Dear Cleo 17 09 26

Dear Cleo

I hope you had a good Monday at school, I have slept and worked and found a new horse, but I am going to keep riding in the same direction.

Going back to Merleau Ponty’s statement, I think we can now agree that Vincent was possessed by the unspectacular corner of a wheatfield with its incumbent crows in Auvers Sur Oise and in turn he owned it.

The corner of this particular wheatfield had been subject of several interventions, not least by the sower of the wheat, Vincent as Millet, was familiar with the sower and the religious connotations of the sower.

I own seven photographs of a playground that has been subject to innumerable interventions. The first intervention, believe it as you may, was in Genesis Chapter 1 verses 11 to 13.

“Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth vegetation, every kind of plant that bears seed and every kind of fruit tree on earth that bears fruit with its seed in it” and so it happened; the earth brought forth every kind of plant that bears seed and every kind of fruit tree on earth that bears fruit with its seed in it. God saw how good it was. Evening came, and morning followed- the third day.”

So now I am familiar with the tree and the religious connotations of the tree, so as a starting point, I am not far away from Vincent, or Millet or even Pissarro. All I need do now is dance at the easel.

Figure 1(17 09 26) Dancing in Eden, Winter, ink washes on A2 cartridge

It doesn’t really look like the photographs because I drew it from memory which is, I suppose, one way of possessing a landscape and making it your own and interacting with it.

Love as always

Mickos xx



Dear Cleo 17 09 24

Dear Cleo

How are you darling, having had two days off whilst I thought about things, I am totally astonished about how fast ideas can travel on the internet, and this is a perfect example of just how bad the photograph compares with a painting.

While the Van Gogh museum  were using their best marketing  brains to come up with that, without thinking the whole idea through, I was busy reading a book. I am one of those old people who believe that books trumps (I am unsure if that word is politically correct these days, maybe it is OK if you use a small t) the internet. I was reading Ms Petherbridge’s excellent book The Primacy of Drawing within which, she quotes Monsieur Merleau Ponty’s statement “he who sees cannot possess the visible unless he is possessed by it”. (Petherbridge p. 279)

I believe I am fighting a losing battle as Microsoft Word recognises neither Merleau nor Ponty. Maybe a part of Amsterdam is bereft of Dutch translations of either of these books. I think Microsoft Word only recognises Petherbridge because I keep banging on about it.

I am not being intellectual here because, whilst I have a copy of the good Monsieur’s book, I have yet to read it, preferring instead to read books with pictures in them. Maybe if I read more books without pictures I wouldn’t need to go on the internet at all.

It could be that this is the parable of the tourist, unless you abandon your mobile phone and sit down  and wait, and give things time, to interact with you, will never possess anything except an airline ticket and a kiss me quick hat.

I am sorry, my darling, for being so grumpy but I have just spent three hours on the M6, followed by three hours on the M1, coming home to a hungry cat and Amsterdam’s finest conclusions. Despair over, I will find the new horse as I sleep.

All my love, as always

Mickos xx

P.S. note for the Harvard educated amongst my readers,

Petherbridge D. (2014)The Primacy of Drawing, New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

Dear Cleo 17 09 22

Dear Cleo

Good morning, it is early on a Friday morning and the holiday is well and truly over, I guess you are still asleep. I will call over and see you this evening and bring some cards because I know it is Auburn’s and your daddy’s birthday this weekend.

I am on day one of part four of the course and starting to interact with the landscape, I have discussed interaction and collaboration before on the blog, especially with my tutor and while I find this relatively easy to do with people and animals, with a very big inanimate thing like a landscape it could be kind of tricky.

I have started gently enough with some photographs I took in the park.

Figure 1 ( Playground P1 Digital photograph

Figure 2 ( Playground P2 Digital photograph

Figure 3 ( Playground P3 Digital photograph

Figure 4 ( Playground P4 Digital photograph

Figure 5 ( Playground P5 Digital photograph

Figure 6 ( Playground P6 Digital photograph

Figure 7 ( Playground P7 Digital photograph

Having read a little bit about Goldsworthy, Long and Cragg, I can understand that these photographs represent several interactions with the landscape over many years. I am guessing that this was once a forest as it would take research into old maps to confirm this. The first intervention was when it was probably civilised by the landowner as part of his estate. Further interventions would have been carried out by successive landowners according to the fashions of their times until the land eventually passed to the council. The council intervened to turn the landscape into a park land and what we see here is probably the council’s last intervention, the introduction of the modern playground. The final interventions with the landscape are these photographs.

