Scaling the Tree of Ben: Results and Transition!

Last week I spent 3 days at the wonderful Cortijo Los Gazquez, an “‘off-grid’ destination for creatively minded travellers high in the mountains of Andalucia”. What an incredible place! …all run off sun, wind and rain water, with resident artists for inspiration, incredible food, and top-quality art tuition too!

I recommend you listen to a podcast we recorded there to find out more about this unique destination, and read more about what they do at the Los Gazquez website.

What I learned…

Simon (one half of the husband and wife Beckmann team and in charge of art instruction) spent the 2 days introducing me to charcoal, and to ways of thinking about light and shadow, shapes and forms.

I learnt that foregrounds are sharper and darker, with objects and scenes in the distance being darker as you go back, giving a greater sense of depth. I learned to look moe carefully for volumes of light and dark, and to build an image up in layers.

Here are my best results from the course, which I’m really pleased with. The first image began blacked out, covered in charcoal, and I took away shadow with a putty rubber to bring out the light:

The second image started which, and I drew in the shadows with my thumb and fingers:

Then we walked up a mountain opposite the house to take on something more challenging!

Back in Madrid, I turned to my watercolours again to see if I could apply what I’d learnt to this totally different medium…

Before Los Gazquez

Here is a watercolour I did 3 months ago:

After Los Gazquez

Here’s one from yesterday afternoon in the park…

Madrid's Retiro Park Watercolour, Ben Curtis

I think the ‘after’ tuition watercolour, though not necessarily a style I’ll pursue forever, has much more depth, more attention to detail, and much more consideration of form, of light and shadow – so looked like I learned something then! Thanks Simon!

2 thoughts on “Scaling the Tree of Ben: Results and Transition!

  1. Ian and Luis

    Hey Ben – good work – you can clearly the improvement or should I say development of your technique. It looks a great place to spend time. Hopefully will listen to your podcast over the next couple of days – best wishes to you all.


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