Dear Cleo 18 06 15

Dearest Cleo

It is early Friday morning and after escaping from the monastery I am off to Liverpool later in the day but first I must go to see the printers to organise the prints for the Beasts of the Apocalypse. Here is the full set.

Figure 1 Two Horsemen of the Apocolypse

Figure 2 The Serpent

Figure 3 The seven headed ten horned beast

Figure 4 The eagle

Figure 5 The locusts

Figure 6 The lion

Figure 7 The leopard

Figure 8 The calf

Figure 9 The lamb

Figure 10 Another two Horsemen of the Apocolypse

Ten doesn’t feel like a lot now but it did while I was doing them, so there is definitely a passage of time there, the ten unfold across the Book of Revelations, reading it takes quite a while. The story itself takes place over a long period of time and was written two thousand years ago and of course there is the alpha and the omega which is the beginning and the end of the Greek alphabet. That is a whole lot of time, never mind the printer is only two minutes walk away so that will speed things up a bit.

Sorry to be missing you this weekend but have a happy half day and I will see you next week sometime.

My love as always

Mickos xx

Dear Cleo 18 05 09

Dearest Cleo

I hope you are well and having fun in the hot weather, I won’t see you this weekend because I am going to see Nana Bet, I will give her your best regards and I expect it won’t be too long before she comes down to see you anyway.

At the monastery that is Sutherland Villa’s things are going better than expected, yesterday and today I have completed two further plates for the book, despite working hard for the squire all day. I am a little bit worried about the first one in that it lives fully formed in my head, at first I was unsure about this, but I reconciled it with the fact that we all have our demons. Not you perhaps, because you are yet youthful, but prepare yourself well for this one and listen to him not, I was feeling so wise there that into Yoda mode I slipped.

Figure 1 (5,2,9.1) The seven headed ten horned beast, Sharpie, graphite and coloured pencil on A2 grey sugar paper

The second plate is even more scary, but in a rather different way, I was reading Rubens Drawings and Sketches which is a catalogue of an exhibition that took place in the late seventies in the British Museum when I found my eagle. I have made sketches of eagles for this project but they have all been in landscape format, which would not suit the format of the book.

The eagle in question was originally attributed to Rubens but experts have now declared that the drawing and the painted version in Prometheus Bound were carried out by Ruben’s pupil Frans Snyders.

I have read Steal like an Artist and I recently visited the exhibition Art in the Making in Copenhagen the crux of which was that artists stole from each other’s compositions and sketches so I stole Snyder’s eagle without feeling too much compunction preferring to describe it as collaboration rather than theft, after all, the research was done by me and me alone in this monastery.

Figure 2 (5,2,9.2) Eagle, Sharpie, graphite on A2 grey sugar paper

Figure 3 (5,2,9.3) Eagle, Sharpie, graphite and coloured pencil on A2 grey sugar paper

Ok so none of that seems scary, but here is the totally scary bit, a copy of a drawing by a pupil of Rubens seems to fit seamlessly into my current series. I can appreciate that I have incorporated some my own voice into the copy, but leave it alone, had I but an eagle in a cage, it would have been Gissa job Rubens, I can do that, or am I three decades and four hundred years too late?

Anyway my dear that is four of the ten complete, maybe in another week I will be ready to talk to the printer.

My love as always

Mickos xx

Dear Cleo 18 05 07

Dearest Cleo

I spoke with Aunty Loz and she is coming round to see you. I have given her the left over Danish coins with a hole in and she is going to make you a necklace out of them.

Brother Mickos is managing to cope with the design of the seven headed ten horned beast, the illumination of the serpent, the Laundry, acting as scribe to the proceedings, and providing refreshment kindly brewed by Brother Diet Coke and Brother Prosecco. Brother Youtube is of course providing the musical accompaniment. Unfortunately Friar Tuck is nowhere to be found, probably cooking for Robin Hood and his merry men, so Brother Mickos will need to take a break to cook the evening meal. Tomorrow Brother Mickos is contracted to work for the Squire so even less will be done.

Here are today’s efforts.

Figure 1 ( Serpent graphite Sharpie and coloured pencil on A2 grey sugar paper.

Figure 1 ( Seven headed ten horned beast graphite Sharpie and coloured pencil on A2 grey sugar paper.

It is a bit warm to be going back to school and work tomorrow but we must do what we need to do to get by.

