Dear Cleo 18 03 30

Dear Cleo

I hope you are having a good time in Dorset, I will miss you while you are gone but already I can’t wait to see you when you get back.

It was the Bank Holiday today so I went arting, I went to the Tate Britain to see Impressionists in London and All too Human.

I also found a free exhibition of the work of Henry Moore that included the work Pale Shelter

Figure 1 ( Pale shelter by Henry Moore

I was amazed by the similarities between my own mark making in Blanche the Orchid and Moore’s in this piece.

I later went to the National gallery and found this in the rather unconventional Tacita Dean exhibition on Still Life.

Figure 2 ( A cup of water and a rose by Francisco de Zurbaran

Is it possible that the original title of this work could have been A Cup of Rose Water and an Orchid, or that Orchids weren’t around in mainland Europe back then and Zurbaran’s imaginings of the future included my drawing?

Perhaps the most logical explanation to this is that when I am working and listening to music I commune unconsciously with artists of the past whose work I have not yet seen. Perhaps I should give this up and become an art forger.

The Tacita Dean exhibition is in room 19 at the National Gallery like a typical man I refused to buy a map and wandered the gallery looking for it, after I had found it I then wandered the gallery looking for the exit. I saw some truly wonderful things that someday I will unconsciously recall in my trance like working state.

I don’t often take photos in galleries on the basis that the flash from the phone does minute damage to the painting and if I want an image of what I am looking at I can buy one in the gallery shop but I just had to take a photograph of this.


Figure 2 ( Digital photograph

It is a detail of the foreground of Velasquez’ Philip IV hunting Wild Boar about 600mm x 150. I am a big fan of Velasquez, and have searched out his paintings across Europe and though I have seen this painting many times as it is a local Velasquez, until today’s chance encounter it was one of my least favourites, now it is right up there with Las Meninas and the Water seller.

I will need to return to the National when it is quieter to see if the machine in the gallery shop can print a detail of a painting as my own meagre effort is quite ruined by the flash.

Please bring me more pebbles or shells from Dorset

My love as always

Mickos xx

Dear Cleo 18 03 27

Dear Cleo

Well we made it through the Tuesday of the short week we only have the Wednesday left and then on Thursday we get to tidy our desks and bring a toy to play with in the afternoon, I am going to bring my liquid white chalk pen because I am having such fun with it.

With all the watering and the orchid food, Blanche has really blossomed out, she has left the coffee table and now lives by a cave or in an abandoned quarry in middle Europe somewhere, she became more elegant and sophisticated as I drew her and at times the page seemed to quiver and flutter beneath my hand.

She is no longer a real orchid but an impression of an orchid, in fact, it is almost as if she is acting out an impression of Vincent’s Blossoming Almond Tree, but, being an orchid, she doesn’t have the full presence of a whole tree.

The blossoms flap like straining birds attempting to flee the page, constrained only by the stem of the plant, and the mark making is loose and fleeting recalling the feather patterns of those fleeing birds.

This part of the course is about time, I would have drawn this on the cave wall if I hadn’t been on the bloody buffalo hunt at the time.

I wish I had taken progress photos to show when I nearly stopped, but I didn’t so you will just have to be satisfied with the final version.

Figure 12 ( Blanche the Orchid, Graphite, charcoal, Sharpie, neutral grey felt tip and liquid white chalk on A3 grey sugar paper.

I hope you like my final drawing of Blanche as much as I do, and don’t take the chess set to school on the last day, you will spend ages teaching the other kids how to play.

My love as always

Mickos xx

Dear Cleo 18 03 26

Dear Cleo

Well we both got the first day of the short week over hope yours went better than mine, it was harder than I imagined, but it is over now and I can carry on with my story.

I bought a new orchid, some orchid food and decided she should be called Blanche because she is fairly white with a touch of Naples yellow. I sat her on the coffee table a drew this;

Figure 1 ( Graphite and liquid chalk on A5 cartridge

Blanch had a better structure than her predecessor she was easier to draw and the experiment with the liquid chalk was beginning to produce some interesting mark making. Again I flipped the drawing over in photoshop assessing the composition.

Figure 2 ( Digital image

I tried again this time trying to break down the clumsiness of Blanche’s blooms giving her a more elegant look

Figure 3 ( Graphite and liquid chalk on A5 cartridge

Figure 4 ( Digital image

I liked the way it was going and was beginning to be happy with the design. I tend to speed up as I near my quarry so I solidified the design a bit with a Sharpie. And then did a quick notan.

Figure 5 ( Sharpie on A5 cartridge

Figure 6 ( Digital image

Figure 7 ( Sharpie on A5 cartridge

Figure 8 ( obverse Sharpie on A5 cartridge

I was nearing my goal I when disaster struck, I was side tracked by the marks that had bled through on the next page of the sketchbook.

Figure 9 ( Imprint Sharpie on A5 cartridge

While I could still join the dots mentally to form Blanche I was fascinated by how the meaningless dots had an independent volume and space, and space was where I went next. The beginning of It’s a Wonderful Night or any of the Star Wars films, we like to look at stars, the Hollywood moguls know that, a tip they picked up from Vincent, maybe it is the way home. Just like Leonardo staring at an old wall or looking into the fire for inspiration, men and women since time immemorial have looked for patterns in the stars, the fates, ancient sailors and wise men from the East, there is a lot of History in the stars.

A major theme this section of the course is time and what could be more timeless than stars. I am not sure how long a light year is, but it seems like a very long timesince my underpants and tights were destroyed on my passage through the stratosphere and because of that I was unable to be a superhero. I became a builder and part time artist instead, forever condemned to wear the mild mannered glasses without the freedom and thrills of interstellar lycra. If you find any for sale on ebay, please pass on the link.

