Dordogne river study 1

watercolour dordogne

‘Sunlight Breaking Through’
quarter sheet
28 x 38 cm (approx 15 ” x 11″)
© adam cope

 

white light on black river
broken trees on the island
flooding
the river is high

Concernant la Destruction de la Ripisylve de la Riviére Dropt dans les Cantons de Villeréal, Castillonnès et Eymet.

Le Dropt à St. Quentin (avant la coups de hiver 2011)
oil on canvas
46 x 38 cm
© adam cope

I went downstream to the next commune to paint.Wild wood. Tangle wood. Quiet days dreaming besides the sluggish flow. An intimate space of tangles & branches. You climb inside it & leave the wide & bare fields behind.

These trees will be destroyed in next winter. 2011.

Condemned beings. Death row, the calmness of the alders, ashes & poplars unaware.

 

NO SPACE FOR NATURE IN THE COUNTRYSIDE ?




The Dropt at St.Dizier before & after the cutting in winter 2009

The three deer that lived here are now flushed out & run for their lives around the neighbourhood. Looking for shelter, of which there is precious little. Their homes are steadily being destroyed. “tué habitat, tué animal” (to kill the habit is to kill the animal). It was the same with the nightingales when hedgerows were all grubbed out in 2006. How I miss their song!

BEFORE THE DESTRUCTION OF 2010


‘Berges du Dropt, St.Dizier’
38 x 46 cm
oil on canvas
2006
©adam cope

SAME SPOT (looking downriver) AFTER THE DESTRUCTION OF 2010

POSTSCRIPT 2013

Some of the coppices have grown back, not all. The plot on the left hand side of the river is now entire grubbed out. No more nightingales nor deer. Some regeneration. the canton is now replanting with a budget of 7200 euros… funny old world. The upside is that no flooding has occurred these last years, even if the wild life is dying. I hope teh land can regenerate & reclaiming it’s biodiversity

after we’ve gone

we shall be litter and leaves

– a lyrebird’s song

Harry Laing , ‘Forest Meditations’

 

 

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Legislation now requires a 6 meter grass band either side of the river. This serves to filter the ground water as it flows off the farm land. The Dropt is green with nitrates & slurry from cow farming (domestic grey-water isn’t always properly filtered either). Not much bio-diversity in a grass band in comparison to a riparian zone.

Machines have great power to sculpt the landscape. But what type of landscape are we making?

A square mile field without hedges? How much more public money via agricultural subsidies will be spent on this?

Is this a  river with bio-diversity?

No space for nature in the countryside…. pretty isn’t it?

“Contempt for Small Places, Minor Destructions Add Up” – WENDELL BERRY

A GREEN CORRIDOR

The basic idea of a green corridor is to leave a corridor through which animals can migrate from one safe place to another. Good for nature, good for tourism, good for the soul.

A green corridor = Une trame verte

 

A well preserved riparian strip on a tributary to Lake Erie.

riparian zone – wiki

 

‘L’Esperance’
oil on canvas
©adam cope
Sold

Observe the band of trees each side of the river.

The banks of the river Dordogne are a classified nature reserve: Natura 2000, part of the European government’s legislation to protect nature. The banks of the river Dropt are also classified down river from Allemans sur Dropt, just after Eymet. http://natura2000.ecologie.gouv.fr/sites/FR7200692.html

The basic idea of a green corridor is to leave a corridor through which animals can migrate from one safe place to another. It also has the happy advantage that humans can walk or canoe along these passages. This is very good for tourism, which is the second economic activity of the Dordogne department & IMO, would become more important for the Lot & Garonne if the people in power had a better vision of how they take care of nature.

” Great problems call for many small solutions.” – Wendell Berry

NO SPACE FOR NATURE IN THE COUNTRYSIDE?

OF NATURE RESERVES & SUPERMARKET CONSUMPTION

“In Human culture lies the preservation of wildness.” – Wendell Berry

“The question we must deal with is not whether the domestic and the wild are separate or can be separated; it is how, in the human economy, their indissoluble and necessary connection can be properly maintained.” Wendell Berry For Love of the Land, Sierra magazine, May/June 2002

“The awareness that we are slowly growing into now is that the earthly wildness that we are so complexly dependent upon is at our mercy. It has become, in a sense, our artifact because it can only survive by a human understanding and forbearance that we now must make. The only thing we have to preserve nature with is culture; the only thing we have to preserve wildness with is domesticity.

