Dear Cleo 17 4 30

Dear Cleo

Well, Sunday morning life class has finished for the summer, today was the last one next month the football season is over for the summer, whatever will I do with my weekends?

I used the last life class to develop a slightly different drawing process following on from yesterday’s disaster. I was thinking about the Raphael process I was discussing last week and decided that the way forward was to use  the  charcoal first to establish the pose very lightly, ink in the pose brush of the charcoal construction lines and then go back in with the charcoal to establish the tones. It worked quite well but I lost the pose a bit in the longer poses, I think this will fix itself with a bit of practice. Arsenal have one more Tuesday game on the 16th of May so I will go to Tuesday night life class  after that. Enough of the words here are the drawings.

Figure 01 (17 4 30 01) Ink and charcoal on A3 cartridge

Figure 02 (17 4 30 02) Ink and charcoal on A3 cartridge

Figure 03 (17 4 30 03) Ink and charcoal on A3 cartridge

Figure 04 (17 4 30 04) Ink and charcoal on A3 cartridge

The corrections can be easily made either with tracing paper a la Degas or with a bit of pricking and pouncing a la Raphael, the veils are beginning to lift.

I’ll see you in the morning for a late breakfast, or an early lunch, I hate the word brunch it is neither breakfast nor lunch.

Love as always

Mickos x

Dear Cleo 17 04 29

Dear Cleo

It was great to see you this morning, we had a laugh with Auburn with the aeroplane ride, the banana and Nana Betty’s dog, and Aunty Loz is going to bring you round on Monday so we can paint together, I’m looking forward to that.

I spent the afternoon amongst other things developing a sketch into a drawing this is the sketch I was using for inspiration.

Figure 01 (SK1 41) ink on A6 cartridge

And this is the drawing I created from it

Figure 02 (17 04 29 01) Girls at the bar 1, ink and charcoal on 30 x 30cm pale ochre pastel paper

It is called 1 because I am not that happy with it 2 will be better. I was pleased that my sketch and memory were enough to turn the wirey sketch into a volumetric drawing and that the people in my head are evolving a little bit into humans but I think the technique was a little wrong. I started out with the charcoal and on reflection I should have started out with an ink drawing and the ink should be brown not black to match better with the paper.

On the plus side it has a sense of perspective and it has retained, I think, some of the liveliness of the original sketch. I added a bit more ink and charcoal just so I can get the full idea of it and I will have another go in the week.

Figure 03 (17 04 29 02) Girls at the bar 1, ink and charcoal on 30 x 30cm pale ochre pastel paper

Ah well, not every day can be a lucky day, I think today’s luck ran out after I saw you and Auburn looking forward to seeing you on Monday.

All my love as always


Dear Cleo 17 04 28

Dearest Cleo

I am looking forward to the bank holiday weekend, I have a few bits to catch up on Aunty Loz is coming down for the weekend so at some stage we will have a get together and a bit of fun and something to eat.

Meanwhile I am uploading the sketchbook pages I have done over the past week or so.

Figure 1 (SK1 40) ink on A6 cartridge

There isn.t a lot to say about this one other than the front figure is standing on a raised platform or the perspective is  out, I prefer the former, but I can’t honestly remember.

Figure 2 (SK1 41) ink on A6 cartridge

I think these people were in the same bar as the previous sketch, it must have been the Mos Eisley Cantina because there is a member of the band lurking in the background. I think it has a bit of something though and I will have a go at it in charcoal on a bigger scale.

Figure 3 (SK1 42) ink on A6 cartridge

This is definately in the same bar she lookiks so glum because she is waiting to get served and the barmaid is in her mobile phone. it is easy to read because there is a clear lead in from the left hand edge and plenty of margin on the right to stop your eye leaving the composition.

Figure 4  (SK1 43) ink on A6 cartridge

This is from the other side of the dance floor the guy in the background isn’t interested in the dancer his attention is caught by someone on the other other side of the dancefloornotice the conntrast in markmaking between the mobile dancer and the static observer.

