Watercolour of Vines in Autumn

‘Vers La Gironde’
42 x 36cm (16,5 x 14,2 inches).
© adam cope

Watercolour of Vines in Autumn

The Gironde is the department of France at the esturary of the Dordogne, past St.Emilion & down to Bordeaux. Wine country.

Watercolour of Merlot Vines

Watercolour – Arches Rough 300gms
30 x 40cm (15,8 x 11,8 inches).
© The Artist.

Watercolour of Merlot Vines

Beautiful & long Indian summer here in the Dordogne.

major website update 2008

I’ve been going boggled-eyed from spending days & days on the computer recently, doing a major website update. I hope you’ll find it worth a visit. Even if you’re not game for a painting course in rural France, the four-page section concerning the painting course itself is worth reading by students of painting as it does have some ‘content-rich’ reflections about the nature of learning to paint. Enjoy 🙂


up date 2013 – yes , still boogled eyed (if only I knew how much…) still updating website, still doing the google dance, still worried about attaining student uptake

‘The Abandoned Cradle’
43 x 36cm
© The Artist.
Take the footpath from Castelmerle towards La Conquil. Pass La Souqette, the Vézère way down below. These rearing cliffs, overhanging rocks, vertiginous. Wild. Our ancestors lived here thirty thousand years ago. Continous habitation. Now abandoned. Our abandoned cradle. ‘Notre berceau abandonée’.Today, a mute feeling of the ages… abandon & beginnings.

Watercolour & Ink
30 x 40 cm
© Adam Cope

These overhanging rocks gave shelter in the Ice Age. They projected out even more in that period but have collapse over the centuries. A rock wall behind & a rock ‘cieling’ vault overhead. The night fires flickering over the crevasses. If you go to L’Abri Pataud, you can see that the prehistoric inhabitants carved their vaulted cielings. The below rock fragment was found at Catsel-Merle.

Engravings – interpreted as vulvas?
dated aurignacian
L’Abri Blanchard
Museum of Castel-Merle

Prehistoric images

Images everywhere? Even on the vaulted overhangs? Like our ‘info-space’… Images everywhere. Image rich & saturated. Images are maps of the world, & function on a different level from the written word. Preliterate prehistory… these little squggly scratchings called ‘writing’. Writing often blinds us from the full use of our eyes. Most people today simply do not have much skill in visual observation, being more at ease reading a newspaper than sitting quietly in a wood just looking, waiting, like a hunter (or a plein-air painter, who also spends long hours, days observing in situ). Hunter-gathers have to use their eyes by necessity.

These places are also wild places, in the deep undergrowth. Rarely under the harrow of man the agricultor. They are not ‘humanised’ landscapes in the way that most of us are familar with. To see uncultivated nature is rare in western europe, as the spread of concrete & agriculture shapes our world of today.

Castel Merle

The actual site of Castel Merle is run by the Castanet family. Marcel Castanet started exacuvating the site in 1910. Monseiur Castanet(fils) is a ‘grand homme de la Prehistoire’ , a Périgordien & savant, who kindly took time to show me around his museum when I was researching what might ( I stress might) be a lunar calendar, found at Castel Merle (will poste about this at a later date).

The museum of Castel Merle in Sergerac is incredible. Some of the many finds from the eleven shelters of Castel Merle are now in America.

The site of Castel-Merle

Pole -Prehistoire.com
(Don’t miss the virtual tour – for which you don’t need to read french)

‘Norbert Aujoulat dessiné dans la style du Grotte de Cussac’
A5 sketchbook
© The Artist.

‘Norbert Aujoulat dessiné dans la style du Grotte de Cussac’

As portraits, my drawings don’t really resemble Dr.Aujoulat but, if you’ll excuse the mammoth pun, they’re OK as ‘on the hoof’ sketches….

‘dans lou cochon, tout est bon …. dans la renne, rein se trenne…’ – bon mot Périgordien

Yesterday evening, I went to a conference at La Musee Nationale de Prehistoire in Les Eyzies  after taking down my ‘Vérère / Célé’ exhibition of rocks & grottes at the Tourism Office.

The conference was “Art Parietal et Chronologie – de Chauvet à Lascaux” by Dr. Norbert Aujoulat, specialist in Prehistoric Wall Art at the Centre Nationale de Préhistoire. He has published the reference book on Lasaux: The Splendour of Lascaux: Rediscovering the Greatest Treasure of Prehistoric Art

During the conference Aujoulat presented some really surprising photos of Cussac that really impressed me. I hadn’t seen these ones before. I did the above sketches during the conference whilst ‘under the influence’ of seeing these photos of Cussac.

Mammouth, Grotte de Cussac
Dordogne, France
photo: Aujoulat

 The Grotte de Cussac in the Dordogne


It’s a bit annoying that there aren’t many photos published of Cussac. Cussac isn’t as much in the limelight as Chauvet. There was a rush of photos in the local authorities press release back in 2001 I remember 🙂 and thanks to the French Government ministry of Culture you can see (a few very small photos) of Cussac here:   http://www.culture.gouv.fr/culture/arcnat/cussac/en/notice5.htm

My brain is trying to ingest the importance of these but as a maker of images, I respond to them strongly. Maybe I don’t understand them nor understand what they meant to the image-makers who made them. I guess there’s scope for influence, even via misunderstanding & the inevitable effects of lifting them out of their social context.

The notion of a separate entity known as “art” is particular to western civilization. “Art” is a historical category of our own cultural tradition. Few other cultures have such a concept, and we can be fairly sure that Upper Paleolithic societies did not – Randell White, The Earliest Images.


stylistic datation of Cussac

Anyway, a little irony : stylistic datation of paleolithic art is a blunt instrument. Simularity of styles doesn’t necessarily mean influence or lineage. It’s just that art historians tend to categorise by same styles. It’s a blunt instrument because two people can arrive independantly at the same conclusion without ever having conferred. Conversely, simularity in styles doesn’t necessarily mean simularity of intentionality on behalf the the image-maker.

Cussac has wonderful lines. Making doodle-portraits is far from the goals of the artist(s) of Cussac. But just seeing those lines was an inspiration for me.

I digress… it was a fabulous conference. The world awaits more photos of Cussac. Well, at least I do.

Related Categories in this blog: Rock, Prehistory

Prehistoric Cave Art – a contemporary artist’s personal response by Adam Cope