My Love as always

Mickos xx

Dear Cleo 18 05 06

Dearest Cleo

It is supposed to be the best weather since 1996 so make the most of it, I was cooped up all day drawing for the start of the book, I did venture out but only to sketch the concrete plant.

I worked out the size of the book to make it easy for the printer and made a template for the size of the images. Them I drew the first of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

The English translation has Death riding a pale horse, but it is a poor translation of the Greek word that means literally a greeny horrible sickly colour or a horse of a different colour.

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Figure 1 ( Death and War graphite Sharpie and coloured pencil on A2 grey sugar paper

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Figure 2 ( Serpent graphite Sharpie and coloured pencil on A2 grey sugar paper.

I am beginning to understand why Botticelli never finished his artist’s book, at this rate I may never finish Drawing 2, still each one completed means there is one less to do.

Enjoy the fine weather.

My love as always

Mickos xx

Dear Cleo 18 05 05

Dearest Cleo

It was great to see you this morning, I missed seeing you last weekend and it was good to catch up, the weather looks set fair for a great bank holiday weekend. I hope you have a fun weekend.

I have been carrying on sketching and drawing horses and they are beginning to look something like real horses I think these are the last sketches before I start drawing the illustrations for the book.

Figure 1 ( Horse proportions graphite on A4 cartridge

Figure 2 ( Horse movement 1 graphite and ink on A4 cartridge

Figure 3 ( Horse proportions graphite on A4 cartridge

Figure 4 ( Horsemen graphite and ink on A3 cartridge

Like I said before, have a good bank holiday weekend, you can tell me all about it next time we meet up

My love as always

Mickos xx

Dear Cleo 18 05 04

Dearest Cleo

Writing is as time related as art, recently the doing has been overtaking the writing in a kind of Pulp Fictiony way, your mum can explain. I missed seeing you at the weekend because I went on the Study visit to Copenhagen. I met lots of new people, some I had known virtually beforehand, and I learned lots of new things and I hope that by the time you have read this you will forgive my absence.

Figure 1 Smoking area Stanstead ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 2 Airport lounge ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 3 Queue for plane ink on A5 cartridge

My arrival in Copenhagen was a little bit rushed as I already had to be somewhere else before I landed. I speedily checked into my hotel, they never said on the internet that my room was five floors up in the attic and they didn’t have a lift, but it was clean and warm and bright and the staff were helpful, so that I almost didn’t notice the stairway to heaven the whole trip.

I headed off to the guided tour of the SMK National Gallery where I met up with the rest of the group. The tour concentrated on the current exhibition but before the start proper the guide touched on some of the problems of curatorship and how galleries were unable to sell things off and were responsible for preserving their artefacts. I have never spoken to gallery staff before and didn’t realise the importance of the work they do.

When the tour started proper we concentrated on the gallery’s current exhibition “Art in the making”, curiously and fascinatingly the exhibition was focussed on the collaboration of artists in their ideas for their work and the development of the initial ideas through the sketching and squaring up process, the tracing and redrafting and finally arriving at the final painting. Of particular interest to me was how, through their working processes, artists juggled with the composition changing the balance and tension in their work. Most of the changes of course took place in the thumb nails and early sketchbook work but there were some quite radical changes between the final cartoon and the finished piece.

One of the main things that interested me was that two of the Danish artists in the exhibition Edvard Weie (in 1941) and Nick Larsen Stevns      (before 1941) both of whom were influenced by the fauvist works of Matisse, were both using cut out pieces of paper as compositional aids, it was not until the late 1940’s that Matisse began “introducing a radically new operation that came to be called a cut-out”, a collaboration of artists that was perhaps overlooked by the exhibition.

The guided tour ended in front of Kirstine Roepstorff’s enormous Desolation of the Beasts with the curator highlighting the collaboration between Roepstorff and earlier artists.

After that we were free to wander the museum’s permanent collection for the remainder of the afternoon and what a collection, amongst the collection of Matisse’s work was the Green Stripe and I was particularly taken with the cubist works by Picasso, Braque, Metzinger and Gris, I spent a long time in front of Trees at Estaque.

The gallery also had a fine collection of Danish paintings. Since discovering the Italian Impressionists on a trip to Florence I am interested to discover what each nationality’s art was whilst the French were dominating the art world. The Danes did not disappoint with Hammershoi leading the field as an amalgam between Vermeer and Manet. I found the drawing room and spent a happy time sketching the magnificent bronze horse head.

