Posted on April 27, 2014
A romance, a dream, a fantasy. These cliffs in Quercy Périgord, where the people of the Ice Age once lived. They mark my mental landscape, as they must have also made a deep impression on the minds of the hunter-gatherers.
Romanticism attempts an affective fusion between person & her enviroment. Science attempts to practice detached objective observation. The person outside of her enviroment. The slow methodical sifting through of data & remains… But can we ever truly take off the lens of our own vision that shapes that which we think we are clearly seeing… Also, can we we ever see as these hunter-gatherers saw? What would they have made of my notions & prejudices? As an artist, not as an archeologist with their attempts at objectivity & science. Prehistoric art speaks to me 30 000 years later. Not as they intended it to communicate … But should we delegate all of our human past uniquely to be the domain of science? ‘We will never truly know what they meant’ as the guide drones on at every visit… But human history is a history of evolution, where one understanding evolves into another. Intentionally or not.
The meaning of things aren’t stable. Anything can mean almost anything – Jasper Johns
However, preamble aside… one thing is certain : Birds live in cracks & holes of cliffs , than as of now. OK Doubtless not the same species. No swifts in the Ice Age? Crows maybe. Owls yes. Buzzards probably not.
But the vertigo of looking up & seeing the birds swirling around. Then as now.
I also tried to draw the aviform as part of the cliff, as part of the geology, as growing out from the rock formation itself. As a motif that repeats itself , morphing into various transpositions:
There’s a good research paper about ‘abstract’ geometric symbols & signs in prehistoric rock art by Genevieve von Petzinger:
While animal depictions are a common theme in most known regions where rock art is present, the choice of what to portray seems to be contextual, with image-makers generally choosing contemporary fauna from their local environment (Rice and Paterson 1986; Clottes 1996).
AVIFORM (avi = bird) : Less than 10% of sites worldwide – 30,000 & 13,000 years ago
(aviforms) are also concentrated in the later half of the Ice Age (almost entirely from 22,000 years onwards), strongly suggesting that this may have been a local invention/innovation, rather than having been something that was brought with the first humans who moved to this continent.
Aviforms are also sometimes named ‘Signes du Placard’ , after another painted cave in SW France : Grotte de Placard in the Charente, following the tradition of naming prehistory after eponymous sites, the geographic place where the element of prehistory wa s first found. Hence cro-magnon, Mousterian, Gravettian, etc. (Most of which are found in France by French archeologists & where accompanied by proud nationalist rhetoric of ‘Les Premiers Francais’ …) Apparently most aviform signs in prehistoric rock art are concentrated around South West France, with a particularly high density of repetition around the Célé valley in the Lot.
In the nearby painted cave of Pech Merle, not far from the cliff in my above drawing, there’s the famous ‘wounded man’. A conjugaison of aviform sign & a figurative depiction i.e. the sign doesn’t exist on its own (but we don’t know if this is intentional or not, other than comparing to other groupings of drawings in the cave, where again sign & figuration co-exist in the same grouping). The aviform sign is attached to a drawing of a man with lines coming out from his body. Some have interpreted these as spears. Others such as Professor Lewis-Williams reads them as suggestive of as symbolic depictions of the physical cramps that shamans sometimes undergo before entering a trance state.
A stray thought : why not wings? The dream of flight occurs to most children & lucid dreamers… a prehistoric superman power cape? Prehistory is full of depictions of humans dressing up as other animals.
Posted on April 8, 2014
Stone lithograph of a cliff – “the elephant”
We, mankind, arose amidst the wandering of the ice and marched with it. We are in some sense shaped by it, as it has shaped the stones. Perhaps our very fondness for the building of stone alignments, dolmens, and pyramids reveals unconsciously an ancient heritage from the ice itself, the earth shaper.
– Loren Eisley
Mountains do not lack the characteristic of mountains. Therefore they always abide in ease and always walk. Examine in detail the characteristic of the mountains’ walking. – Dogen: Mountains and Waters Sutra
Mountains’ walking is just like human walking. Accordingly, do not doubt mountains’ walking even though it does not look the same as human walking. You should penetrate these words. If you doubt mountains’ walking, you do not know your own walking. – Dogen: Mountains and Waters Sutra
I came to realize clearly that mind is no other than mountains and rivers and the great wide Earth, the sun and the moon and the stars. – Dogen: Mountains and Waters Sutra
Posted on March 22, 2014
Interesting to see the same landscape view in three different mediums : drawing, watercolour & stone lithography.
Different material, different effect.
Each medium is good for certain effects. In the above three images,, watercolour is delicate colours & brushmarks, conté is so immediate & so fresh, lithography is good for a design, a powerful composition.
What does ‘Medium’ Mean in Fine Art Practice?
See the world through art materials…
The creative process lies not in imitating, but in paralleling nature – translating the impulse received from nature into the medium of expression, thus vitalizing this medium. The picture should be alive, the statue should be alive, and every work of art should be alive. – Hans Hofmann
I often work in both watercolour & oil painting. I enjoy the translation from one medium to another. Same view, different vision.
In this case, the watercolour came after the oil, and so, I consider it to be a lot more than a study for the oil painting. Some historians tend to classify drawings & watercolours as preliminary studies for a more substantial, more resolved painting. Here for example is one of my tonal studies for a painting , but it is fresh enough, coherant enough to stand alone :
Posted on February 28, 2014
Posted on June 3, 2011
Oil on Canvas
86,5 x 76 cm (approx 34 x 30 inches).
© Adam Cope
a little aside about small & large paintings
This is a large oil painting & not a small oil painting. ie one dimension is larger than 81 cm or
32 inches. Have you noticed how large oil paintings look kind of far away or difficult to see in small sized jpg’s on the internet ? Wilst small paintings tend to look close up & gain in imapct on the internet @ 500 pixels largest dimension… so see above image for a detail which isn’t life-size but it gives you a better feel.
Posted on March 29, 2010
large oil painting…
See the work in progress & some commentary in the post : Karst Landscape at the End of Winter (in the category rocks or WIP)
“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
- 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
- Cliff in the Vezérè Valley – ‘Sous Le Ruth, No.1’
- Rock Formations – John Ruskin – Prehistoric Shelters in the Dordogne
- Caves in art – Ruskin
Posted on March 28, 2010
‘Study of a Tuscan Landscape – Val d’Arno’
Pen & Ink, nib on vellum
Approx 15 x 22 cm
LEONARDO DA VINCI
‘Study of a Ravine in a Rocky Landscape’
Pen & Ink, nib on vellum
Approx 22 x 15 cm
Windsor Leoni Volume
Vasari recorded Leonardo as, “frequently occupied in the preparation of plans to remove mountains or to pierce them with tunnels from plain to plain.”
Ink & Pastel
© adam cope
‘Deux Bicorne – Bis’
Large oil on canvas
look again at this leonardo oil painting of rocks in one of his backgrounds – wow!
Posted on April 16, 2009
“Paesina – ‘landscape’ – stone comes from Tuscany, Italy. A silty limestone formed during the Cretaceous period, it is marked by a 3D network of fine cracks through which groundwater diffuses bringing oxides of various minerals and creating the intricate, landscape-like colours and patterns”Photograph: Earth Images Ltd
Interesting on-line exhibition of Earth Images Ltd at Guardian.co.uk
Rocks and minerals – up close and personal
Posted on March 28, 2009
Posted on March 20, 2009
Large Oil on Canvas
81 x 65 cm (approx 32 x 26 inches)
© The Artist.Detail
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