#242 theoldmortuary ponders

Another locally sourced colour square has been created today. This one is a corroded corner of a closed corner shop.

As I traverse the local streets it is very obvious that the time of day and weather conditions really affect the tiny colour snapshots that I take with my camera phone. The old corner shop catches the sun beautifully in the morning. The corner shop is fondly held in the heart of this community. When we moved here it was on the downward turn and did not immediately grab our attention and then just like that it was closed and then, not so long after, floral tributes and messages of condolence appeared. Rather incongruously a large sun hat with the words ‘ On Cloud Nine’ appeared.

Not having been part of a community that loses a much loved character and very popular shop there is a sense of dislocation and puzzlement at what we may have missed. Anecdotally I am aware that we missed a much loved shopkeeper called Ann. Everyone says what a wonderful person she was and what a hub of the community the shop was. There was definitely a sense that something locally important had been lost. The hat as an act of remembrance puzzled me. On Cloud Nine usually denotes someone who is extremely happy. Perhaps the hat was reflecting the character of the departed shopkeeper. Cloud nine is actually a very specific type of cloud. The etymology of Cloud Nine makes nothing clear.


The origin of sense 1 (“a state of bliss”) is uncertain; however, the following etymology has been suggested:

The first edition of the International Cloud Atlas (1896),[1] which defined ten types of cloud, described the ninth type as the cumulonimbus which rises to 10 km (6.2 miles), the highest a cloud can be.[2]
Compare cloud seven (“state of complete happiness or euphoria”),[3] which may have originated from confusion of cloud nine with seventh heaven.[2]

Sense 2 (“a state of fantastic or impractical dreaming or thinking”) may be due to a confusion between sense 1 and the phrase head in the clouds.

So, on this occasion, pondering has made me none the wiser. A sun hat embroidered with the words ‘ on cloud nine’ is a very unusual object to place as an act of remembrance on the steps of a closed corner shop. I suspect it will always remain a mystery to me, but I will ponder it often when I walk past.

#241 theoldmortuary ponders

I am still trying to capture squares of colour in Stonehouse as first mentioned in blog #239. The early morning light gives me completely different colour combinations to sunset and I’ve decided to limit myself to early morning squares of colour for this first painting.

The dogs are complicit in these morning sojourns to gather watercolour inspiration. Yesterday I rewarded myself with a coffee and croissant down by one of the harbours. The dogs need for croissant was apparently just as important as mine. Their faces trap more crumbs than mine which is saying something, croissant crumbs have the tenacity of Super Glue sometimes.

On our little colour square hunt we found the door to the Edes Vinegar/Pickled Onion workshop open and got a fabulous stolen interior shot of the vinegar barrels.

I think local people would, quite likely, want to bop me on the nose if I tried to do a series of images of just inside their front doors. But this one is a gem.

Normal life got in the way of too much painting yesterday. So just the one square completed.

We do have quite an abstract little square going on at our own front door.

Hugo and Lola were not the only dogs, yesterday, to participate in proper human activities. The bobbers were out in force to support Helen Bobber, who was knocking peoples socks off at the Who’d Have Thought It , Open Mic session. Here are Stan and Ralph, Bobberdogs, eager to get to the pub and listen to soulful sounds.

Hugo and Lola stayed at home, four dogs at an Open Mic is at least two too many to be comfortable. Especially as Helen is now fully recovered from Covid and after some months can easily hit her high notes.

She is also an abstract square all of her own making.

#239 theoldmortuary ponders

Bright sunshine set me off on a project yesterday. Stonehouse Peninsular is known for its architecture, history, sea views and brightly coloured buildings. I took off early in the morning to capture some of the colour combinations on camera before the sun got too high.

The plan is to create an abstract watercolour that features some of the beautiful and whacky colour combinations that occur when neighbouring buildings get a paint job. There are also beautiful abstracts that just occur naturally when colours follow the contours of the buildings.


Others are just subtly beautiful just because of age.

