Dear Cleo 18 10 24

Dearest Cleo

There is no need for me to hope you are well, I know you are at Granny C’s and are being spoiled rotten, give your brother a kiss from me, and I will catch up with the two of you at the weekend. For me today was a special day, I got to paint as well as of all the reading and research and writing.

I spent some time looking at Australian cave and rock art, what I did find was a remarkable similarity to European cave painting and some “aliens” that reminded me of figures in Egyptian art. What I didn’t find was anything remotely resembling the illustration in the course workbook. It was obviously far too colourful to be cave art and is in fact an example of Aborigine dot painting.

Figure 1 Aborigine dot painting

The cave paintings are the last recorded aboriginal art, aboriginal art evolved into a style of Performance art involving shaman and drawings in the sand and on human bodies, an art that had little permanence.

The dot paintings evolved in the mid twentieth century when the aborigines were introduced the western pigments by missionaries and encouraged to reproduce the sand drawings of the shaman as art on canvas. It is a similar story to that of Dame Kiri Te Kanawha and her tribe, in fact it is a story as old as art itself, the artistically minded individuals of a tribe or nation of are introduced to a new medium and a radical new art movement is born. Does the fact that the aborigines were one of the last magical tribes and the fact that they actively promote dreamtime increase the surreal aspect of their work? The whole of Pre-Modern art concerns itself with visions and dreams and spirituality.

Following the instructions in the course book, I stuck with the cave painting and produced this.

Figure 2 Self Portrait on a man cave wall in Edmonton early twenty first century. Mouth blown sepia ink on acrylic paper 40 x 40cm

See you at the weekend when you get back

My love as always

Mickos xx


Dear Cleo 18 10 23

Dearest Cleo

I hope the weather in Dorset is fine for you, It was lovely here in London today. I have been looking at the Mannerists, the latter works of Michelangelo were Mannerist but here are three Mannerists that you probably don’t know about.

Of the three Mannerists chosen, two of them are Correggio and Parmigianino, who fit quite well together, as they were contemporaries. Both practised in Italy in the first part of the Sixteenth Century both were highly adept in Renaissance painting techniques and both used distortion of the figure to make their paintings more expressive.

Parmigianino did this famously in the Madonna with the long neck,

Figure 1 Madonna with the long neck

Look at the distortion of the Christ child to enormous proportions to suit the flow of the design. The angels who appear undistorted are crammed in one side of the picture to unbalance the work in opposition to Renaissance harmony. All this adds movement and expression to the image in an attempt to add something more than the mere depiction of life.

Figure 2 Ecce Homo

Correggio does much the same in Ecce Homo, look at the size of Jesus’ hands and arms compared to those of the people in front of him, it it a return to hierarchies of scale, but this time for the effect of the composition, the elongation of the form to suit the composition was a key concept of mannerism, again the unbalanced composition introduces movement into the piece.

Mannerism introduced a greater sense of air and space surrounding the figures into what was then contemporary art.

The difference or the odd man out was El Greco Who worked at the latter end of the sixteenth Century when Mannerism was in full flow. His distortions of the figure for pictorial effect are legend, so much so that they, four hundred years later influenced Cezanne, Picasso and the abstract expressionists. I think the best way to understand this is to look at perhaps his finest work The Burial of the Count of Orgaz. The lower half of this painting shows the earthly realm and the top half of the painting shows the heavenly realm. In the lower half, El Greco uses the Renaissance techniques he had learned in Italy, the imaginary upper half cam only be described as pure El Greco.

Figure 3 The Burial of the Count of Orgaz

It is a pure expression of El Greco’s imagination combining his icon and Renaissance training into his own style of expressive imaginative painting. He developed this style further in such works as Christ with the cross and of course Purification of the Temple and perhaps reached the zenith with The vision of St John which could have almost been painted by Cezanne.

Figure 4 The vision of St John

Have fun on your holiday.

