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

source: https://se2015.royalacademy.org.uk/artwork/Barbara-Rae-RA/65

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

Source: http://www.openeyegallery.co.uk/artists/barbara-rae

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: http://www.jameshymangallery.com/artists/80/1225/david-bomberg/the-bridge-and-gorge-ronda?r=artists/80/sold/david-bombergThe 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: http://www.jameshymangallery.com/artists/80/1221/david-bomberg/the-bridge-ronda?r=artists/80/sold/david-bomberg


The bridge ronda

There is a interesting short documentary here: http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/video/bomberg-ronda

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. 

source: https://www.mutualart.com/Artwork/Ronda–Bridge-and-Tajo/22CD50F559384FDC

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: http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/Lot/david-bomberg-1890-1957-east-valley-cuenca-4991793-details.aspx (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: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-dolbadarn-castle-colour-study-d04166Dolbadarn 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.

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.




Art group work (Jimena)

20171018_131800 (1)

18/10/2017. Very nice to be actually working with other artists/beginners and to have someone teaching and looking over your shoulder. We started this week using charcoal, stick and compressed and a white stick, plus rubber on brown paper. A rough pot. The light kept changing.  I think I got a good likeness to the pot. The teacher recommended using the rubber a lot, although I seem to recall from Drawing 1 it was not recommended..? She reminded me to put white against the dark areas to make them stand out. I hope I am not taking on too much at the moment as I am working on assignment 5 and this has to be my priority for the December deadline. But a lovely morning lost in the drawing moment 🙂

25/10/2017. Another good morning. we took 15 minutes each to draw each other, trying to concentrate on the light and dark areas and not get caught up in the detail. Maybe I got too detailed but not bad for a short draw. We then drew each other without lifting the pencil from the paper, then again using both hands at once. Interesting experiment. I am enjoying this class. I found today’s work very freeing,although I remembered a lot of this from drawing 1.


30/10/2017: 3 of us got together to do some mutual drawing of each other. 20 minutes each. Charcoal and conte stick. A good session, although I didn’t draw Jane very well!


01/1/2017: We had a model for this class and the weather allowed us to work outside in the courtyard. 4 x 20 minute sessions. For the coloured one I continued on to add on colour using pastels. First full body one not quite right on proportions, face detail good likeness. Better proportions on the coloured one.


9/11/2017: Kasbar, Gibraltar. Life drawing session. I was not able to get to the Jimena group this week but heard of a new group starting on Gibraltar so thought I’d go and join them for a night. Not much room, no easels so no chance to paint but I worked with charcoal and pencil and enjoyed the session. I think I am getting faster at capturing what is actually there.




‘Without Me – left clutching the hanger’

To continue with my selfies projectI have been doing some charcoal sketches of myself, trying to capture an image of me trying to grab my escaping dress. I also tried a couple of other dresses to see how it might work.



I felt this one worked the best, as I look like I have just fallen over.


The longer dress give more ‘flow’ and I think works better. (I am running out of dresses!)

A quick sketch to work out compositon…20171113_150951

I decided to work with the paynes grey again, with white when needed, and maybe add in pops of red for interest. I will work in the same way as before, using small brush strokes and building up the layers. Keeping it simple with not too much detail.


I think it is working well. I have given myself red knickers ,-) and am considering a red setting sun outside the window. Will continue tomorrow.

'Without me-left clutching the hanger'

I think it is finished. It has an almost ghostly feel to it, I think.

This selfies project has shown me how an idea can evolve and develop and in turn lead on to new ideas, from my ’15 selfies in payne’s grey’ to ‘without me’, taking inspiration from other artists and photographers; Cathy Lomax and Sam Taylor Johnson. I feel I will continue with this idea and maybe do a series of these escaping garments. (But now I need to finish assignment 5…)

‘Without me’: reflection & analysis and a new project.

‘The ‘without me’ paintings have some varied and interesting qualities in the brushwork, tonal values and how you build up the layers of paint. For example have a look at (and analyse) #2 Bette and #4 Ibiza. What might you learn from this analysis and take into other work? Set some aims to develop.’

By varying the  brushstrokes  and tones in the background, it has helped me to describe a light source and to add to the feeling of the dresses floating in the air by themselves. ‘Bette’ and ‘Ibiza’ are dresses with a lot of loose folds and ‘flow’ within the material, and this I think works best in this series, by adding interest to the garment, in the form of light and dark shaded areas. They were also more interesting and challenging to paint!

My next idea to develop in this series, is to introduce myself, in my underwear, trying to grab the dress as it escapes away….maybe with a coat hanger in my hand and perhaps a crack of a doorway, with light coming in, that the dress is heading for? I have been looking at the photographic work of Sam Taylor Johnson, who has produced quite a body of work that is basically selfies she has set up and taken of herself, floating in a room, attached to balloons or falling off a chair. Harnesses have been removed digtally.

source: http://samtaylorjohnson.com/photography/art/self-portrait-suspended-2004



I like that there is no shadow for the chair. Of course, I will not be able to suspend myself in this way (although I’d loved to!) but I find these photographs inspiring.