LECTURE REVIEW - Shocking Social Realism

How did you hear about SpainLifestyle.com and Karla Darocas? *I'm a "regular"
What was the name of class or book that you wish to review? *shocking ideology of women 19-20th century
REVIEW TIPS... what did you learn? was there anything unique that stood out? why did you take the class or read the book? *Again through paintings, Karla has shown what history was at a certain period of time. In this lecture, we saw how at the end of the 19th-beginning of the 20th century, women were considered. In society, they were supposed to be well in their role of wife and mother. If something happened - orphan, widowed..., they did not have much choice to return to their society. They went to a nunnery or became prostitutes. A certain number of painters denounced this situation and tried to open people's minds to this. Painting is not only decorative, but informative.
What features did you like about Karla's teaching or writing style? *Karla's art lectures also reflect history.
Would you recommend Karla Darocas teaching and books to others? *Yes

LECTURE REVIEW - Shocking Social Realism


How did you hear about SpainLifestyle.com and Karla Darocas? *We are friends
What was the name of class or book that you wish to review? *Shocking ideology of women
REVIEW TIPS... what did you learn? was there anything unique that stood out? why did you take the class or read the book? *A revealing series of paintings with academic social realism where I saw shocking scenes indeed. Women sold as slaves, women used to produce babies for rich families, child pornography, social injustice. We talked about nudes and the effect it had and has on men. How paintings were refused because of their themes. How female painters were regarded as less capable of producing art. And how these themes continue in present day society. The chosen paintings became 'alive' because of our discussions. One forgets they are paintings and not photos. Wonderful lecture.
What features did you like about Karla's teaching or writing style? *Her knowledge and social engagement
Would you recommend Karla Darocas teaching and books to others? *Yes
FULL NAME & LOCATION *Trudi van Dorp, Benitachell


How did you hear about SpainLifestyle.com and Karla Darocas? *word of mouth
What was the name of class or book that you wish to review? *Picasso
REVIEW TIPS... what did you learn? was there anything unique that stood out? why did you take the class or read the book? *I learnt a lot about Picasso that I never knew and thought it was fascinating
What features did you like about Karla's teaching or writing style? *I like the informal yet extremely informative teaching approach
Would you recommend Karla Darocas teaching and books to others? *yes
FULL NAME & LOCATION *Rhona Wells. Javea


How did you hear about SpainLifestyle.com and Karla Darocas? *A friend introduced me many years ago.
What was the name of class or book that you wish to review? *Picasso 
REVIEW TIPS... what did you learn? was there anything unique that stood out? why did you take the class or read the book? *I had always wondered what kind of man Picasso was so when I saw that Karla was doing the lecture I had to signup. We were taken on a very descriptive journey through his childhood to his death. We found out who influenced Picasso and why he changed his styles so many times. Karla showed us how he was a good businessman he gave the people what they wanted. Karla showed us so many images, how she remembers all this knowledge I'll never know. I could hardly wait until the next lecture, I was excited. Now I have more free time I will be attending lots more lectures becoming a regular student.
What features did you like about Karla's teaching or writing style? *Karla made us comfortable and answered our questions.
Would you recommend Karla Darocas teaching and books to others? *Of course, in fact I have done so already.

LECTURE REVIEW - 19th Century Andalusian School of Romanticism Landscapes & Costumbrismo

"I just took a class in Andalusian romantic period paintings. The Andalusian Romantic myth, Yes, I now know why, how and where it started and still exists today. Through the paintings of the 19th century, Karla clearly illustrated this truth. And lo and behold, tourism and tourists (again) helped create this truth. Thanks Karla. Your lecture illustrated the close link between history and painting. I recommend your lectures to everyone!" 

* Jo, Denia


"A fascinating lecture from Karla on Neoclassicism. It is not a genre I had ever really thought about but once you start to see the art, so much of it is familiar. 

As ever with Karla’s lectures, as you are taken on a tour of the art, you also learn about Spanish history and it seemed this art was especially a product of its time.

Neoclassical artists prided themselves on reproducing accurate representations of the people being painted so we got up close and personal with Spanish royalty during a really important time for the country. Also, these artists were amazingly talented when it came to painting the costumes of the day, which especially with the Queens and Princesses, were incredibly beautiful. 

We also got an introduction into Goya and we could see how he straddled this phase as it moved into Romanticism – the subject of the next lecture."

* Chris Wood, Javea


"As we can't travel to Javea at the moment, we went to MNACC, Catalunya National Art Museum in Barcelona, the other day to look at the Baroque galleries. They have been redone and have a lot of paintings on loan from the Thyssen collection from Madrid. I was happy to see many El Greco's, Titian, Tiepolo, Canaletto. Having studied with you, the Zurbarán were particularly amazing. His Saint Francis of Assisi and Crucified Christ were incredible as was the Still life with Vessels. I remembered from your lecture. I kept telling Michael to look at his fabrics!