Figure 5 (SK1 44) ink on A6 cartridge

It’s late in the evening (Clapton) and time for a slow number I like the way that the two figures blend into one set off by the white highlights of the girl’s top.

Figure 6 (SK1 45) ink on A6 cartridge

It is drinking up time now and as confirmation that I have been in the Mos Eisley Cantina, Admiral Akbar puts in an appearance (second from the left)

Figure 7 (SK1 46) ink on A6 cartridge

And so to the morning after. This was done on a fab break from the life class, it is such a pretty garden and my scribbles hardly do it justice. This is probably the morning after the night before in the Mos Eidley Cantina.

This is a seminal point in my sketchbook work Cleo,all the above sketches were done BC (Before Critisism) the sketches that follow were all done AD (After Direction) I think there is a definate difference, but let me know what you think.

Figure 8 (SK1 47) ink on A6 cartridge

This is a sketch done outside my Mums while I was on a fag break, as well as drawing what was in front of me, I was pondering the use of the totem in modern society. every ten houses has a telegraph pole and a streetlight should we be carving our telegraph poles as a mark of our very existance?

Figure 9 (SK1 48) ink on A6 cartridge

My Mum and Dad on the couch watching the snooker. these few sketches are less rushed because there is less frenetic movement in them. Time moves more slowly when I am at Mum and Dad’s it gives me the time to be more considerate of my composition and mark making techniques.

Figure 10 (SK1 49) ink on A6 cartridge

Dad reading the news a la Cezanne. The only time I read a newspaper is when I am there, it is strange how you can drop in and out of the news as if it is a soap opera on a monthly basis. I only ever watch the TV when I am there as well, I think a month between episodes  of the news stops you worrying about it, maybe the next time I go Kim il Jong will have been written out of the series and I will have to ask Mum “What happened to the nice little Korean man who was in it the last time I was here?”

Figure 11 (SK1 50) ink on A6 cartridge

Dad having a snooze, easy bottom lead in, neat right hand margin and good solid mark making to delineate the subject from the ground. The left contour of Dad splits the picture space nicely in two leaving an inverted negative space that echoes the pose and good use of perspective to give depth to the picture plane. One of the problems with this course is it takes longer to write it down and explain than it does to see these things, writing could be the bane of art because anyone can do it.

Figure 12 (SK1 51) ink on A6 cartridge

This lady was in the British Legion and I can see a scribbling sneaking into the sketch it could have been the lager inducing my brain  to regress to my childhood years. My eye was caught by the twirl of her dress which is definately the lager cutting in, perhaps it was a good job I had my trusty sketchbook and Mum and Dad at hand to keep me calm.

Figure 13 (SK1 52) ink on A6 cartridge

My armchairs are starting to look like armchairs, soft and cuddly, maybe I am morphing into a furniture designer.

Figure 14 (SK1 53) ink on A6 cartridge

I had been doing a drip painting using a metal kebab skewer and this is an early conpositional sketch for my assignment piece, maybe not.

Figure 15 (SK1 54) ink on A6 cartridge

Back in the Mos Eisley Cantina (Chuck Berry)

Figure 16 (SK1 55) ink on A6 cartridge

Waiting for a meeting to start the walls of the space were made of glass and the mullions were acting as zips a la Barnet Neuman perhaps I could investigate this a little more in the studio.

Figure 17 (SK2 07) wax crayons on A5 cartridge

This is me experimenting at mark making with my wax crayons its turned out like one of those drone shots where the trucks of the latest enemy of civilisation are blown up, maybe this is what I do in real life when I am asleep.

