sunflower watercolour

‘A Perfect Beauty’ watercolour – 2012 – A4 prints available


(Adam Cope – ‘A Perfect Beauty’, watercolour 2010, A4 prints available).

Here’s an excerpt :

A perfect beauty of a sunflower! a perfect excellent
lovely sunflower existence! a sweet natural eye
to the new hip moon, woke up alive and excited
grasping in the sunset shadow sunrise golden
monthly breeze!

Berkeley, 1955


renen char image illustration

‘De Moment en Monent’ Adam Cope – Oil Painting – 1997

 René Char – De Moment en Moment

“Pourquoi ce chemin plutôt que cet autre ? Où mène-t-il pour nous solliciter si fort ?
Quels arbres et quels amis sont vivants derrière l’horizon de ses pierres, dans le lointain miracle de la chaleur ?
Nous sommes venus jusqu’ici car là où nous étions ce n’était plus possible. On nous tourmentait et on allait nous asservir.
Le monde, de nos jours, est hostile aux transparents. Une fois de plus, il a fallu partir…
Et ce chemin qui ressemblait à un long squelette, nous a conduit à un pays qui n’avait que son souffle pour escalader l’avenir.
Comment montrer, sans les trahir, les choses simples dessinées entre le crépuscule et le ciel ?
Par la vertu de la vie obstinée, dans la boucle du temps artiste, entre la mort et la beauté.”

Poème de René Char, extrait de sa préface de “La postérité du soleil” d’Albert Camus

From Time to Time

Why this path rather than that one? Where does it go to, in urging us on so strongly? What trees and what friends are living beyond the horizon of these stones, in the distant miracle of the heat? We have come right up to here because where we were beforehand was no longer possible. One was tormented and enslaved. The world of today is hostile to the Transparents. Once more, we had to  leave …. And this path, which resembled a long skeleton, led us to a country which could use only its own breathe to climb up into the future. How to show, without betraying them, the simple things sketched out between the sunset and the sky? By virtue of obstinate life, in the ring of the Time of the artist, between death & beauty.

René Char 1949 (translation adam cope)

peter porter poetry watch tower warsaw uprising oil painting

‘Our Stormy Mother Europe’ – Oil Painting – 1994

Peter Porter – ‘Europe, An Ode.’1970

(‘Our Stormy Mother Europe.’ Adam Cope. Oil on panel. 1994. Sold)
I can’t find an online version of the poem but it ends like this:
There for the fallen Gothic Museums glow,

Enthusiastic doubt like sun motes

Turns to dandruff on old shoulders:

At the start of the world, the beholders

Find the permanent kingdom and this Peninsula, its rational Europe

Where the blood has dried to Classic 
Or Gothic, cinema names in aspic.

But the giant iron is ours, too: 
It flies, it sings, it is carried to god — 
We come from it, the Father, maker and healer,

And from Oviraptor, the egg-stealer,

Launched in the wake of our stormy mother

To end up on a tideless shore

Which this is the dream of, a place

Of skulls, looking history in the face.
I read this in the early nineties, when Pax Europeana was disintegrating at the borders with the break up of Tito’s Yugoslavia. We watched on as ethnic cleansing came once more to Europe. The tower in my painting is the watch tower from which the nazi SS quelled the Warsaw Uprising…. Our Stormy Mother Europe.

It has been said that the beautiful form Leopardi gave his nihilism negated the validity of nihilism. I would say that even though cultural dissolution is Porter’s main subject, the quality of his treatment of it demonstrates that the moment of cultural dissolution is not yet.    – Clive James

Animals Drawings – Ducks & Cockerels


‘Contre Nous… La Tyrannie’ A5. Sanguine.


‘Don’t Mess with Me’ A4. Mixed Drawing Medii


‘Double Duck’ 30 x 30 cm. Mixed Drawing Medii.




‘Wanted #1’ 30 x 30 cm. Sanguine.


‘Wanted #2’ 30 x30 cm. Sanguine.


‘Wanted #3’ 30 x 30 cm. Sanguine.

As a spiritual person, nature for me has always been a healing place. Going back all the way to my childhood on the farm, the fields and forests were places of adventure and self-discovery. Animals were companions and friends, and the world moved at a slower, more rational pace than the bustling cities where I’d resided my adult life. – David Mixner

Three Acrylic Plein-Air Paintings

donjon, chateau de beduer, plein air acrylic

‘Donjon, Chateau de Beduer’ Acrylic. 65 x50 cm

msty day Beduer, acrylic painting

‘Misty Day in the Park of Chateu de Beduer’ – Demonstration painting on a painting course at Beduer with Adam Cope . Acrylic 40 x50 cm.

