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

Dessins de la Cathedrale de Sarlat

I did some drawings whilst exhibiting in ‘La Maison de la Boêtie’, opposite the Cathedral Saint Sardos of Sarlat. Some where done in 2006 as well. Here’s some drawings of the architecture of the Romanesque cathedral (thirteenth century) with it’s patron saint St.Sardos:

with it’s Baroque door

The strange bell tower in slate

The archbishop’s palace, which joins on to the cathedral, in the flamboyant gothic style of the sixteenth century.

trogoodlyte en perigord - aquarelle

‘Maison Troglodyte dans la Vallée de La Couze’
52 x42 cm (20,5 x 16,5 inches)
© the artist

Watercolour of an Owl Hut built into a Cliff in Dordogne

‘Maison Troglodyte’ means literally a troglodyte’s house, or a subterranian house built into a cliff-face. Here the mouth of a cave has been converted into a little house with a door & two windows, with stone bench in front with the typically Périgordian motif of a ‘coquille St.Jaques’ (a sea shell denoting St.James of Compostelle). I like how the stone of the building is the same stone as the cliffs, the wonderful warm honey coloured stone that raises at the Couze valley & runs all the way to Terrasson. The weathering & staining further disguises the house.Troglodyte houses are typical of the Dordogne. They represent a continuity of inhabitation (or in-hut-ation, as I like to call it) which goes back at least 40 000 years, if not longer, going back to neanderthal times. Funny story: one of these troglodtye houses (Les Comberelles at Les Eyzies) used to be a cow shed. The prehistorian Denis Peyrony explored it’s dark nether-reaches, going back into the cave behind, where he discovered many hundreds of engravings on the stone walls, some of which represent aurochs – that’s to say prehistoric cows. 40 000 years plus of man & his docile companion, the cow!

The little construction above is a pidgeonnier – or dove cot. Actually I suspect it’s not a pidgeonnier but rather an owl’s nest, as the owls love to nest in the dark nooks & crannies. This lovely site has two stone sculptures of owls, os the creator of this garden is obviously an owl friend.


Quatre Carte-Postales de Mon Co-Locataire, l’Hibou

Véritable sepia (encre des seyches)
Postacrd size – 10 x 15 cm (6X4inches)
© the artists

Here’s a detail of the owl hut large unfinished oil of the same place. Can see where it is in the above watercolour?

sketch book : drawing of a town road

A5 sketchbook
© The Artist.



drawing of a town road in Bergerac

Winter sun. I sat on the terrace of a bar & did this drawing. More of a doodle really. Enjoyed the urban setting for a change from the countryside. Quite like the arrangement of shapes in the detail.
Learning to be selective about what one chooses to actually develop into a painting, & exactly what pictorial theme (here the shapes) that interests you … will save you from that feeling of ‘oh I wish I did it that way’ upon finishing the painting, and then it’s too late to change everything. Doodling with no particular aim in mind can sometimes naturally lead you to finding out your interests. Here I wouldn’t want to develop the obivious view down the road but rather the shapes in the shop fronts. I didn’t know that when I started out.

‘Sechoir à Tabac 3 – Crépuscule’ (Tobacco Drying Barn 3 – Twilight)
Oil on Canvas
38 x 46cm (approx 15 x 19 inches).
© The Artist.
Available – email me

Some photos of this huge, magnificent tobacco drying barn.

My Reference Photos of ‘Sechoir à Tabac’


Wish there was a person by the door so as to give you an idea of the size. He wouldn’t even come half way up the red door! Amazing effort on behalf of this agricultor & co. Humbles me.


The sheer length of it makes me think of the long wooden huts of Saxon culture in the Dark Ages.

The shutters for the air current to dry the leaves of tobacco hence the east-west orientation of tobacco barns.

This barn is particuarly dilapidated, partly I suspect the farmer cut his criosote with red iron oxide aka haemitate aka the red earth. Partly because it is situated in the Lot & Garonne, & not the chic Perigord Noir near Sarlat where property prices are about thirty percent more. There it would be converted into a gite, tourist accommodation or maybe even a painter’s barn. Jackson Pollock had a simular barn as a studio. Soulages would be in sympathy as well.

A huge white barn owl flew out – ‘La Dame Blanche’ . That would have made a superb photo! But I wouldn’t disturb the sleep of an owl knowingly, not for a meer photo.


1. Reference Photos for Plein-Air Painters

NB. I paint mostly outside ‘en plein air’ so please don’t go thinking that I paint from photos inside the studio. I often take my camera out in the field with me however. I’ve got about 3 000 photos of places in the SW France. Not many as I throw out most of what isn’t of use to me as a painter. The process of binnning is helpful & critical to getting towards the good. I think only about 20 are any good as photos, independant of my painter’s interests. The other 2 980 are still useful to me as a painter.


2. Gerard Richter – ‘Atlas’

Do youknow Gerard Richter’s Atlas ?

“The comprehensive Atlas collection – the newspaper clippings, photos and sketches which are the source material for much of Richter’s work.”

