daily painting | liquidation

I was honored to be invited by Frank Bette Center for the Arts in Alameda to demo painting with acrylics and had a ball [on Zoom from my studio]. This is the abstract result — it has many layers, and I even relaxed a bit during the process though it makes me squirmy to be watched while I paint (heard a story that deKooning would paint outside and sit inside a large cardboard box for privacy — have no idea if it’s true, but I get it). What surprised me (maybe it shouldn’t have) was that I experienced strong emotion at the beginning of the demo as I painted; even with eyeballs on me, making art splits me open like a pea pod. If you’ve read even two of my blogs, you know I celebrate the expression of emotion — I believe it’s healthy. My particular challenge is not to drown in feelings, which happens; I’m grateful for loved ones who toss me the occasional life preserver and pull me back into the boat.

I guess because this abstract had so many iterations, it’s nice to be reasonably satisfied with the final result (which was auctioned off and sold, hooray!). At one point it was half-smothered in drippy green acrylic goo, and I thought that was the end of it and maybe it should quietly be put out to pasture (took out my palette knife, added more color and it got better). It’s hard to know when to stop and when to move forward. Keep trying? Ditch it and start a new one? How to decide? Lessons of life. I guess I’ll just keep navigating by the seat of my pants; I’m still in motion.

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

 

 

 

watercolor painting of wildflowers by emily weil

daily painting | purple posies

Happy Birthday to my little sister who lost the battle to cancer last November. She surprised everyone, including herself, by making it to her 66th birthday a year ago, and good for her. She lived large and according to her own design. A powerful woman.

I thought about all kinds of things on this cool and breezy July Tuesday as the edges of the marine layer flirted with my marina on and off all day. But mostly about Kay on her 67th birthday. My memories recently were confirmed that our trips to Carmel where my mom attended the Bach Festival for a handful of summers when Kay and I were little were fun and pleasant and we didn’t squabble, which we did constantly at home (I’m talking about hair pulling and kicking and rage — one time my exasperated mother handed us both a sharp knife and told us to kill each other, but do it in the bathroom where the cleanup would be easier; we were too shocked to respond). Removed from the family dynamic and in the company of our kind babysitter (no parents, heaven!), we had a ball and got along well. So interesting how kids absorb family tensions and dysfunctions and act them out. I am happy to think about that, the innocent joy we shared together during all those hours we spent on the beach. I am deeply grateful for those glorious, sandy, often-foggy summer days.

Had a nice moment today doing some outdoor household chores — I heard peregrines calling overhead and watched what may have been one of the resident falcons (there’s a nest on the Fruitvale bridge near me) chasing off an intruding falcon. Such beauty and acrobatic grace! A second or two of locked talons, even. Was cool I happened to be outside when that raptor-drama occurred (I did race inside to grab my binos).

Today’s painting — dug back into past photos. These are of wildflowers in Tilden Park in the Berkeley hills. Paints dry faster on windy days.

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

 

 

 

watercolor of lilies by emily weil

daily painting | barnhill lilies

As I journey on in this remarkable time of loss, I am encouraged and heartened not just by the loving support I have in my life but by what I am learning about myself: the old stumps I drag behind of family suffering, the incredible power to heal and say farewell to encumbrances and embrace new goals. Sometimes my head buzzes with fireworks — both illuminating and dangerous. Here I am, in the december years of my life (maybe just late autumn?) and yet here are new ideas, previously unconsidered possibilities and lessons of faith and trust. How grateful I am to be alive, and I’m going to co-opt a quote I heard from Norman Lear who described his family as having “lived at the top of its lungs and the ends of its nerves.” An excellent way of being in the world. I aspire to it.

