daily painting | vermilion views

OK so I’ve been going to the thesaurus to find words other than crimson, since I’ve overused that word a bit in the last few posts, trying to verbally capture the drama of desert outcroppings in Arizona; vermilion is my new favorite word. Here is an abstract I worked on, inspired by Sedona’s stunning red rocks. The views in that area take your breath away; the crowds take your patience away. Was fun to work on this without expectations, smearing paint with palette knives and making marks with pencils and oil pastels. I’ve thrown myself back into my art practice with renewed vigor, as I become clearer that, 1) My past is growing and my future is shrinking [stole that line from a movie], 2) I need to create art with abandon regardless of worries of whether my art career is financially viable, and 3) Painting gives me joy and that’s reason enough. That’s my mission statement for today. Amen.

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

 

 

 

watercolor of grand canyon by emily weil

daily painting | grand canyon

Rain chased me away from this spectacular view of the Grand Canyon with blue/gray storm clouds hovering. Hard to imagine natural beauty with more gob-smacking drama. My road trip with a friend who planned to hike down into the canyon to join a river rafting trip already underway (did you know it can take over 30 years to get a permit to journey through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River?) brought us to this amazing National Park and if you haven’t been there I highly recommend it (and it’s usually crowded). Icy, slick, frozen trails made Nancy’s adventure a bit perilous but her sturdy crampons, well-prepared gear and years of hiking experience got her down to the canyon floor and the waiting river rafts. After she was safely on her way, I roamed around AZ and marveled at the sights around every corner. From snowy and chilly Flagstaff all the way down to warm, arid Phoenix, I took it all in and it was marvelous. This country! So many beautiful pockets of stunning sights. I gratefully absorbed the wonders of the warm desert sun, the brilliant stars, a full moon rising behind rocky cliffs, towering crimson rock castles, fast-moving roadrunners, the best chili verde enchiladas I’ve ever eaten and an amazing wolf-rescue/sanctuary in Rimrock which was a real treat (how many people can say they’ve been cheek-licked by an affectionate wolf?). Probably write more on that later; I hung out with tundra and gray wolves rescued from stupid, abusive humans. I’ve long been obsessed with wolves and had no idea what I was signing up for, so the whole experience was moving and memorable and spiritual. [If my wolf stories pique your interest, look up Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat, a book that upended my views of these incredible canines.]

Before the trip, I said a prayer asking for clarity as I edge into old-womanhood. Where to go from here as an artist? And as an art teacher? I got my answers and I’m deeply grateful though I’d be more comfortable if the wolves told me I was about to win the lottery. Sigh. All is good. Life is an amazing adventure and I’m not done hurling myself into it. Not yet.

7″ x 10″ ink, watercolor on paper

 

 

 

daily painting | sketches

Ahhh… nice to be back on my lily pad in Alameda. I live here in a floating home in Barnhill Marina, across from Jack London Square and we residents are trying to get the word out about our lovely, caring, tight-knit community. It’s a joy to live here, and we want the Bay Area to know about us. Pass it on, would you please?

I recently returned from a road trip to the Grand Canyon and other interesting spots in AZ. I have been painting away — Red Rock State Park near Sedona, cute, spiky barrel cacti, glorious crimson rocky peaks. For all my slopping cadmium reds around in my watercolor sketchbooks, I’ve produced nothing I want to post. Ah, well. Such is art. Having a getaway was the best, though. A change of scenery is always good for the soul, and the dry deserts of Arizona couldn’t be more different from my watery life here on my houseboat. Had a ball; will share more on that in future posts. 

Today’s sketches in a pleasant park in Berkeley, Cedar Rose Park, were fun to do. I was killing time as my car was being serviced nearby. It was an hours-long wait, but time moved quickly on this temperate, breezy, sunny day as I roamed through the snapshots in my head of roadrunners, flowering prickly pear cacti, a lovely butterfly enclosure in a botanical desert park my dear friend Kerry brought me to, and the gloriousness of the full moon rising in Rimrock, AZ. So many moments of deep gratitude.

ink drawings in small moleskine sketchbook

 

 

 

daily painting | onion skins

I was sorting through small watercolors and came across this demo of an onion with loose papery skin that I did for a painting class. I’ve added a bit more color and decided I liked it. I probably should get out my paints today as a remedy for gas-pump sticker shock, which of course is nothing compared to the pain experienced by millions of displaced folks in Eastern Europe; the images and videos are wrenching and heart-bruising and horridly reminiscent of WWII except for the brightly colored parkas and backpacks. I don’t know if prayer helps, but I figure it can’t hurt. This is one of those moments where I feel like an overly-comfortable American as I can’t begin to imagine what it’s like to run from bombs raining down on my city. How does one ever recover from the terror — if you actually survive physically? It’s impossible. This is an upside-down world with too many sharp edges. (And I admit I am enjoying the images of Starbucks and McDonald’s signs in cyrillic in Moscow.)

