Dear Cleo 18 11 19

Dearest Cleo

I had great fun at my Birthday Party, thank you for the lovely presents and thank you especially for the card you made for me. I must get a frame for it while I am buying one for the portrait Aunty Loz painted.

It was late in the evening in Paris, I was watching the local boys doing their stuff through the window of a nearby bar when all of a sudden, in a flash of blue lights, the street emptied.

I had been looking at the work of Caillebotte in the afternoon and was quite taken with the bridge shape outside the bar window, in the quiet of the gendarme raid I sketched this;

Figure 1 Gendarme Raid ink on A4 Cartridge

When I got home I got out the pastels and painted this;

Figure 2 Gendarme Raid pastels on 40 x 40 sugar paper.

I am a little worried that my rectangular sketches are turning into 40 x 40 squares it could be the influence of Instagram, I am going to have to guard against that.

I checked both the sketch and the pastel with the Phi Matrix Golden Section Grid and while the sketch fitted the grid very well because I am used to envisioning the golden section in a rectangle the square composition is a bit new but it didn’t look too bad with the section superimposed, maybe I am more used than I thought to the square format. I have added the section diagrams so you can decide for yourself.

Figure 3 Golden Rectangle

Figure 4 Golden square

Pastels seem just the right medium for French scenes, I wonder if they will still be available after Brexit, but then perhaps we won’t need them so much because we won’t be able to nip over to France to paint and draw.

I think I have caught some of the feel of both Caillebotte and Lowry but most of all, I have obeyed the rule of Baudelaire and painted a picture of modern life.

Thank you again for my birthday card and I am looking forward to catching up with you at the weekend.

My Love as always


Mickos xx



Dear Cleo 18 11 18

Dearest Cleo

When I left London this morning it was 05.40 am and dark. while I was on the train I missed the dawn and a French Dawn blossomed as the train came out of the tunnel under the sea.

I was in Paris for 09.15, I could only book into my hotel at 1400 so I stowed my bags in the left luggage and caught the train to Auvers sur Oise. I caught three trains to get there, but the journey only lasted an hour.

Outside the Station at Auvers there is a map of the ten most interesting places to see. I first went to see the church then followed the signs to the cemetery which was on the high ground outside the village. It is about 300 meters from where he painted Wheatfield with Crows, there are crows there still, minding the remains of the man who made their ancestors’ famous.

I had brought a single sunflower, its yellow looked good on the phalo green of the ivy covering the two graves, they only needed one, Theo’s wife had ensured they were together for eternity, I stood in silence for a moment lost in the November wind of a shiny day, then I moved on, eager to see the places he had chosen to immortalize.

I was glad it was out of season and I did not get to see the suicide room or the dining room of the Auberge Ravoux Hotel. I noticed that the Marie had been painted early morning before the direction of the light had changed. I ate a small lunch with two largers in the Cafe aux Paix before catching the trains back to Gare du Nord, a wiser and more fulfilled man for the trip.

On the way back to the Station while waiting for the train I sketched the restaurant opposite the Station with the church of Paroisse Notre Dame in the background.

Figure 1 La Menara, Auvers sur Oise ink on A4 Cartridge

Later that night I developed the sketch into this;

Figure 2 La Menara, Auvers sur Oise ink on A4 Cartridge

Finally on my return home it became this;

Figure 3 La Menara, Auvers sur Oise Pastel on 40 x 40 on sugar paper

I hope you like my painting and I am looking forward to my Birthday Party tomorrow, see you them.

My Love as always

Mickos xx

Dearest Cleo

Sorry to have missed you this weekend, but I really did have to pay a short visit to my mum’s before I went to France. Mum was fine as always and was asking about you and Auburn.

I have been researching Manet who is acknowledged as “The First of the Moderns” but maybe that title belongs to Courbet or Millet or even Delacroix. Manet was, however, the first to break with the old Academy painting style of layering and glazing and paint alla prima, painting wet into wet in oils, paving the way for the impressionists.

Manet style emphasised the two dimensional aspect of the canvas, with high key lighting, generally from the front with minimal modelling of his forms giving an almost photographic modelling to his forms. His compositions were influenced by the old masters but he updated them into contemporary Parisian life, following the exhortations of his friend Baudelaire that a painter can only paint representations of Contemporary society.

Manet achieved depth in his paintings by emphasising the main subject and painting the parts of the painting that were in peripheral vision sketchily, he often used a tight background to give his composition a narrow depth of field.

His use of the wet in wet technique encouraged the ebauche or bravado brushstroke, prefiguring the work of Sargent and Whistler.

