Dear Cleo 19 01 02

Dearest Cleo

Well we are still waiting for your new baby brother or sister, it can’t be long now, instead of sitting here worrying I have been busy writing my reflections on part 1 of the course. It is perhaps a bit fitting that the first post of 2019 looks back over the second half of 2018.

Assignment Part 1


Do you feel you have managed to delve beneath and beyond the surface, to get “under the skin” of painting and begin to understand its making and the material choices and conceptual considerations of the artists you looked at?

From my reading and visits to galleries I have a good understanding of how art was made in the pre-modern and Modern era from a technical point of view but I need to understand more about the non technical point of view, the why not the how, I think the collages I have been doing are beginning to help in this respect but I need to work on them more, I think, to bring out what is inside me.

In my study of pre-modernist art and modernist art, the material choices of the artist were predominantly affected by the technology available to them, at the time

Primarily this would refer to the types of pigment available to them which varied from ground up rocks and berries dissolved in water to chemical pigments available in collapsible metal tubes.

Although brushes have changed and become more sophisticated there are still brushes today that are basically the same as when the paint stopped being put on by hand and mouth blown in the caves.

Supports are slightly different, for a long time there were just walls, then came papyrus, paper and timber panels followed by canvas and canvas boards, all of which served to make paintings transportable, but there remained a desire to paint on walls like it gives the work a greater sense of permanence, and if you want to see it you have to go and visit it to see its Aura. (Benjamin)

The conceptual considerations of the artist were based around ceremony and religion up until the time of the Renaissance and it was only after the Reformation that this changed when artists worked on a commission basis for wealthy clients. It was not until the nineteenth century that artists conceptualised their own visions and held a stock of paintings for sale. This is not to say that earlier artists lacked conception, they still has to conceive the design, composition and colouring of their works but they worked within a greater conceptual idea whereas nineteenth century artists had to conceive works that would sell in order to keep body and soul together.

So much art has been lost over the centuries and only the best has been preserved, which was a colossal target for modern artists to continue. From the 19th century art became more conceptual and less craft based

Do your experimental pieces successfully reflect any of the inspirations or revelations that you encountered during your research?

Sienna Scraffito, Self Portrait on a man cave wall in Edmonton early twenty first century and the ST series of collages were all works done without the use of a brush which were all the result of inspirations I encountered during my research.

The revelations of the old master techniques inspired me to do Grisaille for La Giaconda and Lauren, both of which remain in progress, as you can see from my step by step painting of Lauren I have adapted the technique somewhat to fix the drawing earlier and speed up the drying times.

Seated figure just came into my head while I was reading about Cubism so I guess that was truly inspired.

What questions has the work you have done in Part 1 thrown up in terms of your own practice?

Why do I like The Rip Offs, is there the beginnings of something good about them?

How do Ochres #1, 2 and 3 connect with The Rip Offs?

When will I ever understand the assessment criteria?

Review your work using the assessment criteria


Demonstration of visual and technical skills

Have used drawing media, pastels oils, acrylics and collage

Observational skills and visual awareness in sketchbooks

Design and compositional skills evident in use of perspective and golden section

Quality of outcome

Lauren, Moonlight Apocalypse and Seated Figure have quality

Seated figure is an almost unconscious application of knowledge

The Blog is readable and interesting


Conceptualisation of thought

Communication of ideas


Demonstration of Creativity

Moonlight Apocalypse is straight from my imagination no models no sketches

I am experimenting with The Ochre’s and The Rip Offs


Development of a personal voice


Am reflecting on the significance of what I am doing with The Rip Offs and the Ochre’s

Have carried out extensive research using both primary and secondary sources

Am questioning the veracity of the secondary sources


While I have been doing much research I have not neglected the practical aspect of the course and experimented with lots of techniques that I think will form the basis for moving forward on the course.

The nine or ten collages in the Rip off series that began with the exercise on Matisse’s cut outs that are all on the blog, the series is continuing and it feels to me that this has somewhere else to go with more work.

