watercolor and ink painting of flower by emily weil

daily painting | sacto posy

Foo, still tired from art camp! So I’m letting myself rest and relax a bit. Worked on this today, from a photo taken… um, I think in Sacramento where I was visiting sweet Zoe, my oldest grandchild. Dunno. I loved the perky, confident, upward-reaching shapes of the flower’s petals and enjoyed working on a larger-than-usual watercolor sketchpad on my kitchen counter.

I am consciously working on self-care. These past few years have been bumpy, and I’m a bit drained. That’s OK. I am creating space to recoup. I’m working on gentle, loving habits, while turning a deaf-ear to the hungry-ghost voices in my head that tell me I should be more PRODUCTIVE. Horse pucky. I produce plenty. And I’m tired. I will produce rest so I can fill my cup.

10″ x 14″ watercolor, ink, pastel on paper = $200




abstract painting by emily weil

daily painting | art camp demo

Aaahhh… home from teaching at this year’s Feather River Art Camp. Even though the week was cut short by two days (an unexpected and tragic death of a camp staff member unrelated to the art camp team), we all rallied and dove into the arty waters and bonded and created and flourished. No massive hail storms this year! No gnasty gnats that draw blood! We did have a couple of very hot days, which made the swimming hole that much more refreshing. 

And although a mountain of laundry threatens to avalanche into my living room, I appreciate the week’s experiences — a wonderful group of open-hearted students, a roomy wooden-floored tent, getting to know fellow artists as we tread water together and lowered our body temps in the chilly creek, and a bonus of visiting my granddaughter and her two little girls in Sacto on my way home (she’s a fierce jiu jitsu competitor and was sporting a glorious shiner). Plus the added relief this year of not worrying about my very ill brother.

And I’m aware today that my emotions are a jumble! I think being vulnerable in my role as a teacher is catching up with me a bit, and I’ll be taking care of my heart today.

Now safely returned home I appreciate my comfy bed, a shower that isn’t shared by other campers, privacy in the loo (one morning I watched, on the stall wall, a small jumping spider creep up on a perched mozzie* like a cat and successfully land on it), my own home-cooked meal in the oven and the cooler breezes in Alameda. I am deeply grateful for my full and artistic life.

*British slang for mosquito

[This painting was a demo for our acrylic abstract class.]

10″ x 10″ acrylic, oil pastel, pencil on claybord = $140




10 x 10 abstract by emily weil

daily painting | dances

Today is mother’s day for me. By that I mean that adult-mom-Emily is looking after little-girl-Emily, my inner child (I know, that term gets laughed at a lot). This approach works for me. 

Sometimes little Em is feral. Fierce, angry, defiant. She had to grow up without direction or guidance or comfort and has had to figure out how to be a functional adult, and she’s a teeny bit pissed off. I’m fortunate that I have had counselors in the form of therapists and spiritual directors and grief counselors to help me find a stable way to live in this world. I’d be dead but for them. But I’m also plucky and resilient, and am finding meaning in this time of grief and loss. I am permitting myself to feel however I feel, regardless of people who are in a hurry for me to feel better (I’m waaaay past the point of taking care of other peoples’ feelings). The month of May has been a bit brutal as it’s the anniversary of my sister’s suicide, and her birthday a week later. It knocked me sideways, so I’m back to the basics of finding ways to soothe myself — journaling, taking walks, making art. Collapsing in a puddle of tears when necessary. Mainly just doing what’s in front of me. Practicing self-compassion (I recommend Kristin Neff’s website).

And one more note — did you know there’s something called a “warm line”? Different from a hot line — call options for folks who just need a little support (this info is for CA): https://www.mentalhealthsf.org/warm-line/ These days we need all the help we can root around for, like pigs digging up truffles. Thankfully I have a sensitive schnoz.

