I went to Madrid on the heels of several painters I admire very much. The top of the list was Joaquin Sorolla, who kept a house and studio in Madrid. A special exhibition was on that brought together an unusually large collection of his works. He is listed as an Impressionist, but I feel that, along with John Singer Sargent and Anders Zorn, his work went well beyond the colour play that the impressionists excelled at. These three artists took the techniques of the impressionists and reintroduced notan, value patterns and structures that were not seen in the populist "mainstream" impressionists. The Prado on the list, with plans for the Velasquez particularly. I have a couple of painter friends in the Madrid area, and the Black paintings of Goya were also highly recommended to me.
I was greatly affected by the work I saw in Madrid. From the fabulous Velasquez and Goya in the Prado, the wonderful American colourists (which was totally unexpected) of Innes and others. The quality of the surfaces must be what most impressed me. The textural layering and washes on tone, the masterful handling make so much modern work look so thin and meagre, or the opposite so thick and clumsy. It is the interplay between texture that describes and adds richness, the variety and interplay on the edges. The glazes and thin overlays that add depth and brilliance and a unifying look. These thing are impossible to see on a reproduction, and not easily noticed even in real life unless as a painter you know what you are looking for.