Paintings of Potatoes

Following on the walnuts, here’s some more brown, earthy still-lives.

‘Gardez vos Oignons, ce sont mes Patates’
Oil on Panel
approx 24 x 23cm (9,5 x 9 inches).
© The Artist.

150 euros via PayPal

‘Semence (Hommage à José Bové)’

Oil on Canvas
76 x 63 cm ( 30 x 25 inches)
© The Artist


‘Semence’ in french is the name for the portion of seed kept for seed for planting next year’s crop.

Hommage à José Bové

José Bové is a radical French ‘paysan’ farmer, who is also a political activist against genetically modified grain. A bit like Wendell Berry in the States, with his oppostition to industrial farming. I painted this as a hommage to him during his campaign against the genetically modified seed given to third world farmers. This new ‘wonder seed’ gives bumper crops but can’t give a semance (outside of the laboratory), & hence the third world paysan must forthwith buy their grain semance. In principal this would be OK for a cash crop suplus ecomony but as these are subsistance farmers, they don’t generate the surplus cash to acquire next year’s semance. Thus they fall into debt & can’t even assure next year’s semance. Some paysans give their organs to pay for this super-grain-no-semance.

Whilst I don’t agree with everything that Bové believes in, I admire him for standing up for his beliefs (as well as miraculously being allowed to enter the USA with thirty kilograms of Roquefort cheese – ha! Best cheese in the world, IMO yum!).

Artists & Ecology # 4

This is one of my “j’accuse” spud paintings.

It’s difficult to accept an overt political discourse to a painting… but as a painter who love snature & want s to be in close contact with her… thus i cannot help but listen to the suffering & abuses that are done to her in the name of money etc. But yes, cameras are a better tool fpor the rough area of politics than poor little painting, about whom few understand & even fewer care about.

I once exhibited this painting in Bergerac in the summer rush of tourist, who are mostly city dwellers & thus are far from farming. I asked one little girl where she thought seeds came from? She replied from packets, which you can buy in shops… City dwellers live far from ‘nature’. She’d never heard of semance. How I love gardening!

BTW – the name of this particularly knobbly new potato is ‘rat’. They taste good too 🙂é

oil on two 8 F canvases – 2 x ( 46x 38 cm)
© The Artist

More ‘j’accuse’ spuds from a winter -bound plein-airist.

Read more artists & ecology in this blog:

Artists & Ecology #1 – Festival Flore Faune
Artists and Ecology #2 – Robert HAINARD – how to ‘blind contour draw’
Artists & Ecology #3 – Constable, Corn & the Destruction of Hedgerows
Artists & Ecology # 4 – Paintings of Potatoes, Semances & Homage à José Bové
Artists & Ecology # 5 -Le Dropt, Castillonnés , a green corridor?
Artists & Ecology # 6 – No Space for Nature in the Countryside? Wendell Berry

Walnuts #2

Oil on Panel
15 x 30cm (approx 6 x 12 inches).
© adam cope

about walnuts…

Walnuts are one of the principal crops of the Dordogne & feature in our regional cuisine. The orchards are very beautiful places. It’s quiet common to see large walnut trees in the middle of fields or near to farms, where they are loved for the nuts they provide.

‘Le Noyer’ (‘The Walnut Tree’)
oil on canvas
87 x 70 cm (Approx 35 x 28 inches)
© adam cope

‘Walnuts & Brambles’
30 x 40 cm (approx 16 x 12 inches)
© adam cope

I’ve been invited to exhibit in the 4eme Festivale de Flore Faune en Périgord.
Details & dates to follow in next post. Here’s what I’m putting in, boxed up along with the bilingual explanation notes. 

Quatre Carte-Postales de Mon Co-Locataire, l’Hibou (fr) = Fur Post Cards of my Room Mate, the Owl. (en)



hibou I

hibou 2
hibou 3
hibou 4

TITRE: Quatre Carte-Postales de mon Co-Locataire, l’Hibou

MEDIA : Véritable sepia (encre des seyches)

DIMENSIONS : quatre carte postales – 10 x 15 cm, encadré dans un seule cadre (environ 40 x 60 cm???)

