Feedback assignment 5 and my reflection

Wendy Tong fb5 1217

I researched Barbara Rae landscapes here:

Looking at the work of David Bomberg here:

I revisited ‘Don Quixote’s Vision’ in charcoal studies and one colour study here:

With #1’Don Quixote’s Vision’ perhaps I lost the original focus for it mainly because the day I visited the site to paint it was a clear and bright day, and I ended up using that as the background and influence, (which I still feel in itself worked well, I came back very happy with what I had done that day) but I do accept the original intention was the feeling of size and menace in the sky, which did get lost.  By #3, ‘Ruinas Romanos’, I had realised that I can add in a sky from another day and use that; after all I was looking indeed at a narrative and not just a painting of ‘what is there’. I had felt that my assignment 4 painting had gone well because I had laid most of it down en plein aire, which had given it a fresh, gestural and looser approach; this had made me keen to try and do this again and I had chosen landscapes in part to be able to work outside.  I do feel I have learnt from this. It has been  very helpful and a learning experience to revisit this work and to do more sketches and then a colour sketch as well; I feel it got me back nearer to my original vision for this work.

In the composition for #3 ‘Ruinas Romanos/La Refinería ‘ I felt the steps were always going to be the main focus and I liked the idea of them leading you up into the modern, industrial world; this is the juxtaposition I was aiming for. I decided to put in the wall so as to balance the colours that I had put into the sky and still feel this worked quite well. Really most of the ruins were just that: stones on the ground so I needed to put the column bases and pillars all together, where I hoped they may have been previously. I think my looser, dryer brushwork worked well on this painting, giving a more open, looser effect with a ghostly feel.

I understand that I need to reflect more on my handling of the paint, and brushstrokes, and to make notes in my sketchbooks along side the sketches themselves, which would help me to focus my thoughts and also to understand what I was thinking and planning when I look back at my work.


Looking again at ‘Don Quixote’s Vision’

This is in response to tutor feedback on assignment 5.

I have been researching the work of David Bomberg  in particular his charcoal sketches and his use of an eraser. I also have Turner’s dramatic skies and use of light in mind, having revisited his ‘Dolbadern Castle’.

Today is a rare stormy day here in Spain and I have been up on the terrace trying to catch a dramatic sky with charcoal and eraser. The wind turbines were added from my photographs afterwards. All in my A3 sketchbook with the pages divided into A4 and A5.



With #5 & 6 I was trying to convey the movement and slicing of the blades; the ‘whump’ as they turn. #1 I caught the sunlight coming down through the clouds and these turbines are actually in the distance from my terrace. I think it looks a little like a crucifixion scene. #2 I am pleased with the composition and sky, I think it describes the sheer scale of these machines. #3 shows the distant mountains well, and also it describes the rain in the sky, a wind cutting through. #4 I tried to portray the clouds around the blades:  I am not sure this would work well in a colour study as the lower clouds tend to be more mist like.

I think I would use #2 to paint, this composition works best with the emphasis on the sky and the turbines. I would really work on that sky, using a lot of dark grey with some lighter colours breaking through; swirling the paint and maybe also showing some circular movement of the blades as in #5. The mountains beyond would blend into that sky, and just some detail on the hill in front; all very loose with a lot of dry brush strokes dragged in there as well.

Using charcoal worked well for these studies. I found a range of depth in just using black on white and it worked well to blend lightly with my finger and then lift with an eraser or darken with another swipe of the charcoal. It also enables one to work quickly and capture a sky as it is moving above you.

I have now decided that I would like to experiment using colour and so I tried some greys and pinks for the sky in my sketch book and then worked on a piece of A3 cardboard that I coated with 2 layers of white acrylic. A sponge worked well for blending the sky, which I used quite dry. I tried to keep it very like #2 and also to add in some of the movement from #4. I used a hb 6 pencil to straighten the turbines slightly as well. This blended it quite well. I brought some of the pink down into the hint of a town on the hill. With perspective, looking up more at the turbine, it gives a sense of the scale of the thing and the feeling of being slightly overwhelmed.