10″ x 10″ inktense ink sticks on paper = $140




abstract painting by emily weil

daily painting | where the light is

Grumpy Gus over here is digging around looking for something to lift my spirits. It isn’t working so good, so I’m creating small abstract works using marvelous Derwent “Inktense” blocks thanks to a gift from a generous friend. Art distractions are helpful. I think it’s a frustrating and pointless use of energy to try and cheer myself up when my heart is so heavy with grief, so I focus on other things and allow myself to feel. It’s tricky. I want to rub this experience in my hair, but not get caught in self-pity or doom and gloom (which is my default).

Beaches help a lot, as do redwood trees. And a good book, or a Netflix series (I got caught up in the Icelandic show, “Katla”). Cooking myself a tasty meal. Seeing a grief counselor. In this life-classroom, my teacher is adversity. Everyone deals with it. It’s part of being human in this world. I do hope I am learning to accept my life circumstances with grace and to keep things in perspective: I am not hungry. Bombs are not dropping on my head. My home is safe (except for broken appliances; do not ever buy from Best Buy, ever). I am staggering onward. This is the way.

7″ x 10″ inktense ink sticks on paper = $100




abstract drawing by emily weil

daily painting | drumbeats

I would like to be queen of the world with magical powers. I’d create a product called “FamPoo,” a fantastical healing potion you wash your hair with and it cleans out all painful childhood memories. But then maybe that’s not a good idea, for I think my past experiences, and how I have worked on healing old wounds, is probably making me a better person. More compassionate, perhaps? But at times I still long for a frontal lobotomy. I go to the model of being the loving mother of that hurt inner little girl, which works for me. I meditate and ask her what she needs? To be seen, she says. As a small child, I was invisible — I worked hard on blending in with the wallpaper. It was safer. But oh how I wanted someone to truly see me and know how I was feeling.

So I give myself that today. I see that bruised little one and I hug her and love her and sometimes buy her ice cream. It’s powerful medicine.

Apologies for the therapy theme, but it’s apt today. I suppose losing my sibs triggers fears and loneliness. And likely I’m influenced by seeing an interview with Jeannette Walls, author of The Glass Castle, who eloquently wrote of a childhood of abuse and unstable parents and how she brilliantly survived by her wits, and how she found love and comfort. I don’t want to hide my past, nor do I want to ooze all over anyone. This is my story, and it’s good to talk about it. I’m resilient. And proud.

5.25″ x 5.5″ inktense ink sticks on paper = $40




abstract on paper by emily weil

daily painting | stitches

A kind artist friend gave me a set of “inktense blocks” and yesterday I pulled them out, took the plastic wrap off the tin of sticks and dove in. They are like pastel chalks in shape, are dense with vibrant pigment, and are water-soluble. I experimented with them and created this small abstract.

Oh, how making art calms my mind and heart. The act of creation is healing, and I am grateful.

I was also inspired by a recent trip to SF MoMA, where large paintings fill entire museum walls and those works give me permission to be myself and create art pieces that are only mine, not derivative of a popular style or trendy art fads. I feel very fortunate to be able to zip across the bay on the ferry and see such vividly painted canvases. 

And that reminds me — I’ll send out a notice shortly but my large abstracts will soon be on display in the lobby of 101 2nd St in San Francisco (corner of Mission and 2nd). The show will go up in the next couple of weeks and will be up through September. Slate Gallery, which organizes the show, doesn’t have the budget for a reception, but I’m told I can create my own. Watch this space. And then go watch that space.

6″ x 6″ inktense ink sticks on paper = $50




daily painting | free-flowing freesia

You know what I long for more than anything? Honesty and transparency. Yesterday I had the wonderful privilege of having lunch with a new friend, the widow of Gene, a dear friend of my brother, who died eight months prior to my brother’s death. So… we talked grief. About sudden and surprising weeping, about grief bombs. About feeling like crap most of the time. About people who want to help, but really just apply pressure for us to get over it (“I hope the next time I see you you feel better!”). About the isolation of grieving, as feeling awful just isn’t OK. We laughed and bitched and bonded. I had a ball. How refreshing it is to be able to just be myself in all my gory glory, without worrying about humans who want me to hurry to get over my sorrows or to tastefully camouflage my open, bloody wounds. I just want to be me without having to perform, or hide how I feel. I’ll never be the same after losing all my siblings in just a few years. That’s reality. I am a new me.

