Animals Drawings – Ducks & Cockerels

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‘Contre Nous… La Tyrannie’ A5. Sanguine.

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

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

 

 

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‘Wanted #1’ 30 x 30 cm. Sanguine.

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‘Wanted #2’ 30 x30 cm. Sanguine.

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‘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
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‘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.

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‘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:

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‘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.

 

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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”

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

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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

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 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

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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

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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

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‘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.

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

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

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‘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,

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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?

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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.

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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.

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

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‘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 :

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

 

 

Portrait of a Young Boy – Sanguine Drawing

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‘Portrait of a Young Boy’ – Sanguine, 15 x 20 cm approx, © adam cope

The Likeness Part of a Portrait – Watteau

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Jean-Antoine Watteau ‘ Three Studies of a Young Girl Wearing a Hat’
1716 Sanguine & charcoal

To master the capturing the likeness part of a making a portrait, try doing the same head  three times.  Can you maintain the likeness consistently in all three drawings?

I am humbled by Master Watteau. Not only three drawings but three different angles as well. And look how beautifully laid out on the page they are. Almost like cinema… different view points, different angles. Different moments in time.  Ephemeral.

I’ve not succeeded in doing three on one page. Actually I haven’t yet tried , other than drawing the same people over & over again, such as the three views of Peter (on five e sheets of paper) in the previous post or the evolving suite of drawings of my children over the years, watching them closely as they grow.

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Two Studies of the Head and Shoulders of a Little Girl
c. 1716-17; Red, black and white chalks on buff paper, 18.7 x 24.4 cm; Pierpont Morgan Library, New York

It surprises me the speed with which we recognize someone. Even when they’ve aged & morphed some over time  or we when only get a slight glimpse in a funny angle. Bang! We recognise them instantly. What is the mechanism by which see recognize the likeness of someone?

I paint people not because of what they are like, not exactly in spite of what they are like, but how they happen to be. – Lucien Freud

Watteau obviously enjoyed doing this type of ‘two of kind’ or ‘three of a kind’ portrait. Again on one sheet of paper :

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Cute isn’t she  🙂     I also warn anyone of the difficulties of drawing a smile… very difficult . I once sat for a painter friend who wanted to try this . I had to grin &smile for hours… it was very painful to hold a smile, which, after all, is ephemeral. Passing like all feelings & sentiments, shifting states of minds – ‘passing clouds’ my grandmother used to call them.. That portrait looked horrible too.

And so now to finish-off with, here’s some Eighteenth Century Rock’n’Roll :

Watteau, Jean Antoine (1684-1721) - Homem tocando guitarra, 1717-18

'lili' detail conté 2013 © adam cope

‘Portrait of a Young Girl’ Detail Sanguine © adam cope

 

 

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‘Peter 2’ Charcoal A3.
Profile portrait © adam cope

 

 

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‘Peter1’
charcoal A3 © adam cope

 

 

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‘peter 3 – Le grand chapeau’
charcoal © adam cope

 

 

 

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‘Profile in sanguine’
A4 © adam cope

 

 

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‘Man with a Beard in Profile’
pencil A4 © adam cope

 

Was happy to be able to pay attention to the profile in these portraits.

Which point comes the furthest forward?

Is the lip further forward than the bridge of the nose? That sort of thing.

Also, to do several portraits of the same person. Do they resemble each other? Is the resemblance consistant across several drawings?

Life’s a Beach

 
‘Telly Fans 10’  by adam cope – sanguine
 

 
‘Telly Fans 8’  by adam cope – graphite

Intimate Portraits by Artist’s of Their Own Children

I overheard on the web some artists saying that they couldn’t possibly do portraits of their own kids as it was ‘too close.’  I don’t agree. Neither did a lot of artists much more well know & much more further on down the artist’s path than I. Be they Mums or be they Dads. Often that extra intimacy with the model makes for a magic that isn’t found in more run of the mill portraits. Watching one’s own children is one of the treasures of parenting.

Take Augustus John’s portraits of his children for example.  Here’s one of his son Robin (1912). A real boy if ever there was. Glaring firely out of the painting, obiviously not far-off from a tantrum:

 

Another favourite of mine are Matisse’s portraits of his son Pauln (done from memory I seem to remember):

 

Cézanne’s son Paul (how did he get him to sit so so so very still for so so long?):

 

Then there’s Gainsbourgh’s two daughters ( When I was a little boy, I used to stand before this in the National gallery London with my Granny & laugh. A cabbage white, two sisters & a smile & a little hand reaching out) :

 

Rembrandt’s kids… maybe this is a scene from family life :

 

More on Rembrandt’s Drawings of Children – Anticipation & Action and Rembrandt’s Gesture Drawing

 

Gabrielle de St.Aubin :

 

Chardin (wisely skiving off his home-work):

 

Renoir (very diligent boy this):

 

Picasso , of course….many many times over! In some ways, I’m now refinding the greatness of Picasso via his images of his own children… it’s all there : love, play, intimacy, likenesses (consistant over a series & different styles), talent of course… fireworks of course… fun ,as you’d expect from kids 🙂 Here is an image that sings of eternity, of why we parents love our children 🙂 I really didn’t realise that Picasso had done quiet so many paintings of each child, with no thought for commercialism, voyeuristic onlookers,  etc:

 
 
 
 

Maurice Denis, Augustin Rouard et Lucien Jonas.

 

I could go on with this list…

And what about all the old paintings of kids …Do we know if they are the children of the artist or somebody else”q children? Some of the Quattrocento drawings of kids are astounding!

Lastly, here’s  a personal favourite of mine : Winifred Nicholson’s painting of her own two kids.

 

The last word to Kathleen Raine on Winifred Nicholson, (who lived not far from where I trained at Newcastle University UK art school at the same time …I wish I met her!)

… to be with Winifred was to be with a totally committed artist, for whom each day shed its light on a new theme for a painting. The ever-changing light of the seasons, the flowers, the weather, the arrivals and departures of children and grand-children, all these gave her what she called the ‘stories’ of her paintings in which she captured the day, the hour, and ever-fleeting present.  –   Kathleen Raine, quoted by Alice Strang, Winifred Nicholson, National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh, 2003

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A stray thought crosses my mind about actors/actresses & their off-spring, especially those that become actors/actresses in their turn.

‘e, the artist’s daughter’ by adam cope, sanguine.

 

related posts:

Drawing of Mother & Child – attachment theory – Bed Time Story 9

Telly Fans 10

 

funny one this!

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