The one below I particularly love because a grubby downpipe becomes the star of the watercolor.

This is a project that is going to keep me very busy this summer!

#233 theoldmortuary ponders

Watercolour scraps.

Its been quite the painting day here, but first the morning bob needs a mention purely for its novelty moment. It is not unusual for us to be passed, at some point, by Royal Marines out on training runs. What is unusual, however, is to hear the command, “Shirts off” and just like that the Marines took their shirts off and plunged in the sea.

The Bobbers, of course, were completely cool with this but not so another swimmer. The Marines chose a good day, it was a fabulous swim.

Meanwhile the outside of our house is being given a big makeover. Dark blue masonry paint and a yellow front door. The decision had been made and the paint purchased but moments before the paint was applied I was still checking Pinterest to see if the colour combination worked on other peoples houses.

I was in a deconstructing mood and chopped up a watercolour that had been deliberately painted to be cut up.

The scraps are endlessly fascinating.

Below is the reason for creating all this vivid mess.

These squares represent nearly a year of observing the sea colours on my daily walks on the Stonehouse Peninsular. This is my first experiment with the technique . #1 stacked up in the studio.

#232 theoldmortuary ponders

I found this bunting high up in a tree yesterday, while I was walking in the rain. A soggy reminder of a busy weekend, not particularly Jubilee themed for me, more arty really with a side serving of jubilance Three paintings went off to their forever homes over the weekend and another will go to a permanent gallery space later this week.

Lester Longwool goes to Devon

I have always loved the unintentional glamour of agricultural shows. Farm animals given the red carpet treatment for their moments in the judging ring. I used to like to photograph them as if they were celebrities. Painting them in Watercolours is a recent fun thing to do. Lester Longwool in the style of Marc Bolan is the first of these I have sold. As it was a group exhibition he was sold to someone unknown to me. I hope he makes his new home happy. I wonder if he did actually go to Devon, that was just his working title. Below is the unsold, version with him going to Cornwall.

Lester Longwool goes to Cornwall
Silver Birch Plantation

The Silver Birches, above, went to a friends house. I know I will see this one again. As for the last one, well it was never planned to be for sale. It is a large A1 watercolour project planned to be the backdrop for some digital work. For use as a source for a theme, background, marketing and website for some musicians. Once the project was over I had thought about cutting it up and repurposing it but the client did not want it destroyed and so just like the other two it left the cost confines of the studio. When all the creative work is done with it I can write a whole blog about the experience.


There was one charming image that came out of the Queens Jubilee. It is just something cute to end a blog with before I knuckle down to some maths, the unpleasant side of todays studio work.

Jubilee Ma”malade Tea by Eleanor Tomlinson

Please take a moment or two to look at Eleanor’s website, lovely art is good for us all


#230 theoldmortuary ponders.

Lovely buns brought the Drawn to the Valley, Spring Exhibition to a close. 100 visitors and members came to the final day of the exhibition and the afternoon was further enhanced by tea and cakes for everyone. Buns are a fine way to spend part of Saturday but a puppy is an even finer way to make the day memorable. Meet Mini, a friends Dachshund baby.

And if a little puppy wanted a cuddle it would be churlish to refuse.

And just like that Saturday passed in a joyous whirl of buns and puppies. Perfection really.

#220 theoldmortuary ponders

The mackerel are gathering, this can only mean one thing.

An art exhibition is about to be constructed over the next couple of days. As usual I am not quite ready.

Another artist had delivered her work to my house last Saturday all beautifully wrapped and bagged up. My work, in comparison, was all over the place. I also need other essentials like cable ties and S hooks to enable the construction of the boards,that hold all the artwork, and give the Artists plenty of space to show off their work.

It is always a surprise scrabbling around in my studio. Things that are put away unfinished come to the surface like this abstract of Silver Birches that needed just a dusting of silver to be finished.

Silver Birch Plantation

This next one needed framing and he looks magnificent finished off with a frame. It is a cheeky picture of the return of Nightlife to The Barbican. He is also finished with High Gloss Resin which makes the image almost impossible to photograph.

