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