Gabriel de Saint-Aubin (1724-1780)

When I was in Paris last April, I saw the exhibition of Saint-Aubin at the Louvre. It was in America before it came over to Paris. But now it’s finished touring …. The reason why I thought a little review might be of interest was because this artist was a prolific sketcher as well as being a veritable mixed-media artist. Mixed-media, in his day, had a dirty name, as it it does more or less today as well).

  • – He sketched in the streets of Paris ‘sur la vif’ (on the hoof & from life).

Deux enfants dont l’un tient un cerf-volant…
Deux enfants dont l’un tient un cerf-volant, un rémouleur, un violoneux…
5 avril 1758
Plume et encre noire sur traits à la pierre noire
Musée du Louvre, département des Arts graphiques © RMN / Gérard Blot

” Why does a fine sketch please us more that a fine picture? It is because there is more life in it… Why can a young student, incapable of doing even a mediocre picture, do a marvellous sketch? It is because the sketch is the product of enthusiasm and inspiration, while the picture is the product of labour, patience, lengthy study and consummate experience in art. ” – DIDEROT, 1767.

  • He painted city-life & in this was something of precursor of modernism, which was essentailly urban (see ‘The Painter of Modern Life’ by Baudelaire).

Voltaire’s “Coronation” at the Théâtre Français on March 30, 1778, 1778
Watercolor over pen and ink, brush and gray wash
Musée du Louvre, Département des Arts Graphiques,

“The life of Gabriel was always out of the home; when he was not in the streets, he was in the Café de Vendôme, in which I was also present, in the public milleu of writers & artists discussing, chattering, gossiping about all the philosophic chit-chat that could be squeezed into the tiny margins of his pages of drawings.” – Goncourt Brothers, 1859 (my translation)

  • He wasn’t scared of crowds. Loved a good spectacle.

Armide, Opéra de Quinault et Lully dans l’ancienne salle de l’Opéra
Plume, aquarelle et gouache sur mine de plomb sur papier
H. 30,8 cm ; L. 50 cm
Boston, Museum of Fine Arts © 2007, Museum of Fine Arts

“Mais je le vois accompagné d’une espèce de Dessinateur occupé à griffoner sur les marges d’un livret les plus grands tableaux d’Histoire du Salon” [cf. Vue du Salon, 1765] – Ah! c’est notre ami Croquetel […] Qui est-ce qui ne le connoît pas? Qui est-ce qui ne l’a pas vu, calquant, croquant, dessinant dans les jardins, les salons, les ventes, les places publiques? Il n’étoit pas nécessaire de me dire qu’il étoit ici, je l’aurois pressenti” (Anonyme, Janot au Salon, 1779).

my translation in haste …
” But I saw him accompanied by a type of draughstman who was busy scratching away in the margins of a booklet the greatest paintings of the History of Salon (- Ah , that’s our friend Croquetel (…) who doesn’t know him? Who hasn’t seen him, sketching, drawing in the parks, the salons, the auction-rooms, the public places?

  • He had a fine mastery of tonality, which is essential for a good watercolourist.

Germain-Augustin and Rose de Saint-Aubin, Drawn by Their Uncle, 1766
Brush and gray wash, over black chalk and graphite
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

  • He used pastel, gouache, pencil, watercolour & ink together. al sorts. And in any order. Sometimes dry medii over wet, other times wet over dry.

Les Chaises, 1772
Eau-forte, plume et encre noire, aquarelle H. 10,3 cm ; L. 21,8 cm Paris, musée Carnavalet © Georges Poncet

Inscriptions : à la plume et à l’encre grise sous l’image au milieu : SPECTACLE DES TUILERIE / 1760 ; à gauche : le faste se repose en ces jardins charmants / les circles sont formés autour de chaque belle ; et à droite : nonchalamant assis, milles couples d’amants… / S’y jurent à leur aise une flame eternelle.

