Dear Cleo 18 10 29


Dearest Cleo

I hope you enjoyed your first day back at school after the half term, my studies are revolving around figure painting at the minute and looking at the work of Van Dyke and Vermeer. The good bit is I got to draw some so it was not all reading and writing.

There are ten Van Dyke Portraits in the National gallery and they all live in Room 20, the casual visitor would classify Van Dyke as a supreme portrait painter and they would be right, but tucked away in a corner of room 21 with other Dutch painters is Van Dyke’s Charity

Figure 1 Charity by Anthony Van Dyke

It is a painting from Van Dyke’s early years when his fame revolved around history and religious paintings and he was a pupil of Rubens before he found fame as a portrait painter.

Charity is a highly finished painting with no visible brush marks whereas the portraits in the next room do have visible brush marks in the back grounds that contrast with the faces this could be intentional but from my research it would seem that Van Dyke only painted the faces in the portraits, leaving the backgrounds to his assistants.

Moving on to room 16, the most striking thing about the Vermeer’s is their size they are tiny in comparison to many of the paintings in the galleries but perhaps all the more jewel like for that. Vermeer must have used very tiny brushes to achieve the detail and fall of light in the paintings.

Young woman standing at a virginal By Vermeer

I have seen Tim’s Vermeer and read Hockney’s theories of lenses but seeing the paintings close up, none of that seemed to matter, the genius is in the craftsmanship of these quiet interior scenes. The funniest review I have read on Tim’s Vermeer was by the Guardian art critic Johnathon James and is cited in the bibliography.

There are not that many surviving Vermeer’s, and I think that I have seen the most of them if not all, and I never cease to be amazed when I see one. I would love to paint on the scale of the old masters but I only live in a small house so Vermeer is an inspiration to pack so much into such a small frame.

I looked at Henry Raeburn and I also looked at the drawings of Van Dyke, I think from experience of doing the drawing courses it would take about 2 hours to do a portrait drawing as detailed and good enough to paint a portrait from. I have done the drawings so maybe this course is my chance to paint one. My life drawings are beginning to come alive and I have attached some below.

Figure 3 Life drawing Charcoal on A2 sugar paper

Figure 4 Life drawing Charcoal on A2 sugar paper

Figure 5 Life drawing Charcoal on A2 sugar paper

Figure 6 Life drawing Charcoal on A2 sugar paper

Figure 7 Life drawing Charcoal on A2 sugar paper

Figure 8 Life drawing Charcoal on A2 sugar paper

I find though I get a greater sense of movement in the sketches of people in my A5 sketchbook. There the people are moving, mostly they have moved on before the sketch is complete so although they are quick sketches they are informed by my studies in the life room.

Figure 9 Sketchbook 01 Ink on A5 cartridge

Figure 10 Sketchbook 02 Ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 11 Sketchbook 01 Ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 12 Sketchbook 01 Ink on A6 cartridge


Figure 13 Sketchbook 01 Ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 14 Sketchbook 01 Ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 15 Sketchbook 01 Ink on A6 cartridge


Figure 16 Sketchbook 01 Ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 17 Sketchbook 01 Ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 18 Sketchbook 01 Ink on A6 cartridge

I am looking forward to catching up again at the weekend, hope you enjoyed the ghost biscuits.

My love as always

Mickos xx



Gallery Visits

The National Gallery

Charles 1: King and collector (2018) Royal Accademy

Vermeer and Music. (2013) National Gallery

Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry (2017) National Gallery of Ireland.

Masters of the Everday: Dutch artists in the age of Vermeer. (2016) The Queens Gallery, Buckingham Palace.


Exhibition on screen (2013) Vermeer and Music

Tim’s Vermeer


Hockney, D. (2006) Secret Knowledge. Rediscovering the lost techniques of the Old Masters. London: Thames and Hudson

Schneider, N. (1993) Vermeer. Koln: Taschen.

Steadman, P. (2002) Vermeer’s Camera. London: Oxford University Press.

Wheelock, A.K. jnr. (1998) Vermeer: The Complete Works. New York: Abrams


Internet research

Faroult, G. (2012) Van Dyck and France under the Ancien Régime 1641–1793, At: (accessed 27/10/18)

Hearn,K. (2004) Sir Anthony Van Dyck’s Portraits of Sir William and Lady Killigrew, 1638. At: (accessed 27/10/18)

Howard, H. (2013) Vermeer and technique. At: (accessed 28/10/18)

Jones, J. (2014) DIY Vermeer documentary utterly misses the point about Old Masters. At: (accessed 29/10/18)


Liedtke,W.(1984) Anthony Van Dyke.At: (accessed 27/10/18)

Tate Britain (s.d.) Sir Anthony Van Dyke At:  (accessed 27/10/18)

Wood , J. (2011) The man who would be British. At: (accessed 27/10/18)