what he painted

All that having been said I think that maybe the main thrust of the question is, are Pollock’s paintings about painting from his emotions not illustrating them, which of course, is a rhetorical question and I pay homage in the way I know best, imitation being the greatest form of flattery.

Figure 1 (17 07 14) Greenberg contradictions I, tempera, acrylic and enamel on A3 canvas

Well darling, that was a lot of reading, one day I will go to Russia to see the Cossacks and with luck you may get to come with me. See you tomorrow.

Love as always

Mickos x


Greenberg C. Art and Culture Critical Essays 1965 Boston ,Mass Beacon Press