And this acrylic of a house in sunshine, not a demonstration painting:


‘House in the Lot & Garonne’ Acrylic. 50 x40 cm. Adam Cope


‘Birds, Cliff & Aviform’ Charcoal & Acrylic Drawing. 65 x 50 cm Handmade paper in Dordogne – Moulin Larroque. © Adam Cope

A romance, a dream, a fantasy. These cliffs in Quercy Périgord, where the people of the Ice Age once lived. They mark my mental landscape, as they must have also made a deep impression on the minds of the hunter-gatherers.

Romanticism attempts an affective fusion between person & her enviroment. Science attempts to practice detached objective observation. The person outside of her enviroment. The slow methodical sifting through of data & remains… But can we ever truly take off the lens of our own vision that shapes that which we think we are clearly seeing… Also, can we we ever see as these hunter-gatherers saw? What would they have made of my notions & prejudices? As an artist, not as an archeologist with their attempts at objectivity & science. Prehistoric art speaks to me 30 000 years later. Not as they intended it to communicate … But should we delegate all of our human past uniquely to be the domain of science? ‘We will never truly know what they meant’ as the guide drones on at every visit… But human history is a history of evolution, where one understanding evolves into another. Intentionally or not.

The meaning of things aren’t stable. Anything can mean almost anything – Jasper Johns

However, preamble aside… one thing is certain : Birds live in cracks & holes of cliffs , than as of now. OK Doubtless not the same species. No swifts in the Ice Age? Crows maybe. Owls yes. Buzzards probably not.

But the vertigo of looking up & seeing the birds swirling around. Then as now.


‘Overhang & Birds’ Conté & Ink. A3.© Adam Cope

I also tried to draw the aviform as part of the cliff, as part of the geology, as growing out from the rock formation itself. As a motif that repeats itself , morphing into various transpositions:


‘La Barbe’ Conté A3 © Adam Cope

There’s a good research paper about ‘abstract’ geometric symbols & signs in prehistoric rock art by Genevieve von Petzinger:

While animal depictions are a common theme in most known regions where rock art is present, the choice of what to portray seems to be contextual, with image-makers generally choosing contemporary fauna from their local environment (Rice and Paterson 1986; Clottes 1996).

  AVIFORM (avi = bird)  : Less than 10% of sites worldwide – 30,000 & 13,000 years ago

(aviforms) are also concentrated in the later half of the Ice Age (almost entirely from 22,000 years onwards), strongly suggesting that this may have been a local invention/innovation, rather than having been something that was brought with the first humans who moved to this continent.

Aviforms are also sometimes named ‘Signes du Placard’ , after another painted cave in SW France : Grotte de Placard in the Charente, following the tradition of naming prehistory after eponymous sites, the geographic place where the element of prehistory wa s first found. Hence cro-magnon, Mousterian, Gravettian, etc. (Most of which are found in France by French archeologists & where accompanied by proud nationalist rhetoric of ‘Les Premiers Francais’ …)   Apparently most aviform signs in prehistoric rock art are concentrated around South West France, with a particularly high density of repetition around the Célé valley in the Lot.

In the nearby painted cave of Pech Merle, not far from the cliff in my above drawing, there’s the famous ‘wounded man’.  A conjugaison of aviform sign & a figurative depiction i.e. the sign doesn’t exist on its own (but we don’t know if this is intentional or not, other than comparing to other groupings of drawings in the cave, where again sign & figuration co-exist in the same grouping).  The aviform sign is attached to a drawing of a man with lines coming out from his body. Some have interpreted these as spears. Others such as Professor Lewis-Williams reads them as suggestive of as symbolic depictions of the physical cramps that shamans sometimes undergo before entering a trance state.

A stray thought : why not wings?  The dream of flight occurs to most children & lucid dreamers… a prehistoric superman power cape? Prehistory is full of depictions of humans dressing up as other animals.



