15 x 11″ – 28 x 38 cm
Tanglewood. A bird song corridor through an empty land. Sluggish shallow river. Old roots holding the banks together. Old place, old beings. Being quiet here… the Dropt has an intimate & hidden charm, different from the majestic Dordogne with it’s mighty flow. Being quiet here & now … even in a modest landscape, a hidden corner. One of the last spaces for nature in our monetised countryside.

Wendell Berry on Local Care of Shared Places:”My wife, Tanya, and I were just in Massachusetts visiting with a friend of ours, Rachel Fletcher, who had organized some of her neighbors in her town to make a “riverwalk.”

A little river runs right through the middle of her town. For maybe generations people had looked at the river the way we Americans have learned to look at rivers—as something to carry things away that we don’t want. The town had just tumbled whatever they didn’t want down among the trees on the river bank.

Rachel began to persuade people to allow a riverwalk to be built across their back lots. She organized cleanups, and people would come and bring their children. They picked up all the trash and cleared the river bank and built their walk, and they made a beautiful thing.

Any walk through the woods gives one a lot to look at, especially a walk along a riverbank. People made donations to put in seats in memory of loved ones who had died and so on. That was how it started.

The next thing that happened was that people who had property on the other side of the river, who weren’t organized into this effort at all, began to clean up their lots. So here you’ve got a neighborhood institution that is minimally organized. So far as I know, it has no trust fund. But it’s cherishing something local that everybody can have in common, and to me a thing like that can’t go wrong. It’s just a little narrow walkway, scaled right, but it’s an enormously suggestive thing.

It was a way for people in the neighborhood to give days of their labor to one another, to give one another shares in their mutual place, to make a place where they would meet each other without agenda or schedule. And as the cleanup across the river would indicate, it has an influence.

So that’s the way my instinct says to work. If you believe in goodness, if you believe that goodness has a power, then why not act on your faith and do something good and see if it won’t call forth more goodness?”

Jack Jezreel interviews Wendell Berry, U.S. Catholic magazine.


River Dropt 1

river dropt 1

‘river dropt 1’
15 x 11 ” – 28 x 38 cm
© adam cope


winter’s day lost in fog
last places

Poplar Grove – Evening Sunlight

polpar grove

‘Poplar Grove – Evening Sunlight’
28 x 38 cm (approx 15 x 11″)
© adam cope


i drive past these trees most days. they are a kind of sundial to me.

Plum Tree

plum in fruit watercolour by Adam Cope

‘Plum Tree’
32 x 24 cm (approx 12,5 x 9,5 inches)
© Adam Cope

heavy with fruit

old fruit tree

still giving


Oil on two canvas
each 64 x 55 cm (approx 21,5 x 25 inches)
© adam cope

“Here, by the riverside, the motifs multiply, the same subject seen from different angle offers a subject for study of the greatest interest, and so varied that iI think I can keep myself busy for months without shifting my position, inclining sometimes more to the right, sometimes more to the left.” – Cézanne, to his son Paul, Aix, sept 8 1906
More about Ditypches & Parallax in Painting

Here’s a reference photo, at dusk, as I imagine there’s possibly a few of you who might not know what misteltoe looks like (it’s the round clumps in the trees).


Mistletoe is a parasitic shrubs that grows in trees, living of the host-tree’s sap. Mysterious plant I love it & have four clumps in my garden. We used to celebrate New Year with it in my southern english home town of Winchester.

“Mistletoe bears fruit at the time of the Winter Solstice, the birth of the new year, and may have been used in solstitial rites in Druidic Britain as a symbol of immortality. In Celtic mythology and in druid rituals, it was considered a remedy for barrenness in animals and an antidote to poison[11], although the fruits of many mistletoes are actually poisonous if ingested as they contain viscotoxins.” Mistletoe-WIKI


Landscape as the Mirror of the Soul

‘Misteltoe 2’
Part of a diptych
Medium Size Oil on Canvas
65 x 54 cm (approx 21 x 26 inches)
© adam cope
‘Meaning’ is often conferred to the landscape by us humans. Certainly, us artists find ‘meaning’…. us image makers, who weave our lives in & out of both inner & outer worlds, trying to mesh them together into images. When image becomes ‘Image’. Landscape as the mirror of the Soul.Van Gogh’s letters show him finding ‘meaning’ in the stars. Mondrian’s early landscapes are visible expressions of his search for Theosophical meaning in the world. Do we look for something that doesn’t exist ? Doesn’t exist outside of our imaginations? Outside of our busy mental lives?