Each intervention has served to make special, in a different way, this particular landscape and draw attention to it. My intervention was to make special the landscape on a windy Saturday morning in April 2017 and take something away from it, digital images, so that I could share something of the landscape that I thought special with you and the viewers of my blog. You will have noticed that I said something because a photograph represents the experience of that windy Saturday morning but only to the eyes, you cannot feel the wind or hear the birds and the people, or smell the grass or touch the trees. You can imagine these things from your own memories and maybe impose the wind from the way the clouds look or the temperature from the way the people are dressed. Most people who see these photographs will not have the time to do that and will flick on with the mouse, such is the speed of viewing and life in the modern age. Only the special and the spectacular hold your attention.

But stop a while and blow up one of these unspectacular pictures to full screen size and imagine from your memories to fill in the gaps from your other senses, then further  wonder  who are the people in the photograph and why were they there that particular day. What were the names  of the landowners who decided  and the workers who toiled to make the landscape what it is today, then go back further and wonder what or who stalked these forests before they were civilised. If you do this you can realise that every picture tells a story, but you have to invest the time to read the book.

Another thing to think about is what I was thinking about to make this particular landscape special, for other people, what were my motives in taking the pictures.

Now from my unspectacular landscape lets go to look at a rather more  spectacular landscape.

Figure 8 ( Wheatfield with crows by Vincent, Digital image

Using a different sense of the word landscape this one is rather special. It is the culmination of Vincent’s life work, a painting he painted within weeks of his death that people read into with regard to Vincent’s State of mind. People have travelled the world to look at this landscape in Amsterdam, however if they went instead to Auvers  Sur Oise they would discover that Vincent’s inspiration was less spectacular that my own photographs of the playground.

In a curious way I have arrived at a similar point reached by John Berger in the first chapter of “Ways of Seeing”, unfortunately, I didn’t make the link until it was pointed out by my Tutor, who is far cleverer than I. Having relooked at the book I can see the comparison, Berger highlights the sensationalism of “the last picture that Van Gogh painted before he killed himself”(this is of course an untruth) and goes on to say “It is hard to define exactly how the words have changed the image but undoubtedly they have. The image now illustrates the sentence.”

Real life wheatfield with crows

Figure 8 ( Wheatfield without crows, Digital image

If somebody told you tomorrow that you were going to die next week, would you paint this corner of a field in Auvers and add a few crows to immortalise yourself? I  think  would find something a bit more special than a playground in Winchmore Hill but then given the context of the words, perhaps a playground in Winchmore Hill is something I could make special so that it would fully convey my angst.

The way forward is to imbibe my impressions of the landscape in an expressionistic style in the hope that everyone will slow themselves  down enough to slowly examine the piece of landscape that I have declared special.

I set about this task manfully using Photo shop to isolate and rotate the things I found interesting and produced these;

Figure 9 ( Monochrome sample Digital image

Figure 10 ( Monochrome sample Digital image

Figure 11 ( sample Digital image

Figure 12 ( sample Digital image

From these four samples I produced four sketches in anA4 sketchbook that looked like this;

Figure 13 ( A cave that needs something to happen in it, graphite on A4 Cartridge

Figure 14 ( Astronaut, graphite on A4 Cartridge

Figure 15 ( Geometry, graphite on A4 Cartridge

Figure 16 ( Standing in the shadows, graphite on A4 Cartridge

I was pleased with the distance I had come from the original photographs, but it is time now to go to work so this feels like a pleasant juncture to stop and take stock and remember the lessons already learned in part 3, upscale the work and dance at the easel.

I will see you later on in the evening my darling, I have much more stuff to tell you and I am looking forward to it.

All my love

Mickos xx

PS For the Havard educated amongst us, isn’t it about time that Havard encompassed Kindle. My hard copy of the book is somewhere in the house but then, so are lots of things.


Berger, John. Ways of Seeing (Penguin Modern Classics) (Kindle Locations 248-249). Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition.





Dear Bryan

Dear Bryan

Thanks for bearing with the computer problems I was having at the start of our hangout for the third part of the course. When I posted the assignment I was pleased with the amount of work that was in the portfolio and also pleased that there were one or two bits in it that were quite good.

The blind drawings for Project 1 were interesting but were perhaps not carried to a finite conclusion there is a sense of doing and ticking a box rather than a complete investigation.