Figure 18 (SK2 08) wax crayons on A5 cartridge

Practise over, I tried a real picture with the wax crayons this is a view from the train window, done from memory of course, as the train was going at some kind of warp drive speed. I am getting a bit used to the wax crayons and growng to like them maybe the assignment could be Wax Crayons in wax crayon,

Well my dear, I hope you managed to stay reading until the end, please forgive the odd miss spelling as I am typing straight into the virtual not using my usual cut and paste method from Word (TM) and I haven’t worked out where the virtual spell check is yet. “Where were going we don’t need Word (TM)”

Love as always



Dear Cleo 17 04 25

Dear Cleo

Following on from yesterday, I have now made it to the Whitworth Gallery ready to view the Petherbridge Exhibition I meet up in the cafe with about a dozen fellow students and the group leader Bryan. Bryan knows a whole lot of stuff about art and you have to do your best listening when he speaks.

Drawing with pen and ink is a high wire act, there is little if any margin for error. Petherbridge works exclusively in pen and ink and ink wash, in accordance with the observations  of Martin Clayton in the catalogue to the exhibition “her compositions are crisp and decisive, and it is remarkable that there is rarely any preliminary underdrawing (or even a prepatory study) in which the composition is sketched out or constructed. Her usual method is cumulative, an improvised accretion of motifs that are worked out as they spread across the sheet.” (Malbert,2016: 68)

We discussed the fact of what happens to the failures that don’t work in such an exacting medium as   pen and ink and how much of an edit the artist must have in such a situation. I like the idea that Petherbridge has more than an idea of where the drawing was going to go or get to but allowed the work to grow as it spoke to her, with a good dialogue her failures must be few.

Petherbridge is a master of perspective juggling with different types of perspective in the same image so that your eye can’t settle and you feel a curious sense of acrophobia or vertigo, it stops you entering fully into the image flattening it, reminding you that you are looking at a flat picture plane

The drawing I liked the best was Taming the bay (Melbourne) probably because it had a more human feel to it, maybe because the sepia ink had run in places but even then I suspect Petherbridge had engineered this for effect, just as she had done in the water  in the Fourteen Stations of the Tiber series. My runner up was the drawings from the Altarpiece of 1984; I found their warm sepia tones more relaxing than the stark black and white drawings “in technical pens that belong to the aesthetic of construction and engineering”,(Malbert, 2016: 84) and maybe because I encounter these technical engineering drawings in my work daily I see them less as art.

Figure 1 (17 04 25 01) Altarpiece for 1984

One of the things that is surprising is that Petherbridge does not use any of her own drawings in her seminal work The Primacy of Drawing where she is able to write most eloquently of the drawings and processes of others, I have seen her speak of her own drawing  in the video of the Battle of Homs and she writes of her own drawings in the catalogue and ends with this “My own drawings are, I think, about the impossibility of drawing landscape and also about attachment to and social critique of place. Drawing is so close to writing; I believe that I draw/write both my dissatisfactions and my aspirations in pen and ink” (Malbert, 2016:85) I think this is a suitable and fitting summation of her lifetimes work.

There is a great similarity between the appearance of an ink drawing and an etching, upstairs in the museum an exhibition of the work of Marcantonio Raimondi echoed this similarity.

Marcantonio as he is better known collaborated with Raphael who designed patterns for Marcantonio to etch. Perhaps the most celebrated being The Massacre of the Innocents which gives a marvellous insight into both Marcantonio’s and Raphael’s processes.

The cycle start starts with the sketch at figure 2 and is followed by a fairly crude pen and ink sketch both by Raphael, of which I haven’t been able to find a copy on  the internet, that was pricked through and ponced with charcoal by Raphael to allow him to create the drawings at figures 3 and 4. The drawing at figure 4 is (my guess) pricked and ponced by Marcantonio to create the etching of the same piece at figures 5 and 6.

Figure 2 (17 04 25 02) Raphael sketch

Figure 3 (17 04 25 03) Raphael sketch

Figure 4 (17 04 25 04) Raphael sketch

Prior to this I had always thought that Raphael had walked the same high wire as Petherbridge letting the drawing speak to him as he drew and I was amazed to discover this side to his process maybe there is hope yet for me and my tracing paper and Photoshop.