Figure 4  horses head graphite on A6 cartridge

Figure 5 Street outside Riz Raz ink on A6 cartridge

The group reconvened before closing time at the Gallery to arrange to meet later in the evening for dinner at Riz Raz. We ate great food and talked of art and other things until late in the evening and I sketched the roses on the table as I drank the last of the wine before going up the very long wooden hill, exhausted after a great day.

Figure 6 Day of wine and roses ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 7 Girl smoking in a bar ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 8 Drinkers in a bar ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 9 Drinkers in a bar 1 ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 10 Drinkers in a bar 2 ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 11 Bicycles morning ink on A6 cartridge

The next day I woke with the early Danish light and met with the group at Norreport Station for the trip to the Arken Museum. We were lucky in having Inger from Denmark with us to teach us how to deal with Danish trains, We had been joined overnight by Bryan the tutor who took it upon himself to explain some of the vague stuff that is hard to get to grips with from reading books, discernment with examples is easy to understand, we also talked about the assessment procedure and our own processes, each learning from the other.

From the outside The Arken, a modern building, was long gallery that seemed to cut through the dunes and wet lands like a ship trailing a long wake.

Inside were vast four storey high spaces that somehow through the use of large windows that capturing the outside light gave an airy feel to the spaces. The permanent exhibition consisted of around ten pieces by Damien Hirst that seemed at home in the large slightly curved gallery.

In a second gallery the floor was covered with multicoloured life sized clowns created by Ugo Rondinone titled Vocabulary of Solitude you could walk among the clowns each one feeling separate and alone and silent. There was a feeling of being backstage at the circus, almost like Degas’ ballerinas, the clowns were pensive, awaiting their turn in the big top.

In a more conventional gallery space there was a retrospective exhibition of Alfonse Mucha, for this we had a guided tour. The exhibition consisted mostly of Mucha’s Poster and commercial work and photographs he took of his models. In the workshop that followed, we were invited to create a Mucha poster, I made the drawing below, there is a faint graphic underdrawing that has all but disappeared below the ink work, and I think I managed to achieve a sense of rhythm with the flowing lines.

Figure 12 Poster girl ink on A2 cartridge

The discussion on the train back to Copenhagen was as lively as on the way to Arken and we each went back to our hotels before reconvening in the evening to eat dinner seated around a triangular table where we talked of many things, of art and education, toilet roll and Kings. Particularly interesting was Gwyneth’s description of her process of painting her giant boulder.

We reconvened early the next morning and took the train up the country to the Louisiana Museum. Again we had a guided tour by a curator of the gallery who explained the building and how the foundation of the permanent collection was derived.

Figure 13 Sculpture park ink on A6 cartridge

The museum grew from a manor house with sculpture in the garden to include a series of long glass walled extensions so that you could see the sculptures from inside the building, the galleried Giacometti room overlooking the pond was stunning, the Yayoi Kusama installation was breathtaking and the Cindy Sherman’s were everything I ever wanted them to be. The current exhibition, held in a more conventional gallery space, was of Picasso’s Ceramics. I don’t think I have ever seen any of his ceramics’ before but I think i would have remembered if I had, some were functional, but many were wildly distorted and the array of colours was dazzling.  I have seen a video in black and white on you tube of him making some of them but in real life even the monochrome ones are Technicolor.

Then it was time for the last lunch together we discussed our impressions of the day and the weekend which were all very positive, except for the reality of my own five storey stairs and we went our separate ways, but not without more art related discussion on the train back to Copenhagen.

After we separated I went to the Ny Glyptotek, which, with its winter garden easily won building of the weekend. The Danes seem to have a thing about glass and airiness with regard to buildings and when the weather is good like it was the whole weekend, the glass buildings are spectacular.

Figure 14 French eagle ink on A6 cartridge

I visited the French collection 1800 to 1928 and the Danish golden age galleries, viewed a full set of Degas’ sculptures and a roomful of Rodin’s. There was only one Cezanne still life, but it allowed me to look close into his brush mark’s to see how the modelling matched the words in the book I am reading by Earl Loran. I missed the crew to discuss my impressions of this in the cafe

I am not the biggest fan of sculpture, but sculpture somehow had seemed to tie the weekend together, from the statues in the SMK to the cage with mirror, rocking horse and Gormley outside the Arken, Hirst’s cows, ecorche and the clowns inside, the sculpture park and the Giacometti’s at the Louisiana and then finally the Degas’ and Rodin’s at the Ny Glyptotek.

