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by artist Carol Lorraine Sutton

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AN IDEA BECOMES PAINTING, Velazquez painting The Surrender of Breda or Las Lanzas' inspires series of abstract paintings


Velazquez-midsize- Las LanzasThe Surrender of Breda or Las Lanzas

Before 1635

Oil on canvas

10' 7/8" x 12' 1/2" (307 x 367 cm)

Museo del Prado, Madrid






Seeing and studying Diego Velazquez' 'The Surrender of Breda or Las Lanzas' became the start of my own Breda paintings. Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Vélazquez often-used device of the central hollow core in the painting became the main impetus in a number of paintings that I did. Mainly in three different formats. Either whole, that is one entire piece of canvas, or as SET-CUT's on canvas begun in 1985 (see statement below this paragraph), and finally as extended-edge paper works. All were painted in mainly Golden Paints Acrylics onto all cotton canvas. Essentially this Breda motif became a dark surround with a lighter central core.Velazquez-detail-hollow core


The SET-CUT paintings:


New Paintings a& Extended Edge Paper Works

April 1- 19, 1989

Gallery One, 121 Scollard Street, Toronto, Ontario M5R 1G4

"This show has in it both whole large scale paintings and "SET-CUT" works. These "SET-CUT" works of my own invention; are painting where the cut of the 'crop' is done before the picture is painted. By simply laying down one piece of canvas overlapping the edge of the next I am able to paint free to gesture within a large scale and simultaneously can remember or forget "The break" point (the edge); with the final canvas then separated unusual breaks occur in the composition some of which I call "dangling participles". A 2 section horizontal SET-CUT in this show, Beaulieu-sur-Mer Schoolyard Gate Set-Cut and French Schoolyard Gate Set-Cut, fortuitously has as a cut point the break point of the gate opening itself: as if it were open. Here the cut provides the fiction of the actual gate opening."

Statement brochure text written by Carol Sutton
Toronto, Ontario, Canada,
February 1 to 8, 1989



This idea soon expanded and I added the additional idea of linking any two artists together as source matter, just as the two Generals Justin of Nassau and Spinola had been linked, two major, but culturally unlinked artists. I would combine two unlinked artists, in this case Cezanne and Gainsborough. Cezanne is represented by his love and often used earth tone palette of brown, green, and blue. Gainsborough represented by the bright white edging lines and the blue and white strips as used in his painting titled Ms. Siddons. I replaced each chosen artist with a brief palette of colors, keeping in mind their personal touch and take on their art. The exact content was taken away from the material. Example: (1986) 'You the Beholder (Cezanne to Gainsborough Breda)' [see illustration to right]. The idea of linking two major, but culturally unlinked artists I had used prior to the Breda paintings. Earlier I did other paintings inspired by Velazquez's paintings . Velazquez Princess Infanta Margarita with Ghiberti Bronze Door 1400 on Cork with Gold and Black Sash #3, painted on cotton canvas, for example was painted in February 21, of 1986; it used both the idea of the two unlinked sources plus the influence of Velazquez. [#86/02/21, ©1986, 81" by 89 1/2", Golden Acrylic [high load gesso underground and full bodied color] on cotton canvas] In this respect the Breda paintings were an extension of what I was already doing. At the same time as this painting I did an adjunctive group of four large extended edge paper works with similar colors of paint that were painted on thin sheets of real cork. Example: Velazquez and Ghiberti on Cork, 38 1/2" x 45" pr 97.7cm x 114.3cm, Inventory # 86/02/21A.




Cezanne represented by his love and often used earth tone palette of brown, green, and blue. Not any particular Cezanne painting. Plus 'Miss Siddons' by Gainsborough.


The painting to the left is:

Gainsborough - M. Siddons- Olga's Gallery-gainsborough.gif

image credit:
Olga's Gallery



Gainsborough represented by the bright white edging lines and the

blue and white strips as used in his painting titled: Miss Siddons.


Thomas Gainsborough.

Mrs. Sarah Siddons. 1785.

Oil on canvas.