There is a tonal sketch and some compositional sketches and three colour studies for a canal bridge that I painted for my brother, using the paint in different ways the one he chosen was a sort of Brabizon technique which I used for the finished piece.

The final composition is based around the golden section with the bridge dominant in the scene, as in Monet’s Japanese Bridge. It is after all the subject of the painting.

Figure 01 tonal compositional sketch for Granddad’s bridge Ink, charcoal and graphite A2 sugar paper

Figure 02 Colour Study 1 Impressionist style for Granddad’s bridge acrylic on 25 x 10 board

Figure 03 Colour Study 2 post impressionist style for Granddad’s bridge acrylic on 25 x 10 board

Figure 04 Colour Study 3 Brabizon style for Granddad’s bridge acrylic on 25 x 10 board

Figure 05 Granddad’s bridge oil on 45 x 40 canvas


There is also am almost complete acrylic grisaille of the Mona Lisa but it is getting a little tedious due to the small brushwork required. I work on it for about an hour a week so it will be a long time getting finished but she is beginning to get a sense of volume and form and she does have the beginnings of a smile.

Figure 06 Grisaille for La Giaconda acrylic on 35 x 45 board

There is a partially finished painting of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse which is something I got interested in while I was studying Drawing 2, I think it is influenced by the style of Delacroix and it is composed and modelled in my imagination.

Figure 07 Moonlight Apocalypse acrylic on 65 x 75 canvas

Also on the blog there is a completed a pastel study on the blog entitled Gendarme Raid that I completed working from a sketchbook study that has the potential to be a painting. I have begun to enjoy working in pastels more. I recently saw some of Paula Rego’s large pastels at la Musee D’Orangerie and enjoy the speed of working that this process allows.

In my figure drawing class I have been experimenting with Cubism this still has a way to go but the preliminary experiment is included on the blog as Seated Figure.

Lauren, a portrait of my daughter is still drying but I am posting the step by step photographs that I have taken so far to give an idea of the work

Figure 08 Initial pencil study 40 x 45

Figure 09 Initial block in acrylic 40 x 45

Figure 10 Adding tones in acrylic 40 x 45

Figure 11 Adding tones in acrylic 40 x 45

Figure 12 Completed acrylic grisaille 40 x 45

Figure 12 Dead colouring in oils 40 x 45

I know it was a lot to read but there were enough pictures at the end, I hope you like the picture of Aunty Loz even though it is not finished yet. Maybe by this time tomorrow the new baby will have arrived and if not we will just have to wait a little longer.

My love as always

Mickos xx


Benjamin, W. (2008.)The work of Art in the age of Mechanical Reproduction, London: Penguin








Dear Cleo 18 12 20

Dearest Cleo

Well your Birthday is over now I hope you liked your presents and if you didn’t, you could always write to Santa for some different ones, Christmas is very close now and I like you am always excited by the magical time.

This week I have been reading about Marc Chagall, much of his work is based on his childhood memories growing up in a Jewish town in Russia. For a modern painter his work is very figurative and his palette, were he slightly older, would have qualified him as a fauvist rather than an expressionist.

When you begin to look close, it is quite astonishing, how the modern art movements influenced individual artists. The movements were of quite short duration and an individual artist would live through or alongside many movements picking out the parts that he or she felt that were relevant and incorporating them into their own practice.

I suppose this comes from looking at the work of your contemporaries in books and magazines and of course looking at historical artwork. Today it is more difficult to do this because in the current era art is not so vibrant in inventing the completely different every few years and art itself is not the major topic of international interest that it was in the twentieth century, perhaps football, particularly televised football is the new art.

But back to Chagall, I don’t recall having seen an original Chagall but I am looking forward now to seeing  The Green Donkey at the Tate Modern in early January, so that I can look first hand at his brushwork and his palette.

From the image available on the internet the work is based on Chagall’s childhood memories, there is a definite air of Fiddler on the Roof about it Chagall of course being the major inspiration for that film. Like Kandinsky, Chagall was fascinated by the link between music and art and many of his works feature dancers and musicians.