Here’s this week’s adventure story -— after a particularly meaningful and healing session with my counselor who is a combo of skilled therapist, spiritual director and gifted healer, I headed up to the Oakland hills for my fave trail through the redwoods to absorb the powerful work of that afternoon. As I parked in the lot by the Joaquin Miller Park visitor center, avoiding street parking as they warn of break-ins, I heard red-shouldered hawks calling and saw red tail hawks circling above. The groves of trees embraced me as always (and I hugged them back); they comfort and soothe. Back to my car, I started it up and it made the worst racket! Like my muffler had fallen off. Not knowing exactly what to do (my mechanic had already gone home for the evening) I decided to limp home to Alameda, coasting downhill most of the way, glad for the electric engine that kicked in, avoiding freeways and laughing as I bombed through the Fruitvale district, attracting attention from the clamor of my engine. White-haired old lady in her hobbled Prius. Made it home (whew!), thankful for my safe arrival. A generous neighbor looked at my noisy vehicle and pronounced, “Your catalytic converter was stolen.” It’s in the shop now, getting repaired and is covered by insurance. Should be good to go, as my mechanic assures me she’s got quite a few miles left in her.

I also want to share this poem; couldn’t believe it arrived in my inbox, so perfect: 

YOU WHO LET YOURSELVES FEEL by Rainer Maria Rilke

You who let yourselves feel: enter the breathing

that is more than your own.

Let it brush your cheeks

as it divides and rejoins behind you.

Blessed ones, whole ones,

you where the heart begins:

You are the bow that shoots the arrows

and you are the target.

Fear not the pain. Let its weight fall back

into the earth;

for heavy are the mountains, heavy the seas.

The trees you planted in childhood have grown

too heavy. You cannot bring them along.

Give yourselves to the air, to what you cannot hold.
____

This painting: one of the owners of my marina has a fabulous garden (on land) and I took a number of photos of her lilies which, thanks to my Christian background, always make me think of Easter and new life.

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

 

 

 

watercolor and ink drawing of roses by emily weil

daily painting | berkeley roses

There’s something about the front yards in Berkeley. I have come across plants and bushes and flowers that I’ve never seen before — it is interesting and fun to roam around the neighborhoods while visiting a friend or walking from the auto shop or doing other walkabouts. These roses are the size of dinner plates — full, lush, open and gorgeous, like big trusting faces. The buds seem normal-sized, but the open blooms are enormous; this large rosebush hanging over a front yard fence stopped me in my tracks. What a gift it is to stumble across such beauty. 

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

 

 

 

daily painting | buzzy bees

Saturday afternoon painting. I was going to head to my studio, but felt happier/safer here in my home, getting out my watercolors and selecting a photo to paint from, taken on a recent hike in Tilden Park, where small squadrons of bumblebees were collecting pollen in the profuse poppies growing alongside the trail. It was beautiful, magical, hopeful and fun to watch these industrious critters, buzzing from flower to flower, their legs laden down with pods of pollen like fat orange water-wings. Today: disappearing into a tray of paints, listening to the finches sing outside on my deck, greeting warm and friendly neighbors as they walk by on the docks, sweeping up bird feeder leftovers of sunflower seed husks that stick to my shoes when I walk inside, making peace with my life as it is in this moment. Can’t expect too many functional neurons today. That’s OK. My hands remember how to hold a paintbrush. I am alive, breathing, accepting.

7″ x 6″ watercolor, pen, acrylic ink on paper = $55

 

 

 

daily painting | oakland trumpets

Hard to know where to start here, but getting out my paints was a tonic today (as was the beach at Fort Cronkhite). We gathered as a family a few days ago in Crescent City, CA, to memorialize my older sister Diana who took her life on May 7. I went to my files of photos and from there painted these trumpet flowers, growing outside my Oakland studio. How do you even go on, after losing two sisters in less than six months? Dunno. But here I am, bringing out my pan of watercolors, finding veggies to roast for dinner, appreciating a road trip with my brother. Our family group, 11 or 12 of us, walked on Diana’s favorite beach to honor her. My brother noticed we were all walking abreast on that wild and wide and beautiful beach, so he grabbed the hand of our niece walking by his side; then we all joined hands and walked along the water. I sobbed and sobbed. RIP, Diana. You suffered a great deal and I hope you are at peace.