National Gallery, London, England,

United Kingdom




All the Breda pictures essentially have a dark color surround with a central field of light colors. The internal field is often made of thrown color zones that are in effect an echo the pastel colored soldiers. The external dark surround is based on Velazquez often-used device of a central hollow core. The base of this surround dark field is often made up of more than one color washed on as a 'High Load Color' by Golden Paints, this was previously called 'High Load Gesso', in effect a colored gesso with a high stain quality similar to their 'Fluid' line of paints. [Golden Artists Colors, of New Berlin, New York State]When it dries it has a sort of "tooth" to it, a certain dry grip as if it were a Velcro tab {The receiving side of the Velcro, not the hook side of the Velcro.} I find that this colored gesso surface holds any additional paint placed on it extremely well. In addition it provides extremely rich and fully saturated color hue. This external area often has repeated stripes or lines of bold color as found in the uniforms of both generals, Justin of Nassau and Spinola. These external areas of stripes were painted by loading a giant peanut shaped car-wash type of sponge, loaded up with a mixture of heavy body acrylic paint, gel and molding paste. A spray gun was also used on these paintings. I had brought my own spray gun system down from Toronto to the workshop. [image: Absorption Ricture Traditional True Color Breda with Lace Areas, 1987, January 30,Golden Acrylic on cotton canvas, 89" x 109 1/2" or 226.1 cm by 278.1 cm]



All the Breda pictures essentially have a dark surround with a central light field of colors. Study of a close detail of Velazquez' 'The Surrender of Breda or Las Lanzas reveals a central hollow core view towards a distant evocative landscape surrounded by the two generals. Each general has a dark uniform. This only heightens the contrast of the lighter core patch just between the two men, placing them in a charged atmosphere. This light patch is the focal point of the entire painting. Not only does this light patch hold the picture of the keys of the city of Breda, that Justin is handing over to Spinola, it is the key to the entire painting. The bodies of the two generals, their actual physics, are what make up the part that is the dark surround. Justin flanks the left in his dark brown uniform with marks of black and gold. While Spinola flanks the right in his even darker blue-black uniform with sharp bright gold highlights and his large circular black hat closes off the bottom of this essential circle. But it is what Velazquez does in the lighter center of this core that is fully pictorial groundbreaking in the history of art. It proves that Velazquez is a bold thinker. Radical use of bands that are different hues of pastel colors to indicate the garments of the soldiers is pure delightful invention by Velazquez. This super charged light background tends to highlight the keys held out in the hand of Nassau as he surrenders the key to the city of Breda to the victorious General Spinola is a complete miniature painting within the larger universe of the entire canvas.

[Cited by Simon Schama in
'Rembrandt's Eyes',
ISSSBN 0=679-30955-I
Chapter Six- The Competition, i. Summer Candlelight, 1627,]

" Rubens would not indulge himself in complaint. He had been told, predictably, that travel would dull the grief he felt for the passing of his wife Isabella Brant. But he was fifty and had seen more than his share of dales and woods and the fly-plagued rumps of horses plodding on their way. The better counsel was to work-to paint, but also to pitch himself into the business of the other Isabella, the Infanta; to busy his brain with the ills of the commonwealth. The Lord only knew there were ills enough. Two years before, there had been rejoicing, even in the midst of the plague. Breda had fallen to the besieging army of his friend (of Rubens) the Marquis Ambrogio Spinola, who had done the gentlemanly thing and allowed the Dutch garrison and its commander, Justinus van Nassau, the last of Williams' bastards, to march out with their standards. " End quote

Spinola's reception to Justin of Nassau is chivalrous and generous in manner. A meeting between to great men. It is interesting that this is the point of time that Velazquez chose to depict and not the height of the battle raging. Also of interest is the fact that Velazquez actually knew General Spinola, having set sail from Barcelona "on August, 1629, with Genoa as his destination. On the same voyage sailed Ambrosio de Spinola, the victor of Breda."

[from page 87,
by Ortega y Gasset',
Velazquez, Goya, The Dehumanization of Art and other essays,
ISBN 393-04358-4]

It is wonderful to think of what dinner conversations they may have shared on this voyage. This meeting also means that the painting of Spinola in the Las Lanzas was also a portrait of a gentleman that Velazquez actually knew.detail of the 2 generals, Velazquez-breda_key_light.jpgbreda_key_light.jpg

Spinola on left in black, Justin on right in brown.

Within this circle of the two generals framed by the upper arm of Spinola and closed off in the lower part by the dimly lit left hand of Spinola holding his hat, are the Spanish soldiers torsos cut in half by the general's extended arm. A cluster of pastel colored soldiers.

