abstract painting by emily weil

daily painting | embers

Art as therapy is my world these days. Here’s another big abstract, a painting from several years ago I reworked. It’s satisfying, being in my studio and slinging acrylic paint around, consciously sidestepping rational thought (on composition, color balance, and so on); most of the paint actually lands on the canvas. It’s an emotional process, and digging into feelings and tossing them onto a paint surface is mending me. I’m very grateful — for my studio, that I stumbled into Leigh Hyams’ workshops in 2008 which exploded me into a serious art practice; for glorious, vibrant paint colors, for headphones that supply rock and roll. Grief is a helluva rabbit hole to tumble into — I’m upended. I disappear into it, and at times I even have hope I’ll emerge with all my body parts. I’m sometimes satisfied, strengthened and exhausted, sometimes frustrated, spent and humbled. But always, always more whole.

68″ x 60″ acrylic, oil pastel on canvas (stretched) = $5600

 

 

 

acrylic abstract painting by emily weil

daily painting | 2020

Wacky wanderings is how I’d describe my world today. I’m finishing up the book, Proof of Heaven, about a neurosurgeon who had a near death experience (NDE) and writes about his journey into a place of love and joy and acceptance and connection to the divine while he was in a coma he wasn’t supposed to recover from. I couldn’t put it down, and it’s making me rethink everything, and in a good way. I’ve had faith for most of my life in a spiritual presence or higher power or Spirit or God (though I don’t like that term, it connotes male patriarchy and confining religiosity). Reading more about NDEs (I’m going back to the library for more) is boosting my beliefs and giving me more confidence to have faith and trust in the divine, western intellectual culture be damned. It’s like I’m learning that what I’ve always hoped to be true but was afraid to completely believe is real — there is an unseen, miraculous world that our limited human brains cannot access. A world of Spirit and consciousness and a loving, supporting, expanding universe. Because I’m in a stage of life where my “past is growing and my future is shrinking,” and because of recent deaths of my sisters, all these other-worldly concepts are on my mind, and I’m finding I’m in a place of, “Oh eff it, I’m going to leap off that cliff into total surrender and faith.” A place not exactly supported in our culture, but a stance that deeply comforts and encourages me. So, there. I’m reaching more deeply into my beliefs, dammit. It’s not a popular way of thinking, here in this world. But I’m more convinced every day that there is a higher being (or beings) that support me in this human life. And today I consciously choose to practice radical trust. This is difficult for me to share, as it makes me feel vulnerable. So I hope you are OK with that.

Which is kinda related to this painting. I took an older abstract I wasn’t crazy about and made a new one out of it. I’m doing larger works these days, as the over-sized canvases are better at holding all the swirling emotions that whip through me these days. I titled this painting “2020” as it felt appropriate. It contains all the roiling, messy feelings from that ridiculously crazy, painful year.

55″ x 65″ acrylic, oil pastel on canvas (stretched) = $4900

 

 

 

abstract acrylic painting 9"x12" by emily weil

daily painting | sub marine

Do you ever feel like life shakes you sideways like a dog with a bone? And then you go flying, ass-over-teakettle, bouncing on your keister, seeing stars after skidding into in an unfamiliar landscape? Can I just say that I hope the crazy, sad, unthinkable, heart-searing losses in my family these past months teach me some valuable lessons? Make me stronger and saner? Yes please. I’ll get my bearings again, I suppose. Sometimes I sit upright in a hard-backed chair and place my hands on my knees, as it helps me gather my insides. It’s calming. I’ll be OK (stupid, blind faith). I feel like one of those boats smashed against a dock in Hurricane Ida-tossed Louisiana. Hoping insurance covers the damages.

I can’t decide if this painting feels like an underwater jellyfish parade or melting summer ice cream (or neither; you decide). Slopping paints around in my studio all but guarantees I’ll stay afloat. Getting my paints out is akin to divers that inflate huge air-filled bladders to raise a sunken boat up to the surface. What was that about water lilies, to introduce another watery metaphor — whose seeds need deep mud to sprout and reach up to the sunlight? Maybe my lily pad will house frogs and give turtles sunbathing places and provide resting spots for shimmery dragonflies.

Oh, and I happened onto this on Ted Radio Hour yesterday and it was an enlightening lecture on relationships: www.npr.org/2021/08/26/1031384034/listen-again-esther-perel-building-resilient-relationships-2020

9″ x 12″ acrylic, pencil, oil pastel on claybord = $140

 

 

 

acrylic abstract painting by emily weil

daily painting | 21 lessons.

