#124 theoldmortuary ponders

I’m a bit over commited for this next couple of weeks. I’ve enrolled on an on line colour course and yet I have given myself no protected time in which to do it. Life spluttered along today with two things cancelled one thing added and a regular commitment re instated. Yet I did find time to do a colour mixing experiment and watch a video tutorial. The colour mixing turned out not to be as easy as I had first thought!

But in a positive way.

Yesterday I cracked on with both the exercise and some homework. Tomorrow I just need to catch up on the actual project for today and then being ahead with the homework should have me almost up to date by Friday. Three hours of meditative painting for me tomorrow.

In Wordle news, there was a shock in store today! 5 letter words with American spelling have made themselves a part of the game. I did not see that coming. Something else to think about with this new obsession. Should have realised of course as it is an American game.

Pandemic Pondering #402

A bit like this spider , I’ve been immersed in Wisteria today. I had an urge to paint Wisteria in a walled garden. In truth wisteria is not quite blooming yet in Cornwall so I had to work from photographs. Infinitely easier as apart from the spiders the pollen also doesn’t agree with me.

Here we are, another Friday and I have an action packed three hours before noon. 9:00 second vaccine dose. 10:00 first haircut with a stylist for five months and then a swim with the bobbers at noon.

Here is the wisteria painting, I did not include spiders in the composition but if this walled garden were real there would almost certainly be a few lurking in these blooms.

Pandemic Pondering #336

There has been a good bit of pondering over this blog today. No standout trail of random thoughts stood out yesterday ready for publication this morning. The tomato figurehead was a late arrival, its significance will be revealed later.

February is watercolour month @theoldmortuary . Not this year, the studio is partially packed away. I’ve not painted anything since a commission was finished before Christmas. Not able to quite control creativity I found something I can keep in a small bag, Lino printing is likely to become a method of illustration for these blogs once I get going effectively.

For similar reasons watercolour is my medium of choice in the dark months of January and February. It doesn’t require studio space, just a dining table which happens to be in the actual old mortuary, which is lovely and warm. ( Not a sentence associated with real mortuaries)

February is often about experimenting. So linoprinting is not such a great leap. Watercolour portraits, fascinate me. This one is of Fred, one of my schoolfriends. Painted a couple of years ago. I enjoyed the discipline and probably need an excuse to do more.

February is also about buying new art materials and getting to know them. The quickest way for me to do that is to revert to my earliest artistic endeavours and one that I only truly revisit on holidays ( no time soon I think)

Watercolour landscapes, a fine way to relax and experiment a bit. As a holiday activity it is unequalled, although many of mine are not truly watercolour as it is all too easy to dip a brush in my gin and tonic in error. This last watercolour will feature in tomorrows blog too, as it is a painting of the ‘Nearly There Trees’ a famed Landmark on one of the routes into Cornwall.

So back to the tomatoes. Inspired by The Lighter Side of Science on Facebook a page published by https://www.iflscience.com/

This site is perfect for the strange old mashup that is me. Part artist , part scientist, part ponderer.

I’ve reused and paraphrased their quote of today onto my painting. When else would l get the chance to use a painting of a tomato!

Pandemic Pondering #153

Wet on Wet is the Art Group Prompt.That is quite a challenge for a blog.Wet on Wet is a painting technique, where layers of wet paint are applied onto an already wet surface. I am not an expert at this technique. I’ve never used it with oil paints . I do use it with watercolour, but I’m not the best practitioner. It can turn out dreadfully badly, or with practise you can get lucky. Having a good teacher helps immeasurably.

© theoldmortuary
This is an infinity pond at The Scarlet Hotel, Mawganporth, Cornwall. Mr Mackerel posed for this painting, below, before supper.
I’ve also evolved a Wet on Wet technique for acrylic painting. This method is not taught but comes from an inquisitive mind. For this technique, as yet unpatented, I mix acrylic paint with a variety of clear fluids. There has been no teacher for this technique, many muddy mistakes.Water.Saline.Vodka.Rubbing alcohol.Silicone lube.When the different diluents meet on a pre-prepared canvas or board they react to one another quite differently and can give some fascinating effects. Sometimes great and sometimes shockingly bad. With a little practice I have learnt what works well together but I can always be surprised and not always in a good way.These two went well.Dungeness
Dungeness detail.Forder Creek
© theoldmortuary
Forder Creek Detail.And finally and importantly.A Left Hand Cleaving Water
© theoldmortuary
Detail.This last picture is an important link to non arty wet on wet.P.SA pandemic revelation! @theoldmortuary have become hooked on wild water swimming. Not something that you expect to read in an artyfarty blog. But with a prompt like wet on wet, added to us living in Cornwall that particular prompt lends itself to wild swimming too. It can rain a bit in Cornwall. We are fairly enthusiastic swimmers in warmer climates but swimming outside in Britain has been pretty infrequent until this pandemic. Without access to swimming pools since March and with no holidays on the horizon, swimming was off our radar until about 10 days ago. Some friends invited us to go to a beach for an early morning swim and we haven’t stopped going. Wet on wet refers to us not caring about rain , which is very curious. We’ve taken the plunge a few times in the rain without any worries.We’ve even talked about wet suits to prolong our season.Pandemic Pondering- exploring Wet on Wet two ways.

Pandemic Pondering #147

Metaphors is the Art Group Prompt- word today.

This image is intended as a metaphor.

I painted it as a metaphor for the passing of time. The androgynous figure is shaped out of pools of colour and might not exist if the pools flowed differently. The face appears to be dissociated.

I love a linguistic metaphor and used wisely they are a dynamic tool.

In difficult conversations they can soften an awkwardness and mitigate against defensive or aggressive responses which can harm useful communication. They can be more easily understood,sometimes, than the actual subject matter.

