Dear Cleo 17 05 21

Dear Cleo

It was good to catch up with you yesterday, we had so much fun discussing the sheep and I Think I have an answer to the problem. Today I passed by a field with two rams, eighty ewes and eighty lambs, that is a whole lot of sheep, they were all standing on their legs so I was either in England or Austrailia, because I wasn’t upside down either.

I have been researching the work of Angela Eames, I first came across her as a drawing researcher in the book Writing on Drawing cross referencing on the internet I found that she uses the computer and drawing based software in her process.

I watched a bit of a series on the Khan Academy about Pixar and animated computer drawing, the ground breaking trend at the minute seems to be algorithms where somehow you can programme a computer so that it makes its own mind up about what it does next. We don’t need any of that here thanks its hard enough working with this one that I have been taming for several years and still am.

The technique of computer drawing practised by both Eames and Pixar involves nets and meshes which caused me to wonder what Yayoi Kusama knew, that others didn’t, with her Infinity Nets way back in the nineteen sixties. A prototype of this kind of computer drawing was done by Paolo Uccello back in the fifteenth century.

Eames’ drawings are not animated, but use the same technology as Pixar with the meshes to produce a sculptural form on the computer screen which can, of course, be printed out on paper and displayed as conventional artworks in a similar way as CAD architectural and engineering drawings.

I was lucky enough to attend an exhibition in Brentford by The London Group that included four of Eames works two were prints of the front and back of a piece of knitting that had been computer generated and two were the front and back of a piece of chain mail that had been computer generated, all four were about a meter square you can read Eames own descriptions of the pieces here.

One of Eames’ more famous quotes is that “a jumper is a drawing that you wear” because the wool is a line and it is sculpted into a piece of fabric.

Going back to our discussion of yesterday do you think a sheep is a woolly jumper or is a sheep a drawing where the dashes haven’t been joined up.

All my love



Dear Cleo 17 05 09

Dearest Cleo

Just a quick note to tell you that I won’t see at the weekend something has cropped up that will keep me rather busy so we will have to put the swimming off until the weekend after.

I wont bore you with so much writing today because it is the day to update my sketchbook on the blog so more pictures than words today.

Figure 01 (SK01 56) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 02 (SK01 57) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 03 (SK01 58) ink on A5 cartridge

Figure 04 (SK01 59) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 05 (SK01 60) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 06 (SK 61) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 07 (SK01 61) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 08 (SK01 62) ink on A5 cartridge

This was an attempt to get the geometry of the Cantina right for the drawing I am weorking  on

Figure 09 (SK01 63) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 10 (SK01 64) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 11 (SK01 65) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 12 (SK01 66) ink on A5 cartridge

Mickos goes to Newmarket races

Figure 13 (SK01 67) ink on A5 cartridge

Figure 14 (SK01 68) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 15 (SK 69) ink on A5 cartridge

Figure 16 (SK01 70) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 17 (SK01 71) ink on A5 cartridge

Figure 18 (SK01 72) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure (SK01 73)Black chalk and ink on A6 cartridge

Trying out the new black chalk on the Charring Cross Road.

Now darling wasn’t that much easier than all that reading.

Love as always


Dear Cleo

It was good to catch up yesterday, Lunch at Celicias’ is always quite delightful and yesterdays was especially so.

I went on one of my favourite study visits today, the trip to the British Museum Drawing room, I have been before, but it is the trip that never ceases to amaze me. You get to see drawings by absolute masters real close up and see how they were created. Apologies to the masters I copied and in fairness, my copies include a link to the original.

Figure 1 (17 05 09 01) after John Napper, Dried plants 1958

Figure 2 (17 05 09 02) after Jan Van Breughel the elder,

Figure 3 (17 05 09 03) after Paul Signac, Still life with a bowl of fruit 1926

Figure 4 (17 05 09 04) after Frank Auerbach, Study for another tree in Mornington Crescent 2007

Figure 5 (17 05 09 05) after Frank Auerbach, Study for Camden Palace Spring Morning 2000

Figure 6 (17 05 09 06) after Henry Moore, five studies of figures in the underground, and after Boudin, Groups of figures near Planches, Trouville. 1866

Drawing in a Museum or gallery is always problematical even one as  private as the Drawing Room at the British Museum Art as performance kicks in and everybody likes to see a performance, the curious and in the case of galleries and museums the lurking expert. All art is a performance, the only factor is the size of the audience during the performance. Stand on the street corner at Leicester Square and for every portrait drawn there is a crowd of onlookers, only in the studio can an artist have solitude and peace and perhaps the solo performance is the zenith of art, as it is of music think Leonardo and his Giaconda, Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel, no spectators there then, and who could be bothered to watch Vincent perform?

