watercolor of flowers by emily weil

daily painting | july

I taught a delightful class of artists yesterday at Frank Bette Center in Alameda and this was a quick demo using watercolor plus ink and sticks. Beautiful July weekend with cooling breezes. Skidding along and surfing the crazy emotions. I’m OK.

And R.I.P. Dennis McCabe, my sister Kay’s husband who, I just learned, died night before last (Seattle was home for them). Kay’s death hit him hard, and he mercifully had a quick decline and left the planet surrounded by his daughters and their families. He is now relieved both of his physical illnesses and a broken heart. 

7″ x 10″ watercolor, ink on paper




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




watercolor and ink drawing of pear by emily weil

daily painting | solo pear

In between my Friday chores I pulled out my paints to do a quick study of the Bosc pear in my fruit bowl (before I devoured it). More fun doing this than laundry, I tell ya. And a tonic after doing some writing this morning as part of my crunching through painful feelings regarding my relationship with my sister who died last Nov. As part of the wonderful support Death with Dignity in Seattle offers, the organization that helped my sister end her life, I joined the weekly support group Zoom sessions as a way to help work out my complicated feelings about my younger sister, and the facilitator suggested we write a letter to our lost loved one, and perhaps even try writing a response. So I did it this morning (I should buy stock in Kleenex® for god’s sake). I expressed anger. I wrote about frustrations with her as she resolutely refused to talk about what happened when we were kids and suffered violence at the hands of our raging dad (she was not on speaking terms with her feelings). I kind of let it all out on paper, and was a bit surprised at how much better I felt (I was thinking, OK, yeah, done this before); the response letter, which I also wrote, was loving and honest. Yes, her letter to me was imaginary. But very comforting and healing.

Grief just takes a big stiff steel brush and scrubs off the rusty bits, leaving me raw and roughed up. It is taking me more deeply into pain from a wretched family dynamic when I was small, and my heart is mending. Today I have a welcome opportunity to “go deep” and forgive and make peace with all this turbulence. Not a pleasant journey by any stretch. But I chose this pot-holed path and I think I can slough off part of my painful family’s legacy, and that’s a gift. Our brains, man. So complicated. So full of possibility.

8″ x 8″ ink, watercolor on paper = $85




pastel, pencil drawing of yellow pepper of by emily weil

daily painting | class pepper

Saturday I taught a painting/mixed media class at Frank Bette Center in Alameda, a workshop that includes working with watercolor, pencil, pastel and other media. At the end of the class while we were winding down I did a quick take with chalk pastels of a solo pepper I plucked from the still life I’d set up. I don’t think I’ve ever started with pastel; usually I add it on top of a watercolor. Anyways, this turned out to be a chipper pepper, which is interesting to me as the colors that show up in my paintings/drawings are usually bright and primary, rarely reflecting my sad moods these days. Curious, but I’m good with it.

After class I was cleaning up, and out the window of the classroom I noticed a man walking with a person who seemed to be his son; I’ve seen them before on that block. The son, probably in his 30s, seems to be quite mentally impaired and must need constant care (for example, maybe reacting to the restraints of outerwear, he likes to remove all his clothes when he goes outside, prompting his dad to make sure he stays decent). The two of them usually walk around the block, and the affection the dad shows his adult, ailing son brought me to tears as I watched them — they stroll arm-in-arm (sometimes pausing so the young man can embrace a tree). Once I saw the dad lean down slightly and kiss his grown son on the forehead. The dad seems entirely devoted to the well-being of the young man and that show of unconditional love cracked open my sore heart. What a thing of beauty; how lucky I am to have seen it.

7″ x 7″ pastel, pencil on paper = $75




watercolor painting of rose by emily weil

daily painting | small rose

So I wrote a blog entry this morning, and it was fine, and I posted it. But I’m rewriting it to talk about other stuff. Like showing up. Like getting out of bed when I feel completely at sixes and sevens but moving forward anyway and washing the dishes and making my tea. Like meeting a contractor who showed up to bid on my dry rot house repair project and disliking him so thoroughly (arrogant, aggressive, gallingly rude with slight notes of slime) I tried to think of someone I could call just to complain for a minute. Like feeling so out of sorts last night I had to just sit with it, in spite of having dinner with a loving friend who does not quail when I cry, but hugs and comforts me — I was so raggedy even his kindness rubbed the wrong way. Once again I’m talking to myself and remembering that, after my mom died, I felt out of sorts for many months. It’s been 3 months and 9 days since my older sister committed suicide and I’m trying to cut myself some slack, looking to be kind and gentle with that shocked, grieving and heartbroken self. The jarring fact of the deaths of both my sisters still stuns me, so I’m rambling, trying to get a clear focus. On anything. I’m working my way through it and thank you for holding me with kindness and patience. [I painted this small rose from a bouquet I brought for my art students to paint last weekend.]

7.25″ x 8″ sticks-and-ink, watercolor on paper = $75