This is radical creativity on the part of Velazquez. And pure fiction. Soldiers do not dress up in pastel colored uniforms for war. But here the lower four fifths of the bodies of the seven visible soldiers have their uniforms in pastel colors. While the upper one-fifth are their heads, which come in line just above the black and gold armored arm of the Spanish General Spinola and are by contrast to their bodies in complete aerial perspective fading into a bluish distance evocative virtuosity and beauty of unfolding depth. In other words the hatted heads are complete different from the bodies. Almost as if their bodies were in the army of the spiritual and lit afterlife, while their heads are in the army of the reality of those still living on this earth. All the heads are even draw in soft brown and drab colored earth tones. To me this is one of the most radical devices Velazquez ever used. Simply brilliant thinking. What are these lines or bars of Noland like pastel colors? Left to right they are: first pastel green, second pastel blue-green, next to that a pastel yellow, followed by pastel pink, then pastel blue {this blue figure is the most prominent and detailed of all the group}, next to the last is a pastel cream, and finally on the far right is pastel green again.



first whole breda by Carol SuttonThe first Breda painting I did was painted at Triangle Artist Workshop* between July 28th and finished on July 30th of 1986: First Whole Breda #14, [80.5" x 106" or 204.4cm by 269.2cm, Golden Acrylic on cotton canvas] {see image to the left] was based on Velazquez's own historic painting 'The Surrender of Breda or Las Lanzas,' dated as painted before 1635. This work did not actually use the same colors as in Velazquez's Breda but others. I did do a traditional colored painting in the form or a 3 section horizontal SET-CUT while at Triangle Artists Workshop* in August of 1986, but did not paint a full whole one until a year later in 1987{see image above- Absorption Ricture Traditional True Color Breda with Lace Areas}. At that workshop in Pine Plains, New York State which took place on the estate of the Mashomac Fish and Game Preserve, I met for the first time Michael Fried, who had a profound effect on my artwork. I heard his lectures at night in the club house and had the benefit of his criticism in the barn studio, and his thinking and encouragement. I also read his book, 'Absorption and Theatricality'**, whose actual title became the source for some of my own painting titles, for example,


and also

[*1986 Triangle Artist Workshop, Pine Plains, New York, New York, U.S.A., July 15 to August 2]
[**Absorption and Theatricality
by Michael Fried
Published by:
ISBN 0-]



I have even invented a little short story on how I think is light painting of the soldier's uniforms in pastel colors may have happened.

Itmini-keys Breda goes something like this.

Velazquez was nearly finished with the painting when the King Philip IV said that he would like to see it. Velazquez agreed to show it to him. As the King walked in he seemed pleased. After spending some time looking at the picture, the King said, " It is a great painting and I like every aspect, but I wish you could make the key part a little more pronounced." And with that left the room. Velazquez thought about it over night and the next day went in afresh to the studio and began to change the brown-grey area that was then the same colors as those above the general's arm into light colors, but only under the arm of Spinola. It is not only a general light over-all color filled into this area. No, instead he would make an entire rainbow of light pastel colors marching as soldiers would march, across this spot. When the King saw it again he was entirely pleased.




The BREDA PAINTINGS have never been exhibited as an entire group in any show, but a few have been in other shows. For example, the Breda scheme works painted at Triangle Artists Workshop were available for viewing at the closing show in August of 1986.

One of these paintings was shown in the Oakham House show organized by Terrence Sulymko in 1990.The solo largest single painting in this exhibition was stretched and framed for exhibit. It was titled : (1987) Voice of Spirit in Absorbed State.mini Spirit Absorption-Sutton


The remainder of these paintings are still rolled up and in storage in my studio at 27 Davies Avenue in Toronto. In the year 1987 a few of the Breda type were painted in Barcelona, Spain.



In addition to these Breda paintings I also did another whole series of works titled: LINEAR BREDA'S. A show consisted of only five of these giant works was held at Gallery One.


pair Violett-le-Duc ptg. C Sutton16.

(1986) pair of paintings photographed in the 27 Davies Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in the studio of the artist

Viollet-le-Duc Visual Violet (B) (on left) & Viollet-le-Duc Breda to Eye (A) (on right)

December 2, 1986,

both size 89 inches by 98 inches, Golden Acrylic on Canvas

Physical Materials: Golden Acrylic, including high load or colored gessos and full-body color,

Source Materials: Based on Viollet-le-Duc's light study of stain glass

Provenance: shown in Gallery One exhibition of Linear Breda Paintings, September 19 to October 7, 1987
"Recent Paintings & New Collages", Gallery One, Toronto, Ontario, Canada,mini Sutton-All Me
Current Collection: of the artist
Web provenance: Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art at: http://www.ccca.ca
credit: scan by William Kirby
mini: As If (Matisse to black Frank Stella Breda),
100" x 88", or 254cm by 223.5cm, painted Tueday October, 7, 1986.





End of essay

The Breda type of Specific Historically Based Paintings© by Carol Sutton - 18 giant paintings + adjunctive paper works

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