I used early space age tools such as Microsoft and Photoshop to create the Blanche constellation in the galaxy Orchidae, I felt like Smartiblartflast on a good week.

The resultant images appear below so please feel free to redraw your own star sign from them so that you can make it up as you go along, without listening to those charlatans in the newspapers and on the web. I have named the working drawings again, but everybody seems to think it important that constellations and galaxies have names. Look slowly at my images of Constellation Blanche and appreciate the light years of depth I have created on a flat peice of paper of A5 size.

I have just noticed the sinilarity between the words Gallaxy and Gallery, I looked them up on the internet, they are both decendeded from the Greek, the “x” denotes the God or Supreme Being the “r” denotes a supreme creator possibly from another planet or dimension.

Figure 10 ( Constellation Blanche in the Gallaxy Orchidae digital image

Figure 11 ( Constellation Blanche Digital image

Well my dearest we came a long way from home on this post both in time and distance perhaps tomorrow we will come back to earth with a bump or maybe I have enough control over this ship to give us an easy landing.

My love as always

Mickos xx

Dear Cleo 18 03 25

Dear Cleo

Great fun this morning coffee, croque messieur, you, me, Auburn, olives, bananas and the horsebox of the apocalypse. You are looking forward to your Easter Holiday which will be here before you know it.

Me, I dreamed of the Seashells live at the Shea Stadium and a big shell teaching the little shells to sing the song of the sea, but this afternoon I have been diverted into thinking about orchids. Several weeks ago I painted an orchid from Sainsbury’s and I had a feeling that the delicacy of the petals and the repetitive nature of the blooms would fit the bill of this project precisely.

Fig 1 ( Orchid 1 Oils on canvas 200 x 500

I set off with a will and made this,

Figure 2 ( graphite and liquid chalk on A5 cartridge

I then flipped the drawing in Photoshop to produce this more pleasing composition.

Figure 3 ( digital image

I felt I was onto something here and then the orchid died, all its petals fell off and everything. Luckily I don’t give my orchids names so I was not too upset at its passing, more annoyed that I could not continue with the drawing of it.

I re-read yesterday’s post and was surprised by two things, one, that I had named my sketches, I must have thousands of sketches and those five are the only ones with a name.

The second thing that surprised me was that I put those sketches on the internet for all to see. I am not precocious of my sketches but those five are particularly rough, had they not been in a sketchbook they would probably never have seen the light of day.

I think that I was, however, being a little precocious with this my blog only putting the best stuff in and keeping it neat and tidy for the world to see. I think I have finally realised that this blog is like a sketchbook and that realisation has been prompted by the gallery website that I have recently set up (everybody loves a bit of self promotion).The gallery is properly set up with as little wording as possible to show the public side of Mickos, on this blog, at times, you get the insecure worried side of Mickos that has crazy ideas and struggles to make sense of it all.

Yesterday’s sketches have the raw, the real Mickos, the struggle and the thinking and resolution that I now think this blog has been missing, this blog needs to be the Motown, the soul of my struggle, and from now on it will be. Yesterday’s sketches have a feel of Rauschenberg about them.

In the meantime, I need to nip to Sainsbury’s and buy a new orchid, I am going to give this one a name, naming things seems to mean that you love things and take better care of them and give them orchid food, like it says on the packet. I wonder if Sainsbury’s sell orchid food or if I will have to go to a garden centre?

That was a lot of words, but an important realisation, and coincidentally this project is also about time and the passage of it, so we will all have to wait till tomorrow when we have a new orchid to draw, and longer still because I need orchid food and a name for my new orchid.

It is turning into a series with episodes, I remember as a child the weekly episodes of Flash Gordon in the cinema or the comics, man and womankind are conditioned to think in episodes, what are you going to paint on the cave wall tomorrow Ma?

I hope you enjoyed your trip to the woods and I will write again tomorrow,

My love as always

Mickos xx

Dear Cleo 18 03 24

Dear Cleo

I am looking forward to meeting up with you tomorrow when we can enjoy a giggle and some olives and share our stories from the week. This story, I feel, will be too long to tell in the time available, so I shall put it here so you can read it at your leisure.

The project brief suggested a photorealistic drawing so I set to work with the bag of shells you brought me in an attempt to work out a composition ready to do the said drawing.

Figure 1 ( Shells with grid graphite on A5 cartridge

First off I drew a few of the shells to make sure that once I decided on a composition it would look suitably shell like. I then scattered the tiny shells on the coffee table and poked at them with the end of the pencil making quick sketches of any striking arrangements. I pushed them this way and that way.

Figure 2 ( Shells compositions 1 graphite on A5 cartridge

Then I pushed them that way and this way and any which way

Figure 3 ( Shells composition 2 graphite on A5 cartridge

I then decided to impose some order and composed the two bar Shell Symphony Tide in, Tide out, that repeats ad infinatum, all shells sing it all the time when you hold them close to your ear. It’s a piece for full orchestra and choir in three nine time, but it didn’t make for a pretty picture. I tried to rescue it with the chalk pen that I bought off the internet, but to no avail.

Figure 4 ( Shell Symphony “The song of the sea” graphite and liquid chalk on A5 cartridge

Back to the sketchbook, I added snails and more shells, then I thought of Michelle and tried a quick composition of the Beatles live at Shea stadium it had repetition and composition but like the shells it didn’t move me

Figure 5 ( Shells with snails and Beatles graphite on A5 cartridge

Enough already a change of direction is required. This dalliance with shells, snails, symphonies and Beatles may not be the way forward, I shall forge a new path tomorrow.

Sleep well my dearest and dream big.

My love as always

Mickos xx