Some helpful life lessons I’ve learned: 1. If I just do these four things, I am OK: • show up, • pay attention, • tell the truth, • let go of the outcome. 2. Soak up nature somewhere. I like California redwood groves and ocean beaches. 3. Keep an open heart. You have a rich, technicolor life that way. It can hurt too but it’s worth it. 4. Hang on to hope and faith. I like to believe in a Higher Power or Being or Spirit as it comforts me. Or believe in a tree, or a mountain. Even in the midst of loss and pain, hope is a lifeline. 5. Love. Nothing else really matters. 6. Forgive, mostly yourself. 7. Wear sunblock. Not too much though, our bodies need sunlight. 8. Create. Anything. 9. Life is a f#@%ing classroom. Be a student (my grades aren’t great, but I do show up for class). 10. Citizenship matters — find a group that interests you and volunteer. And vote. 11. Make kindness a religious practice. 12. Speak honestly, from the heart. 13. Get up every day and keep going. I don’t feel like it much, these days. But I do it anyway. 14. Disappear into a non-destructive distraction. It’s good to be in another reality at times (I like movies and books and good HBO series). 15. Pay attention to reactions: “If it’s hysterical, it’s historical.” 16. Create more. 17. Call out racism. It’s evil. And it lurks in us, often unseen. 18. Cultivate your intuition and perceptions. They are reliable guides. Trust that inner voice. 19. Find help when you need support; reach out. Take action. There are great therapists and counselors out there if you search for them; it’s an investment in your mental health. 20. Move your body as much as possible. I’m always amazed at what a hike or a good bike ride does for my well-being. 21. Resist nothing (mantra: “I relinquish all resistance to the present moment”).

OK these are some useful things I’ve figured out. Things have been brutal but I’m still here: “Be joyful though you have considered all the facts.” — Wendell Berry

[I worked on this small abstract in my studio earlier this year.]

8″ x 10″ acrylic, pencil, oil pastel on claybord = $100

 

 

 

acrylic abstract painting by emily weil

daily painting | skylines

Did anyone see the PBS show, “American Masters” about Oliver Sacks? I was floored and inspired by his transparency and openness about his life—his missteps, his insights and honesty. And his incredible empathy (I watched it twice). He talked about his journey without hesitation or obfuscation. Which is helping me feel bolder about my own blatherings about my personal adventures and challenges. As I struggle to wrap my mind and heart around the reality of my younger sister’s death, and how difficult it was to connect with her, it is becoming clearer how my childhood wounds shape me. I have healed a great deal and worked very hard for my wholeness. At the same time, wispy fragments of longings as well as my aching quest for human connection that haunted me as a child float through my soul, and I see how I have felt ashamed of these normal and human needs. Like somehow I should be above the desire for intimacy. I should buck up, or something asinine like that. Ridiculous. Today I embrace my humanity and natural and beautiful desires. What is more precious than human connection? Yet I have often thought this was a deep flaw. Boy howdy am I letting that one go!

I worked on this small abstract on the weekend. I didn’t feel like painting at all. But it was a tonic to be in my studio and work with colors and shapes and wet gloppy paint without any attempts to make it pretty. It was a soothing experience, even with tears mixed into the chromium blues.

9″ x 12″ acrylic, oil pastel, pencil on claybord = $140

 

 

 

watercolor painting of calla lilies by emily weil

daily painting | april callas

“I relinquish all resistance to the present moment.” That’s my mantra today (thank you Eckhart Tolle); I stumbled into Monday morning feeling drugged. I think someone slipped me a grief Mickey. My vocab is that of a demented magpie and I seem to be in the intense process of rooting out family sorrows, which is all mixed up with my sister’s illness and death. Slogging onward, but progressing. This too shall piss. Uh, pass.

But still, aren’t calla lilies amazing? I am madly in love with them and my ardor is not fading. They are all over the place, growing in many unexpected corners, and the gorgeous Georgia O’Keefe simplicity of the unfurling blooms takes my breath away. I am quite greedy for them. This arrangement, gracing my coffee table, inspired me. I hesitated, thinking, Jeez, haven’t I done enough calla lilies, already? Nope. They are endlessly lovely, and I will keep painting them. Spring gifts — beautiful bird songs out the window, swallows returning to build their mud nests, grassy green hills, explosions of California poppies. What wonderful feasts for the senses. And I’m hungry.

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

 

 

 

abstract by emily weil using acrylics

daily painting | january abstracty

I’m working on a commission this week (woot!) and may not be posting much, but since I’m kind of sitting around with my doors open on this lovely day in Alameda, recovering from some digestive woes this morning (it happens sometimes; a super sexy condition), I thought I’d shout out a hello. I did this abstract a month ago, and can’t decide if I like it, so I thought I’d post it anyways. I may or may not toss it, but it was a day in January I needed to express my fierce grief and strong emotion with acrylics and oil pastels and big fat graphite pencils. As always, the catharsis of that process helped me release more sadness and grief. Today I am fully enjoying working on the consigned painting and resting while the paint dries between layers, enjoying various distractions — sparrows squabbling at the bird feeder, catching up on the sad news about Tiger Woods’ smash-up, doing research on making art videos, noticing the local diver walk up the docks in his wetsuit (likely checking out problems in a neighbor’s hull), and reading a scary mystery that’s too creepy to read at bedtime but I have to know what happens. My heart feels full — sure looks like my years as an old lady, should they continue, will be all about making and teaching art. That’s a marvelous thing to contemplate and I am grateful.