Figure 15 Girl in a bar ink on A6 cartridge


Figure 16 Drinkers in a bar 3 ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 17 Drinkers in a bar 4 ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 18 Girl in a bar 2 ink on A6 cartridge

On Monday morning I went to draw the boats at Ny Haven before catching the plane home.

Figure 19 Boats 1 ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 20 Boats 2 graphite and ink on A4 cartridge

Thank you very very much to Hayley, Therese, Anna, Asa, Bryan, Caroline, Celia, Gwyneth, Inger, Joanne, Linda, Cecillia Sybille, Deidre and Renata for a beautiful and educational long weekend in Denmark.

You now know where I was, what I was doing and why I wasn’t there for you on Saturday, I’m really looking forward to seeing you this weekend.

My love as always

Mikos xx

Dear Cleo 18 04 30

Dearest Cleo

I didn’t see you at the weekend because I went to the inaugural London Group Workshop, and although I really missed seeing you, I really enjoyed the Study day.

The study day was arranged by Arlene and the leader of the workshop was a lovely lady called Caroline Wright. Caroline is an OCA tutor but her real passion I think is arranging happenings. She spoke at some length regarding three of her happenings, so much so that I began to understand the amount of work and planning that goes into them and maybe something about the meaning of them. I have seen happenings before and was a bit at sea explaining them to myself but with Caroline’s help I really began to understand things. I have attached a link to three clips from u tube and maybe when we catch up next I will be able to field any question you have.

The rest of the workshop was about experimental drawing and was very practical. You had to bring something that would fit in your hand. As I had been struggling to tame the Horses of the Apocalypse, I took them along so they could get a bit of fresh air.

It turned out to be a great idea, my brain tricked by the experimentation of it all, stopped concentrating on the reality of the horses and instead focused on the essence of the horses.

I made three drawings that I am quite proud of, the last one I am particularly proud of because I think it even smells like a horse.

Figure 1 ( Graphite horse, graphite on A4 cartridge

Figure 2 ( Horse, graphite, charcoal and collage on A4 cartridge

Figure 3 ( Horse 1, graphite and charcoal on A4 cartridge

I showed Horse 1 for critique at the drawing 2 hangout group and here is an extract from the minutes of the critique that were compiled by Gina “a horse, although abstract, had the qualities of shape and movement that were recognised as the subject. Responses included observations of the sense of movement, layers of drawing and negative space being used as part of the drawing.”

In the afternoon I drew a plant in the garden that turned Rouseau like into palm trees in the Syrian desert shading the Horses of the Apocolypse, I think I was a bit worried about the Syrian thing, but the horses came straight out of my head

Figure 4 ( Anticipating an apocalypse in Syria, graphite ink and chalk pen on A3 cartridge

I hope you have a good week at school and get ready for the Bank Holiday Weekend.

My love as always

Mickos xx

Dear Cleo 18 04 25

Dearest Cleo

I hope you had a good day at school today, I have finished painting the bathroom and so I am able to devote more time to my correspondence.

Now that I understand what an artist book is all that I needed to do was to choose a theme that was relative to something which elapses over time. Having researched Revelations, in connection with Durer’s Apocalypse book, and remembering our trip to the zoo, I decided that a suitable subject would be a Bestiary of the Apocalypse.

So far, so good, but when I started out I realised that the bloke who has paintings on racehorse trainer’s and jockey’s walls had forgotten how to draw a horse. That was thirty years ago, I didn’t draw a horse since, I could hardly believe I could no longer draw a horse and worse still there are no horses hereabouts to draw from life. I have referenced the books I studied on animal anatomy and movement in the PS below but the study was pretty intense and I have decided to document the re-learning process here.

Figure 1 ( Horses, but not how I remember them, graphite and ink on A3 Cartridge

Figure 2 ( Stiff legged ungainly horses, graphite and ink on A4 Cartridge

Amazon delivered the first of several horse anatomy books.

Figure 3 ( Slow static horses proportions improving, graphite and ink on A4 Cartridge

Figure 4 ( Horse with pantomime leg arrangement, graphite and ink on A4 Cartridge

Figure 5 ( More pantomime horses with a disinterested Freya the cat, graphite and ink on A4 Cartridge

Amazon delivered three horse anatomy books

Figure 6 ( Several horse anatomy books later, graphite and ink on A4 Cartridge

Amazon delivered the 1/72 scale Napoleonic cavalry so at least I had some reference for the three dimensionality of a horse

Figure 7 ( Horses with important sums, graphite on A3 Cartridge

This was about the end of the first weeks study so I will break here and continue tomorrow, you sleep tight and I am looking forward to seeing you at the weekend.