You, like I, was pleased with the change in my practice initiated by the stick drawings in project 2, drawing at the easel and using more of my body in my mark making, the drawings are now a record of a performance piece where I have danced at the easel. I think the music helped to bring this out but I was especially impressed by the photographs of Cezanne light footed before his easel. It has given the drawings a sense of airiness and space that they somehow lacked before. Pollock is famous for his dancing around his paintings maybe I need to take the drawings off the easel and put them on the floor and dance around them as if they were my handbag, steady lad you don’t have a handbag.

My series thing is Girls at the Bar, there is a painting in there somewhere, but it isn’t there yet, they will take a further bow in part 4 when hopefully they will be finally resolved. For series, you quoted Jim Dines, Roger Hutton and Morandi, from a quick look on the internet, I think Amazon will be delivering a Jim Dines book sometime soon, I have Morandi books already.

Project 3 was where I became Butada’s creator, I made her, I named her, I curated her drawings, and then became jealous of her success, her Giotto curves and her freewheeling attitude to creativity. I tracked her down, turning her drawings into believable aspects of realities that even she could not imagine and lived deep inside of me. You were glad of my interaction and collaboration with her but felt I was ticking boxes rather than pushing the game to its absolute limits.

Project 4 was perhaps my greatest success, the drawing of my tigress was part inspired by a double visit to the once in a lifetime exhibition of Raphael’s drawings, coupled with my new found drawing  practice of drawing at arm’s length, brought the project work to a successful conclusion. Being aware of my mood when I am drawing was not something I used to think about and I can see now how I can induce my mood to suit the subject or mood of my drawing.

The assignment piece allowed me to incorporate many of the techniques I had practiced in the earlier part of the course.

The sketch that you picked out from the moleskin sketchbooks was one I did in a Venetian restaurant with particularly slow service, I will take that as a nudge to do some more considered work in my moleskin sketchbooks.

I really enjoyed this part of the course and had lots of fun doing the work but the interaction and collaboration aspect of my work is as you predicted getting stronger and I am interacting with more things and different types of stimulation which in turn is I think making me more creative, it is like a win win thing and is resulting, I think, in better end results.

I think the work in progress shots and breaking down the work into visible steps is letting you see my process more and over this part of the course my sketchbook work has influenced my other work in a much more positive way.

My background reading is going well and in informing my work and I feel in the written pieces that I am coming to grips with being critical of my own work if only in a positive way.

With regard to a submission date for the next assignment I think if we leave it until mid-December it will give me the time to get a substantial amount of work done on the parallel project and the critical review.

All the best


Dear Cleo 17 08 21

Dearest Cleo

Here is a little secret that you didn’t know, last night while you were sleeping your mummy came over and I drew her for part of my course.

The room and the lighting were just about ready, Carly chose the music, Laura Marling and we settled down quite quickly.

The first part of the portrait was completed while we were going through the usual daddy daughter thing and lasted a good ten minutes because I am the type of guy who does more than the usual amount of bad and crazy things that I need to be scolded for on a regular basis.

It didn’t help much that I was trying to concentrate on the drawing, I think it slowed it down a bit, and the initial marks are a bit stilted and crotchety and there was a twist in the drawing of her face that I was not keen on. When I took the ten minute photograph it changed the mood somewhat and we began talking of other thing starting with the recent holiday we had shared

Figure 1 (17 08 21 01) When are you going to? Why don’t you? Charcoal on A2 sugar paper.


When I took the ten minute photograph it changed the mood somewhat and we began talking of other things, starting with the recent holiday we had shared that we had both thoroughly enjoyed.

Figure 2 (17 08 21 02) Didn’t we have a lovely time? Charcoal on A2 sugar paper.

The marks are softer and more flowing and the twist is coming out of her face. The second photograph didn’t interrupt the flow too much and we carried on talking about good things. This and that, hopes and dreams and how easy life was going.

Figure 3 (17 08 21 03) How are things going for you anyway? Charcoal on A2 sugar paper.

The twist in her face has been banished, there are lots of smudgy marks appearing. We were both quite relaxed now, talking only sporadically, unimportant stuff, like the movies you have seen and those that you want to see the music was carrying the mood.

Figure 4 (17 08 21 04) Relaxed and easy Charcoal on A2 sugar paper.


This photograph was taken at the cigarette break around fifty minutes in there was only a mild tut, the lecture had finished earlier. I can see that I am more relaxed with the marks but I can see the cigarette anxiety creeping in in places.

Figure 5 (17 08 21 05) Settled, Charcoal on A2 sugar paper.