6″ x 6″ watercolor, ink on paper

 

 

 

watercolor and mixed media abstract by emily weil

daily painting | fluidity

I was in the mood for creating big wet puddles of watercolor on paper the other day, so I decided an abstract was the appropriate choice for my kitchen counter art production. This kind of work takes a bit of time as I have to wait for each layer of paint to dry (sunny days help and yes I could use my hair blower but when I perch my soggy, paint-saturated sketchpad in the sunny kitchen window it creates some time to do things like scrub my bathroom tiles or give my guinea pig Buster a sweet pepper snack — multitasking central, over here). But the thing was to let the art flow which coincides with letting my emotions tumble freely through the canyons of grief and loss. News junkie that I am, it’s hard to turn off the latest reports of frightful European war news, but I did, putting on my headphones and listening to Sting’s latest album. His lyrical, romantic tunes are beautiful and they help me keep my heart open. And the music is a soothing balm. I seem to feel safer at home, as I paint and emote, and I’m in a bit of quandary about whether to keep my studio as financially it’s not making a lot of sense right now. But I will get it sorted.

Plus I want to enjoy my house! My marina was recently sold to developers with dubious motives, so we are fighting for our community here. Our small, slightly funky floating home village on the San Francisco Bay estuary is charming and lovely and we want to keep it that way. Stay tuned.

9″ x 12″ watercolor, ink, pastel, acrylic, pencil on paper = $140

 

 

 

watercolor painting of calla lilies by emily weil

daily painting | lilies

Sweetness and light! Calla lilies are blooming again. And I never tire of their beauty or of using them as subject matter. Why are they so compellingly lovely, Springtime after Springtime? ONE | enormous, dinner-plate sized velvety petals that curve around the stamen with drama and grace. TWO | they pop up around every corner at this time of year. THREE | they are impeccably designed. FOUR | the way light flows around, over and behind their white skirts. FIVE | all their bits are sensual and sexy.

My mom always dismissed them when I sang their praises. “They are just big weeds,” she would say. Which made me love them even more. I always thought they were criminally underappreciated. It’s as if they are so sophisticated and grown-up — like a fancy, perfectly decorated, magazine-cover Manhattan high-rise living room in a 1940 film noir as opposed to a John Waters movie set boudoir with fluffy pink bedspreads and cartoony teddy bears and dolls (apologies if your rooms have lots of cuddly toys; I actually have a soft little pink bunny named Coral that I hug at night sometimes for comfort).

My heart felt happy and complete when I found these yesterday

7″ x 10″ watercolor, pen, acrylic on paper = $90 — SOLD

 

 

 

watercolor and ink painting of bouquet by emily weil

daily painting | TJ bouquet

I feel like I don’t know how to gather my thoughts and feelings today in this world of war and aggression and tumult. So I’ll do what I do — bounce along and hang on. Can’t seem to get my bearings so practicing self-compassion is in order (I get a lot out of Kristin Neff’s website, https://self-compassion.org, which has comforting meditations). When everything is blowing up, how do we find our feet under us? On some days it’s OK not to. It’s just not possible. I put my hand on my heart and do Neff’s mantra: May I be safe, may I be peaceful, may I be happy, may I be kind to myself, may I accept myself as I am. And I call on the angels and gods and medicine animals to bring succor and support to those amazing, brave Ukrainians.

And making a gooey chocolate dessert today is definitely in order.

(If you need a good cry look up SNL’s Feb 26 show on YouTube; they opened with the Ukrainian New York chorus.)

Peace out.

9″ x12″ ink, watercolor on paper

 

 

 

watercolor, ink abstract on paper by emily weil

daily painting | vibrations

This week — joy! (Oh gosh a memory just burbled up of reading a book while in my early twenties called Joy in the Morning — some sappy romantic yarn that made me long for intimacy and closeness and connection — kind of a theme of my adult life.) Anyways Tues was a huge bonus as I spent the entire day with my son Jeremy, visiting from Sacramento. In his bipolar state he often withdraws from the world during winter months, so when he responded to my texts last week and called me, I was very glad to hear from him. He sounded better than ever — which of course made my heart soar. Connections to our kids — jeez, those are some powerful steel cables. 

