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




daily painting | perky

A hundred years ago when I was a young mom living in a small Oregon coastal town, I hit a very painful wall; memories of childhood trauma came boiling up with accompanying PTSD and I struggled to keep my bearings (mixed results on that). At the same time I was taking watercolor workshops, and doing bright, colorful paintings of flower arrangements. I still can’t quite understand that, as I was sinking from depression, terror, loneliness and confusion. Which brings me to this painting which I worked on over the weekend. It seems quite chipper to me — albeit with darker notes. And this is such a challenging time for our country, for my family, for the world. And yet! Hope leaks out.

I have to tell you another story. Back in the early 90s I was a graphic designer for the then-young company, Electronic Arts (as in, EA Sports — videogames). As part of the creative services group, we were a fine lot of production artists, designers, managers and writers. I’ve never had so much fun at work. At one point, an idea was floated to do a yearbook for the current employees (idea was dropped; the company was growing very quickly and it was too hard to keep up). I asked creative writer Michael Hume to please write for me the required blurb that would be the caption under my photo. He wrote, “16 personalities and all of them perky.” Or something like that. It was brilliant. I still miss that team. A flash of light long gone.

30″ x 24″ acrylic, oil pastel, pencil on stretched canvas = $975




daily painting | bloodsport (redo)

Are you watching poll results and predictions and breathless reports on the 2020 election like I am? Well, honestly, I have to limit my news-watching (I take breaks to watch something violent on TV). This painting got reworked and renamed, and the title seems appropriate for this completely insane year of politics and everything else. I’m 99% sure it’s done; when I have a dialog with it (something I do with my paintings), it says, Enough already. I’m soon heading out to my studio to work on another painting which is one of the only ways I am staying sane. These works hold a lot of my insides — sadness, grief, vitality, hope, loss. My life. I think I finally reached that spot where I don’t give a damn if anyone sees it or likes it or wants to show it. This is my work. If it sucks, so be it. It’s completely mine.

OK I have to tell this related story as it’s relevant and incredible [Kay, if you read this, I hope you will forgive me]. My sister Kay is soon leaving this world, as many of you know who have been reading my blogs, as cancer is taking over her body. Want to know how she is determining timing? She wants to know election results. She’s in pain, a lot of it. But that’s who she is and how much she cares. I love you, Kay, my hero.

41″ x 43″ acrylic, oil pastel, pencil on unstretched canvas = $2290




daily painting | birthday orchid

I thought I’d post today (don’t usually do on weekends) as I’m soon heading up to Seattle & can’t predict my coming days in terms of painting and blogging. And I wanted to share this painting I did today. I’m sitting writing this on my couch, hoping some trick-or-treaters come by who live in the marina. I just love the darling costumes. [Here’s a Halloween memory — living in a kid-filled neighborhood in OR when my kids were small, two costumed kids knocked on the door and I still remember them — that area used to be a big logging area, and the little boy was dressed like a logger, with a plaid shirt, a pillow to indicate a big belly, a hard hat and big boots and drawn-in stubble on his chin. Adorable. His “wife” was in a ratty bathrobe, fluffy slippers and curlers in her hair.] But I digress. This orchid, a generous gift from my amazingly wonderful neighbors who took me out for lunch [outside seating] for my birthday, has vibrant, show-stopping magenta and purple blooms. I hope to keep this plant alive (2 ice cubes a week, I’m told). Anyways! Life in upside-down, crazy 2020. I had a truly terrific birthday, which is amazing these days. I felt happy and celebratory that I was born 68 years ago. OK back to my couch. Dinner’s in the oven, it’s a beautiful clear October day, hummingbirds are at my feeder, I had a fun bike ride today to go see the big container ships on the estuary, and I appreciate the countless gifts in my life today. Thank you for reading my posts, as it means a lot to me. Happy for this vivid, interesting, unpredictable existence.

10″ x 7″ watercolor, pen on paper + $90




daily painting | she

I painted this female wolf as a tribute to animals that sometimes visit me and bring me their medicine in my meditations and dreams. She is powerful, wise, fierce, brave, protective and takes no bullshit. I painted this from a photo in a book about the packs of wolves in Yellowstone Park, some of whom I got to see on a winter trip there years ago.

