watercolor painting of wildflowers by emily weil

daily painting | vargas wildflowers

Yesterday I finished up the commissioned painting (which I will post once the loving gift of the artwork has been received) and as I putzed around my studio and sprayed the piece with fixative (outside, very toxic) and waited it for to dry, I pulled out my phone to view my photos and decided to do a quickie watercolor and pastel of the lovely wildflowers just starting to bloom in the East Bay hills at Vargas Plateau near Sunol where I had plopped myself down at a viewpoint hoping to spot the resident Golden Eagles. Saw many more cows than eagles (along with ravens and meadowlarks and red tails and kestrels!), and a bovine portrait or two might end up in a future painting. In that park, ridges of rocks pop out of the hilltops looking like dinosaur spines and since these days parks are way busier than usual, I got to say hello to few hikers and bike riders while there with my scope. I took a few pics of these very pink, small flowers, growing like a mat on the ground, and since my main watercolor supplies live in my home, not my studio, I improvised with colors I don’t usually use, adding chalky pastels once the paint was dry, keeping things quick and spontaneous. It was more a time-filler than anything else, which supports my theory that the less I try to produce “good art,” the better the results as I liked how this one turned out.

And here’s another puzzle — my moods currently ping all over the room, in my time of loss and grief, and I’m mystified at how I can flip from joyful dancing and painting and arting with the tunes of Otis Redding or the Temptations in my earbuds to, 5 mins later, sitting in my studio chair, weeping. We humans are weird. They were good days last week, both out in the hills and in my studio.

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9″ x 9.25″ watercolor, pencil, pastel on paper = $85

 

 

 

daily painting | blog test

OK this isn’t a trick; I made some changes in MailChimp regarding daily painting announcements so this is a bit of a test, and thank you for understanding; this obviously isn’t a new painting! The commissioned piece I’m doing this week won’t allow for daily posts, so I thought I’d go into the wayback machine and post this family shot in honor of my sister who died 3 months ago Monday. This was taken on the ferry to Vashon Island outside of Seattle in 2015 where we ventured for a family event. The loss of my sister will reverberate through my body for many months to come; we had a complicated relationship, as sibling connections can be. We chose very different life paths but she lived a large, exciting and happy life and is sorely missed (that’s Kay on the right next to our tall and handsome brother — please note I am the only grayhair amongst the sibs; my sis never had more than a handful of gray hairs, so maybe her choices were smarter than mine).

 

 

 

abstract by emily weil using acrylics

daily painting | january abstracty

I’m working on a commission this week (woot!) and may not be posting much, but since I’m kind of sitting around with my doors open on this lovely day in Alameda, recovering from some digestive woes this morning (it happens sometimes; a super sexy condition), I thought I’d shout out a hello. I did this abstract a month ago, and can’t decide if I like it, so I thought I’d post it anyways. I may or may not toss it, but it was a day in January I needed to express my fierce grief and strong emotion with acrylics and oil pastels and big fat graphite pencils. As always, the catharsis of that process helped me release more sadness and grief. Today I am fully enjoying working on the consigned painting and resting while the paint dries between layers, enjoying various distractions — sparrows squabbling at the bird feeder, catching up on the sad news about Tiger Woods’ smash-up, doing research on making art videos, noticing the local diver walk up the docks in his wetsuit (likely checking out problems in a neighbor’s hull), and reading a scary mystery that’s too creepy to read at bedtime but I have to know what happens. My heart feels full — sure looks like my years as an old lady, should they continue, will be all about making and teaching art. That’s a marvelous thing to contemplate and I am grateful.

12″ x 12″ acrylic, oil pastel, pencil on claybord

 

 

 

Watercolor painting of shipping float by Emily Weil

daily painting | moon landing

At times I need to just get out of the damn house; I mean, vacuuming is fine and satisfying, in a limited way, but… really? Boring. So I roam around Alameda, sometimes on my bike, sometimes in my car. Yesterday I ended up at Ballena Bay, which is beautiful and wind-whipped and has stunning views of the SF skyline, a backdrop of navy ships moored nearby, and wintering ducks in the water (there were also people walking their dogs and not cleaning up their pooch’s poop; is it acceptable to grab a plastic bag and pick up the shite and fling it at the dog walkers? No?).