We walked in Briones (gorgeous park near Orinda), went to McCaulou’s in Lafayette for old-time’s sake to get his favorite socks, reminisced about his early years in Florence, OR (endless sand dunes at the end of our street, heaven for kids), watched the Peter Jackson documentary about the Beatles, dusted off my atlas to look at maps of Ukraine and Russia and discuss the frightening world news, and I made us dinner (I love cooking for my family, it makes me really happy). We talked about my sister’s suicide, which was a very frightening event for him, as 20% of people with bipolar disorder take their own lives, and he has already survived one attempt. So he did what he does to stay on the planet — hide from the world until it feels safer to engage again. I admire him for his self-awareness and dedication to taking his meds. And as we watched John, Paul, George and Ringo interact in the studio and create music, I was reminded about Jeremy’s truly amazing musical talent, as he has an innate ability to pick up any musical instrument and teach himself to play, which he does, and very well. 

This vibrating air of happiness at being with my son envelops me. He is stable and alive and well. Joy!

This painting — a small abstract done in my kitchen. I needed, myself, to interact — with inks, acrylics, pencils and watercolor.

7″ x 7″ watercolor, pen, acrylic on paper = $65

 

 

 

watercolor painting of poppy by emily weil

daily painting | vargas poppy

This poppy was fully unfurled in the warm sunlight at Vargas Plateau in Sunol, where I spent time last week looking for golden eagles. I enjoyed painting its pic Monday in between gathering materials and supplies to teach my drawing class at Frank Bette Center. Today this image encourages me to keep my heart open and walk in the sun and soak up some light and warmth (which at this moment is pouring in through my living room glass doors and warming my house and reaching into Buster’s cage, saying Good Morning). I’d rather withdraw, though. And close up my heart which is achey. Which creates a false sense of safety and breeds loneliness and fear. This is today’s invitation to me from Mama Earth — to be open to life and all it presents. When I would rather not. But I will anyway, as I prefer living life fully than to pretend to be Buster and crawl into my plush, dark little guinea pig cave.

I’m on a bit of a Jane Campion kick, the director of the movie, “The Power of the Dog,” an exquisite work of art (I watched it twice). I read an interview about her yesterday, which made me curious about her other movies (“The Piano” has always been a favorite). She has an amazing way of portraying strong characters who thrive and shine in difficult circumstances, women in particular. Last night I watched “An Angel At My Table,” about New Zealand writer Janet Frame. It probably wasn’t a wise choice, as her difficulties with anxiety and her wrenching experience of losing two sisters made me feel like a sad 11-year old again (but depictions of her childhood were so authentic and honest and heartwarming!). Then again, maybe it was good to take in that story — Frame had incredible talent, and was always true to it, even when she was misdiagnosed with schizophrenia and hospitalized. She lived a full life, and expressed herself with courage and an open heart. A very good role model for me.

7″ x 7″ watercolor, pen, acrylic on paper = $65

 

 

 

watercolor and ink painting of iris by emily weil

daily painting | purple iris

If you read my posts, you know that I am currently the Grief Queen, as I have been diving deeply into the grief process after losing my sisters, riding its currents to healing and a peaceful heart (if a sore one). What baffles me today is why every U.S. citizen isn’t staggering down the street weeping at the loss of nearly a million Americans to Covid. It is human nature to say, Hey, c’mon, let’s move on and leave the pandemic behind — who doesn’t want that, for god’s sake? But I do hope we can at least stop for a minute and digest and acknowledge the actuality of these horrific losses. It’s important to take in this tragic reality and not sweep it aside (“denial is not a river in Egypt”).

OK! Stepping down from my soapbox. This iris was blooming in the scruffy yard behind my art studio in Oakland and I decided to do a bit of a close-up of it (I took its pic last year). Such rich, gooey hues of purples and violets — stunning. How do those silken, velvety petals hold so much pigment, when it takes about three layers of watercolors to even slightly suggest the deep, amethyst tints? It’s miraculous. Having a sense of wonder at the gorgeousness Mom Earth offers to us is the best, isn’t it? It gives me joy every day.

7″ x 7″ watercolor, pen, acrylic on paper = $65