There is a definite Fauvist influence on his colouring and though the composition does not appear to be based on the historical golden section there are curious coincidences that make the work appealing to the eye. Chagall’s use of line and colour flatten the picture plane making a pattern out of a figurative subject.

I will write more about it when I have actually seen it, until then.

My Love as always


Mickos xx




Metzger,R, and Walther, I. F. (2000) Chagall Kohl: Taschen



Dear Cleo 18 12 08

Dear Cleo

It was lovely to catch up with you this morning, the next time we meet it will be your Birthday weekend, and I am really looking forward to it and I expect you are looking forward to it even more.

While I was in Paris, I went to see the Schiele exhibition at the Fondation Louis Vuitton. One of the nice things about going to new places is that you sometimes get to see some amazing things, the Fondation Louis Vitton to the west of Paris on the edge of the Bois de Boulogne is a marvellous piece of architecture. Designed by Frank Gehry, who also designed the Guggenheim in Bilbao, I am a builder and buildings as art never fail to impress me.

That was the free art show, in almost the whole of the basement of the Foundation was the paying Schiele exhibition. I never count but there was an awful lot of Schiele’s work on display. Schiele was perhaps one of the greatest draftsmen the world has known and most of the Schiele exhibitions you get to see are based around his works on paper. This exhibition, as well as the drawings included eleven oil paintings by Schiele, while Schiele’s drawings have a unique style his paintings are not entirely unique. The eleven paintings on view owe much to the secessionist movement and Schiele’s mentor Klimt.

Autumn Sun of 1914 is almost a premonition of the First World War with its Khaki’s browns and greens against a dull sky with a setting sun and a field of poppies evokes the image of the war before the war had actually begun. The architecture of The Bridge is reminiscent of Klimt’s exquisite pattern work, whilst the flattening of the picture space destroys the perspective. Lovers could be a Klimt except for the dullness of the palette and the warlike looking sky in the background. The vision of St Hubert could almost be a pre-Raphaelite painting except for its lack of highly detailed finish, the thin glazing of the paintwork is reminiscent of an unfinished Leonardo or a stained glass window. Krumau on the Vltava is a highly expressive landscape with flattened perspective, at a distance the impression of architecture disappears and the blocks of colour seem far ahead of their time.

The under painting, oil as watercolour wash style continues in Self Portrait with a Model (Fragment) with the work crying out for a second pass and some highlights. Portrait of Trude Engel was the only painting I saw that Schiele didn’t appear to have completed in a single sitting and worked on for some time, but Schiele has retained the washy under painting effect almost as if he was afraid to take the painting to a full blown finish. Trude Engle was so disappointed with the final work that she attacked it with a knife.

Self Portrait with Chinese lantern plant is again a work that could have been done in a single session but the handling of the paint is far heavier and opaque and his use of black in the coat could rival either Velasquez or Manet for bringing life to the colour. The two paintings The Procession and Mother and Death were grouped together, they were both painted around the same time 1911 in the early part of Schiele’s career and it is easy to see the Secessionist patterning here, the highlights, absent from the later paintings and the layering would indicate that these paintings were completed over more than a single session. I was particularly interested in the procession as it is of a group of people and could perhaps be a way of my own sketches escaping the sketchbook.

The final painting Danae from 1909 is the most Secessionist work of all and heavily influenced by Klimt’s Danae. This is the very early part of Schiele’s career he was a Secessionist who developed into an Expressionist.

There is an impatience about Schiele it seems he is satisfied when he has the pattern on the canvas, this is completely true of his drawings and also of the majority of his paintings, Freud would have viewed this easy achievement of gratification in a whole different light than I, once the problem is solved, it no longer holds the attention of the protagonist.

It is testament to the popularity of Klimt and Schiele that so much of their work is readily available on the internet and while this is a great platform for studying art you can’t beat looking at the work in real life.

