watercolor painting of tulips by emily weil

daily painting | tulips

Well this darling mini bouquet of tulips that I picked up from Whole Foods cheered me for days (now that I think of it, what flower arrangement wouldn’t?). So since I’m hiding from the world today, resting and putting my neurons back together after a week of car wrangling and Carvana shopping and transmission breakdowns and tow trucks and slimy Toyota dealerships and discussions with my bro of death with MAID (Medical Assistance In Suicide) and hacking through family thickets of dysfunction, I got out my paints to help with the self-soothing process. It’s working (and I’m dreaming of about a month on the Big Island of Hawaii).

There’s something delightfully innocent about tulips. Such charming open faces. My life is often drama central these days and wetting my watercolor paper and adding splashy reds and deep-hued cadmium yellows calms and heals. Lordy I’m grateful today to be in my quiet, wonderful floating home on the Alameda estuary (which is weirdly brown in color this week), listening to the herons squawk and feeling my home gently rock in the breezes and saying hello to friendly neighbors as they walk by. Happy for these few hours of respite. OK now I’d best go clean up the paint spatters from my kitchen counter.

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

 

 

 

watercolor and ink drawing of hollyhock by emily weil

daily painting | peralta hollyhock

As I left my therapist Lucy’s office on Peralta Ave in Albany the other day I noticed this lovely hollyhock towering in a yard across the street (snapped a photo). There’s something about these flowers — I only see them in the summer, and they seem quite accessible and almost pedestrian but also very gorgeous. They are not sophisticated or aloof, like a perfectly grown rose or an elegant lily. Which is why I think they are magnificent. Lucy is helping me walk through this very difficult chapter in my life (and in my family) — death, dysfunction, addiction, estrangement, cancer and suicide lurk. And death is a natural — even miraculous — part of life. And those of us left behind get out our mops and try to clean up the bloody bits of our beat-up spirits. Lucy advises me to keep my heart open. Which often seems impossible. But when I do, and choose to see the love and magic in the world that surround me, my steps are a bit lighter — I appreciate the red-shouldered hawk that flies overhead when I have conversations on the Mill Valley patio with my brother as we sit under a huge, blooming magnolia tree. Bright scarlet dragonflies zoom around outside my houseboat, skimming the estuary waters. Red tail hawks in a nearby Monterey Pine dodge dive-bombing crows. I get to see golden eagles have kids in the Sunol hills. Finches and sparrows mob the bird feeder on my deck. And, best of all, I absorb the warm hugs and loving affection from my brother. It’s a beautiful world.

OK now I am going to follow the steps a counselor suggested years ago when we experience hard times: Dial 911, step over the body, and do the dishes.

10″ x 7″ ink, watercolor on paper

 

 

 

watercolor + pastel painting of snowy egret by emily weil

daily painting | snowy egret

This snowy egret with its yellow slippers often stalks its fishy treats just outside my window on the muddy edges of the San Francisco estuary. This is commissioned painting #2 for my dear neighbor; this bird is a favorite of hers, with its wispy, snow-white feathers and careful search of watery prey at the water’s edge (OK and my apologies but here’s a favorite joke: “I used to be Snow White, but I drifted”). Anyways, thought I’d share this on my daily paintings page as I have been spending time in my studio working on large paintings again. Stay tuned.

15″ x 20″ watercolor, ink, pastel on paper

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

daily painting | contained

A favorite place for me to visit is the nearby Alameda/Oakland estuary where these huge ships deliver and pick up containers filled with all kinds of goodies. I love watching the shipping cranes in action, seeing the tugs escort the hulking beasts to moor under the praying-mantis-like contraptions, admiring the lovely San Francisco skyline and bridges in the background. The other day I snapped a few photos of this scene as I loved the bright red hull of this hard-working, ocean-crossing vessel.

Ok folks a bit of therapy-speak coming up so feel free to check out now. Here goes. Some of my most profound healing moments occurred in a group therapy setting, facilitated by our skilled and beloved counselor Peter Frechette, several decades ago. One exercise we did was to create a “container” — a safe way to express deep emotion, grief, sadness. This amazing environment, where trust had developed between group members, was difficult, challenging, healing, life-changing. For example, a person I might choose with whom I felt comfortable would hold me in a protective, gentle way so I could emote and let old childhood feelings out. For me to feel so secure was earth-shaking and phenomenal. Thus, the title! For this painting is of a container ship, and I hope you think I’m SOOO clever! (I’m not, but still.) These days grief often overtakes me, and while I do not have the safety of that group of peers to hold me while I weep, I know how to create a protected setting, which is often the overstuffed chair in my studio. Where I can sob away. Which brings profound healing and mending of my heart. I was immersed in the creative process of this painting today, pastel chalk dust flying. Loved every minute of it and danced away while drawing and painting (Sam Cooke is a favorite). Yesterday, though, I sank into my spattered chair in my studio and cried and wept and was immersed in profound sorrow and loneliness. Relinquishing control of those strong emotions is the only way to heal. You have to let them wash over you. And you get to the other side. Contained, sheltered, better.

20″ x 30″ watercolor, sticks and ink, chalk pastel, pencil on paper = $775