overhang watercolour

‘Overhanging Rockface in the Dordogne’
2001 – 2008
Watercolour & Ink.
30 x 40cm (15 x 11 inches).
© The Artist.


pen & ink of ooverhanging rock

SKETCH : ‘Overhanging Rockface in the Dordogne’
pen & ink
doublespread A5 sketchbook
© The Artist.


a prehistoric shelter…

Crazy cliff faces that I wrote about in ‘how-to-draw-rocks’ & elsewhere… click on the rock category to see them all. The above watercolour portrays a prehistoric shelter. These ancient places for me feel charged with … our beginnings as a species. What was once there & what might be there one day.Note the bluish greenish tint. There’s a type mold that forms on the never-sunny parts. Copper sulphate? You can watch the cliffs light up in the sunlight & grow blue in the shade. I’m assured it’s not purely optical but chemical too… Always walk on the sunny side of the street!I had an interesting conversation with a rock climber yesterday. Funny how one can talk for along time about geology & rock faces. I suppose most people don’t spend alot of time looking closely at things that don’t interest them. Hence they won’t recognise them when they are portrayed in painting. Rocks & cliffs interest me, which is great as the Dordogne & the Lot has some fantastic limestone & limonite geology.

John Ruskin

John Ruskin (1819–1900) was another artist who was mad about rocks. He was a lake-lander (the Lake District in the UK. I used to walk & watercolour there whilst at Newcastle University :-). He also an in-depth student of geology & amassed a comprehensive collection of rocks & minerals.

If only the Geologists would let me alone, I could do very well, but those dreadful Hammers! I hear the clink of them at the end of every cadence of Bible verses and on the other side, these unhappy, blinking Puseyisms; men trying to do right and losing their very humanity – Ruskin

He paid very great attention to detail, lovingly, as if each ripple & blow hole was significative of ‘The Hand of God’. So much so that he was criticised by an Parisienne asethete for ‘having the eyes of a bird’ (ie he saw only details & not wholes). But map making & exactitude, for me, is an important element of respecting ‘the spirit of the place’. Even the wildest flights of imagination are more convincingly portrayed in painting when yoked with a real & close observation of ‘the facts’.

Look at this great pen & ink from the Ashmolean, Oxford. I’ve not seen this one ‘in the flesh’ (wish that Wiki would note it’s dimensions! decontextualised internet…). A monochrome of great power. At a guess I would say at least two sittings, maybe of about tree hours each. Maybe more. One of the many things I adamire about Ruskin’s painting is that you rarely feel rushed. He would just leave the piece unfinished, incomplete rather than rush or ‘fill-in’.


John Ruskin (1819-1900)
Study of Gneiss Rock, Glenfinlas, 1853
Pen and ink and wash with Chinese ink on paper
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, England.
Photo credit : wiki commons
It’s in this kind of vein that I painted my ‘Spirit of the Valley’.
oil painting of spirit of the valley

‘L’Esprit de la Vallée’
Oil. 1997. © adam cope

More Old Rocks in Watercolour & Ink -1999

‘Crack in the Rocks’ 1999
25 x 32cm
© The Artist.


Here we go digging out ‘the old,old past’ to fill up the blog… Not much of a fan of that…silly old blog, who cares…. Opening old portfolios can take up time & attention that may well be better spent on new work.

how to paint rocks

Finished the above last week, & will carry on with my ‘how to paint rocks’ review for the next few days, with the paintings I finished last week. Finished after a few years lapse. Some works I can’t finish immediately. Don’t know where to take them nor do I have the technical know-how to ‘knock the shoot home’. So forgetting about them for long period helps I find. When one digs them out, then I can sometimes see what needs to be done. Actually I was going to us them as scrap paper….

‘Le Vieux Pont’ 1999
25 x 32cm
© The Artist.

‘Tomb of Ramose’ R55 XVIII Dynasty, New Kingdom, Armarna Period
Double Fold A5 Sketchbook
© The Artist.

Double Fold A5 Sketchbook of my travels in Egypt

Getting ready for a trip to the Egypt Collection in the Louvre in Paris … Fascination lasts, not just a red herring. Another one of those ‘influences’ that pull apart any supposed cohesion of style in my endeavours… or is it a lasting fascination? A larger project that has not yet seen the light of day nor had the sheer number man-hours needed to get to some stage of realisation.

THe Great Sphinx of Giza – Watercolour

watercolour of great sphinx of gaza

‘The Great Sphinx of Giza’
60 x 77 cm
© adam cope


The Great Sphinx of Giza

Fascination lasts.


Some disconfabulation : The Great Sphinx of Giza is an Old Kingdom Sphinx & is not to be confused with the later day Sphinx of Oedipus & the Greeks. Though the riddle of its meaning remains. Orion Belt astrological figure dating from Altantis? Sekhmet Lioness of the Desert? Guardian of the Pyramids? Guide for the Rebirth of Pharaoh? New Kingdom Horus-on-the Horizon?

Two excellent pages on Wikipedia on Sphinx & The Great Sphinx of Giza, as well as this site http://guardians.net/egypt

One thing about Ancient Egyptian art is that animals are everywhere. Some humans have the head of animals and some animals have the head of a human, like the above lioness. The crocodiles are very ‘animal’ too in the sense they retain their ‘animalness’ & aren’t simple pictograms for directions (like road signs are simple pictograms for road-code orders)

 an artists travel sketchbook of egypt … Carnet de Voyage en Egypte 2001

‘Sobek – Kom Ombo’ Carnet de Voyage en Egypte 2001
A5 Sketchbook
Watercolour & Ink
© Tous Droits Reservés


‘Khperi’ Carnet de Voyage en Egypte 2001
A5 Sketchbook
Watercolour & Ink
© Tous Droits Reservés

COMING SOON ON INTERNET : read more about animals in Ancient Egypt in my Egypt :: Carnet de Voyage :: Egypt

joking apart, animals are looming large on my horizon…sphinx, owls & now chocolate bunnies?