I have been to several Schiele exhibitions all of which were dominated by the works on paper, the works on paper cross between drawings and paintings and they all have the wow factor. This exhibition was also dominated by the works on paper but by concentrating on the oil paintings on canvas I feel I have learned much more about Klimt, Schiele and the Secession. I can feel a trip to Vienna coming on.

I never learned to ice skate they didn’t have a rink near me when I was small but I will be there as a pretty vocal spectator because I have to deliver your present. See you next weekend.

My love as always

Mickos xx



Egon Schiele: Foundation Louis Vuitton. (2018)

Klimt/Schiele: Drawings from the Albertina Museum Vienna: Royal Academy (2018)

Life in Motion: Egon Schiele/ Francesca Woodman: Tate Liverpool (2018)

Egon Schiele: The Radical Nude: Courtauld (2015)


Hore, R. Ed. (2018) Klimt Schiele. Drawings From the Albertina Museum, Vienna. London: Royal Academy of Arts.

Buchhart, D. Ed. (2018) Egon Schiele. Paris: Foundation Louis Vuitton.

Neret, G (2015) Gustav Klimt: The world in Female Form. Koln: Taschen.

Wolf, N. (2009) Symbolism. Koln: Taschen.

Steiner, R. (2017) Egon Schiele: The Miidnight Soul of the Artist. Koln: Taschen.

Virgo, P. &Wright, B. Ed. (2014) Egon Schiele: The Radical nude

Leopold, R. (2005) Egon Schiele: Landscapes. London: Prestel Publishing Ltd..

Kallir, J (2015) Egon Schiele: Drawings and Watercolours. London: Thames and Hudson.


(all accessed on 08/12 2012);-Self-portrait-with-model-(fragment),-1913.html





Dear Cleo 18 12 07

Dearest Cleo

Well it is almost the weekend and I am looking forward to seeing you again. I was a bit upset with myself, for assuming from the books I had read, that the Blue Rider was an all male affair.

Well every day is a school day, today I learned that The Blue Rider included two female artists, Gabrielle Munter and Marianne Von Werefkin. As promised Amazon delivered the book I ordered. It was a beautiful book, lavishly illustrated, with not too much writing so that it was quick to read. It contained many works by Kandinsky, Macke and Marc that I am now quite familiar with, but also some by Munter and Werefkin.

Gabriele Munter was a founder member of The Blue Rider, she was Kandinsky’s muse, companion and lover throughout his pre First World War career and they parted when Kandinsky returned to Russia in 1914. When I flicked through the book after it was delivered, I assumed her paintings were works by Kandinsky that I had not previously seen, but on reading the book I began to appreciate her work. Like many of the early twentieth century artists she dabbled in a number of isms over the course of her career but my favourite was Streetcar in Munich, the central streetcar occupies the focus of the golden section and the colours are pure magic.

Marianne Von Werefkin studied under the Russian Realist Painter Ilya Repin and again her works can be attributed to a number of early Twentieth Century Art Movements. She was a latecomer to The Blue Rider but for me her stand out work is Tragic mood, looking at the picture you can feel the woman’s need to be alone with her thoughts and feelings whilst her partner stares uncomprehendingly from beside their home.

I wasn’t able to find an internet version of Streetcar in Munich but I will show you the picture in the book when you come round.

My love as always

Mickos xx



Kurster, U. (2016) Kandinsky Marc & Der Blaeu Reiter. Basle: Foundation Beyeler

Jansen, I. (2017) Gabriele Munter. London: Prestel Publishing

Internet research

All accessed 06 December 2018

Dear Cleo 18 12 04


Dearest Cleo

It seems a long time since I saw you at the weekend, it probably seems longer to you as you are waiting for both your Birthday and Christmas. Don’t worry the will come round soon enough. I am carrying on with my studies and research and this week’s chosen artist is Franz Marc

Studying this course is a bit like going on the internet and dropping down the next link, but because it involves reading whole books, it is slower and you never get that far away from your original interest. This week I started researching Franz Marc and along the way I have discovered much about August Macke, Wassily Kandinsky, The Blue Rider and German Expressionist painting.

