‘Sunset : 21 December, longest night’
medium size oil on canvas
8 figure (46 x 38 cm; approx 18 x 14 inches)
© adam cope

oil painting of sunset on longest night

Something amazing happened yesterday. The grey skies that have weighed us under this last month parted & THERE WAS LIGHT. It felt like rebirth. Longest night has passed & thankfully now we turn back towards the light.

Winter silhouettes of black (trees) against a colour rich, bright lit sky of clear winter colours, reflections in the river Dordogne.

Black in Painting

You will not be able to see this but the black in the painting is actually dioxazine violet with lamp black laid over the top. Most photography doesn’t register this difference in the low end of the tonal range. My Cannon EOS 400 D certainly can’t; it’s a bad camera with too many digital distortions in how it writes its files. Systematically underexposes & gets the colour wrong. The violet is a fine colourist complement for the yellows in the sky & doesn’t muddy the colours as black does. Like most colorists, I have a somewhat schizophrenic relationship to black. I prefer to ‘ break’ colours with their colourist mixing complement rather than tone down with black, thus arriving at a high key brighter palette, more suited for the luminousity of plein-air. Some call it a ‘chromatic black’ because it’s colour friendly.


Yet black exists in the visual world, as a colour in its own right. It exists in my mind’s eye, in my map of colour… “Black Bible Black”. The marriage of ‘The Dark Partner’ to ‘The Shining Bride’ (white) is essential to a good painting. That’s to say that the black & white relationship is the base of a good watercolour. And even in an oil, the black scaffold gives structure & immediate impact to an image, which is essential in the quick glimpse, short attention span of the web. Some mistakenly call it ‘Notan’

Vines near Boisse

‘Vines near Boisse, Dordogne, France’
Medium Size Oil – Canvas.
51 x 41 cm (20 x 16 inches).
© adam cope

alla prima

This was done in one session, no corrections.. had to paint very quickly as it was my turn to pick the children up

good clouds in this medium size oil painting of vines…

The south west of France is dotted with land-mark hills, on top of which are nearly always either a chateau or a town, or maybe sometimes a windmill. This hill near Issigeac has two windmills, now without their sails.
I’ve painted this hill many times over the last ten years. Here’s an early medium size oil, when the corn is yellowed up & ready for harvest. When I painted the above this week, the farmer was harrowing in preparation to plant his winter barley & the last leaves hanging on the vines, the oaks turning bronze. Already !
‘Boisse, Dordogne’
Medium Size Oil on Canvas
73 x 53 cm


Pruniers, Gascogne

‘Pruniers, Gascogne’

oil on canvas
62,5 x 50 cm (approx 24 3/4 x 19 “/4 inches)
© The Artist.
pruniers (fr) = plum trees (en)
Medium sized oil, which might need an odd retouch here or there.

The Lot & Garonne is well known for its prunes. This orchard stands on the heights of Dropt Valley. On the other bank, the blue distances roll away into Guyenne & Gasconny, the old provinces & principalities of the South West of France.

This is the second year in a row that the plum crops have been bad. The neighbours are beginning to dread next year as three bad years on the trot can really hurt a farmer.Soon they will be grubbing out the prune trees that once made the region famous ‘pruneaux d’agen’.. importing them from argentina now i believe.

Here’s a 30 x 40 of the plum blossom two spring-times ago, during ‘La Lune Rousse’, the red moon.

‘La Lune Rousse’
30 x 40 cm
Oil on Panel
©The Artist

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.



Morning, Vines

‘Morning, Vines’
Oil on Canvas
36 x 48cm
© The Artist.

Wet, rainy here in the Dordogne these last two weeks. Been doing all those jobs that free up time in the summer for teaching, exhibiting & painting. Most importantly, my tax returns.

‘slower paintings’

And finishing off ‘slower paintings’ in the studio such as the above ‘Morning, Vines’ from 2006. How does one date this type of painting? They need a long, slow ‘fermentation’, where they are not looked at & are out of sight for a year or two before their finishing stages become apparent. Should I date it from 2006 or 2008? Their start or their finish? Which cycle of work do they belong to? Now or then?

Plum Blossom _ Ruskin on Imagination

‘Plum Blossom’

Oil on Canvas
61 X 31 cm
© The Artist.

Ruskin on Imagination :

Wholly in proportion to the intensity of feeling which you bring to the subject you have chosen, will be the depth and justice of your perception of its character (16.370) Modern PaintersThere is reciprocal action between the intensity of moral feeling and the power of imagination; for, on the one hand, those who have keenest sympathy are those who look closest and pierce deepest, and hold securest; and on the other, those who have so pierced and seen the melancholy deeps of things are filled with the most intense passion and gentleness of sympathy”(4.257). Modern Painters

The virtue of the Imagination is its reaching, by intuition and intensity of gaze (not by reasoning, but by its authoritative opening and revealing power), a more essential truth than is seen at the surface of things (4.284). Modern Painters


peinture d’une borie en Quercy Blanc

‘Landorre, Quercy Blanc’
Oil on canvas
50 x 61cm (19,7 x 24inches).
© The Artist.
800 €
borie = small stone sheperd”s hut
Quercy  = the old name for the province that lies in & around the lot dept. in sw France
Blanc = white, the area has a lot of very white limestone
A very stoney place. Drystone wall to the right, a ruined drystone barn to the left and a huge mound of stones in the middle, possibly a tumbled down collapsed old sheperd’s hut (‘borie’).