L’un des cent mille Croquis de Gabriel Jaque de Saint Aubin, l’un des plus intrepides dessinateurs du Siecle. il Croquoit Sur la marge des Catalogues, les tableaux et desseins qu’on exposoit en vente, S’il aloit a la promenade, Son crayon metoit a contribution les passants. les Seances Academiques n’etoient pour lui qu’un tableau mouvant dont il faisoit une Esquisse. au sermon il dessinoit le predicateur. en un mot, il eut toutte Sa vie, un priapisme de dessein.[Charles-Germain s’approprie la remarque de Greuze] C’est dommage qu’il ait negligé l’ordre et la propreté dans Ses compositions. il est mort en fevrier 1780, âgé de 56 ans.

  • Greuze thought it a shame that he neglected “order” & “cleanliness” . He was not accepted by the estabilshment of the Academies, didn’t win the Prix de Rome etc. & thus was excluded from the most lucrative of art markets.
Sketch after St.Aubin ”Cours Publique au College Royal de Phamarcie’
Adam Cope

  • I did the above sketch after St.Aubin to try & figure out just how he used mixed medii. Normally I personally don’t like the feel of wet over dry ( prefering dry over wet which has dried eg chalk pastels over dried watercolour). St.Aubin smudged a lot & used his fingers. This is a fairly dirty way of working… I soon realised that my fingers were getting dirty& decided to stop, as getting dirty in the Louvre wasn’t really my intention. And whilst I was there there was gaggle of self-important specialists, maybe museum curators or cataloguists… waving their pens about over clipboards…I decided they were better game than St. Aubin, so I did them as dirty a way as mixed medii would allow.

‘Les Specialistes’
Mixed medii Sketch
Adam Cope

  • Eighteenth century Paris was the center of much scientific research. Saint-Aubin’s sketches are amongst the few images of this period that remain. They capture something of the turbulence of period. Here’s a picture of the King in the academy of surgeons.

Louis XVI posant (…) 1774
Pierre noire, aquarelle et gouache, H. 23, 1 cm ; L. 17,4 cm Inscriptions : vers le haut, à droite : M. le comte d’Angiviler présente le mortier au roi Louis… ; en bas à gauche : Gabriel de St Aubin fecit 1774. Paris, musée Carnavalet © Georges Poncet L’histoire contemporaine Catalogue

  • The artist was something of a news reporter. Remember these drawings were made before photography.

L’Incendie de l’Hôtel-Dieu 1772

Pierre noire, encre de Chine, aquarelle et gouache H. 18,1 cm ; L. 24 cm Paris, musée Carnavalet © Georges Poncet

  • He is in his way a precursor of Modernism, as his non-idealising regard on the subjects & events of his own day. This approach has the grain of the nineteenth century Realism aka Manet.

pencil drawing of a buskers palying guitar

Pencil drawing, A5 sketchbook
© The Artist.
“‘A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.’ – Steve Martin”

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

‘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.

Markets in Dordogne – Inflation in France

‘Cantal 43,95 €uros le Kilo’
© The Artist.

Markets in Dordogne

Cold morning in Issigeac marché, everyone dressed up against the chilly wind. Hats ‘de rigor’. This market stall owner dresssed up with a ‘chimney-stack’ type hat & ‘handle bar’ moustache. Smiling. These winter off-season markets are friendly events 🙂

Inflation in France

No doubt his cheese is delicious but it is also very expensive. I’ve seen more expensive however. Up to 70 €uros le kilo in Sarlat in summertime markets. Maybe it wasn’t the humble Cantal, maybe it was gold or something? It is of course a scam foor cheating careless tourist, but it only goes to solidify a bad reputation…

Of course, not all cantal retails at this price. In a supermarket, you’d expect to pay somewhere around 12 euros le kilo, for something good though it doubtless won’t be as good as a hand-made cheese.