Nightlife Returns

Just one last picture to share from my contribution to the group show.

Nearly There Trees

I had lost this original for several years before finding it a couple of weeks ago in the final tidy up and reorganisation of the studio. Reproductions of it always sell well but the original had hidden itself away. As things turned out I am so glad I spent some time with it yesterday mounting and wrapping it ready for sale. The Nearly There Trees are a landmark close to the A30 on the Devon and Cornwall Border. Their proper title is Cookworthy Knapp. They are symbolic and significant to all who love Cornwall. Below is a link that explains more about the Trees.


Yesterday evening I learned that an artist friend, who lived in Spain, had died earlier in the week. She was born just across the water from where I live now on the Mount Edgecombe Estate. The Nearly There Trees are hugely significant because she chose to return to Cornwall for her last months. Artists are funny folk who mostly work in isolation, but when we flock together we shed and share ideas . My lovely friend and I met at the Arts University Plymouth. She introduced me to Elvis, I’m not sure what I gave her. She and I often pondered the subjects of these blogs, I am so glad she made it home.

#213 theoldmortuary ponders.

Blue, blue, electric blue. The words that stick in my head from David Bowie singing Sound and Vision.

After nearly a year of living very close to the sea, I have a huge colour palate in my head that is the colour of the sea, I also have a lot of sounds and visions. I’m in the early stages of a commission that will reflect how the sea changes. I am taking a mixed media approach to the early work.

The Atlantic in my little patch of Devon can be many different colours, not always blue and sometimes quite grotty.

The sounds also change depending on the tides and the weather and the shapes in my bigger abstract try to show the sounds by shape and the interfaces between two different colours.

This is a big old piece of paper for a water colour. I have no idea quite how this project is going to play out, but for now, just charting blue/ greens is very relaxing.

#205 theoldmortuary ponders

You can tell a lot about a person by the way they hug.

For the next couple of months hugging is the loose starting point for my quick sketches. I don’t really know where the sketches will lead.

Hugging dropped out of favour during the pandemic and is only now rising, Phoenix like, from the still glowing embers of the new endemic era.

Have our hugging habits changed significantly. Will some people slink back away from the sensation of physical touch and isolate themselves forever from the causal embrace?

Others who have previously had a hidden,but effective, force field resisting hugs may decide that now is time to embrace their fellow humans in a way they never did.

I have always been a keen observer and practitioner of the hug. Watching it slowly return into the normal hurly burly of life is a rare opportunity to watch a human interaction re-establish itself.

Sketching and pondering hugs is proving to be an interesting project even if I have no idea where it is going.

The new etiquette of the social hug. It’s a jungle out there.

#203 theoldmortuary ponders

Sunset to start the day! @theoldmortuary has not gone completely mad. I wanted to ponder the soft pinks and oranges of May. The pink on the horizon of last nights sunset and the orange of the artificial lights illuminating the Royal William Yard.

My eye was caught by a scruffy little Geum in the garden centre earlier in the week.

There were much showier plants of late spring to look at but this one seemed to reflect the mood of the day more accurately. I am also a bit more aware of flowers in the softer pink spectrum since I did a colour mixing painting course. One of the pictures in yesterdays blog featured a painting by Beryl Cook that featured a silk dress in these soft colours.

©Beryl Cook

I’ve finished the course now but haven’t quite managed, yet, to fully utilise these soft colours in my own compositions. But my awareness in the last few weeks makes me think again that I need to give soft orange/pinks a proper go.

These colours were highlighted in the colour course, that I was doing recently, to be deeply embedded in my memory archives, although had I considered these shades even six months ago I would have dismissed them as my least favourite and now I seem to be, subliminally, seeking them out. I suppose that is the point, of course, of courses, to make me think. I just never expected to think pink. Now I just need to find a way to use it.

One more sunset with a hint of pink to kick off Monday!

Course details-https://tansyhargan.com/