Tree Climbing for Boys : Down

'Tree Climbing for Boys : Down' pen & ink © Adam Cope

‘Tree Climbing for Boys : Down’
pen & ink
© Adam Cope


pen & ink wash drawing

3 of 3 illustrations for a book.

Tree Climbing for Boys: In

Tree Climbing for Boys: In - Pen & Ink © Adam Cope

‘Tree Climbing for Boys: In’
Pen & Ink wash
© Adam Cope

2 of 3 illustrations for a book

Tree Climbing for Boys 1

'UP' 'Tree Climbing for Boys 1 ' ink 21 x 30cm ©adam cope

‘Tree Climbing for Boys – UP ‘
ink brush watercolour
21 x 30cm
©adam cope

One of three illustrations for a story about a boy climbing a tree.
‘Study of a Tuscan Landscape – Val d’Arno’
Pen & Ink, nib on vellum
Approx 15 x 22 cm
Uffizi Museum

‘Study of a Ravine in a Rocky Landscape’
Pen & Ink, nib on vellum
Approx 22 x 15 cm
Windsor Leoni Volume

Been looking again at Leonardo’s pen & inks. I wrote about them here:

I enjoyed reading about them here:

Vasari recorded Leonardo as, “frequently occupied in the preparation of plans to remove mountains or to pierce them with tunnels from plain to plain.”


‘Croix de Renard’ – Detail
Ink & Pastel
© adam cope
I’m not currently planning on moving any mountains, other than maybe a little bit of pottering about in the spring garden;-) And maybe doing some more doodles of rocky landscapes….

‘Deux Bicorne – Bis’
Large oil on canvas

look again at this leonardo oil painting of rocks in one of his backgrounds – wow!


rocks by leonardo on itheir side

rocks by leonardo
on itheir side’
don’t bump your head as you go through!



Croquis des Familles en Vacances à Sarlat

‘Englishman & Son in Sarlat, 1st July 2009’
Pen & Ink
15 x21 cm (approx 6 x 8,2 nches).
© Adam Cope
proud of this one, on th enail… yes! He was so tall, like a leopard, a sprinter, an athelete, his  baby on tow behind him… 10 minute sketch in the crowds, on the pavement…

Detail – Maclaren Pram, a great British invention.

Sketches of Families on Holiday (in the middle of a crowd in Sarlat)

Out of the passing current of crowds & crowds of people in Sarlat, my eye picked out the families on holiday. Having two young children myself, I enjoy watching families moving about on holiday. Something of a spectacle in itself. All permutations : dad & mum, mum & baby, dad & adolescent, etc. The gestures of care amongst themselves are, for me …. positive images of humanity. (we need positive images of humanity now more than ever). These little gestures of care create the ‘family bubble’ inside which…. I wish that they may always be safe & happy.These simple gestures also work against the alienation that Guy DEBORD called “des conditions d’isolement des « foules solitaires »” LA SOCIETÉ DU SPECTACLE ( the conditions of isolation of ‘solitary crowds’).

They are all watching the spectacles.

some pen & inks  @  24 x 32 cm:

Mere et Bébé

Mere et Fille

Pere, Mere et Bébé ( i nearly got slappe dofr this one! enjoyed the irony)

Pere et Bébé


Pere et Fils Adolescent

Dessins et Encres de Sarlat par Nuit

dessins (fr) = drawings (en)

encres (fr) = inks(en)

Sarlat is a town near me in south west france where i exhibit

nuit (fr) = night(en)

Some pen, brush & inks from my 15 x 23 cm sketchbook.

Night time in the town of Sarlat, on holiday

…. we enter another world. The crowds, all humanity on the pavements, the heat, the spectacles, the sexuality, the darks & the bright pools of electric illuminations. Holiday time. Bel nuit d’été à Sarlat.

The crowds watching a spectacle:

More pen, brush & ink ‘wet sketching’

Sketches of a Wedding

A5 sketchbook
pencil’Sur la Vif’ or ‘On the Hoof’

Sketches of a Wedding

ink brush pen

A lovely wedding in the vines. Lots of cameras, so here’s one of yours truly. Note the champagne.

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).

overhang watercolour

‘Overhanging Rockface in the Dordogne’
2001 – 2008
Watercolour & Ink.
30 x 40cm (15 x 11 inches).
© The Artist.


pen & ink of ooverhanging rock

SKETCH : ‘Overhanging Rockface in the Dordogne’
pen & ink
doublespread A5 sketchbook
© The Artist.


a prehistoric shelter…

Crazy cliff faces that I wrote about in ‘how-to-draw-rocks’ & elsewhere… click on the rock category to see them all. The above watercolour portrays a prehistoric shelter. These ancient places for me feel charged with … our beginnings as a species. What was once there & what might be there one day.Note the bluish greenish tint. There’s a type mold that forms on the never-sunny parts. Copper sulphate? You can watch the cliffs light up in the sunlight & grow blue in the shade. I’m assured it’s not purely optical but chemical too… Always walk on the sunny side of the street!I had an interesting conversation with a rock climber yesterday. Funny how one can talk for along time about geology & rock faces. I suppose most people don’t spend alot of time looking closely at things that don’t interest them. Hence they won’t recognise them when they are portrayed in painting. Rocks & cliffs interest me, which is great as the Dordogne & the Lot has some fantastic limestone & limonite geology.