I have always been attracted to top-of-the-food-chain predators. Wolves in particular fascinate me, as they are social animals, family-oriented, robust and stick together (if you are similarly interested, I highly recommend the book, Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowatt). This is more than I usually share about my spiritual journey, as it is such an intimate experience, but I draw a great deal of strength from my prayers, meditations and contemplations. Which makes me sound waaaay more spiritual and noble than I truly am (I swear like a sailor and like cocktails). But I have learned to develop these practices and they heal me and give solace and direction and joy. It’s kind of my own designer religion, Created by Emily.

You can probably tell from this painting that I love this creature. She comforts and guides me, and I’m kind of outing her by sharing this but she won’t mind and I wanted to honor her. The journeys I have had over the past weeks have been memorable and heartening as there has been a convergence of life events that are healing old childhood wounds of loneliness and lovelessness — spending time in Mill Valley where I grew up, visiting with my sister who is dying of cancer, and today is my birthday. I always hated birthdays; they made me feel alone and isolated but today I truly celebrate my birth, and believe I belong to this glorious family of humanity. I welcome that little baby, a boomer born into the world in 1952. This is a great leap for me, and I am proud of these soul-celebrations.

OK now it’s time to go frost the birthday cake I made today and have my own little party. After that I’ll do a ritual, letting go of old, stinky, mouldering beliefs that I’m done with. I will forgive myself, forgive my parents, and welcome my future.

10″ x 7″ watercolor, pen, acrylic ink on paper




daily painting | (ret.)

I woke up today having decided a few things. I’d love to frame this in a spiritual way but the deal is, I QUIT. I decided the time to retire is now. What am I retiring from? Here’s my list: 1. Carrying worry for my family. I cannot control the well-being of my sibs who are ill, my children who have their own lives to figure out, the well-being of my grandkids. None of these things are my responsibility; hell, my kids are in their 40s and whatever they need to sort out is up to them and I have zero control over how we relate to one another. 2. Art career path. I have no ability to manipulate its trajectory. I will never be an Instagram influencer or a Facebook darling. I am walking away from The Struggle of trying to be successful. Instead, I renew my commitment to paint every day, to show my work when I can and to express myself authentically and keep finding my own voice. And scream it at the canvas. 3. Trying to control my future. I’m here today, and I am showing up. I can’t determine who I will love, how I will find comfort, when I will die. Nor can I worry about the economy and how it affects my old-lady money. What I can do: Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. Let go of the outcome. This is my mantra. Today the ambulance came for an elderly, ailing neighbor. I did not see the ambulance take him away, so today may have been his last day (not sure). Someday the ambulance may come for me, and I won’t waste my energy trying to resolve situations over which I have no control. I am not abdicating responsibility. I am, however, taking leave from trying to fix things I cannot.

OK so here’s about the persimmon! (How can I tie this in to my blabbering?) There’s a healthy, huge persimmon tree behind our marina laundry room. These fruits are gorgeous. I love their color, and as they ripen I’m sure I’ll paint a few more of these beauties. Maybe the parallel story is that these guys ripen ONLY according to nature’s schedule. I’m plenty ripe and juicy myself, as I steady myself for my 68th birthday. Don’t think any rot has set in yet but I’m not entirely sure.

[I would like to add, please vote, everyone, if you haven’t already. Just saw a 104-year-old woman on the news interviewed at the polls (on her own 2 feet!) where she voted and she said, adamantly, that in all her years she has never experienced a more important US election — and she’s lived through two world wars.]

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




daily painting | fort baker sentry

Claire and I had the best break a few weeks ago — after doing more chores in Uncle Fuzzy’s house we headed to Fort Baker in Sausalito hoping we could get a snack and sit outside the Presidio Yacht Club which is the coolest, funkiest, unfancy yacht club you’ve ever seen with forgettable food, watered-down drinks and the best view of the Golden Gate Bridge you could dream of — you’re sort of underneath the north tower looking up and it’s gob-smacking (especially at night). Alas, the yacht club is only open weekends these days, so we wandered around a bit and I took a few photos of nearby old military buildings. This one, a shuttered old shack all alone on the hillside, has a sign on the door indicating hazardous materials are stored inside. Likely whatever is in there is a pile of salt-corroded rusty bits by now, but this sentry, nestled in the coyote brush and california-dry grasses, was intriguing and I thoroughly enjoyed painting it today in between tasks like wrapping up a sold painting for mailing, clearing out dust bunnies in the living room corners, washing ash off my upstairs deck all while very much cracking up as Obama took the gloves off in today’s campaign speeches. Full day, fun day. Lovely to breathe the clean air and enjoy the watery views from my spot here on the estuary.