12″ x 12″ acrylic, oil pastel, pencil on claybord

 

 

 

daily painting | abstract amaryllis

I tried to ignore the impeachment trial today. I really did. And I failed. But then I did turn it off for a bit and crank up a few blues tunes and work on the deliciousness of yet another blooming amaryllis stalk, v. 2 from the bulb I received as a gift. The first set of flowers faded and dried up and were replaced by these! And there’s another shoot visible, popping out. Woot! I wanted to be super loose with this painting and use bright colors and pastels and be freewheeling and splashy, so I started with sticks-and-ink, then added big splotches of watercolors, followed by pastels and acrylic pens. Didn’t really care if you could ID the subject. I couldn’t tear myself away from the news so I did this at home, and that was fun too though I often suffer from quarantine cabin fever. But I’m safe. Vaccines are on their way and I’m ready. My gosh I’ll be squeezing my kids and grandkids and great-grandkids until they squawk. Not soon enough. Oh! And Happy Valentine’s Day! You know what? Here’s another thought. Such a damn loaded day of the year, right? I’d always longed for a romantic celebration of this day. And I’m truly fine with what is. And I got wonderful prezzies from my daughter in San Diego (which included a darling mug printed with the words, “Best Effin’ Mimi Ever” [I’m Mimi to my grandkids]). So sweet and it makes my heart so full. Accepting what is is the best. I resist so much, often. But trusting, and letting go, and “non-resistance” equals contentment, and — dare I say? — joy.

16″ x 12″ watercolor, pastel, sticks-and-ink, pencil, acrylic ink on paper = $250

 

 

 

daily painting | meanderings

Graphite crayons, oil pastels, pencils, chalk pastels and crayons are in the top tray of my art therapy toolbox these days. I love how the marks wander through a square of white paper. They are helping me walk through unknowable mysteries of intense emotion.

I’m reading a book called The Dog Stars by Peter Heller. I have an assortment of books lined up by my bed, waiting for me to discover their magic. Having books I look forward to absorbing is like having money in the bank — I know I can relax because great reads are piled up in my fat book account. I’ve had Dog Stars for awhile. Heller is one of my favorite writers, so when I go to Walden Pond Books in Oakland I head for the used book shelves in the back corner and see what they’ve got (Louise Penny always, Louise Erdrich, Heller; his book Celine is an all-time fave). Last summer I pulled Dog Stars out of my stack, but the description on the back had the word “pandemic” in it and at the time I thought better about reading a post-apocalyptic story. Too close to home. But it’s perfect for today. Heller’s books have themes of grief and loss running through them, but they are not dreary or bleak. Just the opposite — he writes of connection and humanity and love and beauty in the midst of loss and sadness and I find his words especially comforting in these times. The protagonist, Hig, makes no apologies for his feelings — or his weeping — and I’m attracted to that kind of fearlessness. I aspire to it. So today I follow my own inner knowing, my deep need to allow mourning to take me down her river. I know I will find dry land again. I’ll be OK. And I have a fierce desire to be true to my heart, for that’s where wholeness is. Isn’t it hard to give ourselves permission just to feel what we feel, regardless of what it is? To make room for it? I find it takes terrific courage and trust. And it is often quite isolating. But for me it is as essential as breathing. Today, I follow this encouragement by Eckhart Tolle: “I relinquish all resistance to the present moment.” That brings me peace, even in pain. Thank you for witnessing my journey.

9.25″ x 9″ oil pastel, chalk pastel, pencil, ink, crayon on paper = $110

 

 

 

daily painting | headlong

Lately I’ve been obsessed with making marks on paper with chunky graphite pencils, crayons, pastels and big fat oil pastel sticks which are vibrant and messy and slippery and full of pigment. This one also has ink, watercolor, and acrylic paint. It’s an abstract smorgasbord. Using all these different media (mediums?) is great fun, and takes me out of my thinking brain and deep into my instincts, intuition and emotions; I let the artwork guide me, and it tells me what it wants. These processes of creating art, as I have said a million times ’til you are bored to tears, dear reader, are essential to keeping my head on straight, a challenge more pressing than usual right now, grief being the gorilla sitting on my chest most days. Sometimes she weighs me down so heavily I question if I’m mentally unhinged. And then she lets up some. Or maybe not until the next day do I feel it’s OK to still be breathing. But I know it will pass and it takes time. Months. Years. Read this last night in the book, The Dog Stars by Peter Heller, a favorite writer: “Grief is an element. It has its own cycle like the carbon cycle, the nitrogen. It never diminishes not ever. It passes in and out of everything.” I’m cycling through, wishing it was on the gentle setting instead of heavy load.

6.5″ x 6.75″ ink, watercolor, acrylic, pastel, crayon, oil pastel, pencil on paper = $60