abstract painting by emily weil

daily painting | art camp abstract

Aahhh… art camp! This 12” x 12” acrylic abstract was a demo for the acrylics day of class at Feather River Art Camp (I worked on it after class, too). It was a turbulent week! And we all did it, and did it well. There was the hailstorm on Tuesday while I was teaching — the canopies overhead couldn’t quite hold back the marble-sized icy pellets, which cascaded onto our tables. We just kept moving to the side, finding ever-shrinking shelter, while the steadfast artists continued. Crazy, exciting, thrilling, amazing (one person’s windshield cracked though). Then there were the “buffalo gnats”. Fiendish bloodsuckers that left painful, itchy welts the size of Ritz crackers. One woman had to be sent to the hospital. Misery all-around (somehow I was spared; one person suggested vitamin B pills make us foul-tasting to the tiny monsters so maybe my multi-vitamins helped; who knows). Some said it was the rains before camp that helped spawn the horrid beasties. And we were lucky to have camp at all — only days before, the bridge was flooded and camp was inaccessible.

And today I’m writing this on my laptop from a charming Air BnB cabin outside of Quincy where naps are in order; taking a few soothing days off. Thunderstorms come and go, though today is sunny and lovely. I painted outside for a bit today, following my own instructions to students to find a tree or other object to draw and paint. And sit with it. Draw it with your eyes, I suggested. I hate painting trees. So I did my own exercise today, making myself do something uncomfortable. Maybe it will be postable tomorrow. Maybe not.

OK time to call my bro. Because I am up in Plumas County I wasn’t there to take him down to the Dipsea race starting line to observe the festivities and visit with his Dipsea pals. Can’t wait to hear all about it; a very kind Dipsea person organized getting him there. Big kudos to Bill Rus.

12″ x 12″ acrylic, oil pastel, pencil on claybord = $185





painting of rose in brown ink

daily painting | rose in brown ink

It’s a lovely May Saturday. My neighbors are out watering their plants and washing off their decks and complaining about bird poop from the night herons (one had apparently occupied my front porch overnight and left a puddle of poopy whitewash which I found hilarious; my neighbor does not share my delight but I loved the thought of a heron looking out for me while I slept). I’m thrilled that my heart feels better and that my taking time to rest is paying off as my energy is starting to return. So I hosed off my deck too. And there was a beautiful gray-blue feather in my geranium pot, a gift from one of our nocturnal visitors.

I’m enjoying, between naps, preparing for Feather River Art Camp which begins in a week (which makes my finding a feather outside very funny). The river is running high, as is Spanish Creek, the river’s offshoot, which runs through the camp. Unlike a year ago, when the brother-brain-cancer-crisis was only 6 weeks old, I will be better prepared to teach my class both physically and emotionally. 

I’m amazed almost every day at life’s crazy ride. I’m learning not to fight its twists and turns, and to accept that there is no nav system, much less a tattered old paper map. And my bro is still alive and kicking, and this journey with him has been terrifically bonding. I wake up in the morning happy for the love we have, an intimate connection I could have never imagined.

Maybe it’s best to relax and trust how life unfolds.

About this painting — I have a bottle of marvelous brown ink that called to me yesterday, so I did a quick sketch of a scrappy single rose I’d plucked by our parking lot which I’d put in a little bud vase in my kitchen windowsill.

6″ x 6″ ink on paper




watercolor and pastel abstract painting by emily weil

daily painting | butterfly party

I woke up this morning feeling lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon-wheel rut and then I got up and sat on my couch with my Earl Grey tea marveling at the manic energy of the house finches and sparrows outside my window mobbing the bird feeder. Their lives are precarious — huge amounts of birds of all species don’t survive their first year. Obviously I think a lot about life cycles these days. And my discomfort in this time of loss is huge. And is nothing in comparison to the catastrophe in Turkey and Syria as those losses are incomprehensible and shocking. Yes, my roof leaked and now I have a new roof and a smaller retirement nest egg. And I have a house. With a roof.  

So, back to my bed (where I do my morning meditation). The conclusion I landed on is to accept what is. No resistance. This calms me and helps me not go down the self-pity rabbit hole.

