Karst Landscape at the End of Winter


‘Karst Landscape’ unfinished state
Large Oil on Canvas
81 x 65 cm (approx 32 x 26 inches)
© The Artist.Detail

Karst topography is a landscape shaped by the dissolution of a layer or layers of soluble bedrock, usually carbonate rock such as limestone. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karst

[marcilhac1-500.jpg]‘Les Anglais, Brenques’ (Célé Vallée, Lot)
Ink, papier Moulin Larroque
© The Artist.

“Athos had a special affection for limestone – the crushed reef of memory, that living stone, organic history squeezed into massive mountain tombs. As a student, he wrote a paper on the karst fields of Yugoslavia. Limestone that develops slowly under pressure into marble – Athos describing the process made it sound like a spiritual journey. He was rhapsodic about the French Causses and the Pennines in Britain; about “Strata” Smith and Abraham Werner, who, he said, “folded back the skin of time” while surveying canals and mines.
When Athos was seven, his father brought him home fossils from Lyme Regis. When he was twenty-five, he was entranced by Europe’s new sweetheart, a limestone goddess that had risen from the earth fully formed, the ” Willendorf Venus.”
‘Fugitive Pieces’ – a novel by Anne Michaels



The Cliffs in the above painting are near to a spring which was a Celtic temple. Over a thousand carvings have been found to date.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

  • Cliff in the Vezérè Valley – ‘Sous Le Ruth, No.1’
  • How to draw rocks & cliffs part one
  • How to draw rocks & cliffs part two
  • How to draw rocks & cliffs part three
  • How to draw rocks & cliffs part four
  • Rock Formations – John Ruskin – Prehistoric Shelters in the Dordogne
  • Caves in art – Ruskin


Four paintings by Adam Cope starring the Moon


‘Le Noyer’
87 x 70 cm
Oil on Canvas
© The Artist.


73 x 54 cm
Oil on Canvas
© The Artist
‘La Lune Rousse’
30 x 40 cm
oil on panel
© the artist

‘Landorre, Quercy’
6 figure (41 x 33 cm)
oil on panel
© the artist


Coleridge talking about the looking at moon & symbolic language

In looking at objects of Nature while I am thinking, as at yonder moon dim-glimmering through the dewy window-pane, I seem rather to be seeking, as it were asking for, a symbolical language for something within me that already and for ever exists, than observing anything new. – Samuel Taylor Coleridge . April14 1805.



Le Grand Roc, Les Eyzies, Dordogne

‘Le Grand Roc, Les Eyzies’
Oil on Canvas
86,5 x 76 cm ; 34 x 30 inches
Tous Droits Reservés© The Artist.
email me for details about how to buy
What I enjoy about this place is it is a veritiable meeting of two different ‘styles’ of landscape (three actually if you count the busy road & huge tourist parking with it’s pollarded catalpas, info panels & telephone cabins etc. besides the Vézère river). The wild huge cliff above with it’s prehistoric setlement & the genteel nineteenth century plantation below.

The trees are spruces but I don’t know exactly what kind. Sitka spruce maybe? They are very tall, maybe up to 70 metres. I enjoyed their green very much, in the middle of winter, with all the wild bare oaks twisting about. The spruces are certainly amongst the tallest trees in the Dordogne that I know of. They grow up below the cliff, which I guess protects them for wind damage. The huge limestone rears above them vertiginiously. Reels about with the reminder that there is other time scales other the human. Vertigo. Awe. You can see the markings of both Ice Ages if you know what to look for. Incredible place. Incredible cliff face.

If you look closely at the cliff face, you will eventually find a little cabin which shelters the entrance to the ‘grotte’ (cave).

A5 sketchbook

Tous Droits Reservés© 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.


‘Le Grand Roc, Les Eyzies’
Oil on Canvas
86,5 x 76 cm ; 34 x 30 inches
© The Artist.
email me for details about how to buy

wip = work in progress

These great rock faces … huge cliffs …. they mark one ……… working on this slow large painting, over the last few days, staring long at the cliff faces, they impression. I can see the sense in theory that the cave paintings were ‘found’ in the rock faces, that the morphology of the stone inspired my comarade-artists. Rosarch ink blots. Even Leonardo said that staring at moldy stains on a wall stimulates craeivity & visions.
At the base of this cliff was a Magadelian settlement, circa 15 000 – 10 000 Before Present (1950). They must have known the anatomy of their home, been intimate with the guardian that loomed above them, & saw it no doubt in a protective manner. ‘Home’.
This is a fundamentally wild landscape, though there is a genteel 19th century planting of conifers & terraces, almost ‘à la Chinoise’. I like this curious meeting of epochs & styles of landscapes.

’14 Rangs de Cabernet Franc’
Oil on Canvas
25 F (81 x 65 cm, 32 x 26 inches approx)
© The Artist.
’14 Rangs de Cabernet Franc’ – 14 rows of Cabernet Franc, being the name of the type of vine.
This cepage is not the wide spread in the Bergerac Appellation to my knowledge. I once chatted about cabernet franc to Dr.Barriat, the advisory oenologue for the appellation, when we were doing a promotional tour in Belgium together (wine & art), & he said that yes, it was more an ‘old world’ cepage, more like Bordeaux than New South Wales. I remember vendanging the cabernet franc in my uncle-in-law’s vineyards for several seasons. I like the way the grapes hang in this type of vine & how the sarments grow in a very dnse & fertile fashion.

alla prima plein-air painting

This is a one-take, alla prima plein-air piece. It’s a work in progress, as don’t yet know if it’s finished or not – or if it needs some fermenting in the studio. Let it rest a bit, methinks ……. fast slow fast slow slow off on off on, the deeper work happens at it’s own pace.