“To me, this means simply that we are not safe in assuming that we can preserve wildness by making wilderness preserves. Those of us who see that wildness and wilderness need to be preserved are going to have to understand the dependence of these things upon our domestic economy and our domestic behavior. If we do not have an economy capable of valuing in particular terms the durable good of localities and communities, then we are not going to be able to preserve anything. We are going to have to see that, if we want our forests to last, then we must make wood products that last, for our forests are more threatened by shoddy workmanship than by clear-cutting or by fire. Good workmanship–that is, careful, considerate, and loving work–requires us to think considerately of the whole process, natural and cultural, involved in the making of wooden artifacts, because the good worker does not share the industrial contempt for ‘raw material.’ The good worker loves the board before it becomes a table, loves the tree before it yields the board, loves the forest before it gives up the tree. The good worker understands that a badly made artifact is both an insult to its user and a danger to its source. We could say, then, that good forestry begins with the respectful husbanding of the forest that we call stewardship and ends with well-made tables and chairs and houses, just as good agriculture begins with stewardship of the fields and ends with good meals.”
– Exerpt from ‘Home Economics’ by Wendell BERRY

“…. the great causes of agrarianism and conservation, despite local victories, have suffered an accumulation of losses, some of them probably irreparable-while the third side, that of the land-exploiting corporations, has appeared to grow ever richer.” —For Love of the Land by Wendell Berry

Futher Reading:

Natura 2000
European Union Water Framework Directive
A green corridor.
Une trame verte

Wendell Berry

For Love of the Land by Wendell Berry
Contempt for Small Places Minor Destructions Add Up – WENDELL BERRY

Read more in this blog in the artists & ecology categories.

 

Nyiad – Le Dropt à St.Dizier (avant les’
oil on canvas
38 x 46 cm
2010
© adam cope

An ash tree growing out of the middle of an old crack willow, not coppiced for many a year.

Nyiad’
Sketchbook
pen & ink
2010
©adam cope

Wild Wood. Tangle Wood.

Nyiad. Dryiad. River. Tree. Older things than you & I.


This is a condemned being. These trees will be cut down in a week’s time or so.
Death row.

the execution has now been done

Great sadness as all the little pockets of tangle wood are irradiated & ‘cleaned up. “Pas propre”…
developed into agriculture, money, gardens & water supply.

No space for nature in the countryside.

 

Tangle Wood. Wild Wood. Mole & Ratty – if you listen, you can hear the wind in the willows.

 


Some photos from www.valleedudropt.com

Le Dropt à St.Dizier avant les coups de 2010A green corridor.  =  une trame verte”To write a love song, you have to be love” Henry Hensche (Cape Cod School of Art).

‘Berges du Dropt, St.Dizier’
38 x 46 cm
oil on canvas
2006
©adam cope

 Le Dropt, Castillonnès – une trame verte?

The river Dropt downriver from Allemans de Dropt is a Natura 2000 site. http://natura2000.ecologie.gouv.fr/sites/FR7200692.html

Up River, near Castillonnès, things are different. The banks are privately owned but the water board owns the water. Agricultors pay for irrigation water for their crops. Trees drink the water. Tangle wood block the water.

‘Le Dropt à St.Dizier’
quarter sheet
2007
©adam cope

No space for nature in the countryside.

Berges du Dropt 3′ – S.Quentin
Oil on Masonite
30 x 40 cm
2007
©adam cope
No home now for the deers, water rats, moles, rabbits & others who try & find their place in a human landscape that has no place left for pests & those who dare eat crops.

Beautiful tanglewood, wildwood. Not the garden of Le Notre. Versailles. All clipped. Perfect. The hand of man dominating the profusion of nature.

Man vs. Nature?


Over 30 kilometres of river bank cleared. Not cut to the bone, true … but cut to the quick.

 

Brave New World?

coppicing = taillus
Pray that the willows, alders & ashes may regenerate. Wild Wood no more. The hand of man decides who shall be left to attain a wild old age & who shall be ‘restored’.

