‘Le Cabanon’
Finished state 2008 – 2009
Large Size Oil on canvas
72 x 54cm (approx 28,5 x 21 inches).
© The Artist.
For those who aren’t familar with wine growing, the blue amongst the vines are posts. The paint is thick & impasto on this medium-sized oil. Here’s the study from a few posts ago :

Le Cabanon’
30 x 40 cm
oil on panel
©the artist

This large sized studio painting arrived at completion, after a necessary dormant phase with it’s back against the studio wall for six months or so. Out of sight, out of mind. Slow paintings, with many revisions. Not alla-prima. Not fast painting. My fresh eyes decided that the cabanon needed a complement, a companion, that it was too bare & too solitary. So I added these two popular trees. They are actually up there on the hill but not so close to the cabanon, being further away arond the corner & out of eye sight. I moved them. I added them. I ‘recomposed’ the landscape.It felt a bit naughty… as if I were not telling the ‘truth’.

Unfinished state – poor photo (bad painting as well;-)

I don’t find it that difficult to substract elements whilst painting alla-prima en plein-air. Most people do this from the start of their career, editing out telegraph poles & street furniture etc. I frequently & consciously add pictural elements such as heightening the colours as needed or putting in an accent brush-stroke here or there as the painting demands. But actually moving the physical, real elements of a landscape around, such as placing a house here where it wasn’t , lifting up & planting a tree here where it wasn’t… recomposing the landscape to make the painting work. Pretty God-like, no?

Richard Schmid has this to say about recomposition :

Q. I have heard someone quote you as saying that you never add anything to a painting that is not in your subject, nor subtract anything. I find it difficult to believe you do not use individual expression in your work. Is that quote really true?
A. No. What I did say was this: When I am painting strictly to learn, I try to capture exactly what I see, neither adding nor subtracting things or changing colors, values, drawing, etc.

But—and this is a big BUT–when I paint to create a work of art (self-expression), ANYTHING goes. I am the creator and I am in charge. I often manipulate my subject freely to produce the image I want.

I also said that Nature is perfect and does not need changing. There can be no doubt about that. However, nature itself is constantly being changed by its own natural forces, and since I am a part of nature I can choose to paint it the way I wish to. Nature couldn’t care less, it will remain perfect.

The bottom line for me is that my result must look absolutely authentic. I want my viewer to accept my picture as real.




This is the 301st posting.



The New York Times has an interesting article about ‘slow blogging’. Basically, it’s Slow Movement meets blogging.

Haste, Scorned: Blogging at a Snail’s Pace


A Slow Blog Manifesto, written in 2006 by Todd Sieling, a technology consultant from Vancouver, British Columbia, laid out the movement’s tenets. “Slow Blogging is a rejection of immediacy,” he wrote. “It is an affirmation that not all things worth reading are written quickly.” (Nor, because of a lack of traffic, is Mr. Sieling writing this blog at all these days.) Ms. Ganley, who recently left her job as a writing instructor at Middlebury College, compares slow blogging to meditation. It’s “being quiet for a moment before you write,” she said, “and not having what you write be the first thing that comes out of your head.”


“It is an investigation into the Internet’s attention span,” Mr. Davies said by telephone.

Even Mr. Sieling, the writer of the Slow Blog Manifesto, gave up his personal blog because he felt no one was reading it. “I called it the Robinson Crusoe feeling of blogging,” he said by e-mail, “and I think it’s common.”


I discovered this via BookGirl who asked the question about how slow blogging effects arts/artist’s blogs.


BOOKGIRL : I wonder how arts/artists’ blogs fit into the discussion? Most of them, I find, are less about analysis (e.g., political blogs) and more about sharing and inspiration, and that may set them apart.


ADAM COPE : I’ve been thinking about this for the last three or so years.When I did finally take the plunge & start ‘a painting a day’ blog it was a painting a week, with the proviso: ‘FAST…SLOW…FAST.
Creativity is pretty mercurial but a blog can help discipline output by the simple fact of having a deadline. Some types of creations respond well to this. Others don’t. No matter what speed.

I greatly enjoyed this blog dawlr

It’s a good twist to the ‘postcards meets blogging’ intrigue. Slow & fine & intelligent, beyond the DAILY POTBOILER.BLOGSPOT.COM syndrome, which risks places quantity above quality & repetition above innovation. Well, that’s just my opinion, so don’t worry about it. It’s not meant to insult anyone, just clarify my own practice & expectations. Do wish that I could do some more painting than this rather slow output however 😉



Chit-chat asides, the weather has been rainy & grey this last month so not much scope for plein-air painting. Winter time here in the Dordogne can be really beautiful. Here’s one from last Feburary. Just to remind me that it can be done.

