monochromatic painting of book table by emily weil

daily painting | book table

Looking for a dry and quiet spot for a private art lesson with Mathilde, my lovely young student who hails from France, we landed in the funky but functional meeting room, fondly referred to in my marina as the Yacht Club, where we trade books with neighbors. Mathilde wanted practice drawing and painting indoor scenes so we painted this book table using little cakes of ArtGraf water-soluble graphite which are great fun. We paint side-by-side, as is her preference, so she can observe my choices and techniques. I love these little cakes as when the painting is dry, depending on which color I choose, the results are textured and interesting.

In November, a week apart, we spread both my brother Jim’s ashes (in our home town of Mill Valley) and my sister Diana’s ashes (on her favorite beach in Crescent City). This means that now I have all three of my sibs’ ashes (including Kay’s) in little glass jars on a kind of altar where I light candles and put fairy lights. I’m feeling quite stunned by this little collection, and am wobbling around trying to get my bearings and embrace this reality. Phoo. I’m going to give myself permission today to cry as often as I need to.

7″ x 10″ ink, water-soluble graphite on paper = $90

 

 

 

abstract painting by emily weil

daily painting | belt it out

So the thing about grief is that it rips your skin off, and then it knifes deeper into your muscles and organs where, with surgical precision, it tears open all the old wounds that you’d rather not look at. This is its gift.

So I kind of celebrate this moment (she said, perhaps masochistically). And I would like it very much if I never again felt like this. But I know things are shifting and re-balancing and I will come out stronger. I’m certain of it. It effing sucks but chains I have dragged behind me my entire life that I didn’t even know were hindering me are rusting through and falling off. Childbirth and open-heart surgery come to mind, to add the list of metaphors.

This painting represents part of my journey.

Broken hearts are more open, I am told.

40″ x 28″ acrylic, oil pastel, pencil, cut up scarves, cut paper on canvas = $1450

 

 

 

watercolor of crab cove park by emily weil

daily painting | crab cove

“Linda Wishkob was magnetically ugly. Her pasty wedge of a face just cleared the post office counter.” Louise Erdrich wrote those astonishing sentences in her book, The Round House. What a writer! Those two lines alone are worth the price of her powerful novel. I love being in the middle of a book that pulls me in its direction throughout the day making me look forward to whatever time I can carve out to devour it.

Speaking of writing, I am finding writing in my journal to be helpful. It’s like talking to a therapist. It’s a release of emotion and very healing as I don’t have to edit my words or try to sound nice. I can write with abandon, knowing that no one will look at me with that dreaded look of concern while they worry I’m going to go jump off a bridge.

Grief, man. What a trip.

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

 

 

 

watercolor of flowers by emily weil

daily painting | alameda fence

Lesson for today (from a helpful book on loss): Plan one thing a day you can look forward to that gives you pleasure. OK, I can do that. So I got my paints out. Did I feel like it? Nope. But once I got out the tray of watercolors and the papers and brushes I did feel better. This is the result. Subject matter is from a photo I took of a front yard that exploded with technicolor flowers; this purply-pink stunner was against a picket fence in a neighborhood I sometimes ride my bike through on the way to the grocery store. I wanted to play with paint as opposed to creating a nice watercolor. 

Art students often feel pressure to create something that proves they have some worthy skills. The highest compliment, I once thought, was, “Ooh, that looks exactly like a pink flower against a fence!” Today I just wanted to do a painting, and I like this one’s loony looseness. I think it holds my feelings pretty well. And creating it gave me pleasure. I’m learning a few things.

9″ x 12″ ink, watercolor on paper

 

 

 

watercolor, ink painting of dog by emily weil

daily painting | jake

Sometimes the world is so gorgeous it makes my eyeballs hurt. Driving from Alameda to San Rafael the other day, the east bay skies were a dark, cold gray. But as I drove up I-80 through Berkeley I could see Mt Tam and the greening Marin hills across the bay, covered in a sunny mosaic and it made me appreciate the delightful surprises that photo-bomb my days. When I returned back home, it was a beauty sandwich — the entire bay had become quite cloudy, but again from the Berkeley freeway a stunning orange-peach sunset developed on the other side of the Golden Gate bridge — like someone used an exacto knife, slicing the clouds to let the beauty spill out.