POST SCRIPT 2013

Happily  most of the willows have regenerated, some of the alders, less of the alders 🙂  However, little scrub & bramble & cover for animals remain. It took me three years wait befoore I could face going down to the river again & see what had become of my friends. When shall I regain the courage to paint this brave new world?  These little wold places where you can breathe & feel close to nature, the nature that man allows to persist… these spots help us live happily.

Fichier:Coppice stool2.JPG

A coppiced alder stool after one year’s growth. photo :wikicommons


Alnus glutinosa (English: Black Alder, European Alder or Common Alder)

“In celtic mythology, Bran the Blessed is associated with the alder tree “The Alder deity is considered to be Bran the Blessed, God of the Underworld. He was also known as the God of Prophecy, Arts, War and Writing. With the size of a giant, it was impossible for Bran to fit in a house or in a boat. According to medieval Christian writings, Bran the Blessed is considered to be the first British man. ” – WIKI

Look at this 300 year old ‘têtard’ or coppiced willow, a survivor, here in St.Dizier. Regeneration?

‘Têtard, Saule, St.Dizier’
Oil on Masonite
30 x 40cm
2006
©adam cope

Futher Reading:

Natura 2000
European Union Water Framework Directive
A green corridor.
Une trame verte

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

UNFINISHED STATE WIP work inprogress
‘Ilots, Pontours, Dordogne – 2’
UNFINISHED STATE
Medium Size Oil on Canvas
70 x 33 cm
©Adam Cope


Actual Size Detail – to give you an idea of how the paint is applied

Palette of muted winter browns in weak sunlight. Bright ultramarine reflections of the sky on still waters. Running rapids broken bluish greys & browny umbers. Ominous deep shadows revealing the black underside of the river. Deep violet angerous depths, quiet capable of killing anyone who has the misfortune to falling in. Local legend has it that a dragon lives in the cliffs at St. Front, the next cliff downstream. I can believe it. Here the river crosses a flat bed of rock but with treacherous chasms of up to three meters deep. Dangerous places. The little islands – ‘îlots’ – are perfect bird sanctuaries.I’m still having difficulties with the top left corner & so reserve the right to work some more, when I can see what is needed. Any suggestions? What do you think?

Painting fast flowing water isn’t easy. Sometimes you have to look at it with the eye of a fisherman, studying the underworld beneath the surface. Other times with the eye of a draughtsman, holding on for dear life to the quarter tones. The long low shadows establish the surface plane, which should be more or less flat. Except in this case, where my eyes were bobbing up & down as the water reared up white crested over the rapids….

TONALITY IN PAINTING

Look at this quarter tone cut out via photoshop to see how tone has to be exact.

Ilôts dans la Dordogne

‘Ilôts, Pontours, Dordogne – 1’
Oil on Canvas
46 x 38 cm
©Adam Cope
Dark waters fast flowing, white water crests over rapids & reed beds. Opaque water, gun metal grey flavoured with mud. Little islands – ‘ilôts’ – with willow, driftwood & pinky orange cornus reeds. Cormorants & swans. Cold, grey day.Here’s a watercolour study of the same spot but in summer when you can see through the waters to the underworld. Note on the left the silhouettes of the cormorants (properly named, they’re ‘shanks’ actually). Painting fast flowing water isn’t easy. Sometimes you have to look at it with the eye of a fisherman, studying the underworld beneath the surface.


‘River Bed at Pontours’
2007
Watercolour
Quarter Imperial Sheet – 28 x 38cm (15 x 11 inches)
©Adam Cope

Another but from the other bank, looking down the river to Lalinde bridge.


‘Reed Beds at Lalinde’
2007
Oil on Panel
72 x 36 cm
© the artist
SOLD

La Dordogne, Bergerac


‘The Dordogne at Begerac’

The boat is ‘un gabare’, a flat bottomed haulage vessel from yesteryear, used for transporting cargo downstream. Now it’s restored, motorised & hauls tourist both up & downstream.
A long sunny summer, with even october smiling with blue skies 🙂
Back from exhibiting at La Maison des Vin de Bergerac. Two weeks of sunshine whilst manning the show & today, it’s raining… so no painting today, and anyway I’m tired after the show & the masterclass workshop.