[You might want to skip this next bit as it may sound preachy.] I recently had a conversation with my lovely niece who also seeks healing and wholeness and self-knowledge (we certainly relate to each other, having grown up in desperately dysfunctional families; her mom, my sister, was severely mentally ill). We talked about the wondrous and mysterious process of a caterpillar that is transmogrified into a butterfly and how, once in the cocoon, it somehow morphs from a little wiggly, crawly thing into goo and then into a glorious creation with painted wings. It’s amazing! From squishy glop! As we talked together about the discomfort of transformation, she noted, “Cocoons are narrow.” So brilliant! As my life feels very confining right now. And my goodness I hope I am changing into a splashy creature that can fly and help make my corner of the world a bit more colorful.

[About this painting — I was rooting around my files for Feather River Art Camp, where I will be teaching a Mixed Media class this June, and found the start of a watercolor of a lily that wasn’t so great so I added pastels and worked it into an abstract.]

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




watercolor and ink painting of leaf

daily painting | feather river leaf

The class I taught at Feather River Art Camp for which I created this quick demo was Watercolor and Ink. The week at camp was such a blast — I can’t believe I actually pulled it off without a major crash-and-burn after seven weeks of brother-brain-cancer crisis (and I was quite pooped once I returned home). Really had fun and was thankful for the schedule that allowed me to teach in the mornings and nap in the afternoons; luckily the weather didn’t get hot until the tail end of the schedule, and it was also fortuitous that the cunning Covid bastard didn’t ambush us until two days before we were set to go home (thankfully I dodged that infected bullet). 

These days I mostly feel upside down, as with great difficulty I embrace the reality that my brother is soon leaving the planet but for now he’s stable and more or less lucid; the hospice folks are supportive and professional and he’s got such a huge fan club he has frequent visitors. And I also enjoy just hanging out with him as we read the newspaper together or watch a Giants game. My emotions are a pinball machine, and I accept that (and I keep Kleenex close by at all times). We have tender moments and he still cracks wise and makes me laugh. I am deeply grateful for our connection and my heart will shatter when he dies but that’s the way things are as you get up into these senior years — people we love leave their bodies. And hopefully that passage into whatever follows death is the terminus of a rich life that was well-lived. That’s my goal in however many years I have left — to live with cheeky gusto and large portions of saucy irreverence. Because! Yes!

7″ x 10″ ink, watercolor on paper




abstract painting on claybord by emily weil

daily painting | feather river

Walked in my door about an hour ago, returning from Feather River Art Camp up in N California, NE of Chico, in the beautiful hills of Plumas National Forest (3500 ft). It was an honor to be invited to teach at the camp and I had a ball and my students said they did too. I taught “Mixed Media,” meaning I did a watercolor class on one day, a drawing class another day, and so on (camp lasts 7 days with 5 days of classes and workshops). Such open-hearted, enthusiastic artists in my class — age range from 16 to hard-working art-enthusiasts in their 70s (maybe older; I didn’t exactly ask their birth dates). The camp has been operating for years, and there are a number of offerings given by fabulous teachers from ceramics to bead-making to plein air painting to creating art with bleach (marvelous — the teacher uses black paper). Check it out: www.featherriverartcamp.com.

Anyways not a lot of posting these days as I spend considerable time with my brother in his nursing facility in Mill Valley where he’s in hospice care with aggressive brain cancer; was hard to be gone for a week, but he was in good hands, and the art camp was on the calendar since last year. And I could nap in the afternoons. Then I could mosey down at dusk to Spanish Creek and enjoy the tranquility and the wildlife (and sometimes the company of my fabulous young assistant, Nolan). The wild creatures took my breath away — a merganser duck with 8 ducklings trailing behind, a resident beaver, dragonflies and songbirds and fish jumping and, two evenings ago, a young rattlesnake (not very big, small rattle) saw me (10 feet away) and twisted into the bushes but not before giving me a good shake of the rattle. It was marvelous.

But then there was Covid. The camp directors were exceedingly careful with us when we arrived — we provided proof of neg Covid test, they took our temps, etc. and all activities were outdoors. Still, three people became ill and tested pos; thankfully it was the last day of classes but it did kind of empty out the camp. Understandably. I’m isolating and testing every day and so far feel fine.

I did this abstract as a demo for the abstract class. The way everyone dove in to the exercise — so impressive and inspiring. All participants did amazing pieces, all week. Hope I get to come back next June. And I hope you will come too!

12″ x 12″ acrylic, ink, oil pastel on claybord = $185