Anyway hope you are having a good week and see you at the next Neo-classical talk next weekend."

Best wishes


Spanish DOGS . Book Review

"In her book "Spanish Dogs", the historian and teacher Karla Ingleton Darocas, leads us through the fascinating history of dogs in Spain from the Neolithic to modern times by means of her extensive background knowledge and a companionable illustrative style. 

I was particularly impressed by the role of dogs during one of the darkest chapters of Spanish history, the Conquista, when the Conquistadores used dogs of war as cruel and brutal weapons against the local populations.

A large part of the book illustrates the history of dogs in Spain with examples from paintings by Velazquez, Murillo, Goya, Sorolla and other well-known Spanish painters. Although we are familiar with many of these paintings, we may have hardly noticed the presence of dogs there, if at all. Karla directs our attention to these dogs and creates a picture of their role and importance in their respective epochs.

The last chapter, "Dog of Love", tells us about the intimate relationship between Pablo Picasso and his dachshund Lump. This beautiful story leaves us feeling optimistic regarding the future for dogs in a country where, unfortunately, much still needs to be done for animal welfare.

"Spanish Dogs" is a recommendation for all dog lovers and also those interested in Spanish history and art. Thanks to Karla for this great book, which is really worth reading."

* Marianne Pätzold, Colmenar Viejo (Madrid)

Evolution of 17th Century Spanish Classical Landscapes


"I am a regular student. I took the class on the Evolution of 17th Century Spanish Classical Landscape paintings. 

I've always taken "landscapes" for granted - they're there in the background, OK. But I learned that they were NOT always there, they've got a history. I knew that landscapes give paintings "atmosphere", but I learned that you can read a landscape to understand the feeling of the painting. 

I am now looking forward to seeing the evolution of the landscape and how it can give importance (or not) to the people, objects or actions depicted.

Karla opens my eyes to things we take for granted. I recommend her classes."

- Jo Jouas, Denia

17th Century Royal Portraits, Painters & Fashions


“A fascinating lecture from Karla on 17th Century Spanish portraits. As ever the listener learnt as much about Spanish history as Spanish art so making these lectures a must for anyone keen to learn more about Spain as their chosen home.

Karla is a great fan of the Spanish painter, Velasquez, and by the end of the lecture we were in agreement. We were shown how Velasquez’ style evolved over time and was shaped by the influences of the 17th Century Spanish court he lived in and by the developments in painting, especially from Italy where he studied in Naples. Like his contemporaries he began by showing his mastery of painting the textiles his sitters were wearing. However, at his height his skill was much more about showing the soul of his subject which is so affecting today as they gaze out at us hundreds of years later.

Karla took us through the work of several other Spanish artists of the time and it was here in particular we learnt so much about the fashions of the 17th Century Spanish court. The clothes were super-sumptuous and unimaginably expensive. They also were designed to engage with the viewer using signs and symbols which communicated meaning. The painting of little Prince Philip Prosper showed him wearing a host of charms to protect him in different ways but sadly it was all in vain and he died very young. There were other symbols too such as only royals could have a chair in view as only a royal could sit in the presence of royalty.  

We were given several other insights into life at that time, at least amongst the very wealthy. Perhaps as ever beauty was associated with pain. Ladies cleavage was held in place by wooden planks in their dresses and there was no such thing as a left and right shoe – all shoes were the same.”

- Chris Wood, Jávea

17th Century Royal Portraits, Painters & Fashion

 "I feel I learn something new at each lecture - not only the painting and artists, of course, but some cultural or historical point. In this lecture, I learned about damascene artwork used on the armors worn by royalty - typically Spanish. Karla opens up new doors each time. Always a pleasure."

- Jo Jouas, Denia

17th Century Spanish Royal Portraits, Painters & Fashion

"I took the class because I have always had an interest in the history of art - so always keen to learn more.

I liked the way that the lecture gave an insight into history generally interspersed with the history of the paintings and artists.

The following points were interesting like how in the portraits the Royals are leaning on chairs, the importance of dwarfs, the strange facial features caused by the Habsburg interbreeding, and about how Velasquez’s son-in-law worked with him, and so much more. 

I like Karla's depth of knowledge of the subject and all of the surrounding non-art facts. I also appreciated her informality and the fact that she didn't just read from notes.

I will recommend her classes and speak to a friend."

