Dear Cleo 17 04 08

Dear Cleo

As promissed in my last post here are this weeks sketches

Figure 1 (SK 01 30) Ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 2 (SK 01 31) Ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 3 (SK 01 32) Ink on A5 cartridge

Figure 4 (SK 01 33) Ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 5 (SK 01 34) Ink on A5 cartridge

Figure 6 (SK 01 35) Ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 7 (SK 01 36) Ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 8 (SK 01 37) Ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 9 (SK 01 38) Ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 10 (SK 01 39) Ink on A5 cartridge

Well not a bad Haul from what was quite a busy week, I have been studying the techniques of the Abstract Expressionists on a Moma Coursera and created the following.

Figure 11 (17 04 08 01) Response to studying Barnet Neuman. Evening, acrylic on A3 canvas

Figure 12 (17 04 08 02) Sketch response to studying Willem de Kooning graphite in A4 cartridge

Figure 13 (17 04 08 03) Drawing response to studying Willem de Kooning, Girl on a barstool, charcoal and Conte crayon on A3 tracing paper

I hope you liked this weeks efforts and I look forward to catching up with you tomorrow.

All my love



Dear Cleo 17 04 04

Dear Cleo

I hope you are well and enjoying your Easter holidays and that you are looking forward to your trip to Dorset to see your Granny C.

Today I started Part 2 of my course, it’s a new technique drawing into a charcoal ground with a putty rubber. I did this piece as a test piece to see how things went with the technique.

Figure 1 (17 04 04) Charcoal erased with putty rubber on A5 China white Canson

I just used what was on the coffee table as a motif but I needed to try out some types of paper to see how they adapted to this technique and to see how to use the putty rubber. It was not the best choice of subject because the reflections in the glass are by their nature quite linear, and tend to prevent an overall smoky effect that I think the technique is intended for. I am thinking a portrait or a figure, something along the lines of the Burlington House cartoon, with softer transitions from highlight to shadow. it was a useful experiment with the technique though, the Canson suited the medium quite well but I will try a few other types of paper before I commit to the final piece, I managed to get a very dark black and I got used to using the putty rubber as a drawing tool. The only thing wrong with the final result was I forgot to use composition, as I was concentrating more on the technique, I sorted this by flipping the final image in Photoshop. I don’t think it’s a bad first attempt and I am looking forward to trying it out again.

All my love as always

Mickos x

Dear Cleo 17 04 01

Dear Cleo

Well now you are on your Easter Hols, I hope the end of term went well and you are excited by what lies ahead in the next fortnight.

Me, I just found another exercise at the end of the course which is a sort of self critique to see if you are smart enough to agree with your tutor’s impressions of your work so here goes.

Demonstration of visual and technical skills

Mickos used a wide range of materials including graphite, ink, Conte crayons, charcoal and acrylic paint, unfortunately he used canvas for the support of one of his acrylic works which technically makes this work a painting it will need to be redone if he intends to submit it for assessment as a drawing. He is confident in his technical ability but needs to get more of the immediacy from his sketchbooks into his final pieces. He displays good observational skills but has a tendency to tighten up in his final pieces to achieve a sense of realism, however, the realism of the crushed cans in the Blackadder response is quite free and loose, and the apples in the assignment piece are not really apples but a symbol for apples and as such work well. His design and compositional skills have come on in leaps and bounds since studying Blackadder and recognising the importance of pattern and the edges of the painting, this was a skill that he developed well in the assignment piece. (31%)

Quality of outcome

The content of Mickos’ blog reflects well the issue he is grappling with at the time he has an encyclopaedic knowledge of art of the past and applies it well to his work, even if at times it causes his work to have a derivative feel, for instance the assignment piece has a distinct feel of not very close follower of Cezanne. His Blog is clearly written and easy to navigate, I am not too sure about the Dear Cleo format, but given time, it may develop, and it worked for another madman didn’t it. Mickos has no concept of the word discernment, so I shall refrain from commenting until he understands the word, let alone the concept, however, he is well able to conceptualise his thoughts and express his ideas. (15%)

Demonstration of creativity

Mickos showed a good sense of imagination experimentation and invention in his responses to projects 1 and 3 of part 1 of the course using the framing angles to good effect to investigate his  own drawings to produce new compositions and imaginative landscapes. I would suggest that he buys more framing angles and incorporates them into his work on a permanent basis rather than as computer generated prints.  I look forward to him experimenting with collage because I sense he may have an aptitude for it. With regard to personal voice, at this time it feels like Mickos is doomed to be a bad Karaoke singer but with effort and application this could change, his raw natural talent could mature into something quite distinctive and tuneful. (19%)