While Manet was at the front end of Impressionism, Seurat was at the back end, and while he painted many impressionist works he is perhaps most famous for inventing pointillism painting in dots of colour and allowing the optical mixing of the dots to take place in the eye of the viewer.

It was a technique that prefigured the early colour printing of the American comics and the paintings of Roy Lichtenstein, whose process was a development of this printing technique.

Seurat was an avid follower of the Renaissance technique of the Golden Ratio and applied this technique in many of his paintings consciously. There is an excellent site by Gary Meisner (cited below) exploring Seurat’s use of the golden Ratio in his compositions.

Gary is of course the proprietor of I have one of his tools and find it an invaluable compositional aide, interestingly Dongwei Di applies it to Starry Night but perhaps the most surprising is this drawing by Van Gogh with the golden section applied.

Figure 1 Van Gogh drawing with Golden section superimposed

I will write more when I get back from France,

My love as always

Mickos xx

Gallery visits and Exhibitions

Courtauld Gallery, Bridget Riley: Learning from Seurat

Musee D’Orsay

National Gallery

National Gallery, Courtauld Impressionists: From Manet to Cezanne

Royal Academy, Manet: Portraying life.


Grabsky, P. and Harding B. (2013) Manet: Portraying life. Brighton: Seventh Arts.


Courtauld Gallery, The. (2015) Bridget Riley: Learning from Seurat. London: Ridinghouse and The Courtauld Gallery.

Neret, G. (2016) Edouard Manet: The First of the Moderns. Koln: Taschen.

Robbins, A. (2018) Courtauld Impressionists: From Manet to Cezanne. London: National Gallery Co. Ltd.

Royal Academy, The. (2013) Manet: Portraying life. London: The Royal Academy of Arts.

Internet research

Artable (s.d.) Edward Manet. At: (accessed 9/11/18)

Dongwei Di (2016) When Golden Spiral applies to Starry Night. At: (accessed 9/11/18)

Hamilton, A. (2011) The colour of Manet. At: (accessed 9/11/18)

Marder, L.(2014) Painting Techniques and style of Edouard Manet. At:

Meisner, G. (2014) Seurat and the Golden Ratio in Art Composition. At: (accessed 9/11/18)

The Art World (s.d) Manet painting methods. At: (accessed 9/11/18)

The Khan academy (s.d.) A beginners guide to Realism. At: (accessed 9/11/18)


Dear Cleo 18 11 05

Dearest Cleo

I hope you had a good day at school and I hope you managed to get a look at my Seated Figure painting that I posted on the blog yesterday. You know me by now, when I first do something new, I think it is the bees knees, but as usual I have been carrying a folded copy in my back jeans pocket all day and I now have a bit more of an balanced view on the work.

The life drawing is more Cubist than the painting and like I said yesterday I was amazed when I was doing it, I was not trying to do a cubist drawing, it just arrived. I was in Patrick’s life class and I decided to have a go with the hard pastels and I was just measuring the figure as I normally do in charcoal but in the earlier drawings I had done in this way the marks were less easy to get rid of than when using charcoal. When I paused to stand back from the easel to judge the proportions of the drawing to the pose I became fascinated by the marks I had made with the edge on the pastel that seemed so broken and disjointed and cubist I just had to carry on and do the shading because it was there and I had 20 minutes of the pose to carry on drawing, so really I was just finishing the drawing in the way the drawing dictated.

I wish I had stopped when I noticed or at least have taken a progress photograph before I started the shading, because maybe this is one of the missing links of the cubist process. By extending and emphasising the measurement marks I arrived at a cubist composition. I may be a hundred and odd years behind the times but I do feel that the discovery was significant and when I go to see the Cubism Exhibition in Paris next week I will have a theory I can test out whilst standing next to the original paintings, hopefully it may bear fruit.

It seemed intuitive to go from the measurement marks to the Cubist drawing, it happened so seamlessly, that I was shocked that Cubist drawing, real unconscious cubist drawing was so accessible.

The painting is more futurism, having assimilated the lessons from cubist drawing, it is simple to convert to futurism, assume the lessons of Cubist drawing, less abstraction, more visible forms and an element of decoration.

I like to think that Mickos is a bit of an artist, as such he is able to write with a sense of wonderment and attempts to explain his true feelings about the production of the work itself, rather than to link the meaning of the work to some obscure philosophical or religious ideal.

I have learned more from reading Alberti, Leonardo, Vincent, Monet, Ruskin, Kandinsky and Speed than I could ever hope to learn from reading Greenberg, Clement and Hal Foster. However, I am not totally against the critics, I think Gombrich has a wonderful sense of humour and having read a couple of his books, I think Elkins tries to demystify the critical process in much the same way as the artist authors try to demystify the painting process.