- Michael Atkinson, UK

BOOK REVIEW - Spanish DOGS - History Book

"We see them sitting under chairs in cafes, popping out of handbags and catching frisbees at the beach. If you are lucky enough to have a dog as a pet then they are there to welcome you home.  We see them in today’s modern world and accept them just so. 

However, reading this book opens up ones mind to a greater appreciation of these animals. Spanish DOGS by Karla Ingleton Darocas gives readers a new understanding of where dogs came from, their roles throughout Spanish history, social culture and their relevance in the development of humanity. 

Perhaps you have been in an art gallery and admired a painting and noticed a dog in the scene and then walked on with out a further thought? After reading Karla's book, this won't happen again. In this book Karla cherry picks the best of Spanish artwork and reveals that dogs are often more than just a decorative element. 

Karla brings the art scene to life, answering the questions: What kind of dog it is? Who is it with and why is it there? Is there a secret message and what is the artist trying to convey? Karla combines her passionate knowledge of the artwork together with the dog breed and places it in the context of centuries of Spanish history. 

Technically, this book is clearly written. Chapters are broken down into small bites with headings and photos that stir the imagination, allowing you to dip in and out as it suits. This book gives more than facts and figures, it gives knowledge and understanding. After reading it you will have an appreciation for the dogs of Spain, no matter where you may find them in the world today.

- Janet Jager, Switerland

17 c Profane Baroque

"This time the selection of profane paintings by masters such as: José Ribera, Diego Velazquez and Francisco Zurburán impressed me because of the clear Baroque elements like dark backgrounds and the engagement of the persons with the public. Many of the paintings looked like photographs in their stunning details of the human body, scenes in themselves, clothing and hairstyle ( mustaches). New in this lecture was the Still Life slot or 'Naturaleza muerta' in Spanish. 

Karla pointed out the items and it was great that she zoomed in on such details like wine being served, where we could see, if not 'hear and smell' the wine pouring in the cup. Brilliant! We saw the creases in the table cloth, vegetables hanging from a rope in the window pane. All scenes so real and still... Still Life. Absolutely fantastic. 

As always Karla explains and teaches with an endless knowledge of her subjects. The illustrations are well chosen and the whole lecture makes one long for the next visit/excursions to museums like the Prado. Wonderful stuff!"

* Trudi van Dorp - Benitachell

17c Profane Baroque

"Excellent illuminating lecture as usual. Informative and interesting, with excellent visuals. Great to be able to join in from the UK via zoom. Karla teaches with accessible language and her lectures are packed with information. I recommend her lessons. 

* Nicola Clark - U.K.

17c Profane Baroque

"I was absolutely overwhelmed with this art we saw today in Karla's class. The still life particularly I found beautiful and lifelike. The history behind these paintings was enlightening and very interesting. 

I learn so much from these lectures, very fulfilling. Karla's incredible depth of knowledge and exciting teaching style makes the whole experience very memorable .

I Absolutely recommend her classes."

 * Floradiane Santiago - Jávea

17c Profane Baroque

"Karla's lecture on 17th century Spanish baroque profane painting opened my eyes on painters known for their religious art (Velazquez, Ribera...). 

We learned about other themes developed at the time: "everyday" life, poor children living in poverty because of the plague, still-life paintings popular with the "tourists" of the time. 

A combination of art and history makes for an interesting and informative lecture. Bravo Karla."

* Jo Jous, Denia

BOOK REVIEW - Spanish DOGS - History Book

"It is timely indeed that Karla should write a book re-evaluating the role of dogs in Spanish art and culture.  This current Covid lockdown has led to many of us deciding that we need dogs in our lives for companionship and for exercise.  Yet again,  the role of the dog in our society is being looked at afresh. 

Karla’s book traces how the symbiotic relationship between human and dog goes back at least to Neolithic times.  There is much evidence such as the careful and dignified burial of owner and dog together in many ancient cultures to suggest that dogs were, as Karla observes, seen as part wild, part human and part divine.  

Some ancients saw dogs as having healing powers leading to dogs being laid on to the bodies of sick people or to lick wounds. 

Small dogs were bred to be companions to children whereas 90kg mastiffs in armour performed a valuable role in battle.  The Romans at least were not averse to dog sacrifice to ensure a good harvest.  

In many ways Karla demonstrates that dogs have always been more than just working animals.

As artists discovered painting on canvas dogs were co-opted into a story telling role.  In a world without television or radio (let alone the internet) paintings were there to both entertain and inform.  