Mickos reflects well on what he is doing and what he has done in terms of art history and theory but lacks politicisation. He needs to rediscover his Trotsky roots and make art that has verve and feeling and impact. I was impressed by the connection he made with Blackadder but it somehow lacked a sense of anger. Mickos needs to rediscover his sense of anger and outrage and channel it into his work. Perhaps his critical reviews and essays should come as post scripts to his letters to Cleo and should have proper Harvard referencing. Otherwise, I can see he has read widely around the subject and his written work is easy to read (16%)


Mickos has scored an astonishing 81%. I think this reflects more my high opinion of him, rather than his actual achievement on this part of the course, however, it is a strong beginning ,and bodes well that with full application, Mickos will complete the course,  if not to his full expectations, with at least a creditable pass.

Well there you go Cleo; I can already hear you saying “this Mickos is full proof that you are the student and not the teacher”. It is good to dream, but not let dreams to be your master (Kipling),  have given my all, I now give part 1 to my tutor in the hope he looks upon  it as kindly as I.

My love as always,

Mickos  x

Dear Cleo 17 03 31

Dearest Cleo

I hope you are well and that you did your homework today without all the grief that you gave your Daddy last Friday while I was at your house. I know you were a bit over whelmed by the day but I hope you have settled down now and are back in the routine. Keep the head down babe and throw the tantrum when no one can see.

For me, I have finished my homework for part 1 of my course; I have enjoyed it immensely and had great fun doing it discovering more about my art and myself at every turn. I had a bit of self doubt here and there and I think I may have done a slight wrong turn in interpreting Matisse on canvas rather than on paper. I was a little confused and over excited but I now think I understand that the outlying definition of a drawing is that it must be on paper, whatever the medium.

Investigating my own drawings was a bit of a first or me, I only used to use them for squaring up from, it was strange to let them grow from a carefully arranged composition of a still life into a new  composition altogether.

I found the Blackadder School of composition very interesting because I didn’t look at patterns that way this new way of seeing was very beneficial on the gallery visits I have been on sonce studying that part of this course.

The research I have done in this part of the course seems to be feeding back into  my drawings in ways that I don’t fully understand yet, space seems to be opening up in my sketches, maybe I am learning to see in a different way, and perhaps I am. I want to see the discrete steps of the thought process that produces seeing in my brain, I know it all happens in milliseconds but there must be a way of slowing it down so that I can watch the growth of the fully formed image. A bit like the Abstract Expressionist paintings by Ad Reinhardt that are black but if you take the time to look, the colours appear as if by magic. (this even happens with the reproductions but is much better in real life)

So I am back now to Leonardo’s staring at the patterns on stained walls but I think I am beginning to see more than I did before.

Stay lucky until the weekend and I will see you then.


Dear Cleo 17 03 30

Dear Cleo

I hope  are well and tht you are loking forward to Aunty Loz comming to visit at the weekend. Tonights post will be a quick read because there will be few words as I amgoing to post  the sketches I did while I was in Florence and you already saw them in my sketchbook last weekend.

Figure o1 (SK02.01) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure o2 (SK02.02) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure o3 (SK02.03) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure o4 (SK02.04) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure o5 (SK02.05) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure o6 (SK02.06) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure o7 (SK02.07) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure o8 (SK02.08) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure o9 (SK02.09) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 10 (SK02.10) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 11 (SK02.11) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 12 (SK02.12) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 13 (SK02.13) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 14 (SK02.14) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 15 (SK02.15) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 16 (SK02.16) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 17 (SK02.17) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 18 (SK02.18) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 19 (SK02.19) ink on A6 cartridge


Figure 20 (SK02.20) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 21 (SK02.21) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 22 (SK02.22) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 23 (SK02.23) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 24 (SK02.24) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 25 (SK02.25) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 26 (SK02.26) ink on A6 cartridge

I hope you are having a good evening and not getting too excited about the end of term and the weekend. Let me know whick sketch you prefer and i will try to make a painting of it for you.


Mickos x


Dear Cleo 17 03 29

Dear Cleo

Well girl, this week is the end of your term and coincidentally it is the end of mine.I am cleaning out the virtual desk and have put together the sketchbooks for you to look at. I am surprised how evocative they are to me of the places I remember (J. Lennon) Without further ado, I give you sketchbook 01 with the occasional quip.

