Happy 1st Birthday ‘Dordogne Painting Days’

Happy 1st Birthday ‘Dordogne Painting Days’

Joyeuse Anniversaire ‘Dordogne Painting Days’

Right, let’s all have a jolly good sing-song & celebrate! Sing wildly out of tune 1 use lots of BoLd uppErcase TYPOS & exclamtion marKS…….

now the next song is one I learnt with my children: ‘Now I’m one, I’m having so much fun! fun! fun!’

Has it been fun?
Was this blog a giggle?

OK, let’s get to being serious. THE ASSESSMENT for the first year.

Lesson one : is it fun (for me or for you?) ?
Lesson two ; is it financially worthwhile (for all my time & my effort involved in blogging)?


The writing part
Lesson one: is it fun?

Well yes, these computers are compulsive & blogging has become a habit. I’ve always periodically journaled throughout my life, but never diaried. For me, journaling is writing from the heart when in need. Needless to say, these are private. I’m not one to spill my intimate thoughts out on the web. It still makes me somewhat uneasy, the fact that the internet is so annoymous.

There is something frightening about blogging in public. In an exhibition, you can weed out the weaker paintings. In a blog, it’s ‘the good, the bad & the ugly’. And that’s the way it should be. Process, not product. The creative process should allow for exprimentation, and yes, that means failing sometimes. No learning possible without failing from time to time. It is simple not possible to be 100 percent productive 100 percent of the time, making 100 perecnt perfect paintings 100 perecnt of the time. ‘ A Painting a Day’ IMO should not aspire to that. Some days are better than others…. Artists, not machines.

Lesson two : is it financially worth while (for all the time & effort involved in blogging)?

This is painting blog, & not a writing blog. So don’t get please don’t get offended by the confusion & loose-endness in this rambling, stream-of-consciousness prose. NO, I AM NOT USING BULLETIN-POINTS, CAN’T SPELL CHECK NOR NEITHER USE SUCCINCT ONE-LINERS. I can’t or else I would. Honestly. Actually, the truth is I just don’t have the time to brush up a polished bit of writing… IMO, it is not worth my financial while spending days writing in a blog.

Can I justify the time spent in writing here? What financial return to date? Not alot. Not worth my time.

I’m tinkering with the idea of becoming a ‘no-writing blog’ so as to free up more time to paint. But that does seem a shame as I do like to give a little commentary about the places I paint in. Paintings sometimes need a little ‘framing’ so as to put them in context. And the one thing that the dear ol’ internet does, is rip images out of context. I like chatting about the Dordogne and surrounding area. That pleases me. Trying to find a theory of painting doesn’t. Painting is an activity & not a theory. That’s one of my ‘bonne mots’ & Robert Genn has me spouting it in his quotations. And being an activity, it means it something you do. When you do it, how it unfolds… yes, maybe I should paint more with my brain & less with my brushes. Maybe yes indeed. ONly I would like my brushes to stay close to how I am in this world…. & not how I should be. Maybe I should be more…? But in this cycle of life, where I am, I am. I won’t want my brushes to be elsewhere. I want to do what I like. I digress.

Also writing does help me unfuddle my fuddled thinking. But I kinda like my fuddled thinking, kinda doesn’t bother me anymore that I don’t know all the answers nor can remember everything pertinent. etc. I digress.

I would however like my written words to be …. unoffensive. Or at least, unflamming. That’s the pits. I digress.

What was I talking about?


the blogger part
Lesson one: is it fun?

Do I like blogger? Mine host? Our Google OVER lords of the entire universe. I remember the www days of DOS FTP before Goggle. Google has done wonders (but I do wonder if the black screens with green writing will ever catch Pacman & eat their own words?)

I like meeting people in the blogsphere. That’s the fun part. You can comment, you can read regularly & follow the progress over time. You can even meet & become friends, swop ideas & help. Even get help?

I LOVE TAGS/LABELS/CATEGORIES. Giving categories to paintings is the way to go on the intenet. Flickr is fab for this too.

I like the calendar format. A natural structure. Feels right to me. It’s what blogs do best. Interesting too to be able to review the year as well. Tempus fugit. Time has cycles,life has cycles, creativity has cycles.