I was quite smitten with this large metal float planted along the shore, which I’m guessing was used to indicate something-or-other in SF bay eons ago (WWII vintage? Marking shipping channels?). It is now retired and perched in the ice plant at the water’s edge, and its rusty patterns and textures were gorgeous — full of pockmarks and craters and pitted with decay. Exactly the kind of deteriorating subject matter I am drawn to. It begged me to capture its likeness, and as the painting developed today it looked like a kind of man-in-the-moon portrait. Which is cracking me up. OK, getting edgy again. It’s that time of day. Time to venture out. Maybe a new container ship will be moored in the estuary with pairs of oystercatchers poking about in the rocks at the water’s edge. I think I’ll go see.

10″ x 10″ watercolor, pen, acrylic ink on paper = $130

 

 

 

Painting of figure by Emily Weil from Bay Area Models Guild marathon

daily painting | rachel

Here’s another study from the Bay Area Models Guild marathon on Valentine’s Day. It’s fun and at times quite satisfying to do monochromatic paintings — these warm tones and interesting textures come from ArtGraf water soluble graphite that comes in a hard cake you moisten with water to use. Breaks up my watercolor routine. The human figure is endlessly fascinating to paint; I prefer women models as feminine curves are more interesting to paint. Rachel set up a wonderful pose in her home she held for hours (with breaks).

So what is my next painting subject? I think I’ll pull out my luscious, colorful  farmer’s market veggies and compose a still life. I made an attempt yesterday afternoon but was hungry and irritable and wanted to make dinner and comfort myself with a delicious meal (it worked). Doing routine tasks today. Paperwork and boring stuff; trying not to be flattened by how mundane life can be. But! I’m getting my first Covid vax on Saturday! Woot!

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

 

 

 

Sketch of estuary by Emily Weil

daily painting | estuary sketch

On this gray chilly day I ventured down to the Alameda farmer’s market to see if they had farm-fresh eggs — so delicious! (They did.) Sometimes my brain folds in on itself and getting out and about is a good remedy (if done safely). The farmer’s market was uncrowded and as always the selections of veggies and fruits and berries were colorful, fresh, and gorgeous (I was tempted to buy some velvety, silvery mushrooms just to paint them). I decided after my shopping foray to go to the Peet’s drive-through for a hot drink and drive down to the estuary nearby. I so enjoy this watery corner of Alameda, and there were a few men fishing off the rocks so I pulled out my sketchbook. So many happy little things to watch — gulls perched along the water, crows chasing a Cooper’s Hawk above me, huge container ships tucked in under cranes, sailboats skimming by, tugs escorting ships out to the bay. A change of scenery always is welcome, even if the view is familiar and often-visited. Feeling quite grateful to have such easy access to these interesting sights.

 

 

 

painting of bay area models guild model barbara by Emily Weil

daily painting | barbara and hat

Yesterday was another fun Bay Area Models Guild marathon on Zoom. They used to have these events at various locations around the Bay Area, but it actually works pretty well online. Was a blast — there were a number of expert models in various poses, funds were raised for the guild, and I could create art more comfortably in the privacy of my home. I think this was my favorite model, Barbara, with her glorious red hair and magenta hat, who has been modeling for more than 35 years. As always, painting and drawing saves my bacon. And Barbara’s expertise and perseverance and joy in modeling was inspiring, which leads me to today’s musings.

Sometimes life’s challenges strip you down to the studs. As I sweep up the drywall dust, bent nails, chunks of linoleum and splinters of dry-rotted siding, I can see the bones of my insides. Is the framework sound? Can I rebuild? I’m finding that, yes, the original structure was created with high-quality building materials. My bones are sturdy and good. I remember feeling similarly after my mom died 15 years ago. Things got stripped away in the grief and pain — stuff I no longer needed got chucked into the dumpster, which cleared my head — I found my path as an artist, I was directed to my GGRO tribe, and I discovered my houseboat community. What will happen now that I’m pushing 70? Dunno. But I’m not done yet. Never too late to rethink goals and dream new dreams and move forward. And be my truest self. Who I hope is kind and compassionate.