Franz Marc is the painter of abstract animals perhaps most famously the blue horses and the yellow cow. Marc and Macke (Shopping and Turkish cafe’s) collaborated and influenced each other from 1910 to 1914, when they were conscripted in the German army and died in the First World War, Macke in 1914 and Marc in 1916. Kandinsky, (Cossacks and Yellow Red and Blue)who is credited with painting the first truly abstract paintings, although I think myself that this accolade may belong to Hilma af Klint, lived to a ripe old age, dying in France of natural causes in 1944. That probably gets rid of the headlines except perhaps that Marc was the only artist whose work was removed from the Nazi’s Degenerate Art Exhibition at the behest of the German people. If you can get Nazi’s into a piece people sit up straight and pay attention.

German expressionist artists were deep thinkers about their art, the writings of Marc and Kandinsky during the period of the Blue Rider,1911 to 1916 have had profound influence on the direction of Modern art. When artists write about art they write from the heart, critics and philosophers pander to their audience.

I could bore you all night with their observations but I will select just two examples that to me in my studies seem very pertinent. Marc said “Whether you paint the Virgin Mary in Majesty or asparagus does not decide the quality of a picture or its value but it can make one hell of a difference” (Partsch p 76) An artist must chose to paint for himself or his audience representational commissions may pay the bills, but only the art from his soul can guarantee his place in history.

Kandinsky chose to make a distinction between the greater abstraction and the greater realism “The strong abstract sound of physical form does not necessarily demand the destruction of the representational. In the painting of Marc (The Bull) we can see that here, too, there are no general rules. The object can thus fully retain both inner and outer sound and its individual parts may be transformed into independently sounding abstract forms and thereby create a general abstract overall sound.” (Partsch p. 56)

I take this to mean that I can employ colour theory, composition and abstract shapes in a landscape commission, without producing a slavish copy of the photograph. Feel free to keep my work in your attic until after I am dead, just pay for the painting. One day you will be glad that I was the artist who produced a painting rather than a photorealist copy of your photograph.

Amazon has plans to deliver a book on The Blue Rider tomorrow so I may yet write further on this subject. Good luck with your play rehearsals, break a leg.

My Love as always

Mickos xx




Partsch. S, (2016) Franz Marc: Pioneer of abstract painting Kohl: Taschen

Meseure, A. (2018) Macke. Kohl: Taschen

Duchting, H. (2015) Wassily Kandinsky: A Revolution in Painting. Kohl: Taschen

Internet research

All accessed 03 and 04 December 2018


Dear Cleo 18 11 28

Dearest Cleo

I was talking to your mum today and heard that your new bed has come for your room and that she is picking up your new bedding on Thursday evening, I think you might be cosy and snug in there until you are at least a teenager. Me I am reflecting on the Miro exhibition I saw in Paris

Although Miro is grouped with the Surrealists, he himself would not have accepted this grouping, he was at heart a colourist. He avoided being part of a group or school even though at times his paintings had a hint of Surrealism, Fauvism and Cubism. He fiercely maintained his independent stance his whole life.

The exhibition I attended at the Grand Palais in Paris was a retrospective of his whole career starting with his early realist work, dabbling with various isms and on to his final pieces from the Blue series of the 1960’s and onwards to the eighties the exhibition was probably a slightly extended version of that held in the same venue in 1974.

The retrospective aspect made quite an impression on me, it was almost as if once he could do something he would move on and try something new, in a way that is how I am feeling doing this course, once I can do something and prove to myself I can do it well I feel the need to move to pastures new.

His later paintings after he got his new studio in Palma were mural sized and very imposing for that, but that does not take away from his earlier paintings which were smaller as he lived in a house. Maybe that is something else I can look forward to in the future. It is funny the constraints that are placed on a painter that you wouldn’t imagine unless you really stopped to consider.

Miro claimed his inspiration came from his dreams but he also confessed to staring at walls and ceilings his painting Harlequins Carnival emphasises the patterns on the wall this, is reminiscent of Leonardo and could give an enterprising curator the opportunity to hang the two artists together.