Maybe the artist should stay silent about his images. Leave the interpretation to the onlooker.

The artists’ vision arises at the same time as she finds meaning… there are so many technically perfect paintings of landscapes but they don’t speak to me of the mirror of the soul, nor particularly much about the place, the lanscape either. I feel taht the artist has taken herself to much out of the equation & her visionis diminished.


detail of ‘Misteltoe 2’

“This is love: to fly toward a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment. First to let go of life. Finally, to take a step without feet.” – Rumi

“Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar.” – Percy Bysshe Shelley


Oil on Panel
30 x 40 cm
© adam cope

Another painting about looking through a (veil) screen of trees to a view of hills the other side :



La Taillus’
43 x 39 cm
Oil on canvas
© adam cope



medium size oil on canvas
French format : 15 F – 65 x 54 cm (approx 21 x 26 inches)
© adam cope

Actually I think it’s finished now. I had to wait long time for a another sunny evening when I has some free time to paint.

WIP – Pechers de Vignes, Finished State

‘Pechers de Vignes 1’ – Finished State
Medium Size Oil on Canvas
15 F
©adam cope
WIP = Work In Progress
These lovely trees seem to have an ‘inner fire’ in autumn, as if they were lit up from within. Beautiful tree, I’ve planted one in my garden 🙂 Confess to being happy with these two paintings.Here’s the unfinished state from last autumn ( I date the work from the time of inception & not completion).



Here’s the partner of the diptych. Nice & ‘smokey’, soft glowing mid-tones in an overcast autumnal day.


‘Pechers de Vignes 1’ – Finished State
Medium Size Oil on Canvas
15 F
©adam cope

Here’s the diptych together.


POSTSCRPIT 2013 : the plum orchard behind the peach trees was cut down & grubbedout. There are few pruneaux d’agen which remain…. these paitings are already ‘history’ from another time.

Chromatic Black in the Colourist Palette


medium size oil on canvas
15 F
©adam cope

Chromatic Black in the Colourist Palette

Experimenting with a new mix for ‘black’. Lets call it a ‘chromatic black’ (as does Dan Smith oil paints) in the hope that it’s more colour friendly than soot (lamp black)& burnt bones (deadly death black).

To make chromatic black, the mix is basically the same as the transparent watercolour mix of a bluey green PG 7 pthalo viridian & a bluey red magenta. This gives a very blue black. I like it in watercolours but when mixing down with white in oils, I find it way too blue, so I add some opaque Indian Red to pull it back over to a broken neutral, more grey than blue.

These last five years I’ve been using dioziane violet (normally … but often with some burnt umber) as black. Looks like black but is ‘cleaner’ in mixing on palette than the soot & bones. But.. it’s very slow drying & is complicated to work with in colour mixes. Especially with the warm colours. So I’ve tended to isolate it & not allow it to mix with the other colours. Which thus isolate my black values… making them too black? Too moch like ‘black holes’ or black cut outs. This is exaggerated by photography’s very poor performance in registering colour in very dark values. Result : not enough fluid run down through the upper mid-tones?

In the above painting, I’m using more yellow ochre than cadium yellow pale, thus softening & muting even more the mid tones.

Same old connundrum of bringing Values into harmony with Colours, especially for my preference for a colourist palette of heightened bright colours.

Anyway, the mistletoe makes fun circles doesn’t it ? 🙂

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.



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!


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

SAME SPOT (looking downriver) AFTER THE DESTRUCTION OF 2010


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


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


oil on canvas
©adam cope

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



“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.