We’ve all been through a lot these last years; 2020 was simply a bitch. For everyone. Some suffered more losses than others but no one got through the turmoil unscathed or unchanged. My hope is that I can embrace loss and grief with grace and an open heart. Like the line in a Bonnie Raitt song, “Don’t let me grow bitter I pray.” Amen.

11″ x 8″ watercolor, pen, pencil on paper = $120

 

 

 

daily painting | abstract amaryllis

I tried to ignore the impeachment trial today. I really did. And I failed. But then I did turn it off for a bit and crank up a few blues tunes and work on the deliciousness of yet another blooming amaryllis stalk, v. 2 from the bulb I received as a gift. The first set of flowers faded and dried up and were replaced by these! And there’s another shoot visible, popping out. Woot! I wanted to be super loose with this painting and use bright colors and pastels and be freewheeling and splashy, so I started with sticks-and-ink, then added big splotches of watercolors, followed by pastels and acrylic pens. Didn’t really care if you could ID the subject. I couldn’t tear myself away from the news so I did this at home, and that was fun too though I often suffer from quarantine cabin fever. But I’m safe. Vaccines are on their way and I’m ready. My gosh I’ll be squeezing my kids and grandkids and great-grandkids until they squawk. Not soon enough. Oh! And Happy Valentine’s Day! You know what? Here’s another thought. Such a damn loaded day of the year, right? I’d always longed for a romantic celebration of this day. And I’m truly fine with what is. And I got wonderful prezzies from my daughter in San Diego (which included a darling mug printed with the words, “Best Effin’ Mimi Ever” [I’m Mimi to my grandkids]). So sweet and it makes my heart so full. Accepting what is is the best. I resist so much, often. But trusting, and letting go, and “non-resistance” equals contentment, and — dare I say? — joy.

16″ x 12″ watercolor, pastel, sticks-and-ink, pencil, acrylic ink on paper = $250

 

 

 

daily painting | poppies demo

It was my privilege yesterday to do a Zoom watercolor demo offered by Frank Bette Center for the Arts in Alameda. I was so nervous at the beginning! I couldn’t get my phone to function properly to video my work area but we figured it out. My brain stops working when I’m anxious, but then I started to relax; I am learning how to let go of nervousness when people watch me paint and draw. I worked on two paintings, so I could paint on one piece while waiting for the 2nd one to dry, and so on. I did the drawing first for this painting with sticks and black acrylic ink, working from a photo of poppies in Tilden Park, taken during a lovely hike last year. I started painting #2 with a fountain pen drawing from a photo of begonias, but that one was not successful and too busy. The sticks method keeps things looser, less rigid and I liked how this turned out, wanting the white, papery flowers to stay simple and less worried-over. Must do more sticks work! It’s fun, keeps me relaxed, and the final work is less fussy. It’s always good, from my viewpoint, to play with the media and not worry about end results. To create from a place deep inside myself. If I am aiming for a keeper, I produce crap. The pressure was on to create a work that the Center could auction, so this was kind of a happy accident. It was sold during the Zoom demo and I am honored to have had this experience. Watch this space as I start to create my own painting demos which will be posted on YouTube. I also will be offering classes on video for sale. Thanks for reading!

10″ x 10″ watercolor, sticks-and-ink, acrylic ink on paper

 

 

 

painting of Marin Lilies by Emily Weil

daily painting | marin lilies

Anyone watching the impeachment trial? Jamie Raskin is my new hero. The House lawyers are presenting a strong and dramatic case, and what gob-smacks me is that Raskin is doing a terrific job after losing his troubled son, who was in law school, to suicide last December. My sister died in November and I can barely rub two neurons together, so I admire Mr Raskin and have great respect for him. Talk about grit. (By the way why is no one talking about how gleeful Putin must be these days, watching our troubles?)

So here’s the latest addition to my collection of calla lily paintings. There is a secret stash of lily plants I pilfer from; they bloom every year in a neglected corner of a certain spot in Marin County. I suppose I shouldn’t help myself but I don’t think the flowers are missed, and I only take one or two blooms. Surreptitiously. Which gives me a thrill, kind of like when I shoplifted costume jewelry from Woolworth’s in Corte Madera when I was 13 (my criminal career was a short one after I nearly got caught). Maybe I’ll turn into the cliche of the old woman klepto. Don’t know. Maybe you should keep an eye on me.

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