Dear Cleo 17 08 09

Dearest Cleo

I would imagine you have been swimming today, to escape the heat in Italy, London is swimming today, it has not stopped raining all day, the internet says a month’s rain will fall here today, I think it is about two weeks in with more to come. Anyway I am not getting too overcast or downcast, I am listening to music and drawing to pass the time.

This is today’s tune;

It is only a short piece about five and a half minutes long on the first listening I created this with my eyes closed.

Figure 1 (17 08 09 01) Meditation I Sharpie on A2 gray sugar paper

I have turned the image upside down because that is what I did before listening the second time. The second time I worked with the brush and ink as I did yesterday, in my excitement I forgot to take a picture but on the third listen I used Conte crayon to create this.

Figure 2 (17 08 09 02) Meditation II Sharpie, ink, Conte crayon and charcoal on A2 gray sugar paper

I am not really sure where this images came from, but taking the view that this image was somewhere inside of me, and was coaxed out by the music, I will discuss it on that basis.

The top half on the female face is remarkably similar to an ex girlfriend, and before I get loads of comments saying do you still think about me, it ain’t you babe (R Zimmerman 1965) The skull part signifies it ain’t me you were looking for. The male figure is probably a self portrait of sorts, they were once my lucky green underpants, the luck, the girlfriend and the underpants all disappeared in 2005, the date has been changed to protect the innocent and not so grinning skull like.

My synthesesia (see here for the uninitiated) sees most classical music as predominately yellow, maybe I have the same brand of synthesesia as Kandinsky, I should be so lucky. (Stock, Aitken and Waterman)

The bright unsullied colours are probably a result of the speed of working, and the lask of blending, the whole thing took just sixteen and a half minutes and I have just noted a ffs in the clouds and have no idea of the significance of this. Space in the piece is achieved predominantly by overlapping of the forms and cooler back ground colour.

The grinning skull is well placed compositionally in accordance with the rule of thirds and the sharpie underdrawing gives the piece a liveliness and immediacy.

Enough already let’s try a different piece of music.

A single listen eyes open working with brush and ink created this;

Figure 3 (17 08 09 03) Joplin rag I ink, on A2 gray sugar paper

I doubt if I can begin to explain why this is inside my head, suffice it to say that the monochrome image looks good and I feel it can live without colour.

Buena notte, signorina

Mickos xx


Dear Cleo 17 08 08

Dearest Cleo

I hope you are having a good time in Italy. I am sure the weather there will be better than here, it is raining and miserable, but the music is lightening my mood a little. Today I am listening to this;

First listen closed my eyes and created this

Figure 1 (17 08 08 01) Concerto I, graphite on A4 cartridge

For the second listen I watched and became entranced with the musicians and how into it and emotional they were and created these.

Figure 2 (17 08 08 02) Concerto II, ink on A4 cartridge

Figure 3 (17 08 08 03) Concerto III, ink on A4 cartridge

I listened to this with my eyes closed and created this

Figure 4 (17 08 08 04) Concerto IV, graphite on A4 cartridge

The pencil drawings remind me of Auburn’s drawings, perhaps I am learning to draw like a child after all or maybe Auburn has natural rhythm.

It has given me a bit of insight as to why Kandinsky extolled the value of music in art, perhaps they need to go a little further maybe like this; I first traced from concerto 1 and 2,rotated and combined them in a new trace.  Re-traced with a bit of reductionism and then drew the result in Conte crayon

Figure 5 (17 08 08 05) Trace music I piano, Sharpie on tracing paper

Figure 6 (17 08 08 06) Trace music II violins, Sharpie on tracing paper

Figure 7 (17 08 08 07) Trace music III an arrangement for piano and strings, Sharpie on tracing paper

Figure 8 (17 08 08 08) Trace music IV An arrangement for piano and strings with full orchestral accompaniment, Sharpie on tracing paper

Figure 9 (17 08 08 09) A music, Conte crayon on A2 sugar paper


For me it is the soaring violins over a rolling piano.

The piece is a square format and drawn in bright colours both of which are a trifle unusual for this artist. The colouring calls to mind a bright summer’s day in a faraway place almost as if the artist is preparing to go on holiday to sunny climes. The bright red and orange highlights cause the eye to flitter across the piece in a pleasing manner,

The mark making is visible and varied I particularly like the economy of stoke that captures the reflection of the land in the sea. There is an energy and a roughness to the mark making that adds vibrancy to the final piece.