Part of his ‘Atlas’ amounts to being a project to catalogue his world. His painter’s world. The world of his interests. Many hundreds – and I mean hundreds – of his reference photos are published up at his web site. Image after image presented in contact sheets. It seems to me that the ‘art element’ is carefully deconstructed in a deadpan way. Post-modern hoovering irony. I like it but it does disturb me. Challenges my classical roots, my debt to one of masters: Claude Lorrian. Most postcard views to this day are still constructed according to Claudian composition. Maybe the time has come for me to shake of Claude? Funny but when Richter turns to painting (probably inside a studio, using photos as reference), the composing habit frequently returns. Look through his Atlas & his paintings & you will see him returning to the classical idiom then rejecting it (for which he first became famous).

Gerhard Richter
Landschaft (Landscape)
100 cm X 140 cm
Oil on canvas
Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, USA

Here’s the reference photos for the above painting from his Atlas. Would you know the above painting was of Venice? In fact, looking at it on internet would even know it was a painting & not a photograph? It doesn’t have the typical ‘Richterian’ painterly look. Curiously, it’s the photographs that have the painterly feel. Look at the size of it as well. It must be fabulous painting in the real.

Gerhard Richter
Venedig, Gran Canaria
Venice, Gran Canaria
Atlas Sheet: 360

“For me there is no difference between a landscape and an abstract painting . . . I refuse to limit myself to a single option, to an exterior resemblance, to a unity of style which can’t exist. A color chart differs only externally from a small green landscape. Both reflect the same basic attitude. It is this attitude which is significant.” – Gerard RICHTER

Fascinating as, in fact, Richter’s ‘Atlas’ also dismantles the idea of photography as ‘truth’ by way of ‘if all these are true, where then lies the unique & absolute truth?’ There’s no effort to make one unique photograph that sums up that particular subject. They aren’t framed in the standard way.

Gerhard Richter
Atlas Sheet: 765

Look at this page of photos of a wood. As if he were just walking about taking photos, any photo except the one that conforms to the classic view that you expect to find on a postcard.

Gerhard Richter
Atlas Sheet: 300

It’s that exactly that effort to sum up a view or an idea about a view that will save you from blindly dumb copying. At a certain stage in a plein-air painter’s trajectory, a decision needs to be taken about what you paint. Edit out the rest. Discard it. Ignore it or just enjoy it, in the sense “well that’s nice but it doesn’t need to be painted. Not by me. That’s not my thing.”

Knowing what interests you can save a lot of wasted paint. Taking time to reflect on your reference photos when you are not actually painting will help guide you to this knowing.

3. My Reference Photos

I like to look at my reference photos on my computer late at night. Dreamy time. Sometimes I see things I didn’t see ‘in the flesh’, in the real 3-D world. Mallarmé was always talking about that, as was William James:

“Remembrance is like direct feeling; it’s object is suffused with a warmth & intimacy to which no object of mere conception ever attains.” – William James

Developing the Proustian element to plein-air gives that ‘warmth & intimacy’.

Sometimes reference photos give me an idea for another painting I didn’t see ‘on site’ the first time. Scouting for paintings, finding them in the world, is a skill that a plein-air painter must develop. Sometimes the mechanical eye of the lens distorts things into focus that would have otherwise remained unseen. Hiding behind a camera is a lot less of a shock than painting ‘en plein air’, which is more like a head-on meeting, an encounter between the painter & the world. Sometimes it feels more like a collison… self meets the the world.

Before we even mention all that painful business of trying to make a painting, of the feeling ‘I can’t do this’… self meets the world meets painting…

Of the struggle to realise a painting which may not have been properly concieved of in the first place. Reference photos can help you concieve of a painting before you even go out in the field. And it’s so easy now days with a digital camera with a view finder. But your attention! Sometimes you need to sleep before you dream. Sometimes you need to use your mind’s eye before you can see the painting.

It helps to have an idea of what you are trying to do.



Reference Photos for Plein-Air Painters 1 – Gerhard Richter’s Photo Atlas

Reference Photos for Plein-Air Painters 2

Reference Photos for Plein-Air Painters 3

Le Cingle de Tremolat 2003 – postcards & landscape painting

Fauvist Barns 3 : Red in Landscape Painting

‘Sechoir à Tabac 2’ (Tobacco Drying Barn)
Oil on MDF panel
30 x 40cm (approx 12 x 16 inches).
©adam cope
for sale

Red in landscape painting acts as a magnet

Red in a landscape acts as a magnet for my eye. The red oxide corrigated tin door catches my eye every time I drive past. Red barn & red oxide earth, blue sky, black shadows. I go for compositions that prioritise colour, though not I don’t systemmatically heighten every colour.
Heightened colour = where the colour is pushed back to the most saturated, most intense. Back to ‘pure’ colour straight from the tube, the ‘mother’ colour of the mixes.