It was just a quick study but I can see how a more dramatic and dominant sky works well for this painting, giving it more drama and menace and movement. I think it perhaps better reflects my original intentions for this painting.

Research: Barbara Rae’s landscapes

65 Inlet

’65 -Inlet’ Acrylic And Mixed Media. Dimensions: 183 x 183 x 4 cm


Biography of her here:

(All images from this site.)

Raes…’works are often inspired by specific places which she uses as departure points for a flight of colour and sweeping compositions. Rae uses washes of bold colour; merging form, line and hue into each other with dynamic composition, breaking up the picture surface with thrusting lines. The works draw the viewer into the artist’s vision, emitting energy and warmth. Rae rejects the term “landscape painter” because the patterns and items left behind as traces of human presence are her prime interest.’

First impressions: her work looks very abstract and colourful. I suggest it all looks rather flat; there does not appear to be much depth described, although the fading of the colour in the distance, as in ‘Winter Almonds’ does occasionally add some Ariel perspective. I do like her use of line in the Almond trees, the stark blackness of them offset against the wonderful hot colours on here.


Sunflowers Alayrac 
Screenprint   57 x 76 cm


This screenprint is a little darker – the sunflowers appear to be at the dead and drying stage and maybe this is in the early sunrise, which they are reaching up for. I like the looseness of it and the the small dots suggest seeds, pollen, dust motes….it is bold and confident.

What can I take from Rae’s work? I do not feel I am ready to be quite so abstract; although I want to push myself more that way – however I love her bold use of colour and the slashing, bold lines, which the Spanish landscape certainly lends itself to.

It would seem there was an exhibition of her work on Gibraltar last year which I missed, which is a pity!

Research: David Bomberg, Ronda, Spain

The City on the Rock, Evening, Ronda, Spain 1935 by David Bomberg 1890-1957

There is a nice introduction and history about Bomberg on the Tate page (above). I have visited Ronda many times, indeed it is not too far from where I am living so I am familiar with the gorge and the famous bridge and the houses clinging to and climbing the cliff walls. The work above seems to be have executed very quickly, capturing an evening light. There is a lot of dynamic shading and use of an eraser for the light on the houses. I would question if you were not familiar with Ronda, whether you could actually work out what the sketches were of, although they describe a mood and a light.  In ‘The bridge and gorge, Ronda’ , I can see the familiar cliff walls and the bridge as they are well known to me. Source: bridge and gorge Ronda

He seems to have used long vertical strokes to describe the height of the cliffs; of the bridge itself there is not much detail.

The image below is much clearer to see. This an interesting view and perspective, looking down from the side of the bridge. The light areas where the light hits do appear to be erased away, something I should consider in my own sketches. asource:


The bridge ronda

There is a interesting short documentary here:

Looking at Bomberg’s paintings, they are much clearer whilst still maintaining that dynamic and bold style.  I note the blue of the sky and been also used on the cliff side, to balance out the colours. 


ronda bridge and tajo

This painting below really speaks to me. ‘East valley Cuenca’, 1934
oil on canvas
20 5/8 x 26½ in

source: (I have been chasing this image on many searches but this is the best I can find. I note the limited pallette and just the sheer scale of the view…the distance in there beyond the town itself and the drop of the gorge, the bold brush work. THIS is what I would like to bring to my own work. This has an almost abstract look to it and yet clearly you can be drawn into this scene, with the smaller marks in the distance describing trees and towns beyond. The jagged hardness of the rock and then the upward push of the brush for the houses above. The cyprus trees rising tall in the gorge. Fearful tracks and roads along the sides. The colours are so beautifully balanced and in harmony.

This might better have informed my own work, ‘Don Quixote’s Vision of the future’. I think the hill and the towns I did ‘live’ worked well, indeed with some similarities to this free style, but then putting the foreground and turbines in I did not take such risks and they were perhaps not bold enough….