‘Landorre, Quercy Blanc’
Oil on canvas
50 x 61cm (19,7 x 24inches).
© adam cope
800 €

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.

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?

More Old Rocks in Watercolour & Ink -1999

‘Crack in the Rocks’ 1999
25 x 32cm
© The Artist.


Here we go digging out ‘the old,old past’ to fill up the blog… Not much of a fan of that…silly old blog, who cares…. Opening old portfolios can take up time & attention that may well be better spent on new work.

how to paint rocks

Finished the above last week, & will carry on with my ‘how to paint rocks’ review for the next few days, with the paintings I finished last week. Finished after a few years lapse. Some works I can’t finish immediately. Don’t know where to take them nor do I have the technical know-how to ‘knock the shoot home’. So forgetting about them for long period helps I find. When one digs them out, then I can sometimes see what needs to be done. Actually I was going to us them as scrap paper….

‘Le Vieux Pont’ 1999
25 x 32cm
© The Artist.

Le Grand Roc, Les Eyzies, Dordogne

‘Le Grand Roc, Les Eyzies’
Oil on Canvas
86,5 x 76 cm ; 34 x 30 inches
Tous Droits Reservés© The Artist.
email me for details about how to buy
What I enjoy about this place is it is a veritiable meeting of two different ‘styles’ of landscape (three actually if you count the busy road & huge tourist parking with it’s pollarded catalpas, info panels & telephone cabins etc. besides the Vézère river). The wild huge cliff above with it’s prehistoric setlement & the genteel nineteenth century plantation below.

The trees are spruces but I don’t know exactly what kind. Sitka spruce maybe? They are very tall, maybe up to 70 metres. I enjoyed their green very much, in the middle of winter, with all the wild bare oaks twisting about. The spruces are certainly amongst the tallest trees in the Dordogne that I know of. They grow up below the cliff, which I guess protects them for wind damage. The huge limestone rears above them vertiginiously. Reels about with the reminder that there is other time scales other the human. Vertigo. Awe. You can see the markings of both Ice Ages if you know what to look for. Incredible place. Incredible cliff face.

If you look closely at the cliff face, you will eventually find a little cabin which shelters the entrance to the ‘grotte’ (cave).

A5 sketchbook

Tous Droits Reservés© The Artist.

‘Le Grand Roc, Les Eyzies’
Oil on Canvas
86,5 x 76 cm ; 34 x 30 inches
© The Artist.
email me for details about how to buy

wip = work in progress

These great rock faces … huge cliffs …. they mark one ……… working on this slow large painting, over the last few days, staring long at the cliff faces, they impression. I can see the sense in theory that the cave paintings were ‘found’ in the rock faces, that the morphology of the stone inspired my comarade-artists. Rosarch ink blots. Even Leonardo said that staring at moldy stains on a wall stimulates craeivity & visions.
At the base of this cliff was a Magadelian settlement, circa 15 000 – 10 000 Before Present (1950). They must have known the anatomy of their home, been intimate with the guardian that loomed above them, & saw it no doubt in a protective manner. ‘Home’.
This is a fundamentally wild landscape, though there is a genteel 19th century planting of conifers & terraces, almost ‘à la Chinoise’. I like this curious meeting of epochs & styles of landscapes.

’14 Rangs de Cabernet Franc’
Oil on Canvas
25 F (81 x 65 cm, 32 x 26 inches approx)
© The Artist.
’14 Rangs de Cabernet Franc’ – 14 rows of Cabernet Franc, being the name of the type of vine.
This cepage is not the wide spread in the Bergerac Appellation to my knowledge. I once chatted about cabernet franc to Dr.Barriat, the advisory oenologue for the appellation, when we were doing a promotional tour in Belgium together (wine & art), & he said that yes, it was more an ‘old world’ cepage, more like Bordeaux than New South Wales. I remember vendanging the cabernet franc in my uncle-in-law’s vineyards for several seasons. I like the way the grapes hang in this type of vine & how the sarments grow in a very dnse & fertile fashion.

alla prima plein-air painting

This is a one-take, alla prima plein-air piece. It’s a work in progress, as don’t yet know if it’s finished or not – or if it needs some fermenting in the studio. Let it rest a bit, methinks ……. fast slow fast slow slow off on off on, the deeper work happens at it’s own pace.

