Back from teaching two workshops. Ah me, blogging again? When I get out of bed… maybe…. & clear the decks in the office, family & garden. La Reprise.

‘Exhausted Tutor Syndrome’
A5 sketchbook
© the artist

Hope this post doesn’t sound too spammy self-promotional nor too much like me banging away.

Here are a few of the images I made whilst teaching. They are demonstration pieces, intended to help the learning of students.

‘The Two Bridges at Limeuil’ Demonstration piece – two hours
28 x 38 cm
© adam cope

Painters & Draughts-Persons

It’s also good fun to paint people painting & drawing. All levels of painters should try it, IMO. Here’s a watercolour that a student did in the studio during one of the Painting Holidays in France that I’ve lead over the years.

‘Students Painting’
Chris Sharland
© the artist
Personally, I would like my ‘painters & draughts-persons’ (the name I give to the paintings of this genre) to communicate something of the fun & ‘bonne ambiance’ of a successful painting trip.

‘Painters in the Park’
Demonstration Piece – one hour 15 mins
28 x 38cm (15 x 11 inches).
© The Artist.
DETAIL : ‘Painters in the Park’
Demonstration Piece – one hour 15 mins
28 x 38cm (15 x 11 inches).
© The Artist.

I was quite pleased with the above two figures. The watercolour is fresh & ‘just-so’, if I may say so, somewhat immodestly.

Lots of quick scribbles too. Of people moving about, painting & drawing. ‘Moving targets’. These sketches were done in less than five minutes each ‘take’.

‘Picnic People’
A5 Sketchbook
© The Artist.

A5 sketchbook
© The Artist.

‘The Chairman’
A5 sketchbook
© the artist

A5 sketchbook

©the artist

The above are demonstration pieces. Should one exhibit them? Learning is the desired product & not a finished painting.

The Educative Value of Demonstrations

I believe in the value of demos. True that they are only one teaching technique amongst many others. Sometimes the learning environment can get too wordy, so watching someone paint, seeing a painting unfold before your eyes can open up the non-verbal & encourage the natural.

WORK IN PROGRESS – unfinished state – two hours demonstration piece
‘A. & I. Painting’
Full Sheet Watercolour
56 x 76 cm (30″ x 22″)
© adam cope

Now please don’t get me wrong, I do know that the real goal is student-centered learning & not tutor showing-off. However, by seeing an experienced painter in action, who is also teaching & explaining – ‘sur la vif’ & in front of the subject – is something you won’t find neither on internet nor in a book. I myself have learnt so much this way ( & would be game to do so again).

Demos also quickly sort the chaff from the grain; if a teacher doesn’t have the years of painting experience integrated into his or her hands, his or her gestures, well then …. you should ask yourself just who do you have as tutor?

Here is some of what I have to say about the good uses of demonstration as a teaching/learning technique. I quote from my website What Makes a Good Painting Workshop Tutor? (hoping that this won’t trip a google duplicate content filter…nor sound too self-important nor spammy)

“A true teacher does not explain – he invites you to stand beside him and see for yourself.” Raymond Inmon

A good painting workshop tutor should also have a whiff of turpentine about him. Painting is first & foremost an activity & not a theory. It will help you if the art teacher is a practicing artist. On a practical level, you’re far more likely to have an exciting & educative learning experience from an experienced painter/teacher. The demonstrations will be more natural & the guidance more relevant because he/she has been there too. It takes many years for a teacher to become good at the art of demonstrations.

“A picture is worth a thousand words and watching a picture being painted is worth even more….The best teachers I’ve had show you rather than tell you how to do something. Talking the talk is far less important than walking the walk.” – Charles Sovek

Springtime in the Dordogne

‘Springtime in the Dordogne’
24 x 32cm
© The Artist.
I’m going off-blog for a few weeks, teaching, so wishing yo all well.

‘Alison & her Cello’ # 6 1999
approx 30 x 40 cm
© The Artist.

Yesterday’s post about Menuhin & Romani violinist got me reminiscing about the time a rare bird flew into my studio. A young American trying out France, a concert cello-ist, classically trained, an orchestra player on the west coast, with a very beautiful antique cello (which withstood the airflight), a music teacher….. all that talent with a career path but in love, in France (not with me, I was only her art teacher), footloose & soaking up Europe.

Alison played beautifully. We talked about Pablo Casals. The above drawing is one of her playing a saraband from one of Bach’s solo cello. Very beautiful, very vigorous, very ‘earthy’ (which is not to say dirty but rather something that has it’s roots outside of upper-class cultural clichés).


” Ce qui j’admire particuliérement en lui, c’est sa firme attitude à l’égard des oppresseurs, mais également à l’endroit des opportunistes tourjours prêts à pactiser avec le diable. Il a su comprendre, avec beaucoup de clairvoyance, que le monde corut un plus grand danger de la part de ceux qui tolérant le mal on l’encouragant, que de la part de ceux-là mêmes qui le cormettent.”

rough translation in haste : what i particularly admired in him, was his firm attitude in regard to not only the oppressors, but equally to the opportunists always ready to make a pact with the devil. he knew & understood, with a great deal of foresight, that the world runs a greater danger from the part of those who tolerate evil,& thus encourage evil than from the part of those very ones who commit evil.