My friend had heard good things about my caring for my brother from her husband, before he quickly died of fast-moving cancer (Gene was a doll, a professional photographer who visited my brother and took the best photos of Jim and his pals). I think she expected a halo to be hovering over my mop of gray hair. So when we both laughed about wanting to bitch-slap someone who patronizingly says, “I’m glad to see your moods are improving,” it was a tonic.

It’s liberating to be able to share my insides with abandon and without worry of a positivity lecture. To just tell the truth. And make jokes about it.

Yes, this is a rant. Too bad. And yes, I am influenced by a recent interview I listened to with Fran Lebowitz. God bless her snarky views of us wobbly humans. An icy glass of sweet lemonade on a muggy, suffocating day.

6″ x 9″ watercolor, ink on paper = $75




daily painting | desmina

Really enjoyed joining a figure drawing group today with a model. Results weren’t fabulous, but it was pleasant to be there and play with different media. I think this sketch was the last one and took about 2 minutes as I kept starting over and then ran out of time, as the model’s pose ended. Very simple and quick, but working with a combo of wet and dry media was fun. Making art — what a wonderful privilege. I am fortunate and grateful. It’s like being in a lush, safe world, doing art with other artists, and we encourage and learn from one another. Bolsters my sanity and helps keep my head attached to my neck.

12″ x 9″ watercolor crayon, water-soluble graphite on paper = $150




sketch of figure by emily weil

daily painting | drawing marathon

I am so so so happy for things I enjoy. Went to the Bay Area Models Guild drawing marathon yesterday and I had an enjoyable and also sad time. I saw another artist friend I haven’t talked to in years and was horrified to hear his wife recently died — suddenly, unexpectedly. In his arms. I knew them both and they seemed like wonderful and loving companions. They had a 46-year marriage and she was a very accomplished and respected painter. It hit me hard, and I am deeply sorry my fellow-artist is going through this bruising turbulence.

And I loved painting and drawing and here is one of my sketches, done with a soft, water-soluble pencil. Artists — my tribe. I am comfortable and content in a room with them. And sometimes it’s more fun to draw the artists than the model.

I keep a list of things that give me peace and it helps to look to it when I feel awful and am too foggy to see straight. Making art, hugging a redwood tree, seeing raptors — all at the top of the list. Also time with loving friends, as I got to soak up a warm afternoon with another painting and bird-loving pal yesterday in Mill Valley. Scratching my guinea pig behind his cute little ears and laughing at his chirps. Watching finches fight over a perch at the bird feeder. Seeing a pacific loon in my marina. I am grateful. I am alive, all the way. All the way.




watercolor of flowers by emily weil

daily painting | spring 2024

I’m waving my white flag in grief’s general direction. Been seven months now since my brother’s death, and of course both my sisters died in the prior years. The shock of it all is wearing off, but feeling generally crappy continues. I think it’s all part of this process and I tell myself not to worry or be impatient, as everything is running its course. My heart got broke. More than a couple of times. It takes time to mend.

Sure sucks at times. Especially since I can’t control grief and sorrow and loss and the way they wipe the floor with my hair.

So, no resistance here. I won’t fight it and I will brush aside advice that I should take pills to make me feel better. This is a natural, beautiful, normal, healing, extraordinary process. I embrace it. Even while I feel stinky. Ugh. I really like something I recently read about a woman experiencing painful loss — her answer, when people ask how she’s doing, is, “I’m here.” Yep.

10″ x 10″ watercolor, ink, pastel on paper = $140