10″ x 10″ watercolor, pen on paper = $130




daily painting | saturday sensations

No posts last week; was a bit burnt — Covid fatigue, regular bouts of nausea from political news, worries about my family, feeling the loss of Uncle Fuzzy, missing my grandkids, getting through the heat wave. Needed to step back, rest, stop trying to produce successful paintings. By the weekend I was coughing up boluses of emotion like hair balls and needed serious time in my studio. I had a hunger to take out all my oil pastels (like crayons; sticks of pigment) and lose control with them, using them on boards (and canvas; more on that tomorrow) with abandon; I love this medium but they take forever to dry so I don’t use them heavily. I ended up with this small painting. I’m still liking it on Monday, which I guess is good; I might be happy with a painting one day and then the next day think it’s dreadful and who the hell do I think I am, calling myself an artist? Ack. Creating art is tricky and tough and satisfying and treacherous and full of land mines, especially if an artist is emotionally involved in her creations. Today I’m bumbling around, just doing what’s in front of me which helps. Following Hillary’s advice to women: Get up every day and keep going. OK art fans I’m going to upload this post now as it’s almost time for Zoom Zumba class. Thank you dear ones for reading my blurbs.

8″ x 8″ acrylic, pencil, oil pastel on claybord = $75




daily painting | pacman pom

My lovely friend and almost-relative Nancy in San Diego kindly sent me photos of her prolific pomegranate trees, as I love painting these interesting colors and shapes. It’s so cool how they grow together, almost conjoined, on the branch, and I honestly don’t know how the trees support all that heavy fruit once October arrives. One pom had split open, making it look like Pacman or a hungry whale roaming the sea for plankton (food segue: I made a yummy pomegranate-related favorite recipe the other night, roasting “matchsticks” of butternut squash, flavored with ground sumac and accompanied by a yogurt sauce with pomegranate molasses).

I love Autumn. But I am particularly enjoying this year’s season change because I’m hopeful the crushing heat waves will dissipate, the air will clear, and we will have November election results that give relief. Then we can figure out how to get through quarantined holidays; hooboy. What a year! Let’s all keep on keeping on, friends and loved ones. We’ll get through this. We are sturdy folk.

10″ x 8″ watercolor, pen, acrylic ink on paper = $100




daily painting | sidewalk pumpkins

Walking down Spear St. a few weeks ago in San Francisco to meet my small, tough group of friends and family to do the Bay to Breakers (Covid-style, no crowds), a vendor had a pumpkin stand and was calling it a day and putting away the baskets of these orange lovelies. It was an incongruous and delightful sight, and I snapped a few photos, thinking, “Where am I, Half Moon Bay or downtown San Francisco?” Anyways, that B-to-B group had way more grit than I did! My fierce brother outwalked the group, even with Parkinson’s (his 49th Bay to Breakers!). My sister is being beat by breast cancer, and she soldiered on to the finish line, as did her son and my brother’s two friends, the Michaels. I petered out after 4 miles as my hips were complaining too much and I don’t even have an illness to blame it on. Not so tough. But it was a blast. SF is a great walking city. Now, let me switch to another walking story, which will make this post a bit lengthy and thank you for your patience.

My ailing sister, who is squeezing every last drop out of her life (who on earth gets kicked out of hospice, twice? Because she wasn’t done traveling? She’s a rock star!), was recently visiting from Seattle and doing, in her words, her Farewell Tour. She wanted to walk around our old neighborhood in Mill Valley, and I asked to join her. I was a bit reticent, as there are memory-bombs around every corner, and many are awful. But I also very much wanted to go, especially with her.

We had a ball, sharing funny memories and remembering stories about childhood friends and neighbors. We walked to our house at the end of Homestead Blvd, which is now nicely paved instead of gravelly and filled with potholes. Kay knocked on the front door, asking the owner if it was OK to walk through the yard, and she graciously invited us in to see the house.

Lordy, it was amazing. Sandy has lived there now 50 years! And it’s beautiful. It is filled with light and love and art and paintings of birds instead of pain and loneliness and abuse. It was a wonder. It hasn’t changed a lot (a few added skylights), but it is transformed, as Sandy is a warm, kind woman (and a birder and an artist!). It was a seminal moment for me, as now I think of that house, that contained so much sorrow when I was a child, as a place of joy and beauty. It was one of those marvelous curveballs life throws at you — and it became a surprise home run. Score!

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