‘Romani Duet’
dessin sur la vif
A5 sketchbook
© The Artist.
struck me as pretty unwashed & hairy…

Romani Musicians Busking in the Street, Paris

Came reeling out of the Centre de Pomdiou, my head full of great art, into La Place Beauborg to be meet with some beautiful spanish feeling ….. duendé… sotto, low & subtle. Fine. The violinist was a Romany from somewhere near India, at a guess, & he had a crazy hair-do. The guitarist had a southern European/Romany air; he picked, strummed & accompanied very well, a bit like Paco de Lucia.I only had one hour in the Pompidou & had to get back to the gallery, pick up bag & get quickly to Montparnasse for my train, leaving to go back home to the South West.Drawing ‘sur la vif’ for the brief duration of a song. The time of a song. Le temps d’une chanson. Never to be repeated. Never to pass again. I love a gypsy lilt to the violin. Makes me think of Yehudi Menuhin playing Bach’s Double Violin Concerto. The guitarist called the Duendé, the accords in duo were struck, the lilt danced for a perfect moment & then the event came to an end. I left to catch my train, not forgetting to throw some coins in the hat (music case).



Another violonist (on the right) (…Tzigane, not Romani, I think…)
Karpatz, Sarlat 2006
© the artist

Each human being has the eternal duty of transforming what is hard and brutal into a subtle and tender offering, what is crude into refinement, what is ugly into beauty, ignorance into knowledge, confrontation into collaboration, thereby rediscovering the child’s dream of a creative reality incessantly renewed by death, the servant of life, and by life the servant of love –  Yehudi Menuhin

Paris, France, The World…

‘Notre Dame de Paris’
© The Artist, W. A. Grondhart.

Paris – what can you say? Amazing visit. Amazing town. ‘La Cité Phare’This is an etching from my personal art collection. It was given to me by a good friend, who collects my paintings & with whom I always feel happy. Apparently, it was made by a young, talented Dutch man who went to Paris, like so many artists before him, each with a heart full of hope & aspirations & dreams. The Quais around St.Michel, with their little green bookstalls, overlooking the Sienne, still have that feel of …. artistic & intellectual hope, for want of a better description. OK maybe today you won’t see any ladies dressed in Bel Epoque elegance. Rather the ‘Genghis Khan’ hoards of rather shabby, present day mass tourism. La Vie Moderne.

Still , it remains an amazing experience. I’ve been to Paris quiet a few times before, not least on an extended study trip when I was at University studying art. I now look at Paris with a different look, as it is the capital of my adoptive country. I’ve not yet chosen ‘naturalisation’ but France remains my country of adoption. Citoyen Étranger. Been visiting for over forty years, lived here for over a third of my life, have a French aunt, was/am married in France to French woman, my children were born here &, well, I like it here (OK lots of things I dislike too but hey, c’est la vie). I’m very lucky to belong to two countries.

Oh la la ! ….. Paris …. France……

‘La Stryge’

This is the inspiration for Victor Hugo’s ‘Hunch Back of Notre Dame’ (aka Walt Disney’s film)


An invitation to exhibit  in Paris

I achieved my goals in Paris :1. Had a lot of fun (it was a family reunion for my Dad’s 70th).

2. Worked as a copyist in Le Louvre for three days, studying for my book which I wish to push to publication stage (ho ho ho – maybe another ten years…lol).

3. Visited Orsay & Pomidou to spend time with certain paintings that have been on my mind. The necessity of taking lessons from the great masters. Too much mediocrity dims one’s vision. The need to see great, big & far.

4. Filled up half a sketchbook with drawings, soaked some of it up. Paris, Paris ….

5. Meet up with Gallerist near the Pompidou whose been wanting exhibit my stuff ever since she saw ‘mes oeuvres’ when I was L’Invitee de Honneur in a Salon des Arts Plastiques in Bordeaux in 2001 I think, I forget the exact date (& don’t really care about this type of stuff anymore). The below was the type of stuff I was doing back then.

’42 Degrees Centigrade’
© Adam Cope


(My son says there’s ‘la bossu de notre dame’ in this picture – look at the two towers on the horizon to the left … not much is abstract to a young mind !?)

She offered me a show in her swanky gallery in 2009 (prestige etc) but frankly, I don’t like the terms & conditions. Bad business is bad business & I really don’t feel like undergoing all that again, anymore. Bôf – haven’t made my mind up, but think I can do better. Difficulties of showing in big towns…driving , parking,  finding somewhere to stay, paying to eat in restaurants.. a lot of overheads, before even the gallery adds some on…and teh buyers try to shave some off. Bof.

Life is nice here in my rural isolation. Cézanne & Corot told me that.

post script 2013

Does anyone know where paris is? isnt it where artists in france pay 18 percent tax so that the politicians can whoop it up in chic palaises? vanity, vanity, all is vanity… i now realise that ‘going up to paris’ is like a french finishing school, where the capital inspects the new arrivals from the provinces,  mostly with disinterest & occassionally a little bit of politeness, but only if you’re lucky … very glad i escaped that!


what choices do we have as artists, other than stay polite & try to stay out of suicidal debt.