Falaise dans le Célé – “L’Élephante”. Lithographie sur Pierre. Edition de 10. 33 x 28 cm. Création Atelier Pierre Presse. Marcilhac sur Célé. © Adam Cope

Stone lithograph of a cliff  –  “the elephant”

‘The Elephant’ – Drawing of a Cliff. Graphite, biro & watercolour. A3 © Adam Cope


We, mankind, arose amidst the wandering of the ice and marched with it. We are in some sense shaped by it, as it has shaped the stones. Perhaps our very fondness for the building of stone alignments, dolmens, and pyramids reveals unconsciously an ancient heritage from the ice itself, the earth shaper.
– Loren Eisley



 Mountains do not lack the characteristic of mountains. Therefore they always abide in ease and always walk. Examine in detail the characteristic of the mountains’ walking.   – Dogen: Mountains and Waters Sutra


Mountains’ walking is just like human walking. Accordingly, do not doubt mountains’ walking even though it does not look the same as human walking. You should penetrate these words. If you doubt mountains’ walking, you do not know your own walking.  – Dogen: Mountains and Waters Sutra


I came to realize clearly that mind is no other than mountains and rivers and the great wide Earth, the sun and the moon and the stars. – Dogen: Mountains and Waters Sutra

spirit oil painting

‘Spirit of The Valley’ Oil painting. 60 x 80 cm . 1995 © Adam Cope

Interesting to see the same landscape view in three different mediums : drawing, watercolour & stone lithography.

stone lithograpgy cliffs & valley

‘La Vallée de Célé’ Stone Lithography 32 x 28 cm € Adam Cope

saulaic drawing cliffs south france

‘La Vallée de Célé depuis Sauliac’ Conté A3 © Adam Cope


‘Célé depuis Sauliac’ Aquarelle 30 x 45 cm Moulin Larroque papier fait à la main, Dordogne © Adam Cope

Different material, different effect.

Each medium is good for certain effects. In the above three images,, watercolour is delicate colours & brushmarks, conté is so immediate & so fresh, lithography is good for  a design, a powerful composition.

But a medium doesn’t simply mean the actual physical material , such as acrylic PVA wood glue sticky glue, slippery graphite pencil, etc.

Nor does ‘medium’ mean the technique  imposed by the physical nature, the touch, the feel of the actual materials …though an artist disregards this at his peril.   For example, if you wish to attain a granulation effect in watercolour, you need to use a pigment that goes into suspension, not dilution & thus will granulate out onto the surface of the paper fibers rather than soak in deep into the paper & ‘stain’ it, which is what pigments that dissolve in water do.

What does ‘Medium’ Mean in Fine Art Practice?

Train the hand, so that the hand knows what to do. This is done by the hand touching the material. Having contact with the world. It is through the hand of the artist manipulating & touching the medium that art arises. It is in the gestures of the artist’s hand that a deep respect & love for the physicality of materials is seen. After all, we artists deal with some of the most gorgeous of our  beloved planet resources : beautiful reds from madder plants, lovely rich carbons from willow, cobalts & lapis lazuri,

File:Lapis lazuli block.jpg

A block of lapis azuli – wikimedia commons

It is said we live in materialistic culture but actually , I see more & more disrespect & contempt for materials.  Trashed, smashed & built-in obselence. Built by a machine, not the hand of man. Cheaper to throw away than to fix. As we enter into the ‘Age of Resources’, a crisis of supply & consumption of raw materails, where a normal european lifestyle requires three planets of resources, what of art? How does this crazy disrespect for materials effect making fine art?

pile of junk

a pile of junk – unloved, uncared for, rubbish, consumerist debris, waste of materials, uncared for planetary resources

When I see the stone flints of where I live, near Bergerac in Dordogne, South West France, I understand why prehistoric man was willing to walk  for weeks & weeks to find these beautiful & useful materials… then learn how to transform them into tools that have even been found as far away as the Ukraine!  Home habilis = habile = dexterious. Home faber = faber = faire= to make ….We owe our existence to things that we make. They shape our experience & perception of the world.

File:Yarmukian Culture -Sha'ar HaGolan, flint axe.jpg

The Yarmukian Culture is a Neolithic culture of the ancient Levant. It was the first culture in Prehistoric Israel and one of the oldest in the Levant to make use of pottery. The Yarmukian derives its name from the Yarmouk River which flows near its type site at Sha’ar HaGolan, a kibbutz at the foot of the Golan Heights. The pictures are fromYosef Garfinkel excavations taken between 1989-1990 & 1998-2004 –  Wiki

A beautiful painting reminds us that the world is made up of beautiful physical materials, though most of us now inter-react with art via print or internet, which has the effect of dematerializing the artwork, so as to become yet another chimera without a body, another figment of one’s imagination.  I frequently am shocked physically when in front of good art. When I saw Gauguin’s painting in the Musée D’Orsay, the size, the burlap, the skin of linoxidation of the rough linseed he used, the sheer scale precipitated a gut reaction in me that mere familiarity with the image’s fame via reproductions did not.