Blogger helps me from digressing too much. The formal with the labels, categories gives me the structure I need whilst remains just about polymorphic enough for me to fit in my ‘penchant’ for polysemic digression (ie research).

Running a painting blog has forced me to be instantaneous with my photographing & cataloguing my artwork. Which is a good habit. Very constructive. Very Positive.

Thinking of ditching the green/turquiose colour scheme. What do you think?

Lesson two : is it financially worth while (for all the time & effort involved in blogging)?

Blogspot is free & that is pretty amazing really. I remember when yahoo groups tried to become fee paying.

I only have the ‘world wide wait’ here in rural St.Dizier. Dial up, not broad band.


the ‘painting a day’ part
Lesson one: is it fun?

In 2003, I looked at the ‘painting a day’ formula & wondered if it was for me. Decided it wasn’t (rolled over & went back to bed 😉
In 2007, I decided ‘a painting a week’ might be a workable best-fit for me. I’m not going to excuse myself here nor justify absences. Certainly not in a blog. In 2007, I was less busy than I was in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006. I’ve got my work-load like everyone. I need to earn money. I have two children. I do other things than paint. Etc.

Was the ‘painting a day’ bit fun? I did ask the question about ‘a painting a day’ being FAST, whilst some paintings are SLOW. ie is ‘a painting a day’ alla prima, one session, first take? I don’t want to get into teaching here nor do I want to tell other artists what to do. Everyone has to find what fits. BONNE CHANCE TOUTE LE MONDE!!
For me, sometimes alla prima is fabulous. Other times, it just isn’t what my creative practice is demanding. i am aware that you can start a painting on one day & finish it on another. Work in progress WIPs are fun to look at (though maybe my time would be better off painting than blogging WIPs?).

I also need a time of ‘fermentation’,,,,,, & sometimes doing nothing, skiving off & cloud watching is what is needed. I won’t like a blog to get in the way of that. I am a day dreamer. Once a week allows for some time in the hammock, far away from crappy computer screens.

In an exhibition, you can weed out the weaker paintings. In a blog, it’s ‘the good, the bad & the ugly’. And that’s the way it should be. Process, not product. The creative process should allow for exprimentation, and yes, that means failing sometimes. No learning possible without failing from time to time. It is simply not possible to be 100 percent productive 100 percent of the time, making 100 perecnt perfect paintings 100 perecnt of the time. ‘ A Painting a Day’ IMO should not aspire to that. Some days are better than others…. Artists, not machines.


the painting part
Lesson one: is it fun?

yes, of course!
I enjoy the discipline of blogging a painting a week.

My love for plein-air fits in well with alla prima small scale works. So I set my sights on 30 x 40 cm (16 x 12 inches approx) small sized work on wood panel. Not card. Oil primed, not gessoed. Good quality stuff. I love painting on oil primed board, just so nice & the colours stay good over the years, judging by my early student work of some (ahh ehhemmm) twenty years ago. I am making an effort on the price. 150 euros ex. P & P. (or their equivalent in GB sterling or US dollars via Paypal). It’s product line I still want to develop. Small sized affordable art. There is a jump in prices when the size goes above 30 x 40 cm (16 x 12 inches approx), so a price per square centimetre does not follow.

Small ( up to 30 x 40 cm; 16 x 12 inches approx)

Medium (up to 12 Figure French Format- 50 x 61 cm; approx 24 x 20 inches)


(ah me, bring back the days of gigantic. I think I might go & paint a wall for the fun of it. Inigo, Duncan, are you reading?).

How low can you go?
I AM NOT A MINATURIST. For me, under 15 cm largest dimension does n’t work in oils. I CAN4T DO MINATURES.

ARGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! Not for me. NO NO NO Don’t go there!!! Doesn’t fit. Didn’t enjoy trying, which is sure sign that the minature path was not the path for me. It’s just not something in my sights for myself. Bravo those artists that do, a minature can be fabulous, on the right wall space; it’s just I can’t make minatures in oils, nor do I want to.

Sketches, drawings, or watercolours. Maybe, maybe. Good to have diversity.