Outside the large & generous window, the dordogne was smiling & gleaming in the sunlight. It was good to spend two week closely observing how she changed. Current, wind & sunlight. Snaking starlight, black mysteries. The water patterns & movements are certainly a difficulty subject. I reworked this oil during the exhibition. feel that the water is better understood.

‘Bergerac, La Dordogne Marchande’
Oil on Masonite Panel
approx 55 x 42 cm
© adam cope
see the work in progress for this oil
WIP 1
WIP 2
WIP 3
The river is called ‘marchande’ when the high spring current is fast & deep, carrying the marchandise easily downstream to Bordeaux & overseas. The weather conditions were nearly like the middle of the Altantic sea – black with torrential rain, interspered with the very occassional gleaming clear patch. Nothing like this summer just gone – nothing but blue skies!


‘Bergerac Waterfront’
Oil on Masonite Panel
approx 46 x36 cm
© adam cope
sold


‘Bergerac Waterfront’
watercolour
2004
half sheet of arches rough 300gms
© adam cope
sold

There was a full sheet watercolour of the same view that sold before I photographed it. I regret not having a photo.

‘Le Pont de Begerac 7 ‘
Oil on MDF panel
30 x 40cm (16 x 12 inches).
© The Artist.
sold

La Rivière Dordogne à Bergerac – painting of a bridge over a river

The river Dordogne flows fast at the town of Bergerac. The waters swirl & shimmer. Glint & have deep dark thoughts, where the waters hide black depths. The bridge has six arches, only three of which are depicted above. The river is wide & carries a strong current. Down stream less than a kilometre there’s a hydroelectric power station. This acts powerfully on the surface pattern of ripples as the water is sucked in & the flow becomes variable. There’s a quite time, when the turbines are turned off & the surface becomes still. BUT Only for a moment, as winds play up & down the river making ripples & swirls, ever changing. Ever changing.Quiet river from opposite bank :

‘Bergerac Waterfront 1’
Oil on MDF panel
31 x 43 cm (approx 12 x 17 inches), ex frame.
© the artist
available for sale

Same view looking upstream to bridge but positioned lower down waterfront.

‘Bergerac Waterfront 2’
Oil on MDF panel
30 x 40 cm (approx 12 x 16 inches)
© the artist
SOLD

 

Canoes on the Vézère

Canoes on the Vézère
Watercolour.
38 x 46cm (15 x 11 inches).
© The Artist.
450 euros framed
Typical holiday scene from the Dordogne, paddling down stream, under the cliffs, watching the tree-lined banks & groups of laughing holiday makers going by in bright coloured canoes.

My funny & true story … ‘it really DID  happened to me’ a plein-air painter

Funny story: I sometimes paint actually in the water when it’s hot. Sitting up to stomach in running cool water is a nice way of basquing whilst working. Such as the above. Sitting still for hours on end can however attract unwelcome guests…. once whilst painting in the river I was attacked by a lamprey eel! Black & ugly it was & it’s bite gave me quiet serious whelps & burns…
How’s that for an occupational hazard?

Nature in Dordogne – St Brigids Day

‘Lac de la Nette – After St Brigids Day’
2008
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.

‘La Fontaine Guilliérè’

Carrying on with my review of rocks, cliffs & prehistory. Sorry it’s retrospective, but part of how I use this blog is to unfuddle my thinking. Here’s some paintings that I’ve never digitally recorded. Only got a few pre-digital camera badly exposed silver halide photos as records.

‘La Fontaine Guilliérè’
2000
oil on canvas
86 x 48 cm
© The Artist.
sold

‘La Fontaine Guilliérè’ # 7
2000
ink & Watercolour.
39 x 23 cm
© The Artist.
sold

‘La Fontaine Guilliérè’ # 4
2000
ink & Watercolour.
40 x 30 cm
© The Artist.
sold

‘La Fontaine Guilliérè’ # 9
2000
ink & Watercolour.
42 x 21 cm
© The Artist.
sold
By 2000, I’d figured out that you need to use smooth hot-pressed paper for pen & ink with a well-type nib. That’s if you want to dance, rather than make spider-webs.

 

 

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