My love as always

Mickos xx

Dear Cleo 18 04 24

Dearest  Cleo

It is another beautiful day, I hope you are going somewhere nice so you can enjoy the sunshine, me, I am staying home to finish painting the bathrooms in the breaks I take between the coats of emulsion drying I will carry on with the tale of the artists book.

By the early sixteenth century printing techniques were improving rapidly. Durer made the woodblocks for the fifteen prints from the Book of the Apocalypse that secured his fame across Europe. The most famous of the series is The Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

A new problem arose in that you no longer needed a monastery full of monks to produce multiple copies of an artist’s book and so began the formulation of the laws of copyright.

A printing techniques further improved other artists collaborated with printmakers to produce artist’s books, perhaps most famously with Goya’s Los Caprichos and Disasters of War and Turners Liber Studiorum in the nineteenth century. In Japan at the same time Hokusai in collaboration with wood block printers produced a 15 volume set of Manga. Curiously the word Manga is the Japanese word for sketches it is not strictly a Japanese word but I don’t have the right letters on my keyboard, perhaps it just sounds like a Japanese word.

Of the modern and contemporary artists Hans Peter Feldman collects things, photographs the collections and compiles the photographs into an artist’s book. Wolfgang Tilllmans’ and Sol le Witt’s artist’s books are composed of photographs of either their own artworks or photographs. Eileen Hogan photographs her own paintings and drawings in collaboration with a poet or writer to produce her artist’s books.

From examining the history of artist’s books the subject has become a little less mystical and I have arrived at a definition of an artist’s book that goes something like: “An artist’s book is a collection of finished work by an artist on a related theme in collaboration with the latest technology of printing to produce a showcase of the artists work.”

Botticelli’s book was the original Panini sticker book as the text was completed way before the illustrations which were later pasted in and the Book of Kells has a marvellously ornate cover, but apart from that, there are lots of book shaped artist’s books. It was Dieter Roth, whose deconstruction of the book format in his artist’s book 2 builderbucher, established the convention of “When is a book not a book” that established the trend for the various Artist’s Book formats that are common today.

Well, you have been a great girl to read all this over the past two days and check up on the hyperlinks, tomorrow will be easier going because the post will have less words and more pictures.

My love as always

Mickos xx

Dear Cleo 18 04 22

Dearest  Cleo

It is a long time since I wrote, it was good to see you today and give you some of the highlights and I will take time now and fill in some of the details.

It all started around three or four weeks ago at the invitation of the course workbook to produce an Artist’s book. I fill loads of books with drawings, they are called sketchbooks, but this was not what the workbook wanted, it requested a book about something that elapses over time.

I had the sketchbooks of both my holidays in Florence and Venice both elapsed over time but neither could compare with Botticelli’s drawings for The Divine Comedy

The true definition of an artist book is somewhat elusive and is probably better explained by example so that you can get the feel of it before I explain my own solution.

The original artists books were religious I am thinking now of the early middle ages a whole monastery of talented monks would spend years to produce The Book of Kells. It was a strictly limited edition but it was a book and it was about something that elapses over time, namely the Four Gospels, it is quite a big book but then it would be having taken a monastery full of monks years to make.

Books back then were very precious objects because they were a serious undertaking to produce before printing was invented, imagine how long it would take you to write a 200 page novel with a pen and illuminate lots of the letters, even if you had a monastery full of monks or nuns to help.

Any nobleman or woman worth the title had a book, they were little more than comics, a book of hours would have twelve pages of writing and twelve paintings, nobody read in bed because electricity hadn’t been invented so twelve would fill the waking hours of the day. A book of months similarly had twenty four pages, because Julius had already invented July.

All surviving examples of these books are precious and are stored in museums or galleries.

Then printing arrived, at first wood block printing and engraving and later words. Botticelli in the late fifteenth century was at the vanguard of this invention and so produced some of the illustrations for a printed book of Dante’s The Divine Comedy. Botticelli produced nineteen illustrations for nineteen of the hundred Cantos, it took him ten years, a monastery of monks would have come in handy and would have maybe completed the task.

I will continue with the artists book tomorrow, in the meantime sleep tight in the secure knowledge that I am back on the horse.

My love as always

Mickos xx