In France, now during these difficult economic times (though most of us live better than one hundred years ago), it isn’t just ‘les artistes’ who worry about money.

busker – les artistes de la rue en Dordogne

‘Patrice’ #1
© adam cope

‘Patrice’ #2
© adam cope
don’t he look like bob dylan? sounds just like him too…  hhhhhhahahahahhahahaaaaaaaaaaaa

Hey mister tamborine man

Hey mister tamborine man play a song for me i ain’t going no where & it all seems the same to me…
in the jingle jangle morningggggggggggg……..

cold morning in Issigeac market, the winter wind whistling in the narrow streets. Patrice tells me that he can’t make any money playing his own songs but that the public like to hear a tune that they can instantly ‘click into’, recognise. he plays brillantly & the odd euro goes into the hat.


Second Posting of Two : Marcilhac sur Célé – Pen & Ink – How to Draw Rocks, Cliffs … & Comets??? – Leonardo da Vinci – Stone Lithography – Mythological Images

PART ONE OF THIS TWO-PART POSTING – How to draw rock & cliffs

‘La Vallée de Célé depuis La Croix de Renard’
Ink & Pastel
© The Artist.
OK, just a little recap : in 1996, I was invited to do a month long residency in Marcilhac sur Célé in the Lot, France. To make editions of stone lithographs.I knew a little about printmaking. Etching, incision & silkscreen. But nothing about stone lithography. Done some zinc plate litho at university. So this residency was for me a steep learning curve about stone lithography as well. Stone lithography is a fairly complicated fine art print making technique, not to be confused with mechanised, commercial off-set lithography. The editions were large & the paper sizes big. Sometimes we worked through the night.

‘La Chasse Vegétarienne’
Stone Lithography
Full sheet BFK Rives 180 gms, 65 x 50 cm
Copyright – the artist
Edition sold out
But, me being something of a landscape artist (amongst other things), there was, first of all, the question of ‘oh my God! how do I make an image that lives up to those rocks & cliffs??’ I still feel that. Felt it again very strongly last week at Le Grand Roc, les Eyzies, Dordogne. Hence this review of ‘work related to rock & prehistory.’ Anyway, none of these images have been digitally recorded & nor properly catalogued.

‘Croix de Renard’ – Detail
Ink & Pastel
© The Artist.


Pen & Ink Drawing for Printmaking

Printmaking is wonderful for an artist’s drawing.

And because stone lithography is fundamentally ‘non correctable’, this medium demands a lot of ‘commitment’ in one’s drawing skills (helped my watercolour as well). Pen & ink is another fundamentally non-correctable medium. It is not by any accident that the one of Master artists of lithography , Toulouse Lautrec (another artist from South West of France), was also a master of pen & ink.


smudge & rub sanguine pastel drawing © adam cope

I however wasn’t a master of the Pen’n’Stink. Smudge’n’ Rub… My painterly (in the sense that the art historian Woëfflin intended, blurred ‘lost’ edges, sensual ‘sfumato’) urges at the time was to rub & to scratch & ‘rough it up’. Make a ‘bed’ from which the image, the passion could rise. Not quiet the same as correcting. A certain element of massage involved. I learnt life drawing using charcoal this way. Smudge’n’Rub.

But actually, to be honest & unrhetorical, a good part of this was pure panic. Panic in front of these cliffs & rocks. Panic akin to that which beginners often feel. That feeling of how do I do this??? It’s so difficult!!!

‘Falaise – Marcilhac sur Célé, Lot’ 1996
Ink & watercolour
25 x 32 cm – Papier fait à la main par Monsieur Duchêne
© Tous Droits Reservées
Only when he no longer knows what he is doing, does the painter make good paintings. – Degas
Two Tips for Pen & Ink Drawing:
1. Don’t use coarse paper. The rough terrain jogs the nib & makes it bleed. Smooth hot-pressed is best.
2. Don’t spill the ink (dedicate a small ‘ink well’ pot, rather than a large,aawkard ink bottle). Or if you do spill, try & make use of the ‘happy accident’. Or if you must, then it is even better to spill the ink deliberately. But are you sure to achieve a good result? Risk is risk.