Actually, seeing as I’m idly chatting away here today on my blog’s birthday, the downward drive in size in 2007 was the opposite of what had been an expanding universe. It had been an upward drive in size before the blog. here’s a story from my past: I was poor, I drove a mobylette (or cajouled my patient & loving wife to pick me up in her car) with the painting gear strapped on the back. This obiviously put a limit on size. Too big & the moby had a wind sail….’trés deconseillée’. So imagine what happend to my painting pratise when we became a two car family! Big was in. There was also the fact that I was doing a lot of big shows here in the south west. The hot seat – the holiday period the two weeks of august in the tourist sites in the main venues, which are beautiful but BIG spaces. Up to eighty paintings…. big shows. Big paintings. Big crowds. (Big drain of my energy.)

And now it gone small again…. LOL

Adapting the ‘painting a day’ formula to fit, making an effort on the price of small size oils, but still making a diversity of medium & larger oils on canvas, whilst still allowing sketchbooks, drawings & WATERCOLOURS to go. BE WET. STAY WET.

Lesson two : is it financially worth while (for all the time & effort involved in blogging)?

Here’s the end of the blog year totals :


small oils (up to 30 x 40 cm;16 x 12 inches approx)

medium sized oil (up to 12 Figure French Format- 50 x 61 cm; approx 24 x 20 inches)

large oils

42 WATERCOLOURS (mostly quarter sheet)


TOTAL = 137 works ( 365 days divided by 137 = 2,67 which is about a painting every three days …was it a leap year? did I miss something? But given that some of these entries were dragged up from pre 2007, take away some 11 entries on the ‘early work’ category & maybe a few for cheating but add some on when I published three or four painting in one posting….which is over a painting/drawing a week, more if you calculate per centimetre square…then it’s 365 paintings a day).

CONCLUSION concerning the ‘painting a week’ project = It certainly has pushed up the numbers of paintings per year that I produce, albeit that more of them are smaller & ‘quicker’. As a rule of thumb that I was told by a major gallerist in London, twenty to thirty good quality, medium to large paintings & drawings is what is expected from a professional artist in good health/inspiration ie one London/Paris/New York exhibition per year. But everything demands on what you want to paint/draw & where you want to go with your creativity.

It was fun, ‘je ne regrette rien’ (as he croaks away on turpentine) …..

QUESTION = were any of them any good?

QUESTION = did I learn anything? YEs, loads. Bucket loads. Good project.
“blogging art = imporoved art” to quote KATHERINE TYRELL from her excellent blog …

I also enjoyed doing some ‘research’ paintings/drawings like the portraits of my family, paintings done with absolutely no financial aim in mind.

TOTAL BLOG ENTRIES FOR YEAR ONE = 174 (174 entries minus 137 new works …which means I’ve been gassing away & not painting).

TOTAL SALES DIRECT FROM BLOG = not worth my time & my effort.

however, on the business-side, the blog has generated an offer of an exhibition in an important city in America, upon which I’m deliberating/procastinating/querying. Without the blog, that wouldn’t have happened 🙂

But hey, I’m bringing a new project into the ‘white area’ of full realisation. it’s still in the ‘grey area’. Still needs developing. I had no idea a year ago, except that I’d like to give a try. It really was in the ‘black area’. So I gave myself a year to see. The results – was it fun? Yes it was fun, ‘rigolo’ but no, not worth my while… this year. Maybe next year? etc…….hmmmm? BOF – je vais peint.

Bye for now
thanks for your readership

aux pinceaux (hands on your brushes)


9 Comments on “Happy 1st Birthday ‘Dordogne Painting Days’

  1.  by  Stew

    Hey now, look.
    Don’t get all mercenary on us here, you can’t put dollars and cents on this kind of stuff.
    It may not be worth your while to maintain the blog, but it is CERTAINLY worth our while to read it and see the paintings.
    I can definitely see that you’d rather the time spent blogging was spent painting but by similar criterea you should cut down on your sleep and not spend so much time at the dining table or talking to people.
    Creative work (I’m talking of the painting now, not the blog) can never recoup, financially, the time expended. If you charged a reasonable rate per hour for each painting you would either be charging a fortune for the paintings that required work, and giving away those gems that flowed easy.
    It seems to me the blog has had some useful fruit. It has allowed you to diarise and analyse 1 year of work. It has allowed you to receise feedback, praise and criticism from disinterested people. It has put your work before people who would otherwise never have discovered you. (like myself)

  2.  by  Adam Cope


    thanks for your kind words & readership! your feedback & comments are good stuff. merci bien.

    so when are you coming over to waste time in the dordogne with me?(but leave that pitch fork behind!!)

