daily painting | horsey memories

Ok today is blast-from-the-past Christmas Eve blog day. I did this painting years ago, from a photo I took of a happy trip to the Rockies to ride horses one summer. Had a ball (I think my friend Diane bought this painting?). Anyways, 10 years or so ago, after my life-changing event of attending an art workshop at Esalen where I was encouraged by the teacher to take myself seriously as an artist, I had to choose — art or horses? Art won. No regrets, but I miss riding. Yesterday a dear old friend from those days came by to buy several of my Emily Weil art masks. Haven’t seen her in eons; we rode horses out of the same barn in the Oakland hills. I asked her when she came by to please bring a horse — if not a horse, then could she please rub some horseshit in her hair so I could enjoy the memory-laden aromas? She brought me a ziplock bag of straw and manure mucked out from the stalls. It properly stunk, and was wonderful. Best Christmas present ever as it brought belly laughs and a wonderful visit with an old barn friend. Thank you, Jamin. It made me appreciate the different chunks of my life that I have experienced through the years, from horses to painting to traveling the world to raising kids in Oregon to the bumpy road of healing childhood wounds to life on a houseboat. What a damn ride this is! And I’m still vertical (even if listing to the starboard side).

6″ x 9″ watercolor paper

 

 

 

daily painting | this old house

A falling-down house on the backside of an Alameda parking lot. Windows askew, roof curling at the corners (this painting is only slightly exaggerated). Really cool stuff. I’m feeling a bit dilapidated too but I think it’s because it’s day 53 of house arrest. I am thinking about creating an adjustable button I can wear, like the signs you see in workplaces sometimes that boast they have been accident-free for however many days. “Day 53 of Covid Isolation!” and wear it proudly. It feels kind of macho. I think it is a contribution to the health of our community, though. Spoke to a friend in another part of the state and people are quite relaxed about socially distancing there. I will refrain from political statements here. At least for today. “I’ve gone 1.5 days without complaining about Trump!” My 2nd button. So many possibilities.

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

 

 

 

daily painting | pink dance

This was a work in progress that started from an older painting that seemed outdated. I tacked it up on the wall of my studio and asked it what it wanted. I often have these dialogues with my abstract paintings, and they tell me which colors to add, which media, what shapes. A conversation with my deeper self, I suppose — it’s cliche, but I trust my intuition as I move through the process of painting. I lose track of time, sometimes have to sit down and cry and work through grief that bubbles up, and, once I feel the piece is done, alternate between loving it and loathing it. Ping ponging around from confidence to satisfaction to despair to self-doubt,  which is the game of being an artist. Because my studio in Oakland is safe, as I am usually the only one there, I am glad to have it as an alternate space to ride out house arrest. It’s a container for me that holds me and shelters me and is dedicated to imagination and creation. I am endlessly grateful for that spot, and to Patricia, the landlady who generously helps improve the space and make it more comfortable.

44″ x 34″ acrylic, collage, pencil, oil pastel on canvas = $1945

 

 

 

daily painting | easter tulips

This Alameda front yard was bursting with Easter color, and the tulips in particular were so sensual and copious they almost made me blush. Rose-colored and violet and plush pink against the white picket fence — full of life and hope. Hope helps me work through these days of house arrest; maybe we are halfway through, who knows (today is day 31)? The Transamerica Pyramid has its beacon on at the top as a way of saying thank you to medical workers on the front lines and a “hang in there everyone!” for those of us who feel isolated and cooped up. At high tide I can go out on my deck and see that particular slice of the San Francisco skyline, and that pulsing light does indeed make my heart feel better. Any shred to hang onto that makes me feel encouraged, lighter, happier. Funny! Such a simple thing, yet it helps. In a fit of thankfulness I wrote an email to Ms Chan, a manager there to express my appreciation. She wrote back right away to thank me. A brief, warm connection that brightened my day.

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

 

 

 

 

daily painting | quarantine art club

Two-to-four-o’clock this afternoon was a chunk of heaven. Friend and neighbor Liz and I did session four of the Quarantine Art Club (perfectly named by Liz). From a 6′ distance we sit and draw and sketch and paint in and around our marina in Alameda. I loved this little dinghy suspended from the stern of its mother ship and went straight for it. The drawing was the thing here, as I loved the whole scene, and then I added color. A good drawing can easily become an overly complicated painting, and once I was done with the watercolors I thought it was a little too dark and busy so I added acrylic pen to jazz it up a bit and, hopefully, unify the piece. Then it became a party on D dock. The warm sun, the laughter, drawing and painting and relaxing and, best of all, the company of a good friend. Two hours of joy.

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

 

 

 

daily painting | sunny apple

On a recent bright sunny afternoon, the warm rays coming through my window were striking, so I took an apple out of the fruit bowl and positioned it on my dining room table where the sun was saying hello. It actually felt hopeful, all that golden warmth glowing on the apple. It was a peaceful scenario, belying the full-throttled crisis we are all living in right now as Covid19 roars across our country, helped by lagging government officials who pretended it wasn’t on its way. That tricky little bitch! Spreading herself gleefully, often through folks who are infected without them knowing it. So. Here we are, in the thick of it. And as a country we are strong, and we will get through this. And this too shall piss (nope, not a typo). Those of us seniors who live alone are challenged by the isolation (I certainly am) so here are some of my adaptations, in case what I am learning is helpful: • I only do one day at a time. Period. This morning I felt a bucketful of anxiety pressing on my chest, so I got out my headphones and tuned into a meditation recording I use to guide me spiritually. It makes a big difference. Starting my day like that really helps. • In the morning I talk to myself out loud about how I will organize my day — which tasks I will undertake, what art I will create, who I will call, how I will get exercise. It’s like a daily roadmap. • I also write in a journal, which helps me get anxious thoughts out of my head and onto paper. They seem more manageable that way. • I try to remember that hope is the one thing that we all need to get through hard times of any variety. We are made of sturdy stuff and, one foot in front of the other, will get to the other side.