DATE : 1997

NOTE EXPLICATIF : En 1997, j’ai eu l’opportunité d’être concierge d’un domaine très isolé au milieu de la nature, quelque part dans le Sud Ouest de ‘La France Profonde’. Je pensais que j’étais tout seul comme un naufragé sur une île déserte mais non. Les nuits étaient encore plus bruyantes que les jours! Les grincements, grattements, couinements… l’environnement était vivant avec les bruits d’une faune sauvage. Mais au moment où j’ai commencé à m’habituer aux loirs, souris, capricornes et scarabés… cette nuit là, j’ai entendu un bruit encore plus surprenant. Un soufflement lourd et chaud, tout prés de moi… Il fallait que je trouve la source de ce soufflement & la confronter si nécessaire. Pas de confrontation nécessaire. Là, tout prés, de l’autre côté de la vitre de la fenêtre où j’avais installé mon attirail de dessin, il y avait un hibou, tout jeune & tout petit. C’était incroyable, il restait figé pendant que je le dessinais ‘sur le vif’ (voir HIBOU 1). Cet hiver, pendant les nuits noires comme de l’encre, je l’ai entendu à chaque pas que je faisais. Quelles études et quels parcours (voir HIBOU 2) pour ce jeune hibou avant qu’il puisse prendre son envol? Certaines nuits j’entendais ses plumes qui coupaient l’air & bien entendu, sa chanson mystèrieuse (Voir HIBOU 3). Quleques années plus tard, lors d’un promenade en forêt, j’ai rencontré un autre être, avec un regard qui m’a figé autant que je l’ai figé… (Voir HIBOU 4).


In 1997, I had the opportunity to be the guardian of an estate, which was very isolated in the countryside, somewhere in the South West of ‘La France Profonde.’ I thought that I was all alone, shipwrecked on a desert isllad but no… The nights were even more noisey than the days! The knorings, scratchings, squeakings… the enviroment was alive with the sounds of a savage wildlife. But the moment that I started to get used to the field mice, door mice, deathwatch & stag beetles…. then that night, I heard a noise even more surprising. A heavy, hot breathing, close by me… I had to find the source of this breathing & confront it, if necessary. No confrontation was necessary. There, very close by, on the other side of the window pane where I had set up my drawing kit, was a tiny, small owl. Incredibly, it remained fixed to the spot whilst I drew it from life ( see HIBOU 1). That winter, during the nights black as ink, I heard her with every step I took. What studies & what trails (see HIBOU 2) for this young owl before she could take flight? (see HIBOU 2). On some nights, I heard its feathers cutting the air & of course, her mysterious song (see HIBOU 3). Some years later, whilst walking in a forest, I met another being, which had a look which frooze meas much as I frooze it…. (see HIBOU 4).

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.

‘ The Valley Spirit’
56 x 76 cm – 22 x 30 inches
© The Artist.
Email me for details about buying this painting

The Mind in the Cave
by David Lewis-Williams

“ How, the, did people come to make representational images of animals and so forth out of projected mental imagery? I argue that at a given time, and for social reasons, the projected images of altered states were insufficient and people needed to ‘fix’ their visions. They reached out to their emotionally charged visions & tried to touch them, to hold them in place, perhaps on soft surfaces and with their fingers. They were not inventing images? They were merely touching what was already there.

The first two-dimensional images were thus not two-dimensional representations of three-dimensional things in the material world, as researchers have always assumed. Rather, they were ‘fixed’ mental images. In all probability the makers did not suppose that they ‘stood for’ real animals, any more than the Abelam think that their painted and carved images represent things in the material world. If we could be transported back to the very beginning of the Upper Palaeolithic so that we could compliment a painter on the ‘realism’ of his or her picture, I believe we should have been met with incredulity. ‘ But,’ the painter might have replied, ‘that is not a real bison : you can’t walk around it; and it is too small. That is a “vision”, a “spirit bison”. There is nothing “real” about it. ‘ For the makers, the paintings and engravings were visions, not representations of visions – as indeed is the case for southern African San and North American shamans (chapters 5 & 6). “

Chapter – An Origin of Image Making.
The Mind in the Cave
David Lewis-Williams
Thames & Hudson 2002

This is a brilliant & original book. A genuine master-piece. It’s obviously the product of much research & much reflection.  It is also very closely argued & pays a lot of attention to fine distinctions. It’s for this reason, that quoting a paragragh out of context doesn’t do this book justice. In fact, the habit of transposing stuff out of context is similar to what has been done with Palaeolithic cultural products as well … we see them through the twenty-first century culturally conditioned eyes.


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

’42° Degrees Centigrade’
Oil on Gessoed Card
approx 30 x 40 cm
© The Artist.