  3.  by  Katherine

    I think blogging should be devoted to what you like and what you do best. No need to follow the crowd or to do what other people tell you ‘works best’. There’s no harm in being aware of what people like though.

    Blogging across most of the Internet for the most part is about posts with very few words – and if they are art blogs then they get an image as well. I buck the trend because (a) I enjoy research like sharing the resulting fruits and (b) I discovered I like writing.

    So what I do suits me, other people seem to like it also, lots of content means lots of words for Google to graze over and somehow or other I end up with the numbers of readers and visitors I’ve got and get. But I don’t aim to sell from that particular blog and selling isn’t why I do it.

    If blogging is part of your marketing plan then take a look at the artists who are doing well in terms of sales – and note how varied it is. Which brings me back to my main message which is do it because you enjoy it – and do it in a way which suits you.

    The previous post to this one seems to me to be an excellent one. Talking about the Dordogne and painting it seems an excellent way forward.

    Finally – happy birthday to your blog. Milestones should always be recognised!

  4.  by  Ed Terpening

    Adam, wow, we’re really in sync here!

    Blogging can be both a habitual time sync, and a great joy. I’ve been seeking a balance myself.

    I know that I (and others) get something from seeing my progress and hearing about technique, and I believe strongly in the tradition of artists working together as a community to drive the arts forward. But I feel guilty if I haven’t blogged for a while. When it gets to that point, and it takes over time for painting, I think it’s time to step back. Then again, time for blogging does not always mean we’re taking away time from painting. Not every spare moment is a time for painting (at least for me), there needs to be time to think, evaluate and connect. In this rainy San Francisco morning, it’s my time to catch up with blogging buddies and get inspiration for my next painting.

    You’re right too about the power of Google. If you’re to sell direct (which is where most of my business now comes from), you have to get “Google Juice”, which means writing regularly and connecting with others. “That’s Life”.

    Congratulations on your anniversary!


    PS. This is a good discussion, so I’m going to add a link to the “Plein Air Painters” group on Facebook. BTW, I’ve been experimenting with FB as a possible alternative approach. No conclusion yet.

  5.  by  Adam Cope

    Thank you stew, katherine, casey & ed

    lots of really important advice & things for me to think about here.

    thank you for taking the time. that in itself is something to meditate on – thank you all being generous with your time 🙂

    “And even if everything were to turn out the exact opposite of what I imagine, no malice could ever obscure the glory that kindled this endeavour nor could ever dim the light that has been sparked off by this adventure. ”
    – Don Quixote

  6.  by  boguy

    Cher Adam,
    Bon anniversaire, je te souhaite plein de longues années de blog mais surtout de tes magnifiques peintures que je viens admirer régulièrement. Sur le rocher des Eyzies, les traits me font penser à certains tableaux de Van Gogh !

  7.  by  Felicity

    Congratulations on keeping it up for a whole year! Your blog is a great accomplishment. Tilting at windmills is sure to provoke much self-quetioning – certainly does for me. Thanks for that last quote.

  8.  by  Cathy Gatland

    Happy Blogging Birthday Adam! I can only agree with the more experienced and wise words of the above comments – as a six-month old blogger I am also juggling and questioning the motives, rewards and drawbacks of blogging and I think Katherine is right in saying do what works for you (but do it!). I go to blogs that inspire, inform, entertain but not necessarily all in the same place. I love to read a bit of background to artist’s work, whether it’s something about the area (ah.. the Dordogne) or the process and sometimes the struggles – if there’s too much to read I get anxious about getting off the computer and back to my own creative production. Too little and I feel a bit let down – art blogging to me is a bit like sitting with a cup of coffee or glass of wine in a virtual art cafe. Some experts, some newbies, some chatty, some not – viva la difference! Wishing you many more happy Dordogne Painting Days – and thanks for sharing.