Comparing this to Turner’s ‘Dolbadarn Castle’, source: Castle: Colour Study 1798-9 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851

Similarities are the limited pallette, the boldness of the brushwork, although Turner’s is a much softer effect, although still dramatic. The perspective is more looking out from the flatness of the lake to the towering mountains beyond, whereas Bomberg’s is from a high vantage point looking down and out to the distance, giving you the feeling of being on high.  Bombergs is stronger, bolder, harder; this is needed to reflect and describe the sheer rock here. Bomberg’s has only a small amount of sky, whereas Turners clouds and sky seems to take up almost half of the painting, although with the mountains showing through, the drama here is in the clouds and the light coming through.

The brushwork for Bomberg’s is angular, straight lines, Turner’s is round, circular, sweeping. Both clearly show the atmosphere and the feeling of the place, something to aspire to.

Exercise: Abstract painting from man-made form

‘Study a man-made object. Focus close on one part of it and try different viewpoints.’

When I started this I did not feel a great enthusiasm for the exercise; however, I now find I have been drawn into the whole process and my ideas seem to lead on from each other. I chose a bottle of scent as a starting point, as I felt it would offer interesting light on the glass and the liquid. I did a few sketches, and then was looking at the liquid and and bubbles that form if shaken slightly, and I thought to put it together into the round bubble shape and to mix the elements up a bit. The name has dots of red too, which add colour and interest. the liquid is a light yellowish green.  I thought a blue background would work well. I thought to kind of condense the bottle into the circle and turn the top round side on.



I dropped some water onto a plastic plate I had painted blue to study the light on the water.


Eden #19 abstract

A2 canvas on wooden frame. Well, I am not unhappy with it. I think my bubbles work well  and add interest. Maybe I could have done the glass a little better but because I changed the shape that made it more difficult. I admit I did enjoy this exercise and it has opened my mind to be more receptive to abstract working in future.


Book review: ‘This is modern art’ Matthew Collings


This really was an entertaining read – much to my surprise! Collings tells the story of Modern Art in an  amusing and witty way and seems to cover just about everything.  Also a good reference book to keep and refer to. (By the way, I didn’t steal this from a library…it came with that bar code on it! 🙂 )

So I learnt more about artists I was familiar with and many that I had not heard of. A useful reference book to dip into for research and inspiration.




Exercise: Abstraction from study of natural forms

‘Abstract by looking very closely at a familiar natural form and expanding what you see in an arrangement of lines, shapes and colours.’


I am in love with this rock down by the river. It is quite soft, and often seems to have changed. I think parts of it wear away. Sandstone? It has been calling to me for a while and I am thinking I could use this to abstract – maybe select a part of it to zoom in on, and put a complementary colour around this area. I may try a little ‘frottage’ on it next time I am down there.

So I did and the results are below. It was very windy and the rock stands a bit  proud to be able to do this, so it wasn’t really the result I had hoped for, but it was a chance to look closely at this structure. 

I have been sketching the rock and thinking how best to do this. 20171202_104547

I tried a few colours and added some flour to the acrylic (from the  previous exercise) to give a rougher effect, which worked rather well.  I think the blue background works best but maybe not textured as it looks like an island on the sea. The violet is too intense. 20171202_143552


20171206_165750I like the blue so I think of a sky with some clouds, as if this part of rock is floating. Little lines of wispy clouds. I start painting this onto an A2 canvas and then I realise….it seems familiar!!! So I do some searching and of course come up with Magritte’s floating rock (“Castle of the Pyrenees”)  Now I realise this is getting surreal, rather than abstract but now it is there I want to paint this. It has also made me realise how much researching other artist’s work influences you, even on a subconscious level.




‘Sandstone Sky’

Reflection: This exercise was about looking closely at a natural object and abstracting from that. I realise I may not have quite fulfilled what was asked, but I am rather pleased with my result and the process which carried me there. I think the colours work well together and I am pleased to have used my ‘mixing flour with acrylic’ idea from the previous exercise. I think this has given a good rough and sandy effect here. I like the contrast of the rock with the smooth air and the fluffy clouds.