What happens to oil paints in sub zero temperatures

In answer to Stew’s question, what happens to oil paints in sub zero temperatures, it’s easiest to divide the question into three parts:
1. What happens to the paint whilst actually painting.
2. Whilst drying.
3. Whilst being kept/hung/stored3. Oil paintings like to be kept in moderate temperature, in daylight & with little humidity. Actually I’ve observed that oil paintings done on MDF board age very well, if properly primed with an oil-based thixotropic primer (acrylic primers tend to absorb & suck back the oil over the years. There is less sign of this with oil based primers in my exprience), as the rigidity of the board doesn’t dilate like the flexibility of canvas (where hence ‘craquelure’). If kept in extreme heat/cold any paint not 100 percent dry underneath the dry exterior crust will move whilst the hard crust won’t, hence another source of craquelure. Again less chance of craquelure on wood panel.
2. When drying, oil paints react with the oxygen to form a hard film called LINOXYN. They seem to like right light to dry to nice bright finish. None of my paintings are left outside to dry in extreme conditions, just properly & gently in moderate conditions.
1. Whilst actually painting. On lovely sunny temperate Dordogne spring days, you can feel the paint going tacky dry whilst painting. It’s the linoxyn forming & it’s a beautiful thing. In more extreme temperatures, this sensation is more difficult to detect.

‘Winter Sunset’

Oil on Panel
30 x 40 cm
© The Artist.

Plein -Air Painting in Freezing Conditions

In subzero temperatures, the paint spreads more like hard butter from the fridge, despite the fact that oil freezes at much lower temperatures than water (watercolour in sub zeros are fun , form all sorts of icicles…which unfreeze when back inside & hence the watercolour actually dissolves & disappears). It’s all the wax & alumina fillers in the paint stiffening up. Just like honey. You have to push the brushes around that much harder & with more physical ‘ummph’. I was quiet pleased with some of the blending behind the status clouds in the above painting, this fine film plays of well against the thick impasto in the soil in the foreground.
In plus thirty degrees centigrade……

42 degrees Centigrade’
© The Artist.

Plein-Air Painting in the Heat

In plus thirty degrees centigrade, there’s evaporation of the turpentine along with the wax going runny. Fun, as the paint feels more like watercolour! All runny & liquid. I did the above oil in 42 degrees centigrade. It was in 1997, I’d just emigrated to France at the same time as a close painter/picture restorer friend of mine (who I used to share studio with in Bristol UK, hence a little of his great knowledge of picture restoration was given to me) emigrated to Australia. I challenged him to a contest – who could paint ‘en plein air’ in the hotest conditions. We hung a thermometre on the easel. The above painting was done in the corn fields in the Dordogne, after the harvest. It gets very hot in the stubble. The farmers thought I was mad & in retrospect, I agree with them. But it was fun & the painting good.
Another way of charting heat whilst painting is how many litres of water. The above was about four litres of water & the sub zero was about a thermos of black tea. The real problem isn’t with the paint but the painter… in sub zeros, one can remain warm but the hands stop moving. Maybe all of this is manly bragging. Like Turner strapped to his mast in a sea-tempest. The essence of plein air painting (plein-air = fresh air or outside) is to catch something of the feeling of ‘being there’ . When this sentiment joins with that of making a picture…… things gel.


Trees – 1995

99 x 48,2 cm (39 x19 inches)
© The Artist.

Absent from posting these two weeks. I did however get this down from the attic, whilst battling with the leaking roof.

Knowing when to stop working on a painting…

There’s a whole backlog of unphotographed paintings up there. I did the odd retouch here & there, just correcting the glaring faults in technical matters. What I was saying in the last post, about when one painting becomes another painting & about stopping applies to retouches as well. Even though I’ve evolved since 1995, I didn’t repaint this painting as that was where I was then.

Where am I now? Battling to find the time to paint. Restoring a house, running painting holidays & two young children under the age of four makes me less time rich than I was ten years ago. Hey-ho, things change.

What hasn’t changed is my desire to paint trees.

Le Rayon, Monbazillac – 1999

‘Le Rayon, Monbazillac – 1999’
40 x 27cm
© The Artist.

Another blast from the past, stripping out the frames (grr, non standard sizes but worth doing as there’s alot of them doing nothing in the storage racks, hélas, well free up the frames & move on hey-ho, hey-ho motivation = move on ).Another winey view of the vines, rain & sunshine this time, view from where I used to live for seven years… right in the epi-centre of the appellation. Nice.

Raincloud over Monbazillac

Raincloud over Monbazillac
33 x 24cm
© The Artist.
Stripping out old fames & replacing with new watercolours for next year’s shows. Here’s an oldie. Have I progressed since 1999? Well I feel more at ease with wet & spontaneous & alla prima watercolours, though I do like the rigour in this one.