‘Chateau des Anglais, Vallée du Célé’
Ink & Gouache
28 x 38 Vellum fait à la main par Monsieur Duchêne
Tous droits resvervées.

I carried on with my pen & ink campaign all winter long after the residency. My inability became my motivation, my friend & guide if you like. Nib’n’Squid. Sometimes, when you get a feeling for something, it’s good to follow it just to the very end. Or at least to a stage, when you can leave it alone for a bit.

‘Two Trees (Quercus Quercus)’ 1997
30 x 30 cm
Pen & ink
Copyright – the artist
email me to buy a limited edition giclee print of this artwork.


How to draw rocks & cliffs? How to paint them? How to artists prints of them?

‘Falaise aux Corbeaux’ (cliff face with crows)
© Tous Droits Reservées
rocks by leonardo on itheir side
Have you ever looked behind the Mona Lisa & seen those rocks? I’d seen that wild landscape at an impressionable age in the National gallery London, floating dreamlike behind St.Anne.
‘Study of a Tuscan Landscape – Val d’Arno’
Pen & Ink, nib on vellum
Approx 15 x 22 cm
Uffizi Museum

In the Célé, in 1996, I had Leonardo da Vinci’s pen & ink nib drawings in mind. You know the ones in the Windsor Leoni Volume? The pen & inks of geological stratus. As if the earth is moving. Only it’s embrassing to mention a genius in context of my feeble efforts.

‘Study of a Ravine in a Rocky Landscape’
Pen & Ink, nib on vellum
Approx 22 x 15 cm
Windsor Leoni Volume
Leonardo not only manages to give an impression of movement but his enormous powers of organising, understanding & simplifying manages to give his drawings an sense of order as well. Mine were all chaotic & wild. Little organised. There’s so much information, hard geography if you like, in the cliffs. Each blow hole, each crack…
‘Vertigo, Chateau des Anglais’ 1997
Stone Lithography
Full Sheet BFK RIVES 180 gms, 65 x 50 cm
Edition 0f 14
© Tous Droits Reservées

But I confess however, it was precisely the wild untamed nature of the rocks & cliffs that attracted me. Do we always have to do a ‘clean-up’ job on ‘untidy’ nature?

The limestone cliffs & rocks themselves, I felt, are the wierdest, wildest, craziest landscape. I can see in retrospect that it was ME projecting my fantasies into THEM. Or was it? Maybe, maybe. And in this, I am in keeping with the great master painters of Prehistoric Cave Paintings. Even Leonardo stared into mold on the walls & saw wild battles & who knows what else ! 🙂

But when other people stare into them, all they see is chaos that needs to be straightened out.


The Technique of Stone Lithography

In the technique of stone lithography, that the artist draws on the actual stone.. The stone itself is a very faultless, very compact form of limestone. To my knowledge, there’s only two really good quarries , one comes from under the Alps & the other from under the Himalayas. The weight of the mountains presses the stone to a seemless, faultless purity. The feel of the stone is so …. beautiful. The fine grain holds the grease in a way that makes even the smoothest, finest hot pressed paper course in comparison. If you look closely at the detail below, you can see something of the grain of the stone

‘6 Germinal’ – Detail
stone Lithography
© Tous Droits Reservées

So without going into ardious details, the stone ‘plate’ must be developed to hold the image. When the drawing (grease based)/developing (gum arabic)/etching (weak nitric acid) stages are complete, the stone must then washed out with water, it’s humidity maintained & then be inked up…….. The image appears out of the stone! I’d say akin to developing a photo but it’s much quicker than that. It’s with the ‘snap-stick-stick’ of the inked up leather rollers – whhah! behold, the image appears!

If you’d like to learn more about stone lithography in a hands-on way, I recommend you contact Felicity Roma Bowers, who runs stone lithography courses in Bath UK. She really knows stone lithography, has great print-making technique as well makes beautiful artwork herself & has taught widely in the Bath region. Good, sympathetic, qualified teaching there.