This is the hour mark,she was completely at ease now reading the articles in the film magazines rather than flicking the pages as she had earlier. I had about five more minutes to concentrate on the final tones and soften a few edges.

Figure 6 (17 08 21 06) A conversation with Carly, Charcoal on A2 sugar paper.



Concentrating on other things rather than what is going on with this bloody drawing certainly helped, I can feel the relaxation creeping into the stages of the drawing.

The lighting helped a lot and I claim full credit for positioning the light.

The conversation really helped me to capture Carly, the bundle of what she is, or what she seems to be to me, and although the conversation wouldn’t be nearly so intimate with other sitters, it is something to remember for the future.

The tones are good enough to paint from, there are a few sharp edges to the piece but I think they bring out the character of my sleeping tigress, I could have carried on for another hour polishing it but I think that would have taken the intimacy out of it.

I was pleased with the end result and so was my sitter I think that is what she looks like in real life and for those of you that don’t know her, this is what she looks like in a photograph.

Figure 7 (17 08 21 07) Carly my tigress, digital photograph.

Well I hope you like my portrait of your Mum and I know she has something special planned for you for tomorrow.

My love as always

Mickos xx

Dear Cleo 17 08 20

Dearest Cleo

Dorset is only three or four sleeps away and you will be back by a seaside where you can swim at will, Be sure to check out Durdle Door and see how close it is to the painting you did.

I am closing down on this part of the course, this is the last bit of Project 2, I still used the music but I reversed the order of doing. First I drew the sketch standing at the easel, if nothing else my drawing is inproving.

Figure 1 (17 08 20 01) Sketch enlarged from Sketchbook, Ink in A2 sugar paper

I then put Brams Piano concerto nr 1 on the Youtube and blindly followed the music with first he blue crayon then the red and finally the yellow I only took the photo with the blue so you will have to guess the other two.

Figure 2 (17 08 20 02) going with the music, Ink and conte crayon on A2 sugar paper

I then set about the image with Conte crayons and an eraser while listening to the end of the music and then listening to it one more time, this was the result.

Figure 3 (17 08 20 03) Back entrance to the school, Ink and conte crayon on A2 sugar paper

An artist is a child of his time and cannot recreate the past (Hegel) but is forced to stand on the shoulders of giants until his own feet can touch solid ground (Mickos).


The blind musical bit gave much movement to this drawing which has not been lost in the final realisation of the piece. The colours are bright and in your face, the shadows are cool, whilst the overall piece is warm. The tones induce recession which is emphasised by the linear perspective. the chimneys are out of proportion but in real life they grab the eye and seem in the end analysis to dominate in the scene.

I think I have one too many ears for this drawing to be a sucess, or maybe I was born a century or so too late.

Have a good time in Dorset and I will see you when you get back.

All my Love

Mickos xx



Dear Cleo 17 08 19

Dear Cleo

How are you today? I Hear that you are going to Dorset to see Granny C next week, I hope the weather stays fine for you and that you have a good time when you go.

I was quite busy today, I completed exercise 3 by seeking inspiration from the last of Butada’s drawings.

Figure 1 (17 08 19 01) Butada III.I Miranda and the singing fishes, Sharpie on A4 photocopy paper

Figure 2 (17 08 19 02) Butada III.II Stranger go tell the Spartans, Sharpie on A4 photocopy paper

Figure 3 (17 08 19 03) Butada III.III Madonna with the cat, Sharpie on A4 photocopy paper

Figure 4 (17 08 19 04) Butada III.IV Dance of the Tuesday Moon, Sharpie on A4 photocopy paper

Figure 5 (17 08 19 05) Butada III.V I really tried to please her, Sharpie on A4 photocopy paper

Figure 6 (17 08 19 06) After Butada, Dance of the Tuesday Moon, Conte crayon on A3 sugar paper


This is not something I would normally do but as Butada suggested the design and the composition I went with the flow. It reminded me of a Matisse so I decided to use bright colours. I deliberately didn’t refresh my memory of La Danse until I was finished and was surprised to find how blue Matisse’s was.

I was quite pleased with the figures without access to a model, I think it may have been easier at A2 with the chalks. I think the mark making is pretty varied, the marks on the male figure is the result of a bit of frottage on a drawing board that had become thick with fixative spray.

It is bright and happy even if the dancers are a little stiff and I like the negative shapes made by the limbs and the horizon.  I think with a little more sketching and models it would make a good painting.

Have a good time in Dorset and I will see you when you get back.

All my love

Mickos xx