Space is introduced into the piece by using overlapping; perhaps paler mountains would have increased the sense of depth but I like the contrast between the purple and the yellow, so perhaps it is a moot point.

For context, the artist seems influenced by both the post impressionists and the early abstract painters, there is also something of Odd Nedrum in the curving horizon but the shape of the land mass surely means the biggest influence of all is Venus de Milo’s bum.

Have fun in Italy

Mickos x

Drar Cleo 17 08 05

Dearest Cleo

I hope you wasn’t too tired this morning, it was good to watch The Princess Bride together last night. I hadn’t seen it for a long time and had forgotten how good it was.

I am carrying on with the full arm drawings, it is more fun when the exercise is done and you can play and experiment. I was quite busy doing other stuff but I set a still life up on the table, put the easel next to it. I didn’t get as much of the other stuff done as the breaks got longer but it was worth it to create these.

Figure 1 (17 08 05 01) Still life 1 Sharpie and charcoal on A2 grey sugar paper

Figure 2 (17 08 05 02) Still life 2 Sharpie charcoal and Conte crayons  on A2 grey sugar paper

Drawing an arm’s length from the paper is starting to get easier. I saw some photographs of Cezanne painting in the week, they were still photographs but from the way he was standing, he looked like he was dancing. Maybe the wobbly perspective has something to do with that. It certainly felt like it today.

You will have to tell your Mummy and Daddy to go out more on a Friday night because you have several films I haven’t seen in a long while, don’t get over excited it’s only two sleeps until you go to Italy, lucky girl.

Love as always

Mickos x

Dear Cleo 17 08 01

Dearest Cleo

It was lovely to see you up town on Sunday and great that you had enough patience to be a good girl whilst we took you around the BP Portrait Exhibition and then while I went to look at the Encounter exhibition. I am sure though, that your favourite spot on the day was Waterstones at Charing Cross. After we parted I went to see the Hokusai Exhibition at the British Museum, that my dear was sublime.

Anyway, enough of the small talk, although this post is called day 1, it is actually about day 14, I have spent the last 13 days perfecting my latest creation Butada, this is the feminine form of her father’s name, girls weren’t credited with invention in the old days but the daughter of Butades, the Corinthian maid, invented drawing (Petherbridge p19). History apart, my Butada is a drawing machine, she is a bit Heath Robinson involving plastacine and a sharpie but she works, albeit with a little nudge or two from her creator, the mad scientist Doctor Mickos.

The basic parts were purchased from the internet and were billed as a toy to teach your children basic electronics. It is easier to teach a machine to draw than it is to teach an adult electronics. After much struggle, the kit came without instructions, buying beers for my mates, watching Youtube for hours on end, and enlisting Freya the cat as my trusty assistant Butada was born.

At the flick of a switch on a full moon, with lightening crackling all around, Butada rose from her slumber to draw. Freya was terrified of what she had unwittingly helped to create and disappeared through the cat flap never to be seen for several days.

She had three wheels like Delboy’s van but not so yellow yet had the ability to draw like a demon. The enclosure I had designed for her proved inadequate and I was force to telephone the mill owner to move all flammable material away from the mill as a precaution. Once I had removed the batteries I was able to photograph her in all her glory, this is Butada at rest.

Figure 1 (17 08 01 01) Butada before the lightening

Figure 2 (17 08 01 02) Butada restrained after her first drawing

On her first outing she produced this;

Figure 3 (17 08 01 03) Butada untitled 1 sharpie on A1 cartridge

I have hung it on the wall while I think about it.

Your Mum has asked me to babysit for you on Friday night so choose a good film and choose wisely.

All my love as always

Mickos x

Dear Cleo 17 07 29

Dearest Cleo

It was lovely to catch up with you today , I am really looking forward to tomorrow catch you up in London Town.

What did I do today, well do you remember Girls at the bar, well today they came back, but I kept them at arm length. I did a tighter sketch of the bar, it wasn’t just an excuse to go to the pub it was serious research.

Figure 1 (17 07 29 01) SK 01 62 ink on A5 cartridge

I drew it up when I got home on graph paper this was something I picked up from looking at Bridget Riley’s sketches, she uses graph paper to plot out the twists in her ribbons. The graph paper is particularly good when you are doing a perspective drawings as it is easy to get the perspective right.

