watercolor painting of trumpet flowers by emily weil

daily painting | front yard

Trumpet flowers have magical, drippy shapes that capture my attention every time, especially the light-colored ones that seem to luminesce in the afternoon sun. This scene was in a yard a block off Park St in Alameda, and I did a couple of passes at it with watercolors; adding ink and pastels livened up the painting.

I am enjoying my houseboat here in the marina on this peaceful, overcast, weekend afternoon. Neighbors are out, finches are chirping at the feeder (hoping for the oversized, always-ravenous pigeons to move along). Waiting for a friend to drop by for a yogurt-and-fruit-and-cookies visit. I have been writing “my story” in my journal, as advised by the skilled and compassionate facilitator of the Death with Dignity online grief support group that just started up. This dead-sisters-grief-process is pretty much still turning me inside out, so I try to just sit with all this heart-turbulence, but not without resentment that my nerves are still raw hamburger. I suppose this will all pass at some point (please feel free to remind me of that). Different tools help me get out of bed in the morning — painting, hiking in the redwoods, zumba class, banding hawks in the Marin Headlands. But Jesus, Mary and the Pips, this is a time.

7″ x 10″ sticks-and-ink, watercolor, acrylic, pastel on paper = $90

 

 

 

abstract acrylic painting by emily weil

daily painting | skitchy

Sometimes I look at abstract works of other brilliant artists and I’m stunned by the lively beauty that is there. Gorgeous, lyrical compositions of light and color. I don’t think my abstracts are beautiful. Some days I wake up and look at a freshly done, still-sticky painting and think it’s hideous. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t finished and shouldn’t be shown to the world. Even if that world is small. Generally my acrylic creations contain raw emotion, which in my opinion makes them authentic, if not visually pleasing. Is that what my art should be? An honest expression of what’s happening on my insides? I don’t know. Really, I have no idea. But I need to paint them, even if no one ever looks at them twice or finds them appealing; few people would look at one of my large pieces and say, Ooh, that would look nice hanging over my couch.

But this is my process and my need to do this work boils in my gut. Even if my paintings are never seen, they are still mine and necessary to create, especially during this moment in my life that is smashed up with grief.

12″ x 12″ acrylic, pencil, oil pastel on claybord = $185

 

 

 

watercolor and ink drawing of red pepper by emily weil

daily painting | upstanding pepper

I may have previously stated that I adore the shapes of bell peppers. I couldn’t help but do another pass at this guy before he ends up as dinner. It sure seems the fewer expectations I have for a “keeper” painting, the more happily surprised I am with results — I put my watercolor pad and paints out on my kitchen counter as in between appointments and chores and phone calls and errands I just wanted to enjoy the messy creative process. I so love the rounded, twisted, bent shapes of this savory (and sometimes sweet) vegetable! Whether applying ink-and-stick or watercolor or pencil (or, more likely, all of the above), it’s a fabulous subject to rest my eyeballs on, and my splashing around with ink and cadmium red paints is a delight. And my day was made even sweeter by a thoughtful text from a grandchild. OK now I must get back to preparing a roast chicken dinner and putting together a lunchbox for banding tomorrow. What a goofy, rewarding, wonderful old-lady life this is. [I’ll post a pic at some point of the magnificent adult red tail hawk we banded last week; see ggro.org if you are curious.]

12″ x 9″ sticks-and-ink, watercolor, acrylic on paper = $140

 

 

 

watercolor and ink drawing of red pepper by emily weil

daily painting | pepper

A large bulbous deep-red-hued pepper just gets me all excited to get out my watercolors. As soon as I saw it in the bin at Berkeley Bowl, I knew it would get painted several times before it ended up in my fry pan getting sautéed for a pasta dish (now that they make quite palatable gluten-free pasta). I could do dozens of iterations of this gorgeous vegetable; I need to go back to get yellow and green ones. I think I was smitten with peppers when I first saw Edward Weston’s black and white photos of these guys years ago — so many ways to enjoy their sensual shapes. I’m not even that crazy about this creation, but I will do more — sometimes in the produce dept I am shopping more for interesting still life subjects than dinner. Let me pivot now into gratitude for every day happy events (which includes finding surpisingly shaped veggies), such as joining a lively group of urban sketchers at Urban Ore in Berkeley (one artist recognized my masked-self not by my visage but by my spattered palette, which is like going to the dog park and knowing all the dogs by name but none of the humans). I painted a bin of brooms, which is an OK painting. I was grateful to have a phone conversation with my niece whose loss of her mom to suicide is still so fresh and painful; I’d like to think we comfort each other. I was also lucky enough to be invited to a small, Covid-safe BBQ in a friend’s back yard in Berkeley and the grilled salmon was exquisite, as was the most remarkable pie I think I’ve ever had, along with warm and loving conversations. And then coming home and feeling happy for community but also glad to rest by myself on my lily pad and sitting on my deck under the dim stars while black-crowned night herons squawk as they alight on the bow of my neighbor’s sailboat. There are always problems to solve in life — losses to mourn, conflicts to resolve, questions that will never be answered. But these daily gifts are sparks that light my way.

9″ x 12″ sticks-and-ink, watercolor, acrylic on paper = $140

 

 

 

painting of trumpet flowers by emily weil

daily painting | alameda trumpets

It was a joy last week, on a trip to San Diego to see my family, to get my paints out and have Mason, my 13-year old grandson (who towers over me, giraffe-like), join me in a bit of afternoon painting on the kitchen counter. I had taken a photo of a luscious Alameda garden of trumpet flowers flowing over a white picket fence and referred to the pic, getting out my sketchbook, while Mason drew and painted a fabulous creation of their gecko, Buttercup. Talented kid! Mostly it was being together that was so delightful. Anyways I showed him this quirky and interesting medium, water-soluble graphite, which dries with different tones and textures. Such great fun. I can’t believe he’s in high school. And that art classes are not required (sigh). And I’m not over the fact that he’s taking an elective physics class as a freshman. Some kid!