In Velasquez’s painting of Jacob being told of the death at the hands of wolves of Joseph, his favourite son, it is a small dog barking at the bottom of the painting that reminds us that Joseph’s brothers are lying about the fate of Joseph.  In one of Velasquez’s court paintings, we see him portraying very sweetly Felipe IV’s young son, Prince Felipe Prospero.  In the painting Velasquez has placed a small spaniel next to the child on a throne-like chair.  The Prince was very sickly and died at the age of four.  Was Velasquez signalling that the dog had more chance of acceding to the throne than his little master?  

Karla’s book is full of such insights.

We learn how small dogs were used to complete the nuclear family in a Catholic propaganda campaign where artists were charged with tackling licentious behaviour in the late 1600s.  

Dogs often appear as symbols of fidelity in paintings celebrating a wedding.  We also see how the treatment by artists of hunting dogs could send a message of either the success of Kings in war or, with the more enlightened views of Goya, remind us we were to some extent slaves to circumstances.  

After reading Karla’s book you will look again at the dog in any painting and ponder on what he is there to tell us about his owner and ultimately about ourselves."

* Chris Tucker, Javea

BOOK REVIEW - Spanish DOGS - History Book

"Karla’s latest book Spanish Dogs is an extensive history on dogs from prehistoric times until the present day. 

A couple of things stand out in my mind, after having read this book.

BOOK REVIEW - Spanish DOGS - History Book

Book Review: Spanish Dogs by Karla Ingleton Darocas

Published 21st January 2021 | By Sandra Piddock

Karla Ingleton Darocas is based in Benitachell on Spain’s Costa Blanca. On her website, SpainLifestyle.com, she describes herself as:

An educator with a passion to inspire and facilitate a lust to learn.

Karla has a BA Hons, and is also a photographer, author and Spanish Fine Arts Historian. She’s also a self-confessed dog lover, with two rescue dogs, Venus and Mars. 

Her latest book, Spanish Dogs: The Story of Dogs in Spanish History, Culture and the Arts, is a testament to Karla’s love of dogs, the arts, and all things connected to her adopted homeland, Spain.


"It is because Karla cares so much that she was so worried about how her lectures would work in the new virtual environment - well she needn't have.  Her Sacred Baroque lecture delivered over Zoom was just as engaging and thought-provoking as any other I have attended.  

In fact, Karla made good use of the technology by going close up on features of the paintings so we could see and learn more about what some of the symbols and icons meant. We otherwise might have missed these details.  She also put paintings side by side so we could compare them and see how different artists tackled the exact same subject, showing us how artists evolved in terms of their skill and to reflect changing trends.  

As always, we saw history through the eyes of the artists and given that many artists she covered were painting at the time of their own pandemic hundreds of years ago - this had a particular piquancy.  

Highly recommended and I can't wait for the next one."

* Christine Wood - Javea


"As usual, Karla combines history, to explain the context of the times, and the pictorial techniques, to help us better "read" a painting. She talks about the painters' lives, their travels, motivations and influences. 

Altogether, this makes for a very interesting and informative lecture. In this case, the evolution of Spanish baroque religious painting. 

I am looking forward to the next lecture on Spanish baroque profane painting.

Karla is very knowledgeable in Spanish culture and history.

I recommend Karla Darocas teachings"

* Jo Jouas, Denia

BOOK REVIEW - Spanish DOGS - History Book

"Well, I must admit that I have never given any though to the representation of dogs in art. As the owner of two Spanish dogs, I will now. 

From prehistoric through to the 20th century, Karla guides us in interpreting the art, and also engages us to understand better the roles that dogs played in daily life.  

Karla writes in an engaging fashion, and brings the subject to life very well. I often judge people based on how they treat their animals; now I’ll be both noticing, and interpreting the dogs I see in art. 

I always enjoy the opportunity to increase my appreciation and understanding of art, and this book has opened a new window for me to look through."

Chris Newkirk * Las Peñitas, Nicaragua

BOOK REVIEW - Spanish DOGS - History Book

"There are tons of books on "Dogs", so what makes Karla's book stand out? I would even say, what makes it exceptional?

It is the first book on dogs in Spanish history and culture. How she chooses to present them appeals to me greatly - through artifacts and Spanish Art.

Her time period spans from the time of the Neanderthals to modern times. She speaks of the working dog, the dogs of war, and lapdogs. Her illustrations go from religious art to court paintings. We discover famous painters and their relation to dogs (from Goya to Picasso).

Her book is very detailed.

What makes it interesting to read are the many stories and anecdotes that accompany the information. With her artistic background, Karla leads us into a painting, draws our attention to something we would not necessarily see by ourselves, and explains the "why and how".

I strongly recommend Karla's book for those who love dogs, Spanish history and culture, and/or Spanish art. Her writing style is easy to follow."

* Jos Jouas, Denia