Back to the Valley…

All month long the comet HYAKUTAKE hung overhead in the night sky. It was the brightest comet I’d ever seen. Up above the valley. Just sitting there. Night after night. What did it mean?

‘The Valley & The Comet’ 1996
Stone Lithograph
Artists-proof, image non-editioned.
© Tous Droits Reservées

Things started taking on a mythical bent in my mind’s eye. It was the Vernal Equinox. Fossils & faces appearing out of the stone. It wasn’t scary. It wasn’t drug induced. It felt good. Inspiration. The cliffs themselves are reminders that there are other time-scales other than the tic-toc time of ‘seven score years & ten’. By the 22 of march,1996, Hyakutake attained mag 2 when it entered SE Bootes.


‘Hyakutake’ March 22 1996
Stone Lithography
Full Sheet BFK RIVES 180 gms, 65 x 50 cm
Edition 0f 50
© Tous Droits Reservées
150 euros or equivalent in US dollars or GBP sterling
email me to buy a print via Paypal
L’ancien se meurt, le nouveau ne parvient pas à voir le jour, dans ce clair-obscur surgissent les monstres – Gramsci ( ‘ The old is dying & the new has not yet seen the light of day. in the twilight monsters are rearing’ Gramsci)
The next image I editioned was ‘6 Germinal’ , the name of the day when it was made – according to French Revolutionary Calendar. The vernal equinox had passed & spring was making itself felt.

‘6 Germinal’
Stone Lithography
Full Sheet BFK RIVES 180 gms, 65 x 50 cm
Edition 0f 50
© Tous Droits Reservées
150 euros or equivalent in US dollars or GBP sterling
email me to buy a print via Paypal

Some thoughts about ‘Mythological Images’ & Prehistory ….

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

Looking back at the images, especially those with a mythical bent, part of me feels that problem with them is that, in fact, they are not mythological enough. Mythological in the sense that great stories, great images speak to great numbers of people. These artworks don’t (They remain ‘artworks’ but not comfortable enough to hang alongside a Thomas Kincaid). Like all the churning of the bucket of the unconscious by many artists such as Max Ernst or Karel Appel or early Jackson Pollock. These artworks aren’t enough either. Aren’t powerful enough to move great numbers of people (why does Thomas Kincaid move great numbers of people? It must be something to do with comfort?).

Images such as advertising campaigns (yes we live in beautiful times of great luxury), swastiskas (cruel times too) or atomic mushroom clouds are strong enough images to move many. They can motivate & they do motivate. (though I was surprised to see years later that the seed- in-a-fountain motif that I used ‘HYAKUTAKE’ re-emerged in the logo for ‘Sport for All’ UK & the single leaf motif that I used in ‘6 GERMINAL’ again as logo for the Front Nationale, France albeit it’s an oak leaf).

For me, the hand print on the wall of Painted Prehistoric Cave at Pech-Merle in the Valley of the Célé, is a great image of our past. Both as humans & as artists. There is hope in these images. Whatever they meant to the artists &/or shamans (?) of Prehistory that made this image ….

(we don’t even know if these particular underground images were meant for ‘mass’ consumption by all the tribe. Personally I doubt it, or else more traces, foot prints, prehistoric litter and the such, would have been left on the cave floors etc. Maybe we will never know the answer to this. Much of the evidence has disappeared. Lascaux, for example, was trampled underfoot & opened to the public, before a ‘complete closure’ type of conservation & archeological expertise was the norm, as is now the case)

……they now mean something else to us in the twenty-first century. They are iconic of our beginnings.

‘Negative Hand Print & 13 points’
Gravettian Period
hand size is that of an adult
Red iron oxide on cave wall, situated about 500 metres from orginal entrance to cave (if I remember rightly). Blown technique.
Grotte de Peche-Merle, Vallée du Célé, Lot, France

Read more of my musings about Prehistoric Cave Art  in the prehistory category of this blog

Further reading:

Prehistoric Art: The Symbolic Journey of Humankind – Randall White,  ISBN-10: 0810942623

The Mind in the Cave: Consciousness and the Origins of Art – David Lewis-Williams, ISBN-10: 0500284652

Cave Art – Jean Clottes, ISBN-10: 0714857238

First Posting of Two Posts

part two, second post  – Leonardo dea Vinci’s drawings of rocks

‘Postcard from Marcilhac sur Célé’ 1996
15 x 10 cm
Stone Lithography
© The Artist.
Edition sold out.