My love as always


Mickos xx



Gallery visits

The National Gallery rooms 8 and 9


Bender, N.(s.d.) Parmigianino: 160 Paintings and Drawings. Kindle Edition: Icon-m.

Ankele, D. and D. (2011) Correggio. California: Ankele Publishing LLC.

Internet Research

National Gallery (s.d.) Christ presented to the people. At: (accessed 22/10/18)

Wikipedia. (s.d.) Parmigianino. At: (accessed 22/10/18)

National Gallery (s.d.) Christ driving the traders from the temple. At: (accessed 22/10/18)

Present (2011) El Greco: Paintings Biography and quotes. At: (accessed 22/10/18)







Dear Cleo 18 10 21

Dear Cleo

It was great to catch up yesterday and congratulations again on the hundred percent you got. My researches have taken me back to the National Gallery. I used to classify the pre modern artists like he was alive in the late sixteenth century, now I have a simpler system relating to the National Gallery, Leonardo room 60, Raphael room 63, Vermeer room 16 and Velasquez room 30, art is not about history, or only accidentally so, it is about the here and now.

This week’s visit was to Room 4 of the National Gallery to look at the work of Holbein, of the three works on view my favourite was Erasmus this was an early portrait by Holbein on an oak panel and it is as lively as his chalk drawings in the Royal Collection.

Figure 1 Erasmus

It is surprisingly realistic close up and in the Renaissance tradition it has no brush strokes that you can see, Holbein’s process of working was to start with a highly finished sketch which he would transfer to the painting surface and working with thin liquid paint carry out a grisaille which is a tonal image of the finished painting working in shades of grey. He would then introduce white into the grisaille, again using thin liquid paint, so that the lighting scheme of the painting was fixed.

At this stage, to all intents and purposes the painting was complete but in black and white and all that remained was to introduce colour, which was done with an endless series of thin coloured glazes working with even more dilute paint, as many as sixty glazes to produce the vivid colours seen in the final painting. Each glaze had to dry, which could take up to a week, before the next glaze could be applied, which is why paintings could take two years or more to complete. Leonardo kept the Mona Lisa with him for forty years so you can only imagine how many glazes he applied in that time.

The skill and time involved in the creating of the old master paintings is what is being celebrated here not the money they are worth.

A photograph could accomplish the same end result in a fraction of a second, but the reason a photograph is less realistic is that it is from one perspective, the lens, rather like looking at the world with one eye closed. Coming face to face with Erasmus almost 500 years after he died is an experience that you can only have in room 4 at the National Gallery neither the photograph nor the internet can do it, you have to be there and it is well worth the cost of the trip.

Have a good week at school and get more hundred percents.

My love as always

Mickos xx



Gallery visits

The Northern Renaissance Durer to Holbein 2013 Queens Gallery

The Encounter: Drawing From Leonardo to Rembrandt National Portrait Gallery

The National Gallery Room 4


Wolf, N.( 2004)  lbein the Younger The German Raphael Koln:Taschen

Internet research


Dear Cleo 18 10 10

Dear Cleo

On Sunday I went to the National Gallery and the V&A to look at the Raphael’s, I suppose to really study Raphael’s work you have to go to Rome. I am hatching a plan to go there in the spring. I would have gone in November but Paris beckoned.

I am quite familiar with Raphael’s drawings from my previous studies and it seems from reading, that the drawings are more Raphael than the later paintings as he had a large workshop who completed the painting paintings from his original designs probably in a similar way to Warhol’s factory.

Figure 1 St Catherine of Alexandria

My favourite in the National Gallery was St Catherine of Alexandria, it is about A1 in size and painted in oils on a wooden panel she looks so natural and relaxed standing there leaning on her wheel and the red of her cloak contrasts so well with the greens in the picture. The wheel is a symbol of the miracle and it is almost a comic book frame from the life of St Catherine.

I was so taken by it I bought a small poster of it in the shop, I will bring it with me at the weekend to show you. See you then.