Figure o1 (SK01.01) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure o2 (SK01.02) graphite on A6 cartridge

Figure o3 (SK01.03) graphite on A6 cartridge

Figure o4 (SK01.04) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure o5 (SK01.05) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure o6 (SK01.06) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure o7 (SK01.07) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure o8 (SK01.08) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure o9 (SK01.09) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 10 (SK01.10) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 11 (SK01.11) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 12 (SK01.12) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 13 (SK01.13) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 14 (SK01.14) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 15 (SK01.15) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 16 (SK01.16) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 17 (SK01.17) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 18 (SK01.18) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 19 (SK01.19) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 20 (SK01.20) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 21 (SK01.21) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 22 (SK01.22) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 23 (SK01.23) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 24 (SK01.24) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 25 (SK01.25) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 26 (SK01.26) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 27 (SK01.27) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 28 (SK01.28) ink on A6 cartridge

Figure 29 (SK01.29) ink on A6 cartridge

Looking at them as a whole I notice that I am developing a tendancy to leave a right hand margin and wondering if this is an unconscious reaction to what I learned from studying Blackadder, or is it just my Western genetic brain and I always had a tendency to leave a right hand margin and just never noticed it until I studied Blackadder.

I was a bit worried about posting number 29 but it was a very long and boring traffic jam and the engine was turned off.

Anyway my dear it is only 3 more sleeps to your easter hols.

all my love

Mickos x

Dear Cleo 17 03 27

Dear Cleo

It is two days since we met, I hope you have got over the cold you had and are ready to go back to school tomorrow.

I have been looking some more at the Clough Archive at the Tate website. Many of the pieces are reworked postcards on a postcard of Cloughs own work Small Stacks (1996). While I was in Florence the hotel I stayed in was quite arty, everything in Florence is quite arty, but the artwork in my room consisted of a Picasso advertisement for an exhibition, a Morandi print and a Lorella Ciampelli print. The reproductions of these at A1 and A3 left white space around the artwork, in the case of the Picasso exhibition advertisement the white space was used to give details of the exhibition but in the Morandi print and the Ciampelli print the space was left blank. It is the same compositional device that Clough used in her reworked postcards. The artist spends a great deal of time working out the composition of a painting and the printer then fits the square painting on to an oblong ground as he sees fit, totally altering the composition and dynamic of the piece. Both the Morelli and the Ciampelli appear to have a table cloth hanging down over the edge of the table that is catching the light and wiyh the Picasso the words fight with the image.

Figure 1 (17 03 27 01) Pictures in a hotel room 1 Digital photograph

Figure 2 (17 03 27 02) Pictures in a hotel room 2 Digital photograph

Figure 3 (17 03 27 03) Pictures in a hotel room 3 Digital photograph

Clough’s photographs in the archive were very insightful and seemed to group into two distinct periods, the fifties and sixties when she took black and white photographs of big important stuff like factories and industry and the eighties and nineties when she took coloured photographs of pretty patterns.

Florence is a very pretty city and well worthy of the 350 photographs I took while I was there, I won’t bore you with the whole set, but here are the photographs I took of pretty patterns.

Figure 4 (17 03 27 04) Pretty patterns Florence 1 Digital photograph

Figure 5 (17 03 27 05) Pretty patterns Florence 2 Digital photograph

Figure 6 (17 03 27 06) Pretty patterns Florence 3 Digital photograph

Figure 7 (17 03 27 07) Pretty patterns Florence 4 Digital photograph

Figure 8 (17 03 27 08) Pretty patterns Florence 5 Digital photograph

Figure 9 (17 03 27 09) Pretty patterns Florence 6 Digital photograph

Figure 10 (17 03 27 10) Pretty patterns Florence 7 Digital photograph


Figure 11 (17 03 27 11) Pretty patterns Florence 8 Digital photograph

Figure 12 (17 03 27 12) Pretty patterns Florence 9 Digital photograph

Figure 13 (17 03 27 13) Pretty patterns Florence 10 Digital photograph

Figure 14 (17 03 27 14) Pretty patterns Florence 11 Digital photograph

Figure 15 (17 03 27 15) Pretty patterns Florence 12 Digital photograph

Clough was using photographs to inform her art in black and white, long before the advent of Photoshop, she would have had great fun with Photoshop but she is a great example to be totally aware of what is going on around you, particularly the mundane and obvious.

Have a good week at school; it’s the last week of term so you should be able to relax a bit.


Mickos x