Dear Cleo 17 08 21

Dearest Cleo

Here is a little secret that you didn’t know, last night while you were sleeping your mummy came over and I drew her for part of my course.

The room and the lighting were just about ready, Carly chose the music, Laura Marling and we settled down quite quickly.

The first part of the portrait was completed while we were going through the usual daddy daughter thing and lasted a good ten minutes because I am the type of guy who does more than the usual amount of bad and crazy things that I need to be scolded for on a regular basis.

It didn’t help much that I was trying to concentrate on the drawing, I think it slowed it down a bit, and the initial marks are a bit stilted and crotchety and there was a twist in the drawing of her face that I was not keen on. When I took the ten minute photograph it changed the mood somewhat and we began talking of other thing starting with the recent holiday we had shared

Figure 1 (17 08 21 01) When are you going to? Why don’t you? Charcoal on A2 sugar paper.


When I took the ten minute photograph it changed the mood somewhat and we began talking of other things, starting with the recent holiday we had shared that we had both thoroughly enjoyed.

Figure 2 (17 08 21 02) Didn’t we have a lovely time? Charcoal on A2 sugar paper.

The marks are softer and more flowing and the twist is coming out of her face. The second photograph didn’t interrupt the flow too much and we carried on talking about good things. This and that, hopes and dreams and how easy life was going.

Figure 3 (17 08 21 03) How are things going for you anyway? Charcoal on A2 sugar paper.

The twist in her face has been banished, there are lots of smudgy marks appearing. We were both quite relaxed now, talking only sporadically, unimportant stuff, like the movies you have seen and those that you want to see the music was carrying the mood.

Figure 4 (17 08 21 04) Relaxed and easy Charcoal on A2 sugar paper.


This photograph was taken at the cigarette break around fifty minutes in there was only a mild tut, the lecture had finished earlier. I can see that I am more relaxed with the marks but I can see the cigarette anxiety creeping in in places.

Figure 5 (17 08 21 05) Settled, Charcoal on A2 sugar paper.

This is the hour mark,she was completely at ease now reading the articles in the film magazines rather than flicking the pages as she had earlier. I had about five more minutes to concentrate on the final tones and soften a few edges.

Figure 6 (17 08 21 06) A conversation with Carly, Charcoal on A2 sugar paper.



Concentrating on other things rather than what is going on with this bloody drawing certainly helped, I can feel the relaxation creeping into the stages of the drawing.

The lighting helped a lot and I claim full credit for positioning the light.

The conversation really helped me to capture Carly, the bundle of what she is, or what she seems to be to me, and although the conversation wouldn’t be nearly so intimate with other sitters, it is something to remember for the future.

The tones are good enough to paint from, there are a few sharp edges to the piece but I think they bring out the character of my sleeping tigress, I could have carried on for another hour polishing it but I think that would have taken the intimacy out of it.

I was pleased with the end result and so was my sitter I think that is what she looks like in real life and for those of you that don’t know her, this is what she looks like in a photograph.

Figure 7 (17 08 21 07) Carly my tigress, digital photograph.

Well I hope you like my portrait of your Mum and I know she has something special planned for you for tomorrow.

My love as always

Mickos xx

Dear Cleo 17 07 22

Dearest Cleo,

Well darling, your school summer holidays have started and in only two weeks you will be on your first plane and off to Italy, you are a lucky girl and I bet you can’t wait.

I have been researching “Erased de Kooning” by Robert Rauschenberg, from my reading, I believe it to be overhyped with Rauschenberg himself declaring, over two separate interviews twenty years apart, “It’s poetry” and “It’s not a negation it’s a celebration, it’s an idea”.

There is a lot of conjecture on the internet regarding the truth of the story as told by Rauschenberg and the intentions of Rauschenberg. Probably the single best contribution on the internet is by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art “…. there is more than one story behind Erased de Kooning Drawing, and trying to place it within a single narrative risks obscuring the complexity of its history and potential. It is too simplistic to characterize the gesture of erasing de Kooning’s work as an act of oedipal insurrection, or an attempt to erase the past to create a new present. Rauschenberg as an artist and as a person was never so unilaterally inclined. It also is an oversimplification to place the work in a straight lineage from Duchamp to Conceptualism. The act Erased de Kooning Drawing embodies was far more complex, and the artwork is far more subtle and far-reaching. Yes, the erasure was an act of destruction, but as a creative gesture it was also an act of reverence or even devotion—to de Kooning, to drawing, to art history, and to the idea of taking a risk and being open to whatever comes as a result. For now, Erased de Kooning Drawing has settled into place as a progenitor of Conceptual art, but its curious beginnings and blank-slate nature ensure that it remains open.”

I saw the piece at the Tate Modern Gallery last year and it remains, what it always was, the remnants and the record of a performance piece by Robert Rauschenberg and nowhere near as good as the goat with the tyre.

The weather today is not too good for a summer holiday but then your real summer holiday is in Italy, I have been there once or twice and I have never known it to rain.

My love as always

Mickos x



Dickerman L. and Borchardt Hume A. (2016)Robert Rauschenberg. London: Tate publishing