City in the West -1996/2004

‘City in the West’
Oil on Board
122 x 61 cm
Started in 1996 & finished in 2004
I’m currently trying to fix a seriously leaking roof & so am moving stuff around the house as I get to DIY in various rooms… These pesky portfolios of paperworks from under the spare bed, and now, the studio is being moved about & the larger format oil painting are coming out of deep hibernation. I’ve never photographed this one & in fact only ever exhibited once.
It was meant as a partner to ‘Glovers Island’, which is the same size. A duo, sort of urban vs. pastoral idyll.

‘Glover’s Island’
Oil on board
122 x 62 cm (ex frame)

Slower Paintings

Both are large paintings that were slow to realise. Eight years doesn’t get me noticed in the ‘painting a day’ blog-roll of fame.

What I was saying about fast..slow..fast. They aren’t alla-prima plein-air small formats, nor are they spontaneous one-take watercolours done from direct observation. Rather they were made in the studio from imagination & memory & the odd sketch. They both needed a long ferment & much looking at before I could see what they needed. They are also products of doubt. I was engaged in much thought about the landscape & the functioning of an image in the viewer’s imagination. Lots of stuff which I forget now. Anyway, here they are together, documented, together as I meant them to be.

Last night I was referring back to a biography of Turner, where Turner himself is quoted :

“…it is necessary to mark the greater from the lesser truth: namely the
larger and more liberal idea of nature from the comparatively narrow and
confined; namely that which addresses itself to the imagination from that
which is solely addressed to the Eye. “

Ahh me, these ideal landscapes, do they ever exist outside of our own personal mental maps of where Heaven & where Hell is found?

Anyway, the opposite is easily found on teh internet. Great numbers of  “comparatively narrow and
confined” landscape paintings, where it is thought that just simply copying appearances is all taht is needed to make a good painting. Wrong view, IMO.

my visionary mode

BTW, I’m getting back into my visionary mode as I’m going to take part in a project to celebrate William Blake’s birthday. When the roof is fixed & the studio & office sorted out….


‘Le Cingle de Tremolat’ 2003

‘Le Cingle de Tremolat’
Huile sur Toile
© Adam Cope
Grand Format approx 150 x 100 cm

painting, photography & postcards/plein air.

Carrying on with this rambling musing about painting, photography & postcards/plein air….Describing something of the process by which I arrived at this (popular) oil painting might be of interest… or not (deafening silence on the internet ,thanks for your comments!). Personally I like to see ‘work in progress’ , especially that which follows something of a turning, twisting path, where the end is not forseen, where one feels one’s way, sometimes in the dark.

Yann Arthus-Bertrand & views from the sky

I painted this in the studio one wet, dark, long rainy winter. Not a plein air piece as it’s a view from the sky… couldn’t convince the microlite to stay still long enough! Yann Arthus-Bertrand fever had struck France; even my cheque book from ‘La Poste’ had his photographs of ariel views of landscapes. They frequently resemble ‘cadastres’ (territory maps of plots of land ) rather than pretty postcard views. I painted this from a postcard, an ariel view of this famous meander. But first I seriously ‘doctored’ it in Photoshop before painting it in this large format studio painting.

I’ve always had an uneasy relationship with these little images or ‘cliches’ called postcards, part fascination, part desire to deconstruct, part desire to find the same view in the real world… This wasn’t the first time, as I had already spent another winter painting postcards wayback in the early 1990’s with my ‘Postcards from Babylon’ series of 24 minature oil paintings, the size of tiny postcards 15 X 10 cm.

‘Postcards from Babylon’ 24 miniature-sized ‘postcards’ 10 x 15 cm (with accompanying animation VHS, with thanks to ‘Picture This’ animations, South West Arts Council award) . Oil on Panel. 1992 © adam cope

The colour scheme for ‘Tremolat’ has a night-time feel to it, or maybe a like a shaft of light breaking through in a storm or something – ‘Quand le Diable marit ses filles’ (when the Devil marries his daughters) as they say in these ‘ere parts, referring to a mix of sun, humidity & rain. I did this study from imagination & memory, and in fact even imagination & memory act in the the large painting as well. A sculptor friend of mine remarked on the exaggerated perspective in the river bends & the way the bottom bank of the river is ‘lost’. I did this consciously & deliberately to exaggerate the swelling … during this time my wife was pregnant. Art historians occasionally remark on how the personal & private (I like to keep it private though I do always seem to be making an exhibition of myself) lives of artists effect on their paintings, such as Constable & the death of his wife in his ‘Hadleigh Castle’ for instance.

‘Treamolat, Étude’ Huile sur Toile 33 x 41 cm. 2003. © adam cope

‘Vendanges – Journée Ensoleilée (finished state)’
81 x 44 cm. Oil on canvas .© adam cope