What is possibly more amazing is that Marcantonio possibly pricked and ponced a Raphael as part of his process. There is a definite lesson in here to be less precocious with your sketches, when only yesterday I started giving mine names.

Figure 5 (17 04 25 05) Marcantonio etching after Raphael

Figure 6 (17 04 25 06) Marcantonio etching after Raphael (the one with the fir tree)

Figure 7 (17 04 25 07) Durer woodcut

Figure 8 (17 04 25 08) Marcantonio etching after Durer

Apart from the undoubted quality of his etching, Marcantonio is famous as the protagonist in the beginnings of copyright law and intellectual property. His etched copies of Durer’s woodcuts of The Life of the Virgin impelled Durer to travel from Germany to Venice prior to the invention of trains to confront the Situation. Durer obtained a judgement in Venice that it was permissible to etch a copy of his woodcuts as long as the etcher did not include his trademark AD motif. Durer was hardly satisfied by this judgement and included the following extortion in subsequent editions of his “Life of the Virgin”;

“Hold! You crafty ones, strangers to work, and pilferers of other men’s brains. Think not rashly to lay your thievish hands upon my works. Beware! Know you not that I have a grant from the most glorious Emperor Maximillian, that not one throughout the imperial dominion shall be allowed to print or sell fictitious imitations of these engravings? Listen! And bear in mind that if you do so, through spite or through covetousness, not only will your goods be confiscated, but your bodies also placed in mortal danger.”

On my way back to the gallery cafe I visited the video installation Vertigo Sea, more echo’s of Petherbridge, by John Akomfrah. I was all right when they shot the deer because I have seen that before with you in Bambi but I felt it was a bit much when they started shooting polar bears and I had to leave.

Figure 9 (17 04 25 09) Photograph

I took this photograph of a stainless steel tree out of the gallery window and was fascinated by how the artist’s description echoed Petherbridge’s Portrait of the artist, Double vision 1 (book in the head)

The whole afternoon was curiously summed up by Deanna Petherbridge in The Primacy of drawing where she notes “Raphael and Durer famously interchanged drawings about 1515…..The Raphael Durer reciprocity is an acknowledgement of admiration and equal status,” (Petherbridge 2010: 76)  when Durer was probably made aware of Raphael’s work through the etchings of Marcantonio.

The serious work having been done, I retired to the Turing Arms for a well deserved pint of lager where I caught up with your Aunty Loz before venturing with her to Greens Vegetarian Restaurant in Didsbury where I was pleased to eat the best food I have eaten in a decade even though, as you know and are often want to scold me, I am not a vegetarian.

Apologies my dear for some of the big words in this post but it will do your English good to look them up in  your dictionary, please don’t use the internet, so you can be more prepared for the day the electricity goes down, and I hope you enjoyed playing spot the difference between the various renaissance prints and drawings.

All my love as always



Malbert R. (2016) Deanna Petherbridge Drawing and Dialogue. Manchester: The Whitworth Gallery.

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

Dear Cleo 17 04 23

Dearest Cleo

I was sorry to have missed you at the weekend but I had booked to go on a study visit in Manchester. I will catch up with you at the weekend and give you the small present I brought back for you.

I went on the train to Manchester which gave me time to catch up on my reading and I did a few sketches on the train.

Figure 1 (17 04 23 01) Inter-city, graphite on A5 cartridge

I used the structure of the train as a compositional device to give the right hand margin to the sketch a la Blackadder and I am consciously trying to emphasise the wirey open feel that my tutor was keen on when viewing my sketchbooks from part 1. When I was on the train it felt quite spacious but I think the sketch reveals a claustrophobic crowded space that feels quite cramped. It is a new thing for me to be thinking of my sketches like this, and perhaps it is a good thing because it is introducing self critical thought earlier into my creative process.