5″ x 5″ watercolor, pen on paper = $65

 

 

 

watercolor painting of california wildflowers by emily weil

daily painting | headlands wildflower

Here’s another Marin Headlands wildflower from a recent hike (I’m wondering if my series of small flower paintings would be a good grouping together, framed on a wall?). Flowers like these are so damn cheery. I love them. This morning as I did my regular practice of prayer and meditation, my heart felt so shattered I placed my hand on my chest for comfort, which helps. Sometimes grief just sits on me, like a chunk of granite. Other times it’s in the corner, glaring at me but not possessing me, and I know at some point it will be done with me and head out the door. It’s a conflicted relationship, but I believe full surrender is best.

Note: please check out my events|classes page for info on a show at Terra Gallery in San Francisco next week! 

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

 

 

 

watercolor painting of flowers by emily weil

daily painting | courthouse posies

My day of jury duty last week in Oakland was brightened by finding a secret stash of blooms tucked behind a metal fence next to one of those big, cold, gray commanding buildings near the Alameda County Courthouse. It was a very chilly, overcast day, and we were not allowed to stay inside the building for lunch, so I wandered around a bit hoping for a spot to land. It was a challenge as lunch spots are all take-out due to Covid, and damn it was nippy and breezy, which made all those official buildings near Lake Merritt even more imposing and coldly intimidating. But here was this little gem of a bush, sporting flowers I’d never seen before and they cheered me. I hope the other members of the jury pool enjoyed these too, as we filed out of the assembly room and looked for somewhere to perch for an hour and then some — I felt spit out into the concrete jungle where there were no warm havens. Glad I layered up. Which is different from being lawyered up. Ha.

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

 

 

 

sketch of jury room by emily weil

daily painting | assembly room #100

Yesterday was a gray, chilly April day in Oakland, and as a member of jury group #1010 I was required to show up in the Alameda County Courthouse (I argued I am self-employed, which sometimes gets me excused, but no). Here are a few sketches I did as I fought stultifying boredom, hoping I didn’t hear my name called over the speakers (but I hasten to add I believe in this kind of civic duty, and if chosen I will embrace my responsibilities — I served on a jury for a fascinating federal case years ago involving a confiscation of 70 tons of hashish on the high seas). It was an 8 hour day, and after the Chauvin trial folks on all sides are skittish, so jury selection for a trial that involves a Black man, a gun, a robbery and lots of cops is taking quite a long time. This courthouse is famous for the photos taken during the Huey Newton trial in the 1970s with the Black Panthers holding rallies on the front steps. One photo has legally-armed (at the time) Black Panthers outside the front doors; can you even imagine what would happen if that took place today? Bloody hell, that’s what. 

But that was over 50 years ago and my god I’m old. I’m reminded of comments a racist family member made, who was a judge in the 60s-70s, opining about Angela Davis. Chilling and nauseating. But I won’t rant here about racism in the US as I get kind of riled up. (Side note: I was lucky enough to have Davis as a professor for a Women in Music class at CCAC in the 1980s and she was incredible; don’t think I’ve ever met a more intelligent or thoughtful woman in my lifetime. She was the antithesis of the scary Black woman firebrand militant the media painted her as in those days, and that bit of history looks quite different in light of the Chauvin trial, yes?)

Let’s all wake up, OK? White supremacism and bigotry is real, dangerous, and rotten and needs to be rooted out, especially in police departments and courtrooms. And in our own hearts.

 

 

 

watercolor painting of plumeria by emily weil

daily painting | plumeria

Went into the wayback stash of photos for this painting; I believe it was a shot of plumeria in a San Diego yard. The pinky yellows were really luscious, as were the big leaves with interesting patterns. I’m having an emotional afternoon, after hearing the Chauvin trial verdict. I was happy for the outcome and yet we have a long ways to go as a country with racism deeply dyed in our wool; I was passing time waiting for tires to be mounted on my car and was checking emails and saw the news on the trial and I was glad the waiting room wasn’t close to the lug nut experts as my eyes were leaking for the pain and sorrow and loss and ugliness of the raw facts of the challenges we face as Americans — we are marinating in old, difficult, painful, seemingly intractable issues. If I was queen of the universe I would make all of us open our hearts, be willing to see truth, and be kind. I do not have royal blood, so I’ll just try to be considerate to the folks I encounter during my day.

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