My biggest problem with critics is that they fail to include my wonderful works in their shows, I have made a very careful list of these in the hope that one day they can be named and shamed.

So there you go my dear, a personal criticism of my latest work and an explanation of my hatred for critics. Do you think I was mean? I don‘t think so, but I will be when Seated Figure is denied a place in a show.

Just to cheer you up after all that reading I have attached the other drawings I did yesterday at life class, after reading last week’s exercise I think He looks a bit more mobile and ready to move.

Figure 1 life drawing Hard pastel on A2 sugar paper

Figure 2 life drawing Hard pastel on A2 sugar paper

Figure 3 life drawing charcoal on A2 sugar paper

Be gentle

My love as always

Mickos xx


Dear Cleo 18 11 04

Dearest Cleo

Great to see you again today, was glad to be able to show you the life drawing I did today. Since you left to go swimming I made a painting of my drawing, I think it is a pretty good painting, what do you think.

Figure 1 Life drawing hard pastel on A2 sugar paper

Figure 2 Seated figure, Acrylic on Acrylic paper 40 x 40 cm

It felt good to be painting, I have been doing a lot of reading and research and not enough painting. As you know I am going to Paris next weekend to see the cubism exhibition, it must have been on my mind when I was at life class this morning and the drawing just appeared of its own accord. I don’t often paint from my life drawings, perhaps I should do so more because I am pleased with the result, I like how the figure jumps from the ground and the sculptural effect of it.

Like I said I won’t see you next weekend but I am sure I will find you a nice little souvenir while I am in Paris.

My Love as always

Mickos xx

P.S. I found this while I was in Paris, it was painted by Miro. If I had known that Miro had done this, I wouldn’t have painted mine, the scariest bit is that Miro’s is titled Standing Nude whilst mine is titled Seated Figure, you couldn’t make it up.

Figure 3 Standing nude by Miro

Dear Cleo 18 10 01

Dearest Cleo

I hope Monday was not too stressful for you at school, it wasn’t too good at work, but now work is over and I turn to my true passion and write about art. My true passion is not writing about art but actually experimenting with brushes and paints but sometimes it is necessary to do the hard yards to appreciate fully the enjoyment of creation.

Clement Greenberg is not one of my favourite critics, whilst I can appreciate the support he gave to the Abstract Expressionists, he did so in his essay Avant-Garde and Kitsch at the expense of the Russian artist Ilya Repin. Perhaps Repin’s is most famous for his masterwork, Reply of Zaporozhian Cossacks, which is not without a sense of inbuilt humour if you read the actual reply. In another of his now famous postscripts, written 30 years after the event, perhaps when he was no longer in the pay of the CIA, Greenberg admitted to not knowing who Repin was.

By its very nature, art is tribal, back in the fifties Greenberg belonged to the CIA tribe, but for me his treachery to true art was hard to forgive, so it was with some trepidation that I approached the essay Modernist Painting.

There are no paintings by Greenberg as far as I know, so he is not an artist, an artist would naturally by more sympathetic to the artists of the past, he admits in the piece that he is not a philosopher he styles himself as a critic, a mocker and decrier of journalists, he first delivered the essay as a speech on the radio network Voice of America, which is of course a normal method of delivery for a journalist.

Having established what Greenberg is, or rather what he deems himself not to be, it is now possible to examine his essay in his own terms, in his postscript he supplies some of his own terms of reference, “That I regard flatness and the inclosing of flatness not just as the limiting conditions of pictorial art, but as criteria of aesthetic quality in pictorial art; that the further a work advances the self-definition of an art, the better that work is bound to be. The philosopher or art historian who can envision me — or anyone at all — arriving at aesthetic judgments in this way reads shockingly more into himself or herself than into my article.”

Terry Fenton who as well as bring a critic, actually paints pictures, commented “The essay is notable for its illuminating (and largely undeveloped) observations about the nature and history of pictures, let alone Greenberg’s mid-life perception of the character and importance of the avant-garde. If the theory has a weakness, it lies with the centrality of pictorial art, which it seems to fit modernism like a glove.”

I have read Greemberg’s essay several times and I could spend a lifetime contesting Greenberg’s definitions of art of the past, but I would probably attract the attention of the CIA which understandably I am loath to do. Suffice to say that I am not in total agreement with the conclusions drawn by a Greenberg, whatever class of species he determines himself to be.

Perhaps in my own practice I am too true to the traditions of the pastseking a formula for a work that is easy on the eye. In his illustrations and my examination of his illustrations perhaps I need to be more conscious of breaking the rules in my practice.

Be lucky for the rest of the week

My love as always

Mickos xx