My love as always


Mickos xx



Gallery Visits

The National Gallery Room 61

The Victoria and Albert Museum Raphael Court



Petherbridge, D. (2010) The Primacy of Drawing, New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

Pouncey, P. and Gere, J.A. (1962) Italian Drawings in the BM: Raphael and his Circle, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Thoenes, C. (2007) Raphael The Invention of the High Renaissance.Koln: Taschen.

Whistler, C., Thomas, B., Gnann A. and Aceto A. (2017) Raphael the Drawings, Oxford: Ashmolean Museum.

Internet research

Ashmolean. (s.d.) Study of the heads of two apostles and their hands. At: (Accessed on 23.10.17)

British Museum, The. (s.d.) Collection online. At: (Accessed on 23.10.17)

Butterfield, A (2017) Raphael up close. At: (Accessed on 13. 10.17)

James, J. (2017) Raphael: The Drawings Review-a magnificent, mind-opening exhibition. At: Johnathan James (Accessed on 23.10.17)

Kennedy, M. (2017)’Extraordinary’ Raphael show to be a big draw at Ashmolean in Oxford. At: (Accessed on 23.10.17)

Leigh C. (2012) Could Picasso draw better than Raphael. At:  (Accessed on 21.10.17)

Neuendorf, H. (2017) Forget His Paintings, Raphael’s Drawings Reveal His True Genius. At: (Accessed on 23.10.17)

Dear Cleo 18 09 30

Dearest Cleo

Great time at Loz’s Party in La Porcetta last night It is early morning and I am back at work investigating Donatello. In my readings of Vasari, the first art historian I have noticed something else. Vasari writes about art in a conversationalist style, just as Vincent did, there are no “V” in my name, but I feel like I am in good company.

Donatello was the rebirth of the ancient lost art of sculpture, he began his artistic career as an archaeologist in Rome with his friend Brunelleschi. His first major work was St John the Evangelist, whilst the head of the figure is rooted in the Gothic style the figure itself harks back to Greek and Roman sculpture.

Donatello’s later work expanded on and even surpassed classical sculpture, laying the foundations for Michelangelo and other Renaissance sculptors.

Figure 1 David

Before I went to Florence I had only noted Donatello’s David on my list of things to see but while I was in Florence I kept coming across a Donatello here and a Donatello there, there are quite a few of them about. When you go be sure and add The Penitent Magdalene to your list, it is right up there with the Burgers of Calais as expressive sculpture.

Figure 2 The Penitent Magdalene

Legend has it that Donatello made this work after a period of severe illness when he became aware of his own mortality, he must have been ill before, because Lo Zuccone has the same expressive quality.

Figure 3 Lo Zuccone

So there you go some preparation for your trip to Florence in case you should go without me and of course you must climb both Giotto’s bell tower and Brunelleschi’s Duomo. See you next Saturday.

My love as always

Mickos xx 



Vassari, G. (1912) Lives of the Most Eminent Painters,  Sculptors & Architects. London: Macmillan and Co. Ltd & the Medici Society Ltd.

Internet Research


Dear Cleo 18 09 29

Dearest Cleo

It was good to see you this morning and I am looking forward to catching up again later at Loz’s birthday party. My study of pre-modern art has arrived at Jan Van Eyck these are my investigations.

Van Eyck following the completion of the Ghent Altarpiece begun by his brother Hubert was considered a prince amongst painters. Although credited by Vasari as the inventor of oil paint modern methods of examination have proved this not to be the case as drying oils had been in use for a considerable time before Van Eyck.

Van Eyck’s use of oil paints produced a naturalism of the highest order producing extremely lifelike works such as The Arnolfi Marriage, Portrait of a Man ( Self portrait), Portrait of a Man Leal Souvenir and Saint Barbara all of which reside in Room 63 at the National Gallery. The first 3 are highly finished works in oil, the paint layers are thin and built up with great subtlety and perhaps St Barbara reveals an early stage in the artist’s process of layered works.

