Don’t Fall Off!

falaise- cele - lot - cliff & blue sky - watercolour

‘Cliff in the Célé Valley.’ Watercolour. 28 x38 cm © Adam Cope

some watercolours from last autumn in the Célé valley. Vertigo?

Watercolour of Cliff in the Célé Valley

‘Cliff, Célé – Jean Blanc’ Watercolour 28 x 38 cm © Adam Cope


Watercolor of a cliff blue sky

‘Blue Sky, Cliff #2’ Watercolor 28 x 38 cm © Adam Cope

Impossible blue sky but true…  yes true deep blue with only free wheeling birds 🙂 The blue sky that envelops us all… that evokes a sense of freedom in me 🙂


Sunset 3 Jan 2009
Oil on MDF panel
30 x 40cm (approx 12 x 16 inches).
© The Artist.

Painting of the winter sun hanging a in clear sky

Sometimes the sun is a round ball in the sky, shining weakly, pale against a smokey sky. Other times it’s too bright to look at, blindingly bright, at which times you can’t see it as a round ball as your retina is blasted out by the photons of luminousity. TIP : don’t stare at the sun, but keep it just out of vision by keeping it hidden behind the brim of your hat.
Sunset 21 Dec 2008
Oil on Canvas
38 x 48 cm
© the artist
for sale via PayPal

Plein-Air Paintings of the Sun by Monet, Turner & Levitan

Claude Monet
‘Impression Sunrise’
48 x 63 cm – Musee Marmottan, Paris
(photo :Wiki Commons)

Claude Monet’s Impression Sunrise Claude Monet’s Impression Sunrise has a rather natty little button where you can strip the colour (hue in PS) out of the entire painting (note that the green tints in Monet’s orginal painting have already been stripped out on the repro at WebExhibts) & another button where you can diminsh the tonality of only the sun & not the sky. (select colour >levels in PS).
“The sun is set against the dawn, the orange color against the gray and the vibrant force of the sun against its motionless surroundings. To many spectators, the sun undulates or pulsates slightly. Why is this so? The sun is nearly the same luminance as the grayish clouds. Notice how the sun nearly disappears if you remove the color. (Click painting to reset.) This lack of contrast explains the painting’s eerie quality. “

Adam says : OK that’s true but this sensation is heightened by the fact that red is the one colour that really ‘disappears’ when you strip the chroma out of it. Red is tonally ‘weak’, somewhere around a lowish mid-tone. Vagrant, the tonal value red is difficult to judge as the fire’ in it’s chroma is so vibrant. Try the above exercise with a yellow sun & it’s less startling. Anyone tried it with a green sun? 😉

JMW Turner – The Scarlet Sunset

JMW Turner
The Scarlet Sunset
circa 1830-40
Watercolour and gouache on paper
134 x 189 mm
The Turner Collection. Tate Britain

Here’s the above painting desaturated in Photoshop via greycale (does anyone know why this should give a different result than desaturation via contrast (diminished to zero)?). The sun doesn’t disappear into the sky. This makes sense as yellow suns happen before red suns in a sun set & thus are higher in the sky & brighter than red suns … Maybe Turner’s yellow sun on red sky is an impossibilty, a construct of the Master of Spectacular Metrology? But then the sky is sometimes so spectacular that I have difficulty beleiving it myself, and don’t expect anybody looking at a painting to belive it either Actaully there’s fault here: most peple haven’t spent as much  ime observing the skies as I have… this tends to be a countryside things, and most people live in urban settings, where the sky is difficult to see well & unobstructed. Another example of the human race becoming removed from the non human natural enviroment..
Or , more simply, Turner found a source of very good & very opaque cadmium yellow gouache whilst on the Continent & wanted to use it to fullest effect? 😉
An example of paint what you want & not what you see?

Issak Levitan – Haystacks. Twilight.

Issak Levitan
Haystacks. Twilight.
Oil on cardboard.
The Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia.
There’s another Levitan sunset which I can’t find on the web. It’s a weak red sun against a steely blue sky over a marsh. I don’t trust the colour repro in the above photo but I like the how the sun is just about to sink below the the bar of stratus clouds & hence is just about to loose it’s perfect roundness.

Always learning…


Sunset 2 Jan

‘Sunset 2-1-2009’
Oil on Panel
30 x 40m (approx 12 x 16 inches).
© The Artist.
150 € via Paypal

‘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


WIP : Winter Sunset

BTW, WIP = Work in Progress

‘Winter Sunset’ finished state
30 x 40 cm
oil on panel
© The Artist.
150 € -possibily of taking in sterling or US dollars via Paypal

unfinished state
Painting in sub-zero temperatures a month ago…finished off in studio, the gradients of light were wrong, there wasn’t such an abrupt change from yellow to pink but rather slipped through orange to pink. difficult to follow these rapid changes whilst froz & anyway the trees where so stark & black against the light, they needed do ‘afterwards’, after the sky, sequently more like a watercolour than an oil.

Over the Hills

‘Over the Hills’
Oil on Panel
41 x 33 cm
copyright – the Artist

over the hills…… and far away.

alla prima , a cool paintingafter the hear, passion & gutsy fight of the yesterday’s paint

Tuque Lagarde – Vignes

‘Tuque Lagarde – Vignes’
oil on panel
20 x 50 cm
150 euros
painted this little hill in the Cahors many times, lost count, and so have stopped numbering them (though I would like to – about thirty times I reckon). here’s one from last summer – a sunset. like the blue twinkle in it.

‘Tuque Lagarde – sunset’
Oil on Panel
38 x 19 cm


Le Rayon, Monbazillac – 1999

‘Le Rayon, Monbazillac – 1999’
40 x 27cm
© The Artist.

Another blast from the past, stripping out the frames (grr, non standard sizes but worth doing as there’s alot of them doing nothing in the storage racks, hélas, well free up the frames & move on hey-ho, hey-ho motivation = move on ).Another winey view of the vines, rain & sunshine this time, view from where I used to live for seven years… right in the epi-centre of the appellation. Nice.

Raincloud over Monbazillac

Raincloud over Monbazillac
33 x 24cm
© The Artist.
Stripping out old fames & replacing with new watercolours for next year’s shows. Here’s an oldie. Have I progressed since 1999? Well I feel more at ease with wet & spontaneous & alla prima watercolours, though I do like the rigour in this one.