Figure 2 (17 07 29 02) Perspective study graphite and Sharpie on A3 graph paper

I put the barmaid in using my new Body Chan lay figure which is slowly teaching me better proportions and making me used to the way the light falls on a figure. I split the study into 9 using two charcoal lines in each direction, I did the same to the sheet of A2 cartridge and drew in the composition working at arms length.

Figure 3 (17 07 29 03) Initial composition charcoal on A2 cartridge

There was a lot of equipment involved in the creation of the final piece, an easel, various bits of charcoal, two stumps, two erasers, a brush, a kitchen roll, a stick and a taboret, why the taboret, well where else could I rest my glass of wine. This is the final creation

Figure 4 (17 07 29 04) Girls at the Bar II charcoal on A2 cartridge

I made the lone drinker up but he seems to fit even if he is a bit tall and I am becoming increasingly confident in my figures.

How long did it take? a little less than a slow bottle of wine.

I’ll see you around lunch time tomorrow somewhere near Trafalgar Square

All my love as always

Mickos x




Dear Cleo 17 07 28

Dear Cleo

I’m looking forward to catching up with you tomorrow, and I think your mum has arranged a trip to the BP Portrait Award on Sunday that I am quite looking forward to.

I have become quite passionate about drawing with my arm. I decided to switch mediums and have a go with ink. I started with my trusty sharpie and finishes with ink washes. I got to see the Hokusai prints at the British Museum, and I know that the wood block prints were cut from ink drawings pasted to the woodblocks

I was pleased with the result I had obtained in the last drawing working from my A6 sketchbook; I decided to mine the same source again. I chose a sketch I did while I was enjoying a pint of Czechoslovakian lager in the Sheffield Taps.

Figure 1 (17 07 28 01) SK 03 11 ink on A5 cartridge

I am at the minute interested in the illusion of space in the picture frame and I tried to accentuate this illusion in the drawing I was doing. The ink wash is new thing too which I think has worked and the arched mirror gives it a Renaissancey feel.

Figure 2 (17 07 28 02) The Taps Sheffield Sharpie and ink wash On A2 Cartridge paper

Working at arm’s length introduces some quirks, I think the girl on the left would fit comfortably in the background of a De Kooning. I have managed to retain the immediacy of the original sketch maybe a few intermediate thumb nails would have helped in establishing the tones and lighting but I think I have pulled it off. It’s a good basis for a painting but I would need to do some studies with a model to tighten up the details.

Well my dear that’s it for tonight see you in the morning, sleep tight.

Love as always

Mickos x

Dear Cleo 17 07 27

Dear Cleo

I hope you are well. I was speaking to nana Bet on the phone, I sent her a copy of your school report, she was so proud of you and she thinks you are going to be a genius just like your Granddad. The apples don’t fall far from the tree, it was Newton who observed that, look him up on google, he was real smart.

There is an essay in the catalogue of the Raphael exhibition I went to in Oxford that extols the virtues of the hand and Raphael’s hand in particular in its sweetness and grace of movement, all but comparing his hand to a ballerina. The essay argues quite thoughtfully that it is the hand alone that is responsible for our evolution as the dominant species on the planet.

The exercises so far in this part of the course have emphasised this fact, it is the hand that makes the mark and if it is uncontrolled by the eye and the brain, or relatively so, it is graceful in its movements.

When I put a drawing or painting out there it is interpreted by the eyes and brains of the audience, it follows therefore that I should subjugate my eye and my brain to follow and interpret the marks made by my hand and not chain my hand to my eye and brain as a slave.

Figure 1 (17 07 27 01) SK 69

Drawing with sticks and pool cues has helped standing further away from the piece but it also got me to thinking, why don’t I use my arm to draw? I paint at an easel so why not draw at an easel. Working loosely from an A5 sketch I made at Newmarket races and using my whole arm and shoulder and moving my feet as well, I created this;

Figure 2 (17 07 27 02) Exodus, XL charcoal on A2 grey sugar paper

From the final eye level that has developed I must have been sitting on a horse or a camel following the Arc of the Covenant when I drew this rather than standing in the back of the Tattershall Stand.

I said I was working loosely from the sketch as my hand is bereft of eyes and it just wandered about on the end of my arm over the picture plane, I wonder if I could do it blindfold I am definitely going to give it a go.

I really enjoyed doing this and am very pleased with the result, it is a history drawing with a very old masterly feel, the Academy will be pleased.

Don’t forget to look up the Newton guy on Google, I will ask you questions about him at the weekend.

My love as always

Mickos x