Figure 1 Harlequins Carnival by Joan Miro

A Miro is instantly recognisable and could only ever be a Miro.

Enjoy your new bedroom

My Love as always

Mickos xx





Mink, J,  (2016) Miro:  The poet among the Surrealists. Kohl: Taschen


Tate (s.d) Joan Miro At:  (accessed 28/11/18)

Wikipedia (s.d.) Joan Miro At: (accessed 28/11/18)

Guggenhiem (s.d.) Joan Miro At: (accessed 28/11/18)

MoMA(s.d.) Joan Miro At: (accessed 28/11/18)

Foundation Joan Miro (s.d.) Joan Miro At: (accessed 28/11/18)



Dear Cleo 18 11 27

Dearest Cleo

After we met last Saturday, I went up town in the afternoon to see the Klimt/Schiele exhibition at the Royal Academy. Schiele is one of my favourite artists and I was more than impressed with the drawings on show.

This was my second Schiele exhibition within a month but this time he was paired with his mentor Klimt, the excuse for the exhibition seemed to be that 2018 was the centenary of the death of both Klimt and Schiele but they appear to have much more in common than that.

Firstly they both lived in Austria, both lived in Vienna, both were part of the secessionist movement and like most Viennese in the early twentieth century, including Freud, sex seemed to be the drug of choice.

Both drew explicit nudes but whereas Klimt’s drawings have the air of prepatory studies for paintings, Schiele’s drawings were an end in themselves. Klimt’s drawings are invariably in pencil or charcoal but Schiele used a wide range of media both wet and dry so that some of his works are classed as drawings only because they were executed on paper.

Schiele’s angular drawings are instantly attributable to him, many having a riot of expressionist colour and they all feel that they were executed at great speed, full of pent up emotion, eager to commit to the page. Klimt’s drawings, however, are more considered and flowing, more of a prepatory study than an in your face statement.

Neither artist, in my opinion, achieved a successful transition from drawing to canvas and both of their paintings have something of a contrived aspect to them, that seems to avoid the energy and enthusiasm of the original drawing, there is a certain deadness from drawing to paint, perhaps the only exception being Klimt’s Judith.

One thing I noticed, was that both of them had a shorthand for hands and feet that seemed to work all of the time, these are difficult things to draw as I know from my time in the life room, but I realise I need to practice more and develop a convincing short hand for these that is instantly believable for these in whatever position they lie to bring my own drawings to life, they are such an important part of a life drawing.

It was good to see an exhibition of Schiele’s work where the companion artist had not also died tragically young. It was also good to see the influence of Klimt on Schiele.

I am looking forward to catching up at the weekend by which time we will be in your birthday month.

My love as always

Mickos xx


The Catalogue

Hore, R, (ed) (2018) Klimt Schiele. Drawings From the Albertina Museum, Vienna.London: Royal academy of Arts.

The Exhibition

Royal Academy. (2018) Klimt/Schiele: Drawings from the Albertina Museum Vienna. At: (Accessed 26/11/18)

The Critics

Campbell Johnson, R. (2018) Exhibition Review: Klimt/Schiele Drawings from the Albertina Museum, Vienna at the Royal Academy W1. At: (Accessed 26/11/18)

Collings, M. (2018) Klimt/Schiele review: Protégé steals the show in tale of two great Austrian artists. At: (Accessed 26/11/18)

Cumming, L. (2018) Klimt/Schiele review- their obsessions were mutual. At: (Accessed 26/11/18)

Collings, M. (2018) Klimt/Schiele review: Protégé steals the show in tale of two great Austrian artists. At: (Accessed 26/11/18)

Jones, J. (2018) Klimt/Schiele review-the double act who the profound in the pornographic. At: (Accessed 26/11/18)

Prodger, M. (2018) Eroticism in black and white: the drawings of Klimt and Schiele. At: 26/11/18)

Westall, M. (2018) Klimt/Schiele exhibition opens in London. At: (Accessed 26/11/18)