See the world through art materials…

A medium will also determine how the artwork arises, what the artwork can & can’t do & most important of all but maybe the most subtle as well, a medium will shape how the artist gives expression to his vision.

You need to be able to see in the world in terms of your art materials. The medium gives rise to the vision… Too many beginners & too many uncultured spectators (I can’t call them ‘connaisseurs’ because they don’t see the art in the medium; they don’t even see the paint in the painting! and need cajouling to appreciate the hand of the artist) naively think that the art work should look like the world … but isn’t it a bit stupid to confuse , say for example, a tree with an ink stain? No, I believe that an ink stain should first & foremost look like an ink  stain. A beautiful ink stain yes. Yes make it as beautiful as you can. and make it a ‘truimphe d’oielle ‘ yes –  ‘pourqui pas’  and put on top of this all the rest of it: expression, signification, asethetics, – but always first of all, it is an ink stain.  First & foremost this integrity, this respect, this sensitivity for the material itself. It is this deep respect for materials that the hand of a real craftsman.

 The creative process lies not in imitating, but in paralleling nature – translating the impulse received from nature into the medium of expression, thus vitalizing this medium. The picture should be alive, the statue should be alive, and every work of art should be alive. –   Hans Hofmann

I often work in both watercolour & oil painting. I enjoy the translation from one medium to another. Same view, different vision.

oil painting of vines

‘Sept Rangs de Cot.’ Oil on Canvas. 81 x 65 cm (32 x 26 inches approx) © Adam Cope

watercolour of vines

‘Sept Rangs de Cot’ watercolour approx 40 x30 cm © Adam Cope

In this case, the watercolour came after the oil, and so, I consider it to be  a lot more than a study for the oil painting. Some historians tend to classify drawings & watercolours as preliminary studies for a more substantial, more  resolved painting.  Here for example is one of my tonal studies for a painting , but it is  fresh enough, coherant enough to stand alone :

chateau sepia

‘Chateau de Longas’ (Dordogne) Sepia. 32 x 24 cm © Adam Cope



Don’t Fall Off!

falaise- cele - lot - cliff & blue sky - watercolour

‘Cliff in the Célé Valley.’ Watercolour. 28 x38 cm © Adam Cope

some watercolours from last autumn in the Célé valley. Vertigo?

Watercolour of Cliff in the Célé Valley

‘Cliff, Célé – Jean Blanc’ Watercolour 28 x 38 cm © Adam Cope


Watercolor of a cliff blue sky

‘Blue Sky, Cliff #2’ Watercolor 28 x 38 cm © Adam Cope

Impossible blue sky but true…  yes true deep blue with only free wheeling birds 🙂 The blue sky that envelops us all… that evokes a sense of freedom in me 🙂


Watercolour of Cliffs in South West France

aquarelle vallee cele

‘La Vallée du Célé – Sauliac’ Aquarelle – 45 x 30 cm © adam cope

Watercolour from last autumn. Love this place : pure happiness.

Painted on handmade paper from the dordogne ‘moulin de larroque’


Watercolour of Spring in the Dordogne

watercolour of trees - spring -Dordogne

‘Spring Time in the the Dordogne’ Watercolour. 38 x38 cm © Adam Cope

This Candlemas morning (“festa candelarum”, the festival of candles), there was the first ray of sunlight after weeks of heavy rain. The light is again high & strong. I’m yearning for spring & fresh air & sunlight.

This watercolour from March last year.  Hope that February won’t be rude or glacial!  It can be freezing & extreme in February here in the Dordogne. Half way through winter now!

In pre-Christian times, this day was known as the ‘Feast of Lights’ and celebrated the increase strength of the life-giving sun as winter gave way to spring. –


Watercolour of a Lotus Flower


‘The Last Lotus Flower of 2013’ Watercolour. 27 x19 cm © adam cope

This was the last lotus flower of 2013 that I saw on the lotus pond. Somewhat battered by the winds & cold nights here in the Dordogne. But still offering up its golden heart, despite of it all.

I love the life cycles of flowers. Yes they reach apogee, perfection then deteriorate, disband, fall apart. Sometimes even in the time span of a morning.  Doesn’t this transience make them all the more beautiful?

Currently enjoying the tips of sprouting daffs & hyacinths in the garden.