watercolor of dog by emily weil

daily painting | loki

I hope your holidays are sane and warm and safe and that you did not spend Christmas in an airport (wouldn’t it be nice if the airlines treated us like humans?). This little guy Loki was a commission for a Christmas present, and much fun to paint. 

With a lot of help we got my bro into friend Sue’s house for a fabulous Christmas feast. It took some doing — wheelchairs are cumbersome and he’s a tall man — and was a bit risky, for he gets fatigued easily, and crashes hard once tired. But it worked! And I had much help. I think it was fun for him — he wore a very dapper derby hat with a red feather and looked quite handsome.

This is Jim’s last Christmas, and his demise is slow as the brain cancer advances, but I’m told there may be a tipping point in the next weeks with a possible sudden decline. I would welcome that, so he’s done with this awful march of glio sarcoma through his neurons; he’s going into the 9th month of this sorrowful journey. My heart feels like it’s in a box of broken glass, but so far my homicidal urges have been restrained toward certain callous, cold-blooded individuals in Jim’s orbit. And such is the grief path I am on. I am getting more skilled at showing myself compassion as my emotions take me down this bumpy, harrowing path. I’ve given up on trying to be warmly social in human gatherings and I’m OK with that. I’m civilized — that I can manage; I haven’t snarled at anyone in awhile. One helpful outlet is to open my window while driving on the freeway and scream. Very cathartic but it makes my throat scratchy (no one notices, ever).

Grief is hard. There’s very little room in this world for expressions of raw pain and emotion. So it’s pretty lonely sometimes. And it’s weird but I also am finding this to be a time of amazing healing and love and connection, for my moments with my brother are sweet and precious and as we hang out together I find that some of my childhood pain is mending. And as I write this I am chuckling at the purring noises my guinea pig makes when he hears the chirping mobs of finches and sparrows outside at the bird feeder. They are conversing. 

Sending new year love to you all. Isn’t it something? We keep showing up and putting one foot in front of the other. I’m proud of that.  

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




daily painting | christmas still life

You know you are an artist when you roam the produce dept at Berkeley Bowl looking for still life material instead of recipe ingredients. In this case I “shopped my refrigerator” and put this together on this most remarkable Christmas Day, the first day in my 68 years to have a solo quarantined December 25th. Wow, I must say it’s been pretty damn interesting. And amazingly happy. I knew it would be a quiet day here in the marina (neighbors’ remodeling projects temporarily stilled), and I’ve been paying attention to and appreciating a complete lack of family drama. Is that a good thing? Am I destined to become a recluse? Who knows. But I admit I am glad to observe my adaptability to this somewhat sequestered life. And I completely enjoyed a rainy, windy holiday walk on Crown Beach with a good friend. As I sit in my slightly rocking houseboat enjoying a winter storm’s arrival, anticipating putting together a Christmas feast just for one, I am standing outside myself a bit and watching my life as an aging woman. Content, surely. Filled with grief — how could I not be? Flexible, sturdy and rolling with the 2020 punches. Merry Christmas everyone. Though, as a dear friend said, “Merry” and “Christmas” are not exactly a well-matched pair this year.

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




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 | christmas satsuma

This time of year brings oodles of these tangerines to grocery stores with their puckered, wrinkly shapes. I snagged a few of these from the local produce market — the antithesis of the perfect sphere of a navel orange. I love how easy they peel and their sweet juiciness. I was wanting to do a quickie the other day so I got out my small watercolor sketchbook and did a few versions of this solitary guy. Which reminds me! [I love this story]. A million years ago in an art workshop, the teacher had put a bowl of oranges at our work table for snacks. As we worked on our drawings and paintings, an elderly woman in the group reminisced about being a small child in post-WWII bombed-out Berlin when the citizens were starving, suffering from blockades and sanctions. The Americans began the Berlin Airlift, dropping food and supplies to starving Germans. This lovely woman remembers the utter joy of running after the parachuted bundle and finding juicy oranges. She said she never takes food for granted, especially such wonders as succulent fresh fruit. I was so humbled by her story, for as a privileged American I’ve never run from bombs, been herded into refugee camps, fled from war across an ocean or suffered from the war-ravages of hunger. I’ll always remember that kindly woman and how she helped me be a bit more grateful.

3.5″ x 5.5″ watercolor, pen on paper




daily painting | december persimmon

I think most of us would agree that this is a December unlike any other. For the first time in forever I will be locked down at home instead of in San Diego for Christmas with grandkids — so many Americans will be quarantined as well, lonely for family. I am grieving my sister, who was taken out by cancer, but I cannot ask my friends for hugs. I watch in horror as Covid death numbers rocket through the stratosphere in the US. I worry myself sick about my daughter’s family. I watch politicians deny and subvert the truth. It’s like trying to breathe after having been swept off the mountain by an avalanche, crushed under eight feet of snow.

And yet. Small treasures keep my focus on the glory of just being alive today. Bike rides to Crab Cove to meet a kind and warm friend and together watching leggy black-necked stilts at the water’s edge (I looked them up!). Spicy, hammy bean soup in the crock pot. Getting out my tray of watercolors and painting this persimmon I set up on a flowery napkin I lifted from Uncle Fuzzy’s kitchen. Doing mindless chores like laundry which soothes me. Celebrating my health. Drinking my sister’s favorite brand of tea I ordered on Amazon, brewed in the little metal teapot she used every morning that her wonderful husband mailed to me. Netflix series about spies in WWII. Green herons out my kitchen window. Inhaling fabulous apple-cranberry homemade pie a friend made. Marveling at the hopeful news of vaccines. Dancing lights on my ceiling, reflections from the water outside my boat. Finches fighting at the birdfeeder. These are small slices of life that keep me from being squished, giving me a breathing tube that reaches up through the suffocation of snow into fresh air. I know I am quite sturdy, all-in-all, but Jesus, Mary and the Pips what a year.

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