City in the West -1996/2004

‘City in the West’
Oil on Board
122 x 61 cm
Started in 1996 & finished in 2004
I’m currently trying to fix a seriously leaking roof & so am moving stuff around the house as I get to DIY in various rooms… These pesky portfolios of paperworks from under the spare bed, and now, the studio is being moved about & the larger format oil painting are coming out of deep hibernation. I’ve never photographed this one & in fact only ever exhibited once.
It was meant as a partner to ‘Glovers Island’, which is the same size. A duo, sort of urban vs. pastoral idyll.

‘Glover’s Island’
Oil on board
122 x 62 cm (ex frame)

Slower Paintings

Both are large paintings that were slow to realise. Eight years doesn’t get me noticed in the ‘painting a day’ blog-roll of fame.

What I was saying about fast..slow..fast. They aren’t alla-prima plein-air small formats, nor are they spontaneous one-take watercolours done from direct observation. Rather they were made in the studio from imagination & memory & the odd sketch. They both needed a long ferment & much looking at before I could see what they needed. They are also products of doubt. I was engaged in much thought about the landscape & the functioning of an image in the viewer’s imagination. Lots of stuff which I forget now. Anyway, here they are together, documented, together as I meant them to be.

Last night I was referring back to a biography of Turner, where Turner himself is quoted :

“…it is necessary to mark the greater from the lesser truth: namely the
larger and more liberal idea of nature from the comparatively narrow and
confined; namely that which addresses itself to the imagination from that
which is solely addressed to the Eye. “

Ahh me, these ideal landscapes, do they ever exist outside of our own personal mental maps of where Heaven & where Hell is found?

Anyway, the opposite is easily found on teh internet. Great numbers of  “comparatively narrow and
confined” landscape paintings, where it is thought that just simply copying appearances is all taht is needed to make a good painting. Wrong view, IMO.

my visionary mode

BTW, I’m getting back into my visionary mode as I’m going to take part in a project to celebrate William Blake’s birthday. When the roof is fixed & the studio & office sorted out….


‘Le Cingle de Tremolat’ 2003

‘Le Cingle de Tremolat’
Huile sur Toile
© Adam Cope
Grand Format approx 150 x 100 cm

painting, photography & postcards/plein air.

Carrying on with this rambling musing about painting, photography & postcards/plein air….Describing something of the process by which I arrived at this (popular) oil painting might be of interest… or not (deafening silence on the internet ,thanks for your comments!). Personally I like to see ‘work in progress’ , especially that which follows something of a turning, twisting path, where the end is not forseen, where one feels one’s way, sometimes in the dark.

Yann Arthus-Bertrand & views from the sky

I painted this in the studio one wet, dark, long rainy winter. Not a plein air piece as it’s a view from the sky… couldn’t convince the microlite to stay still long enough! Yann Arthus-Bertrand fever had struck France; even my cheque book from ‘La Poste’ had his photographs of ariel views of landscapes. They frequently resemble ‘cadastres’ (territory maps of plots of land ) rather than pretty postcard views. I painted this from a postcard, an ariel view of this famous meander. But first I seriously ‘doctored’ it in Photoshop before painting it in this large format studio painting.

I’ve always had an uneasy relationship with these little images or ‘cliches’ called postcards, part fascination, part desire to deconstruct, part desire to find the same view in the real world… This wasn’t the first time, as I had already spent another winter painting postcards wayback in the early 1990’s with my ‘Postcards from Babylon’ series of 24 minature oil paintings, the size of tiny postcards 15 X 10 cm.

‘Postcards from Babylon’ 24 miniature-sized ‘postcards’ 10 x 15 cm (with accompanying animation VHS, with thanks to ‘Picture This’ animations, South West Arts Council award) . Oil on Panel. 1992 © adam cope

The colour scheme for ‘Tremolat’ has a night-time feel to it, or maybe a like a shaft of light breaking through in a storm or something – ‘Quand le Diable marit ses filles’ (when the Devil marries his daughters) as they say in these ‘ere parts, referring to a mix of sun, humidity & rain. I did this study from imagination & memory, and in fact even imagination & memory act in the the large painting as well. A sculptor friend of mine remarked on the exaggerated perspective in the river bends & the way the bottom bank of the river is ‘lost’. I did this consciously & deliberately to exaggerate the swelling … during this time my wife was pregnant. Art historians occasionally remark on how the personal & private (I like to keep it private though I do always seem to be making an exhibition of myself) lives of artists effect on their paintings, such as Constable & the death of his wife in his ‘Hadleigh Castle’ for instance.

‘Treamolat, Étude’ Huile sur Toile 33 x 41 cm. 2003. © adam cope

‘Vendanges – Journée Ensoleilée (finished state)’
81 x 44 cm. Oil on canvas .© adam cope

painting of clouds

‘Sur Boisse, Journée Pluvieuse’
25 Figure, 81 x 65 cm, Oil on Canvas. SOLD.

Rainy day paintings, rain down on me, shiny white gleaming reflections under dark clouds overhead, forces beyond our control…