An added note about the painting subject matter — my table has these pretty little fringed table runners on top of the tablecloth. They are delicate and beautiful linens, purchased a number of years ago in Istanbul at an open market. I fell in love with the fine craftmanship of the pieces (probably “craftwomanship” is more accurate) and, though at the time I did not have my own home but lived in an apt. with a shared kitchen, I suppose there was a part of me that hoped one day I would have my own kitchen and dining room table. Hope is a funny thing — I had no basis for that possibility, but it was in me anyways. Keep hoping, everyone. It is fuel for our hearts and souls.

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

 

 

 

daily painting | zooming in

I took Sue’s glorious photo of California poppies and zoomed in to do another painting which I hope is instructional for my dear art student. And I’m oh-so-cleverly punning around (ha!), as using Zoom software for video conferencing is the way so many of us are connecting in today’s upside-down, infected world (STAY AT HOME! STAY AT HOME!). Paints, pens, watercolor paper are all helping me keep my head on, along with my careful ventures to my studio in Oakland, where I am alone and isolated and also safe as usually I’m the only one there; yesterday I started to rework a large acrylic abstract. I am so fortunate to have that getaway. Everything is normal inside my space there.

I got blown sideways last night as I had a full-on panic attack. It’s been decades since that has happened (though I certainly have had panicky moments) so I didn’t know what was happening at first (I was listening to music for god’s sake!). So I am treading gingerly and carefully and lovingly today around my emotions, creating safe mental spaces to get through this viral and exceedingly lonely emergency; the one thing that helps is only doing what’s directly in front of my nose. And breathing. Deeply. And getting outside (safely!). I am extremely fortunate to have a lovely place to live on the water. Which is what I was enjoying last night, out on my deck, admiring the watery views, when the panic ambushed me. Our brains are weird.

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

 

 

 

 

daily painting | sue’s poppies

So my student Sue gives me photos she has taken and we paint them together. We used to do it in the same room, but we’ve had to change our methods. She sent me a lovely pic of California poppies, and today I did a small painting from her lovely shot. I feel guilty, actually — the photo is her creation and I’m taking advantage! But hopefully some learning is taking place (like, I’m learning how to videotape, I’m learning to appreciate social interactions I used to take for granted, I’m learning to only do one day at a time during these lonely days). Anyways, poppies are so cheery and gorgeous and vibrant and floppy. I love them. Thank you Sue for letting me paint from your wonderful scenes. It’s helping to occupy my mind and keeping it from sliding into dark places.

10″ x 7″ watercolor, pen on paper

 

 

 

 

daily painting | social distance sketching

My good friend and neighbor Liz and I, missing going out for coffee, bring hot drinks in our commuter mugs and find benches near our marina along the water where we can escape house arrest and sit and chat and laugh and sketch while 6 feet apart. We did a kind of drawing experiment and drew outlines of skylines across the estuary in Oakland, rough outlines of boats in our marina, and our floating homes. It created kind of a jigsaw of abstract shapes, and I then filled in the drawing in this mini-sketchbook with color (watercolor, acrylic pen). It was kind of a paint-by-numbers, and was lots of fun. Her words were also reassuring, as I talked about the discombobulating experience of social-distance-senior-shopping at a local supermarket that opens its doors to us grayheads before they let others in (Berkeley Bowl is doing a brilliant job in this crisis; I was happy to buy most of the foods I wanted). It was a very upsetting experience and set my teeth on edge and it took the rest of the afternoon to calm down, though walking on Crown Beach in Alameda helped a great deal. It was almost normal there — windsurfers and kids playing in the sand and plovers running along on their cute little legs in the shallow surf. These are upside-down times, my dear blog readers. One day at a time. It’s all pretty awful. Hang in there.

 

 

 

daily painting | birds from heaven

Adapting is the name of the game these days. My darling art student Sue and I are not meeting thanks to all of us being under house arrest, so I’m enjoying learning to videotape my painting process so I can send her instructional videos. Sue selects the subject matter from photos she has taken, and this Bird of Paradise was one of her shots, taken near her home. So I set up my iPhone using a spotting scope tripod with a stick attached, like a boom, with the phone balanced on the end, and film the process of painting small watercolors on my kitchen counter. I’ve fired up new software (Premiere) which I use to reduce the file size as the videos are too big to easily send digitally. It’s satisfying to have my mind occupied by painting and learning new geeky stuff which for me is fun and challenging.

For this piece I started with my indelible ink, fude fountain pen (“fude”, pron. foo-day, is a kind of bent nib), drawing it from the photo displayed on my laptop (yes, there are splashes of paint on the surface!). I added watercolor, then more lines and pops of color using pastel pencils, finishing it off with white acrylic pen. I wanted to keep it loose, and while filming it I added my commentary which is quite the ego-stroke. I’ll continue this process, doing more paintings and maybe at some point I’ll start an online painting course. I’ll try this in my studio too, with large abstracts.

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