A path through the high grass. Wild scrub oak & acer, furry with lichen.

Nature in Dordogne – St Brigids Day

‘Lac de la Nette – After St Brigids Day’
oil on panel
6 F ( 31 x 44 cm)
© The Artist.
300 € – paypal

Nature in Dordogne

OK, carrying on with a short amble about nature in the Dordogne. This painting was made ‘en plein air’ besides ‘ le lac de la Nette’ which is behind Issigeac. It’s a very beautiful lake of 27 hectacres. Man-made, it serves to feed the Dropt river & provide vital irrigation for agriculture. The ducks & artists like it too. The SW of France is a green & fertile part of the world, not so dry & rocky like the South East of France (Provence). But like most of southern Europe, we suffer from seasonal drought. And so most of the heads of the little streams are dammed up to make feeder reservoirs, so what was once a swampy marshy landscape now tends to be beautiful lakes with large trees going down to the winter water table.

St Brigids Day or Candlemas or Imbolc

The spot in above painting really caught my eye… ‘ghosty’ trees as my son called them, wierdly lit in the evening sun-light. Something strange. The sun is now strong again, now we have passed St Brigids Day (or Candlemas or Imbolc). THE RETURN OF THE LIGHT. To see bare winter trees in springtime in the strong southern light is something still surprising to nothern born eyes, breed on the milky soft light of Hampshire, England. Still, even in England, having passed St.Brigids Day is something important to a plein-air painter, who works in the light of day.
“The serpent will come from the hole
On the brown Day of Bride,
Though there should be three feet of snow
On the flat surface of the ground.” – Scottish Gaelic Proverb
Luckily no three foot of snow in the Dordogne, just snow drops & celandines but hard frosts each morning, somewhat worryingly.

Nature in Dordogne – Homage aux Ronces

‘Les Ronces’
6 F ( 41 x 33 cm)
Oil on Panel
© The Artist.300 € – PayPal

The are still pockets of land unexploitated & ‘in abandon’ ( ‘frisch’) here in the Dordogne. The birds love them, & so too the wild life & the hunters. ‘Les Ronces’ (brambles) grow in profusion in this particular pocket. It was a bright sunny early spring day & I even saw a pale clouded yellow fly by. Personally I love brambles, as they are vigorous & great colonisers. They shelter much fauna & quickly become impenetrable. I realise this runs contrary to the philosophy of ‘improvement’, of maximum rentability & land use, & ‘man over nature’. Gardens, not nature.I myself too have waged war against bramble patches. Burnt them, cut them, slashed them, poisoned them. etc. It’s a joke of mine that the english have strimmers, whilst the rest of the world have manly bush-cutters.

Whilst I painted this, I counted ten different types of birds. Here will no doubt be a great place to listen to nightingales. My village used to have nightingales up until only recently but alot of the hedgerows have been recently cut down & grubbed out. ‘remembrement’. They are now sadly less frequent, though they occasionally sing in my garden, where I now have a bramble patch.

La Gravette, Dordogne

oil painting of cliffs, couze valley , gravette

‘La Maison Trogoldyte’
Oil on Canvas
8 paysage (46 x 33 cm ; 18,2 x 13 inches)
© The Artist.
300 euros.

La Gravette, Dordogne

This is an old stone house built into a cliff face, ‘une maison souterraine’ (literally a subterrian house), which I guess is a better real estate address than ‘une maison troglodyte’ (a troglodyte’s house).It’s the next cliff face on from that of La Gravette in the Couze valley. Périgord (which is more or less the Dordogne) was densely populated in prehistoric times. La Gravette was the archaeological site that gave the name to The Gravettian Period (of human history, which spans some 7000 years, between 28 000 and 21 000 years ago. It was a warm period between the two ice ages, but all the same, life huddled up against this south-west facing rock face must have been very different from modern comfort. Fire was important these hunter-gathers & “remarkably the first fired objects were not pots, but figurines (mostly carnivores) & humans (mostly women)” – Prehistoric Art by Randall White, Pub. Abrams, 2003 .

‘Venus de Monpazier’
Green Steatite carving
discovered 1970

The above is the ‘Venus of Monpazier’ which is winy, small venus, found not far La Gravette. About 25 kilometres away (a day’s walk). In an open ploughed field. I talked to the man who discovered her. Apparently, he was just out walking. Upon finding her, he fell in love with ‘archeology’ & history. You can see a replica of her in L’Atelier des Bastides, Monpazier.
You can read more about her in Jean Clottes – Voyage en Préhistoire. Editeur: La Maison des Roches.

Other great achievements of this period was much body ornamentation & great ingenuity in making flint tools (I once found a solutrean spearhead lying on the ground, on the surface, right besides my foot, once whilst out painting. As it wasn’t from a acheological layer & had come to o the surface, it didn’t have much value as evidence).

What I like about many of the prehistoric sites in Périgord is that they are still inhabited to this day. 28 000 years of continued settlement. Some changes like the chickens picking away in the foreground & the pruning of the fruit trees (The Gravettian was pre-agriculture) , the odd bit of metal (stone age not metal age), a square window, some faced stone (though I bet they spread hides down from the cliff face in the same manner as this roof), but other than that, not much change. Sometimes, whilst painting quietly in these places, I imagine I can feel the continuity. Maybe there’s a need to reconnect with our sources in our modern, contemporary period, when there is much anxiety about man’s impact on the planet?


‘L’Abri Prehistorique 2″ 2001
Copyright- the artist.