This is quite a journey. And I am proud of myself, and I hope not in a smug way, of showing up for this colorful, painful, baffling, aggravating, glorious, heart-searing, soul-healing, psychedelic passage.

So about this artwork — Jake was great fun to paint. Jake’s daddy is Michael, my brother’s best friend since 3rd grade. Michael has had wrenching physical challenges for months now, and I thought since I’ve done a few pet painting commissions I’d do Jake as a get-well present. When Michael returned home from one of his many surgeries, Jake was nervous about the walker his dad was using. The photo he sent me really captured Jake’s uncertainty.

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

 

 

 

watercolor painting of santa barbara courthouse by emily weil

daily painting | santa barbara courthouse

Today is Good Friday. In the Christian tradition, it is the day Jesus was crucified, with Easter being the celebration of the miraculous resurrection. Though I no longer practice these beliefs, I am always heartened by the promising and hopeful message of new life emerging after death. Because I’m kinda tired of death. The daffodils and happy faces of the ice plant flowers blooming in my marina cheer me — every year they pop out, and they don’t care of news of war or pandemics or family strife. They just happily do what they do; I also so love the row of calla lilies blooming in Fort Cronkhite in the Marin Headlands. Here in Alameda we don’t have snowy winters, but still the blooms in Spring boost our hearts. 

And I am sad today not to be with family for Easter, but there are unresolved difficulties still keeping folks apart. Families! Always somethin’. But I believe in love and hope and resolutions and resurrections and reunions. I do a morning meditation every day, where I calm myself and ask Great Spirit to walk with me. Today I visualized my two sisters who have recently left this earth hugging me, happy we are together. Every day I am grateful they are no longer in pain. I think they watch over me, helping me find my way.

About this painting — done at the watercolor workshop in Santa Barbara last week. And hey, I just heard a blurb on the news that today is the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier which is amazing and wonderful — and his widow Rachel, now 99, continues to work to fight racism. Doesn’t that just make your heart light up? Happy Easter and Passover and Ramadan, everyone.

6″ x 9″ 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

 

 

 

watercolor + pastel painting of snowy egret by emily weil

daily painting | snowy egret

This snowy egret with its yellow slippers often stalks its fishy treats just outside my window on the muddy edges of the San Francisco estuary. This is commissioned painting #2 for my dear neighbor; this bird is a favorite of hers, with its wispy, snow-white feathers and careful search of watery prey at the water’s edge (OK and my apologies but here’s a favorite joke: “I used to be Snow White, but I drifted”). Anyways, thought I’d share this on my daily paintings page as I have been spending time in my studio working on large paintings again. Stay tuned.

15″ x 20″ watercolor, ink, pastel on paper

 

 

 

watercolor painting of night heron by emily weil

daily painting | visitors

Late at night I will sometimes sit out on my deck, enjoying the midnight hour and watching the black-crowned night herons hunt on the docks (William, a young one still in juvenile plumage, often comes by and I saw him with a small silvery fish in its beak, but curiously he didn’t swallow it right away. I’m pretty sure William loves me). It’s peaceful — no construction noise, no clackety dock carts rolling by, no motorboats being rinsed off in the washing area, no neighbors coming and going. Last night I was admiring the gorgeous moon hanging out above the parking lot silos (and is that Jupiter up there?) — it’s still and calm. I noticed a disturbance in the water, just below the surface — then a harbor seal popped up, taking in the scene. I could hear it breathing. It was the coolest thing — harbor seals are not unusual out in the estuary, but this is only the second time I’ve seen one visit B dock. What a wonderful nocturnal hello.

This painting of a night heron (with its mating-season flirt feather on display, stilting through the mossy mud) was commissioned by a lovely neighbor who wants to take our birds with her as she may move north. I hope she stays. Neighbors like her don’t grow on trees.

15″ x 20″ watercolor, ink, pastel on paper

 

 

 

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