Figure 1 The Arnolfi Marriage

Figure 2 Portrait of a Man ( Self portrait)

Figure 3 Portrait of a Man Leal Souvenir

Figure 4 Saint Barbara

Although the Italian Renaissance is much trumpeted, the Northern Renaissance reached this high point with Van Eyck in the early 15th century some fifty years before the Italian pinnacle.

The Chandelier in The Arnolfi Marriage provided considerable interest to Hockney in his book Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters concerning the use of mirrors and lenses in the art of the past.

In 2010 the conservationists at the National Gallery restored the Van Eyck work Margaret the artist’s wife, the restoration is recorded in detail here and provided a fascinating insight into the artists materials and techniques.

See you in a few hours at the restaurant.

My love as always

Mickos xx

Museum Visit

The National Gallery to see the four works in Room 63


Vassari,G. (1912) Lives of the Most Eminent Painters  Sculptors & Architects. London: Macmillan and Co. Ltd & the Medici Society Ltd.

Hockney, D. (2006) Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters. New York: Avery Publishing


Internet research

(all accessed September 2018)

Documentaries viewed

Jill Poyard fine Art. (2017) Brushstrokes (part 1) – The Early Masters. At: (accessed 28.9.18)

BBC. The Northern Renaissance 01 The Supreme Art. At: (accessed 29.9.18)

Dear Cleo 18 09 27

Dearest Cleo

I hope you are well and I am looking forward to catching up with you on Saturday morning to see what you have been up to. I have spent a happy week looking at the works of Hieronymus Bosch, they were painted 500 years ago but are surprisingly modern in a surrealistic sense.

Hieronymus Bosch is acknowledged by the surrealists as the first painter of modern art. It is hard not to agree, a detail from The Creation shows two things, firstly the sea creatures emerging from the deep to evolve into land mammals, a concept that was not thought of until Darwin in the nineteenth century, and secondly the house forms a face in profile with a suspiciously Dali like moustache formed by the serpent. If these are two unintentional prophecies then Bosch’s Hell is a place to be truly feared. The reverse wings of The Garden of earthly delights are reminiscent of a Chinese painting. Did Bosch imagine this also?

Figure 1 Detail from The Creation by Hieronymus Bosch.

Figure 2 profile of Salvador Dali

Although Bosch’s work is full of symbolism and allegory it is extremely represantationalist and figurative. All of his works have a narrative element. One of the lesser known facts about Bosch’s work is that he was a supreme landscape artist, the recession and aerial perspective in his landscapes was far better than anything attempted by his contemporaries.

Bosch painted on wooden panels with oil paints as was the custom in the Netherlands at the time, probably the first major development in paints since Stone Age times. His ground was thinner than that of his contemporaries so that in places the grain of the ground shows through the final paintwork. Bosch’s paintings reveal the hand of the artist at work in contrast to the porcelain like finish of his contemporaries

Bosch had a large workshop and many followers so attribution of his work today is difficult but puts his personal work at around 25 pieces, but this is, of course, surrounded in controversy.

Bosch’s Paintings are the stuff of nightmares do not take them to heart, they are the truth of a bygone age when attitudes were entirely different to what they are today. Looking forward to seeing you at the weekend.

My love as always

Mickos xx

Museum Visit

The National Gallery to see Christ Mocked


Bosing ,W. (1987) Hieronymus Bosch c 1450-1516 Between Heaven and Hell . Hohenzollering: Taschen.

Internet research

(all accessed 23. 09 18)

Documentaries viewed

Hieronymus Bosch Art Documentary with Brian Sewell. At: (Accessed 27.09.18)

The Mysteries of Hieronymus Bosch. (Accessed 26.09.18)

Koerner, J.L. (2009) The undpeakable subject of Hieronymus Bosch. At: (Accessed 25.09.18)

Thomas, B. (2018) The Garden of Earthly delights- A Documentary. At:  (Accessed 27.09.18)

Hieronymus Bosch & the delights of hell. At: (Accessed 24.09.18)