In art I’m never quite so sure. Is the image below metaphor or satire. I believe it is both.

So given that I am on stronger ground linguistically I can share my love of mixed metaphors and bad metaphors.

Rich pickings come from Sports commentary and historic terms for sex.


If you can’t stand the heat of the dressing room, get out of the kitchen.

Terry Venables

Michael Owen has the legs of a salmon

Craig Brown

This has been our Achilles heel which has been stabbing us in the back all season.

David O’Leary

They’ve put all their eggs in one basket and it’s misfired.

Paul Merson.


Grope for Trout in a Peculiar River.

Take a turn at Bushy Park.

Bringing an al dente noodle to the Spaghetti House.

So that’s clear then, Metaphors should be handled with care.

Pandemic Ponderings #33

I’m an abstract painter with a love of colour and texture. I’ve painted abstracts predominantly for the last ten or so years. Two years ago I took some watercolour classes and since then I’ve dabbled with watercolour painting for a quick painting fix, one of the things I love to paint with watercolour are dead fish. They’ve always fascinated me as a photographer. I was lucky for a long while to live near Brixton Market was but it was long before I rediscovered watercolour. Cool box next time I visit though to bring some exotic models back to Cornwall.

The reason this is a pandemic pondering is that I have plenty of time for some fishy watercolours but no fishmongers. I’m going to have to find something to fill the gap. Tinned fish is the obvious answer when I do the weekly shop.

For now I give you my fishy friends from before the pandemic.

Pandemic Pondering#16

Another day, another Pangolin.Pangolins are the colour of a winter sea. I am immediately inspired to paint another cuddled- up Pangolin painted in the colours of my favourite winter sea. That of the Atlantic coasts close to my adopted home in the West of England. The greens, blues and browns of seas and minerals stirred up by storms and winds in the wet months of October to March , most years, are every bit as beautiful as turquoise tropical seas.As isolation stretches into the distance , ponderation seems happy to hunker down and settle on one subject for more than one day.I realise not everyone may have had a childhood fascination with the Pangolin or Spiny Ant Eater . So today I’m going to share some top tips on Pangolins. Pangolin is a Malay word for one who rolls up.Pangolins are said to be the most Trafficked Mammal which brings us instantly back to Covid-19. For today I’m going to talk about pre-pandemic Pangolins.They are poached and Trafficked because their scales are highly valued in Chinese Medicine. This trade is illegal internationally. They are also considered to be a luxury bushmeat. I’m unsure if this trade carries a world wide ban .It should. China and Vietnam are the countries where most Pangolin are tradedPangolins are solitary peaceful animals, mostly nocturnal, who only socialise annually to mate. Mating is not instigated in the usual sense by males. They simply leave a bit of poo and wee around and a female sniffs him out when she feels in the mood for reproduction.
What thrilled me as a child was the Pangolin tongue. Longer than the length of its body it is stored in a pouch by the Pangolins hip.

Rear view of Pangolin featuring hip pocket for tongue with spare ants.

This seemed like a super power accessory we could all do with. Their spit is super sticky, all the better to gather termites and ants . Pangolins have no teeth and swallow pebbles to grind the ants into a pulp in their first stomach. Curiously they also have scales inside their stomachs to aid this grinding.Pangolins are found in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. The illegal trade in their meat and scales has forced three of the eight species close to extinction , this coupled with the loss of their natural habitat by deforestation has put all eight remaining Pangolin species on an At Risk of Endangerment or Extinction register at various levels of severity as of January 2020.Pangolins in literature might be my Pandemic research of the day…

Leviathan #valentinesdaynohearts

The Leviathan is a prominent sculpture, by Brian Fell, situated on The Barbican Plymouth. Locally it is known as the Plymouth Prawn . The Leviathan is set to become famous Worldwide as the Mayflower400 celebrations build up in Plymouth. The Leviathan is close to the commemorative Mayflower Steps.Leviathan has its own Twitter account , not that it’s particularly active or has many followers. Strange really. Leviathon lives in a lively location.Leviathan was installed in 1996 and is made of patinated steel. Leviathan is a sea monster created from regular sea creatures. Cormorants feet, the fins of a John Dory ,the tail of a plesiosaur, lobster claws and the head of an Angle fish. Despite this callaloo of body parts Leviathan is majestic.The Leviathans location is on one of my regular dog walks. There is a fabulous circular walk around the harbours and quays of Plymouth taking in both historic and contemporary port buildings and activities. I’m tempted to photograph the sculpture almost every time I see it , sunshine is the very best weather for Leviathan snapping, not unlike life really.I used the fishy subject for a watercolour subject, minus the drumstick! Although a competent image of a skewered Leviathan kebab eludes me.A little bit of printing magic and I’ve created a psychotropic Leviathan. At night The Barbican is nightlife central. Who knows if the Plymouth Prawn partakes.And then just one little move to create a completely abstract image with no hint of sea creatures.Not such a romantic blog as the date would suggest but to my regular blog readers a simple message, thanks for all your comments and feedback.This blog is linked to a social media Instagram project. The prompt for today was #valentinesdaynohearts.https://drawntothevalley.co.uk/I believe Leviathan has a heart. It just needs to find its Sole Mate.


Nearly Home Trees- watercolour by Juliet Cornell

The Nearly Home Trees.

Cookworthy Knapp. 140 Beech trees, planted 120 years ago near Lifton on the border of Devon and Cornwall. Clearly seen from the A30. They have become a sign to many returners and travellers that they are ‘nearly home’ or ‘ nearly there’

This coming weekend will see the highest volume of road traffic, of the year, on the A30 and A38 . Those who travel on the A30 in daylight hours will see the familiar mound of trees on the hill and feel a whole kalaidoscope of emotions . Love being the most significant in all its nuances, textures and intensities.