John Ruskin

John Ruskin (1819–1900) was another artist who was mad about rocks. He was a lake-lander (the Lake District in the UK. I used to walk & watercolour there whilst at Newcastle University :-). He also an in-depth student of geology & amassed a comprehensive collection of rocks & minerals.

If only the Geologists would let me alone, I could do very well, but those dreadful Hammers! I hear the clink of them at the end of every cadence of Bible verses and on the other side, these unhappy, blinking Puseyisms; men trying to do right and losing their very humanity – Ruskin

He paid very great attention to detail, lovingly, as if each ripple & blow hole was significative of ‘The Hand of God’. So much so that he was criticised by an Parisienne asethete for ‘having the eyes of a bird’ (ie he saw only details & not wholes). But map making & exactitude, for me, is an important element of respecting ‘the spirit of the place’. Even the wildest flights of imagination are more convincingly portrayed in painting when yoked with a real & close observation of ‘the facts’.

Look at this great pen & ink from the Ashmolean, Oxford. I’ve not seen this one ‘in the flesh’ (wish that Wiki would note it’s dimensions! decontextualised internet…). A monochrome of great power. At a guess I would say at least two sittings, maybe of about tree hours each. Maybe more. One of the many things I adamire about Ruskin’s painting is that you rarely feel rushed. He would just leave the piece unfinished, incomplete rather than rush or ‘fill-in’.


John Ruskin (1819-1900)
Study of Gneiss Rock, Glenfinlas, 1853
Pen and ink and wash with Chinese ink on paper
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, England.
Photo credit : wiki commons
It’s in this kind of vein that I painted my ‘Spirit of the Valley’.
oil painting of spirit of the valley

‘L’Esprit de la Vallée’
Oil. 1997. © adam cope

Font de Gaume, Dordogne

‘Font de Gaume’ 2004
Ink & Watercolour.
double spread A5 sketchbook
© The Artist.
Ne jamais dire “Fontaine, je ne boirai pas de ton eau” – Périgordien Populaire
Font de Gaume is probably the most famous prehistoric painted ‘grotte’ (cave) in Les Eyzies (go abit further up the Vezérè & you arrive at Lascaux).It’s geography is very much like that of the rest of Les Eyzies, including that of Le Grand Roc. Hard limestone that has been eroded by the river to form wierd overhanging ‘lips’. The different levels of the river over the various ice ages etc has sculpted the characteristic ‘s’ type curves (very Van Gogh).

Detail :note I’m using a roller ball pen by 2004 & saving the ‘spider-webs’ of nib for the really important bits.

If you follow the ‘crack’ or the stain down you arrive at the level at which there was once an underground river, which formed an underground gallery going back quiet so way through the rock but having deposited a fair bit of soil etc upon it’s retreat. It is now dry.

Follow the crack down & go up and into gallery…

Photo of Font de Gaume in the 1920’s

I love that ladder! Not at all like the modern day museum trappings of book shop, postcards & disgruntled ticket salespersons.

Go into the labyrinth to meet your monster…

Polychrome Partiel Art, late Magdalénien,

….. who is the crowning glory of late Prehistoric Cave Art (whoops, sorry we aren’t allowed to call it ‘art’ any more according to some archeologists 😉 It’s some 15 000 years on from the ‘western european creative explosion’ of Chauvet…

…isn’t he just the most finest of beasts!

History of Font de Gaume

Here’s what wikipedia has to say:

Prehistoric people living in the Dordogne Valley first settled in the mouth of Font de Gaume around 25,000 BC. The cave mouth was inhabited at least sporadically for the next several thousand years. However, after the original prehistoric inhabitants left, the cave was forgotten until the nineteenth century when local people again began to visit the cave.

In 1901, Denis Peyrony, a school teacher from Les Eyzies, discovered the paintings inside Font de Gaume. The paintings date from around 17000 BC, during the Magdalénien period. However, many of the cave’s paintings were discovered much later. The cave’s most famous painting, a frieze of five bison was discovered accidentally in 1966 while scientists were cleaning the cave.


Adam says : Little bit light about Perony. He was a great Perigordien scholar of Prehistory, as well as something of a classifer & conservatist. His survey of 1949 is generally taken to be the middle-of-the-century inventory of sites. No doubt he knew L’Abbé de Gorgue of le Chateau de Lanquais, who was another passionate Perigordien scholar of Prehistory, & a Baron as well. Remember this is the same generation as Lord Howard & the Tutankhamun discoveries in the 1920’s.