Figure 2 (17 04 23 02) Landscape, graphite on A6 cartridge

This is an experimental sketch out of my head, I am just practicing with using the wax crayons and I am trying to do sketches from memory and invention.

Figure 3 (17 04 23 03) Reading a heavy book, graphite on A5 cartridge

This is my thoughts on Petherbridge on the train on the way to the exhibition, the only comfortable way I have found to read her weighty book, “The Primacy of Drawing” is to do so sitting on the floor. The figures in my head are very slowly becoming more lifelike, it probably won’t be long before I start listening to their voices. In previous times this sketch would have been consigned to the bin but I now think it is necessary to trace the evolution of the figures in my head. I am already beginning to see the difference between the wirey and the scribbley, the wirey people are in the  process of evolving from the scribbly people.

Well that just about covers the journey to the exhibition, tomorrow I will write to you about the exhibition proper and my thoughts and feelings about it. I hope you are looking forward to it with baited breath. Oh I almost forgot, I saw your Aunty Loz at the weekend and she sends her love also.

Love as always


Dear Cleo 17 04 13


Dearest Cleo

Well I know you are in Dorset now and I hope you spent the day on the beach at Weymouth I remember it well from when I was a boy and I was there more recently with your Mum and Aunty Loz. Enjoy it well and I know you won’t forget to send me a postcard.

Me, I have had a traumatic but enjoyable few days mostly centred around my Google hangout with my tutor, it involved a lot of writing and much thinking but tonight I have relaxed and created the final drawing for project one of part two of the course.

Figure 1 (17 04 12) Elvis has left the Apollo, Charcoal on A2 200lb hot pressed watercolour paper

The Apollo was a good well behaved and very still model and surprisingly easy to draw, the watercolour paper was a good choice, it was robust and had a wonderful textural quality when combined with the charcoal. I went with a mid grey charcoal ground adding the darks after sculpting the piece with the putty rubber. It was good to work on a larger scale drawing and I am pleased that the drawing has a variety of mark making and texture and I think it has a sense of energy and vibration.

Consciously working without line with a classical sculpture is difficult, especially as the original artist has accentuated the linear forms in the hair and clothing to contrast with the organic rounded flesh forms. The drawing took maybe two and a half hours; I shudder to think how long it took the original artist to sculpt this.

The objectives? There is a definite sense of space between the figure and the ground, it is kept shallow by the cast shadow to the right of the head. Depth is most obvious in the sculpted forms of the head and clothing and there is a definite sense of volume in the form.

I think I have also added a fourth dimension, time. Drawing from the cast is an age old artistic technique with a timeless quality. I have pinned it to the wall next to the print of Raphael’s apostles that I got from the Ashmolean and to be honest it doesn’t sit too bad. But I can remember seeing Raphael’s original while I was at the Ashmolean so I know how deficient my drawing is.

Well girl, that is it for this week, I am going to see mum and dad for the long weekend and I look forward to seeing you when you return from Dorset.


Mickos x

PS in case you missed it earlier

Dearest Cleo

I hope you are well, I will not get to see you until Sunday this week but I am quite looking forward to our trip to the woods now that spring is in the air.

I have carried on with my experiment this time using hot pressed watercolour paper it is easier to use than the Canson and solid enough to take quite a bit of a battering with my fingers and the rubber and the charcoal seems to stick to it better. I created this which is named after that old country song, My Apollo Belvedere looks like Elvis.

Figure 1 (17 04 07) My Apollo Belvedere looks like Elvis Charcoal on A5 Hot pressed watercolour paper

I varied the technique a bit and went for a grey tone first that I carved into with the putty rubber before adding the darks at the end. I was much more comfortable with this way of working and it felt easier to judge the tones. Looking at it on screen now it feels like a lively drawing with lots of energy and a variety of mark making techniques. I think I have found my paper of choice and I think working on a bigger scale will be very beneficial to the graduations I should be able to achieve.

Looking forward to seeing you at the weekend and I will post this week’s sketches before then.

Lots of Love