Quarter Imperial Sheet
© adam cope
Painting into the dusk. Fading light. Blur & indefinition. When the self feels its way into the soul of the world. The feelings that pass between artist & model.A strictly limited palette. Three colours only. Winsor & Newton. Artists Viridian, Indian Red, Permanent Magenta.

The tonality is pretty good in ‘M’.

Two wet-on-wet ‘selves’ from 2007. Eyes. Passing expressions, ripples in ‘The Creating Water’.

Two colours only. Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Sienna.

‘Self 3’ – Detail . 24 x 32cm. 2007.

‘Self 6’ – Detail . 24 x 32cm. 2007.

Watercolour Portraits Using the Direct & Indirect Methods

An indirect way of working with watercolour. An indirect route. Letting the face emerge out from the wet on the paper. Sometimes lifting off. Sometimes adding on. Sometimes subtracting. Taking away. Moving the pigment around on the page. Backwards & forwrads, feeling the painting unfolding. Nudging it about till the desired expression is staring back out. Look! There’s the face I was looking for & hey…. it’s looking back out at me!
Compare the indirect way with the direct way of watercolouring, where the right wash, the right concentration & value, the right stroke is laid down directly in one go. One pass, then stop. No correcting allowed. No repenting. No recanting. No substracting, only adding. No backwards, only forwards. If it’s right or if it’s wrong… it must be as right as one can make it the first time! Knife edge stuff. Bang on! Raise to the occassion. Meet the challenge. The important thing in the Direct Method is that the power of the brushmark & beauty of dilution isn’t worried or ‘broken’ by nervous timidity.

‘Self 1’


Of lawns & high grass

‘Le Village’
Quarter Imperial sheet 28 x 38 cm
150 € ex P & P
© adam cope

May is the time of tending lawns. I like the huge expanse of green in the above painting, a calm foil for the details & foliage clustered around the focal point. A perfectly manicured lawn in an impeccable village. Reassuring. Calm. I choose to animate it with the odd blob, stain & puddle (opaque cadmiums) so as not to be inflexibly empty in relationship with the buildings & gardens.

I also like it when the grass is high, before the first cut of hay. Seed heads gently blowing in the wind. Another contrast of ‘wild’ nature vs.tended, husbanded nature? How “long do you wear” your lawn? The end of our garden is currently white with michelmas daisies & alight in the night-time with glow worms & nightingales.

‘Chene, Chemin & Herbe Haute’ 2007
OIl on Masonite
41 x 33 cm
© adam cope


mixed media in watercolour painting

The term ‘mixed media’ should be mentioned here as well. But then where does mixed media ever stop? Motor car engine & pencil on paper?

Definitions can be troublesome.

Interesting that the paint manufacturers & merchants use another set of defintions to those of art societies etc.


transparent & opaque watercolour


The debate between transparent & opaque watercolour has been going on for centuries.

You can read about it in the nineteenth century, especially in England, where the use of new, improved binders & vechiles (increased soulbility) plus new artistic visions made one school of usage of watercolour go transparent because it could go WET. Really wet. Wet washes.

For me, I think an important dividing line is transparent/opaque. It’s precisely the transparency that appeals to me because it’s the solubility & wetness made visible.

It’s also rather difficult. Transparency, as in the political sense of the word, means that you have nothing to hide. You can’t cover over your mistakes.

But then again, opaque pigments. For instance, bismuth yellow is a fabulous 21 century pigment, the bright yellow of pollen on stamens, & it is opaque. However for a real understanding about opaque/transparent, it is necessary to understand the point at which maximum saturation of colour is achieved in watercolour. For instance if you use it straight out of the tube, it dries really rather dull. It needs to be diluted to become alve, as it were. ie WET to be transparent to be colourful. Whilst acrylics & tempera are wonderful medii in their own right, they don’t quiet share so much as watercolour this transformation upon dilution.

You do occassionally see artists describing work as ‘transparent watercolour’.

Garden, Autumn

28 x 42cm
© The Artist.

150 euros via PayPal

This was a demonstration piece for teaching painting autumn colour.

Red Vines

‘Plantou #2’- detail
© The Artist.Sold

Watercolour of Vines in Autumn

‘Vers La Gironde’
42 x 36cm (16,5 x 14,2 inches).
© adam cope

Watercolour of Vines in Autumn

The Gironde is the department of France at the esturary of the Dordogne, past St.Emilion & down to Bordeaux. Wine country.

Watercolour of Merlot Vines

Watercolour – Arches Rough 300gms
30 x 40cm (15,8 x 11,8 inches).
© The Artist.

Watercolour of Merlot Vines

Beautiful & long Indian summer here in the Dordogne.

‘The Abandoned Cradle’
43 x 36cm
© The Artist.
Take the footpath from Castelmerle towards La Conquil. Pass La Souqette, the Vézère way down below. These rearing cliffs, overhanging rocks, vertiginous. Wild. Our ancestors lived here thirty thousand years ago. Continous habitation. Now abandoned. Our abandoned cradle. ‘Notre berceau abandonée’.Today, a mute feeling of the ages… abandon & beginnings.

Watercolour & Ink
30 x 40 cm
© Adam Cope

These overhanging rocks gave shelter in the Ice Age. They projected out even more in that period but have collapse over the centuries. A rock wall behind & a rock ‘cieling’ vault overhead. The night fires flickering over the crevasses. If you go to L’Abri Pataud, you can see that the prehistoric inhabitants carved their vaulted cielings. The below rock fragment was found at Catsel-Merle.

Engravings – interpreted as vulvas?
dated aurignacian
L’Abri Blanchard
Museum of Castel-Merle

Prehistoric images

Images everywhere? Even on the vaulted overhangs? Like our ‘info-space’… Images everywhere. Image rich & saturated. Images are maps of the world, & function on a different level from the written word. Preliterate prehistory… these little squggly scratchings called ‘writing’. Writing often blinds us from the full use of our eyes. Most people today simply do not have much skill in visual observation, being more at ease reading a newspaper than sitting quietly in a wood just looking, waiting, like a hunter (or a plein-air painter, who also spends long hours, days observing in situ). Hunter-gathers have to use their eyes by necessity.

These places are also wild places, in the deep undergrowth. Rarely under the harrow of man the agricultor. They are not ‘humanised’ landscapes in the way that most of us are familar with. To see uncultivated nature is rare in western europe, as the spread of concrete & agriculture shapes our world of today.

Castel Merle

The actual site of Castel Merle is run by the Castanet family. Marcel Castanet started exacuvating the site in 1910. Monseiur Castanet(fils) is a ‘grand homme de la Prehistoire’ , a Périgordien & savant, who kindly took time to show me around his museum when I was researching what might ( I stress might) be a lunar calendar, found at Castel Merle (will poste about this at a later date).

The museum of Castel Merle in Sergerac is incredible. Some of the many finds from the eleven shelters of Castel Merle are now in America.

The site of Castel-Merle

Pole -Prehistoire.com
(Don’t miss the virtual tour – for which you don’t need to read french)

Canoes on the Vézère

Canoes on the Vézère
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?

Watercolour of Cliffs – Sauliac sur Cele

‘Sauliac sur Cele’
28 x 38cm (15 x 11 inches).
© The Artist.


To see more paintings of cliffs & rocks, click on the ‘rock’ category on the right handside.
This painting is not far from where I led a painting holiday in France