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




sketch of lodge in south africa by emily weil

daily painting | africa

Hello and Merry Everything on this rainy December Monday! Been awhile since my last post, as my world has been a blur of activity, from being warmed and loved by folks who came from all over the U.S. for my brother’s ashes ceremony in Mill Valley to a fun Thanksgiving with my niece and family in Crescent City to an astonishing adventure of traveling to Africa for 16 days for a “road-trapping” trip where we we put “rings” (bands, in the U.S.) on the legs of South African raptors, from falcons to eagles to “buzzards” (we call them hawks in the Americas). All I can say is WOW • WOW • WOW. I didn’t bring paints with me (not a lot of spare time) but did do sketches. Here is a depiction of one of the lodges we stayed in. When we arrived in this particular spot in the African bush, which with its red-rock outcroppings looked like a scene from The Lion King, we were asked to sign a waiver that we wouldn’t sue if we were stung by a scorpion or trampled by elephants or eaten by lions. So thrilling! Elephants were so near we could watch them roaming and hear them munching on branches. We heard lions roaring (never saw them). Thankfully scorpions stayed tucked away but a few large spiders did say hello in our rooms (ugh). It was assumed everything was deadly venemous.

I took a small portion of my brother’s ashes and left them in this place. He never visited the continent. Now he can enjoy the scenery and listen to the lions.

It was the trip of a lifetime, and I’m so happy to have had such a privilege to travel there. South Africa teems with wildlife and we saw baboons and mongooses (looked up the plural version!) and monkeys and hippos and crocodiles and jackals and zebras (pron. “zeh-bra” and one nearby zebra was albino) and countless spectacular birds. I held African eagles in my hands! And falcons! And we saw hundreds of smaller birds with dazzling gemstone colors and long, showy tailfeathers. Our group leaders had encyclopedic knowledge of the birds there.

So. Home now. Where I can freely drink the water and enjoy consistent electricity (South Africa infrastructure is a mess, and the govt. is in chaos) and not worry about malaria or thorns that flatten tires and pierce even sturdy footwear. And the racism was blatant — there were the white Afrikaans farmers, and the Black African workers — white farmers in air-conditioned truck cabs and Black workers standing in the back of the vehicles in 115° heat. A very big chasm between the two. No one tried to hide it and it left me dumbfounded. 

I want to go back. Maybe I’ll win the lottery and go gape at the animals in Botswana. Or experience music in West Africa. What a place. And how incredibly privileged we are to live here. Traveling always brings profound gratitude.

4″ x 6″ ink on paper




watercolor of rose bud by emily weil

daily painting | rose bud

I created this small painting a few weeks ago and thought I’d post it before my schedule gets a bit more busy; we scatter my brother’s ashes tomorrow, I’ll join family members up north for turkey day, and then soon after will have the privilege of going on an exciting international trip.

I’m hanging on during the emoting. The ups and downs are like being on the Giant Dipper in Santa Cruz (just looked at images online and they made my stomach lurch) — so far I’m still strapped in but am a bit dizzy. I am enjoying the sweet company of friends and family who are arriving for the ashes ceremony tomorrow and also when I stopped at the grocery store to buy Thanksgiving pie ingredients I started crying in the dairy section (well, as I write this, that makes sense, as bro was the family’s supreme commander of holiday pie-making). This led to me doubling over in the elevator down to the parking garage (I was alone). Then there was the contentment of arriving home where it is safe and beautiful and dry and I felt the deep satisfaction of knowing I will see more loved ones tomorrow.

I don’t expect Mr Toad’s Wild Ride to be over any time soon (keeping to amusement park references) but I did get a case of Dramamine® at Costco.

Have a good holiday season, everyone. May you enjoy peace and love and fun and contentment. If your heart hurts may you find solace and comfort and places that soothe. 

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




watercolor of alameda house by emily weil

daily painting | view from franklin park

So I picked up my brother’s ashes on Monday. I was pretty rattled — it made it very real, that he’s gone —and yet I still attempted to teach a drawing lesson of 2-point perspective to a lovely French woman who is taking private art lessons. It was so bad I refused payment — boy was I a muddy puddle. She was very understanding. 

Before our meeting, I arrived early at Franklin Park in Alameda and started this painting of one of the lovely homes bordering the park (this went better than teaching architectural angles of roof lines). 

It was an amazing day. Once I returned home, I was quite upset and crying, hard. I saw a dear neighbor walking his dog and went to ask him a favor — would he please give me a hug? He held me close as I sobbed (he’s a tall man and very kind); he knew my grief as he’d tragically lost his wife about a year ago. The next day he left me a stunning bouquet at my front door. 

That evening I went outside to my deck around 10pm to admire the crescent moon. Almost as soon as I was outside a meteorite (or maybe space junk?) streaked across the sky, with a brilliant green tail! I could hardly breathe, it was so amazing. It lasted all of one second. I’m not alone.

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