Category Archives: Watercolour

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!

Abstactish Blue Nude

Life-drawing in Madrid, blue nude

I’m still not sure about life-drawing – I prefer drawing things I have a personal relationship to, even if it’s a street bench! Anyway, quite like how this one came out, a bit abstracty from the waist down, and in that lovely blue watercolour.

If anyone else is interested in life drawing in Madrid, I go to the Circulo de Bellas Artes, where they have hour sessions from 4 til 10 every day on the 6th floor – you have to become a member to join the sessions, which are unguided, but in nice big old 70’s-feel rooms.

Meditación Nocturna

I love doing watercolours at night, it’s a total meditation… except I go to bed too late, and feel the effects in the morning! Click to see big!

Geranium Watercolour

More from the Park, a Shoe, and SketchMadrid!

Picnickers in the Retiro park sunshine:

My favourite ‘Palacio de Cristal’ with my favourite Pentel Brushpen again!

And the baby’s shoe!

SketchMadrid: If you live in Madrid and want to get together once a month or so to draw with friends, do join us for a SketchMadrid meeting!

This week in Sketches…

I’ve been working through a new book, Keys to Drawing, and one of the exercises is to copy a ‘master’s handwriting’ – so the above is my attempt at the wonders of Vincent Van G.

One of my favourite art books is ‘Vincent Van Gogh: The Drawings‘, incredible stuff from someone who is mostly known, obviously, for his paintings. The above picture took about 90 minutes, to make all those tiny marks. Then I turned around and drew the scene at 90º to the lake above, and this, below, only took 5 minutes!

Next, a lunchtime view out over my desk and our roof terrace from the living room…

And finally, some more fun, what I call my ‘art therapy’:

Warm breeze

I spent an hour walking around the park looking for a bench in the shade with something interesting in front of it to draw, then I can across the view above – with a bench in the shade of a horse-chestnut tree and a warm breeze. Can’t beat that.

I think I will be painting a lot of pears, nothing more relaxing when everyone has gone to bed…