painting of the dordogne river in winter – UNFINISHED STATE

UNFINISHED STATE WIP work inprogress
‘Ilots, Pontours, Dordogne – 2’
Medium Size Oil on Canvas
70 x 33 cm
©Adam Cope

Actual Size Detail – to give you an idea of how the paint is applied

Palette of muted winter browns in weak sunlight. Bright ultramarine reflections of the sky on still waters. Running rapids broken bluish greys & browny umbers. Ominous deep shadows revealing the black underside of the river. Deep violet angerous depths, quiet capable of killing anyone who has the misfortune to falling in. Local legend has it that a dragon lives in the cliffs at St. Front, the next cliff downstream. I can believe it. Here the river crosses a flat bed of rock but with treacherous chasms of up to three meters deep. Dangerous places. The little islands – ‘îlots’ – are perfect bird sanctuaries.I’m still having difficulties with the top left corner & so reserve the right to work some more, when I can see what is needed. Any suggestions? What do you think?

Painting fast flowing water isn’t easy. Sometimes you have to look at it with the eye of a fisherman, studying the underworld beneath the surface. Other times with the eye of a draughtsman, holding on for dear life to the quarter tones. The long low shadows establish the surface plane, which should be more or less flat. Except in this case, where my eyes were bobbing up & down as the water reared up white crested over the rapids….


Look at this quarter tone cut out via photoshop to see how tone has to be exact.

5 Comments on “painting of the dordogne river in winter – UNFINISHED STATE

  1.  by  Casey Klahn

    I think the whole upper left (quarter area or small area – either one) is perfect. Very balanced – clear colors and I am feeling a chill looking at it.

    Love this river set, Adam. The gray scale photoshop is fascinating. It makes me want to look at my own that way sometime.

  2.  by  Adam Cope

    Thank you Casey for all your support & feedback.

    The problem I have with the top left hand corner, more precisely with the water just in front of the tree is that it is just about to go 4van Gogh’ … that’s to say all writhing & swirly, where paint is applied in the same manner… in ribbons each with the same importance.

    Will let this one wait over the winter before I decide.

    Would dearly love to paint a river series! Not sure if I’ve got the available time however … Xmas & children on holiday etc. Freezing cold as well, with sunset on a cloudy day around 4,30 pm sunny days 6 pm!!

    It’s in my mind to do so, which is why I’m revising my river painting web page.

  3.  by  loriann

    Adam, I think this painting is stunning and I wouldn’t change a thing. The top left is especially nice. That tangle of branches/lines stops me and makes me look more. But the leading edge (right) moves me through the painting.
    The feel of light is seductive.

  4.  by  Albert Lázaro-Tinaut

    You have a very interesting art: congratulations!
    Regards from Barcelona.

  5.  by  Adam Cope

    Thank you Loriann, that’s kind of you 🙂
    Not entirely sure what you mean by ‘leading edge’? Does that mean the edge that leads the eye into the picture or the hardest edge that pops out so as to pull the ye to the focal point?

    My best wishes to you in 2010, paint well.


    Thank you Albert in beautiful Barcelona!

    Glad you find it interesting. My art is nothing close to what I really wish to paint. I better hurry up!