So why the big modern idea of art as performance, “Can you see what it is yet”, it could be the influence of television or the speed of modern life. Even performance art must prepare the costumes or location although it is possible to go with the flow once the performance starts as almost every artist to a greater or lesser degree goes with the flow as he paints or sculpts even in his studio. I think art  as performance is overrated or about ratings, my blog on Word press makes an enormous play of how many views and visitors I have, I don’t really care, I just hope they come to see the  drawings, “Build it and they will come” (Costner), and not the words, the style, the affectations or my histrionics.

Rant over, one of the hard things about drawing in museums and galleries is that for the most part you are working in a different medium than the original work because of the institution’s rules. With drawings, however, copying seems to induce you to make strokes and marks at the same speed as the original because marks have their own tempo, you can’t drive at six miles an hour on a motorway and so you get an understanding of the way the original work was produced and hopefully that in some way feeds back into your own process.

These are the ones I didn’t copy, but probably will from the computer screen or print outs, having seen the originals should hopefully provide further inspiration, in the privacy of my own studio I can work in whatever materials are appropriate.

Figure 7 (17 05 09 07) Vincent La Crau from Montmajour May 1888

Figure 8 (17 05 09 08) Henry Moore, three figures in front of a bombed out building

Figure 9 (17 05 09 09) Barbara Hepworth, St Remy mountains and trees 1, 1933

Figure 10 (17 05 09 10) Thomas Girtin Blackfriars Bridge and St Pauls 1800-1

Figure 11 (17 05 09 11) Gabriel de Saint Aubin, Interior of the artist’s studio 1780

Figure 12 (17 05 09 12) Frans Snyders, Game and fruit

There was one other drawing on show by Margaret Stones for which there is no image on the web but you will get an idea of the style of this drawing from following the link.

All in all, if you are at all interested in drawings, it is a once in a lifetime experience and well worth the effort.

Another good thing about going to the British Museum, is that if you get off at Tottenham Court Road you have to walk past Cornelissen’s which is a pure treat, I bought some red chalk and some black chalk, the black was reconstituted and a little greasy, but with the red I drew this sketch when I got home I think it is the best sketch of Freya I have ever done.

Figure 13 (17 05 09 13) Freya, Red Chalk, graphite and white pastel on A4 cartridge

On the way home I went to see The American Dream pop to present and Howard Hodgkin Absent Friends, but those reviews will have to wait for another day as I am tired now and I am sure that you, my dear, must be exhausted from reading all this. Sleep tight.

Love as always

Mickos x

Dear Cleo 17 05 05

Dear Cleo

I hope you are well and I am looking forward to catching up with you at the weekend. Today I am doing the hard yards with research into M. Borremans, a contemporary Belgian painter.

Michael Borremans

“I try to draw from time to time. But somehow I’m losing interest in it. My sight is getting worse. I never buy paper; I work on found paper that doesn’t look too artistic. I like to work on a piece of paper that has a history that I don’t know.” M. Borremans.

Thinking about Borremans as a creator of art that both creates and denies three dimensions my first thought is of his depiction of the Bunrako puppeteers. In real life the puppeteers have zero dimensionality and are dressed thus so that they melt into the background leaving the puppets to star on the darkened stage. In making them three dimensional figures and the stars of his shows, Borremans induces a strange reality where the priest and the miracle become visible and puppeteer becomes puppet. Borremans says, “Painting is like a stage. Drawing is very different—it doesn’t have the weight of painting. In drawing, you can formulate all kinds of ideas, but in painting there’s a statement. It’s taken more seriously and in a different way. I really wanted to use painting like a stage, like Manet did.”

Figure 1 Black mould The Dance (2015) M. Borremans

In his paintings Borremans invariably has a shallow picture space and he himself said in an interview with Maggie Grey (1)  ‘I tend to leave some canvas visible, either by scraping off paint with a knife, or by using transparent paint, or by leaving some canvas open, I want to make it clear that it’s an illusion.’  This is a way of maintaining the flat two dimensionality of the picture space in what are very three dimensional figures.

Borremans cites Manet, Vermeer and Velasquez as the giants upon whose shoulders he stands and while the connection with Monet are readily apparent in the images of his paintings on the internet I would probably need to see some of his work in the flesh to make the other comparisons.

In his drawings, however, Borremans totally juggles the second and third dimension, the prepatory drawings, which according to Borremans could take up to a year to  complete, have a playfulness that is difficult to describe.

There are two scholarly papers one by Stefan Beys (10) and another by Jennifer Higge (8) describing Borremans process which are well worth reading for their insight into the  painterly process,  but by far the most interesting is the documentary A Knife in the Eye (17) where Borremans discusses his own process.


Well that was quite wordy my dear but I hope you found time to                 watch the video

My love as always

Mickos x

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