Same barn as in ‘Sechoir à Tabac 1’. Same issues. Muted colour (‘anti-fauve barn’) or heightened ‘fauve’ colour:

…paint a rusty barn & keep it browny rust , rather than let it go over into heightened colour RED. –  Adam in the post  Fauvist Barns 1 : Muted Red & not Heightened Colour

..trying to keep a barn door rusty brownish red, rather than letting it slip into heighten, saturated colour RED. With a painter’s confession – there’s always apart of me that wishes to paint all bright & fauve. Or least prioritise colour in a composition.  – Adam in the post Fauvist barns, heightened colour…Vlaminck & Kandinsky

‘Sechoir à Tabac 1’
30 x 40 cm.
Oil on Panel.
© The Artist.
150 euros via PayPal

POST-SCRIPTUM : well…. why not? I  want red? I’ll give myself red. Here’s one of my painting that’s red, primary red & with no subtle deviations…

‘Three Cherry Trees’
30 x 40 cm
oil on board
© the artist

2017: POST SCRIPTUM … Here’s a green barn. A tobacco drying barn with planking painted green. Fun!


Fauvist Barns 1 : Muted Red & not Heightened RED
Fauvist Barns 2 : Fauvist Barns, Heightened Colour…Vlaminck & Kandinsky
Fauvist Barns 3 : Red in Landscape Painting

Huts 1

Oil on Panel
30 x 40 cm
©adam cope

for sale

Huts in my village of St.Dizier on the banks of the river Dropt.

Hut -o-logy = the study of huttery? Irony is that my current attraction to igenious & idiosynicratic huts, if some delipated, has for it’s background my ongoing worries with the leaking & uninsolated roof in my own house. Or should I say hut?

Anyway, here’s a hut with standing… 30 000 years of ‘inhutation’ (inhabitation) 😉

hut ,not hab…

‘La Gravette’
oil on canvas
8 paysage
© adam cope

‘Le Vieux Pont’
28 x 38cm (15 x 11 inches).
© The Artist.

A Short History of House Prices in the Dordogne

Here’s a story for the Quatorze Juillet about ‘les anglais debarquement en Dordogne’…

An old crumbling bridge over a stream, an abandoned road, the ghosts of yesteryears, deep in the woods, in the bottom of a steep valley. Fascinating how the erosion of this bridge is creating stalactites just like in an underground cave. Note there’s a fallen down tree as well. Nine years since I last painted here & the forces of nature reclaiming architecture are already visible…

Confess this process of ruination & return to nature attracts me (though considerably less so when it occurs on my own real estate).

‘Le Vieux Pont’
25 x 32cm Moulin de Larroque
© The Artist.

Nature reclaiming Architecture

Not many ruins in old stone left in SW France after the real estate boom of these last thirty or forty years. There’s been a large influx of foreigners such as English, Dutch or Belgian. Europe on the move. The occassional American or Russian. Actually even the Parisians count as foreigners here according to some locals.

‘Old Abandoned House’ – detail

The newcomers had an immense desire to restore & to build. They bought up many of the old abandoned farmhouses etc, often paying over the odds to willing sellers (who could not find buyers amongst their neighbours, none of whom were ready to pay ‘le prix fort’, nor unsurprisingly neither to the real estate speculators who accumulated great fortunes in the 1970’s by buying portfolios of pretty, old ruins for a song & a dance) & thus pushed the prices of this range of real estate right up. They are now the most expensive range of real estate. A ruin costs proportinally more than a new-build or a restored old stone property & thus ironically can now be considered as ‘luxury’ real estate. In comparison to thirty five years ago, when I was first getting to know the area, these old ruins were just left to rot, sad testiments of the chronic fall of small-scale peasant farming. In fact, they were cheapest range of real estate during that time. Now they are mostly gites or second houses or belong to retired foreigners. Much beautified & newly restored, they are expensive articles of real estate.

Of course, there was (& still are) massive efforts by locals to preserve their heritage & their buildings. And the French & European governments have done the work of titians in restoring the chateaux, the churches & other outstanding ‘monuments hstoriques’. Frightening budgets & expenses. France, then as now, boosts some of best builders in the world. ‘Les Compagnons de France’ are quiet simply amazing master builders & master craftsmen.

‘Old Abandoned House’
28 x 38 cm (15 ” x 11″)
© The Artist.

The processes of ruination continue but mostly in the poor, urban, industrial, ‘arrondissements’ blighted by unemployment. Not now here in the picturesque, historic Dordogne countryside, where human endeavour have reversed the processes of nature reclaming architecture.

All part of an economic cycle akin to the cycles of formation & erosion in nature?

‘Vendanges à Monbazillac’
oil on canvas

I was lucky to know the ‘old days’… my wife’s ancestors farm & vineyards in Monbazillac, where I vendanged & worked during my first years of ‘installing’ myself in France, my home, my adoptive country, the country of my (french) wife & children.

I must post a piece of writing I wrote in 2002 about this episode. Another day.

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

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

Watercolour of The Great Sphinx of Giza

DETAIL : ‘The Great Sphinx of Giza’
60 x 77cm
© The Artist.