My Personal Experience of an Artist’ s Residency

In 1996, I won an artist-in-residency to make limited editions of stone lithographs at a print-making studio.  Basically, this association has it’s aims to promote stone lithography & encourage artistic talent. So it chose six artists and invited them for a month long stay & make editions of stone lithography. It was a great experience. A residency (or a painting workshop) should make you work in a different & fresh way. Open one’s ‘artist-self’ up to learning. Re- envigorating. Creating in a new context, with the pleasure of meeting new people. I certainly meet some wonderful people …  great technicians too 🙂

‘Journey of an Egg through the Célé Valley in 31 Days’ 1996

I did some  printmaking at Bristol Printmakers Workshop. Printmaking is my second medium after painting. It was my second subject for my BA hons in 1987. I later taught it for two years at Adult Ed…. though it has now been nine years since I last had a ‘printmaking campaign’. I can feel it calling again. Besides my computer, I have an old copper plate that I care for very much.

 ‘Célé Valley’
13 x18 cm
artists proof
© The Artist.
‘Marcilhac sur Célé’ 1996
32 x 25 cm
Ink, papier Moulin Larroque
© The Artist.
email for price etc.

Marcilhac sur Célé for an artists residency

Marcilhac sur Célé is a wild crazy type of place at the bottom of a three metre limestone cliff. Limestone rock & chaos. It was winter time. It was crazy. Wild landscape. Prehistoric. Staring at rocks & cliffs… same type of problem that I was grappling with last week in the painting Grand Roc, Les Eyzies, Dordogne. Without making any claims to be a geologist, except to say that drawing & painting rocks & cliffs faces makes you stare at them for hours on end… sometimes I imagine maybe sheep sheperds & prehistoric shamans did this also. Certainly fascinating to chat to speleologues & palentologists about earth formations.

‘Les Anglais, Brenques’ 1996
Ink, papier Moulin Larroque
© The Artist.

how to draw rocks & cliffs?

But the question for me as  an artist is how to draw rocks & cliffs? How to paint them? How to printmake images from them?
They have a kind of shock, a resonance, a dsibelief in me….
It was strange to be drawing stone & then, afterwards working on the same family of stone (calcium carbonate, if I remember the chemistry correctly) in the printmaking process. The stone ‘plates’ are very beautiful things in themselves.
‘Croix de Renard, falaise en Quercy’ 1996
© The Artist.

The chalk in the Célé Valley (lot) is more stratfied & ‘crazed’ than the Vézère Valley (Les Eyzies is in the Dordogne), where it seems more compact, older(?). The Céle has more ‘blow holes’ or ‘trous du soufflure’ where air was trapped in the sedimentation process but the Vézère has more erosion from the river over the ages. Both are incredible places.I wanted these drawings to be as precise as possibile so you could use them as rock-climbing maps. Only find & keep those ‘anchor’ points!! Hold on to them as this isn’t an easy subject. Doesn’t conform to clasical landscape painting. Has many suprises….and are easily dismissed by those who do not know what cliff faces really look like.

‘Falaise, Célé Valley, Lot’
28 x 38 cm
ink, papier Moulin Larroque
© The Artist.
Cliff face, Célé Valley, Lot’
ink & gouache, papier Moulin Larroque
© The Artist.


In the next posting, I’ll photograph the other editions & drawings, there’s a whole stack of them

ML & Val – bibi & telly

pencil drawing of bottle feeding bibi

‘ML & Val – bibi & telly’
© The Artist.

bibi (fr) = bottle (en)

telly = something in the living room…

drawing of a head


© Adam Cope