pastel, pencil drawing of yellow pepper of by emily weil

daily painting | class pepper

Saturday I taught a painting/mixed media class at Frank Bette Center in Alameda, a workshop that includes working with watercolor, pencil, pastel and other media. At the end of the class while we were winding down I did a quick take with chalk pastels of a solo pepper I plucked from the still life I’d set up. I don’t think I’ve ever started with pastel; usually I add it on top of a watercolor. Anyways, this turned out to be a chipper pepper, which is interesting to me as the colors that show up in my paintings/drawings are usually bright and primary, rarely reflecting my sad moods these days. Curious, but I’m good with it.

After class I was cleaning up, and out the window of the classroom I noticed a man walking with a person who seemed to be his son; I’ve seen them before on that block. The son, probably in his 30s, seems to be quite mentally impaired and must need constant care (for example, maybe reacting to the restraints of outerwear, he likes to remove all his clothes when he goes outside, prompting his dad to make sure he stays decent). The two of them usually walk around the block, and the affection the dad shows his adult, ailing son brought me to tears as I watched them — they stroll arm-in-arm (sometimes pausing so the young man can embrace a tree). Once I saw the dad lean down slightly and kiss his grown son on the forehead. The dad seems entirely devoted to the well-being of the young man and that show of unconditional love cracked open my sore heart. What a thing of beauty; how lucky I am to have seen it.

7″ x 7″ pastel, pencil on paper = $75

 

 

 

daily painting | eli

Years ago I thought that if reincarnation was real, I’d like to come back as my sister-in-law’s dog. Talk about the life! Roaming around out in the country chasing squirrels and raccoons, hanging out with horses in the barn, getting good food regularly and with a cushy spot on the couch and no rules. This little cutie, Eli, was a beloved pet that I got to paint as part of the Frank Bette Center fundraiser. Eli is no longer with us (maybe reincarnated as a lucky dog up in the mountains). Perhaps in truth I am also being reborn into a new life as I burn through the crucible of loss and grief. It is transformative, excruciating, gob-smacking, informative and even hopeful (the hope part may be related to getting my second vax shot tomorrow). We have all been through the mangle these past difficult years (looked up the phrase “through the ringer” and found this phrase I like better). I know you know what I’m talking about. I am completely delighted these days to be bored rather than panicked by presidential speeches and to mark my calendar with dates to hug my grandkids. So, cheers, everyone, to this new day, to Eli, to hope and becoming stronger through trials by fire. We may be charred and sooty but here we are. Still vertical. Mostly.

10″ x 7″ watercolor, acrylic ink, pen on paper

 

 

 

watercolor painting of poppies by emily weil

daily painting | bright blooms, sad heart

Decades ago when I was a young mom in Florence, Oregon, I was experiencing PTSD from childhood trauma but I didn’t know it; I had no idea what was wrong (needless to say I have oceans of guilt as I know how my kids suffered too). As I reflect on those years and look at some of the early watercolor paintings I did then, they are bright and cheery. What the hell, I wondered? In some of my darkest days I made art that looked quite happy. Have no idea why. Maybe inside I had sunny, hopeful corners that came out in my art. I feel similarly about this painting done as a demo for a class. After a year of isolation, family troubles, the pandemic and the death of my sister my moods are often mournful. But maybe my insides come out anyways, and I am encouraged by those colorful and hopeful works. Maybe happiness hides in there and will leak out in other ways too.

Last night in a book I’m reading, The Outside Boy by Janine Cummins, the young hero who had tragically just lost his “grandda” says, “I thought maybe grief was like an egg that had to be cracked open, and I just hadn’t smashed mine yet—I was still holding it, cradling it. Careful.” Gorgeous writing. Can’t wait to dive back in and see what happens next in this family of Irish travelers.

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

daily painting | jean gray

Kitty #2 for the Frank Bette Center for the Arts fundraiser (www.frankbettecenter.org). I was liking this painting until I needed to do the face — thank god for acrylic pens. My fixers. Worked on this over a couple of days, taking a break to cry today as I watched the memorial service on TV for all the Covid deaths. Heart-shattering. I’ll be up in the morning bright & early & squirrelly to celebrate Biden’s inauguration which can’t happen soon enough. I have struggled lately with dark moods, and today is a bit better. We can all say we’ve been through many difficulties in life — you can’t be on the planet for six decades, as I have, without pain and loss — and being this old gives one perspective; this has been an exceedingly challenging chapter both for myself and my country and we’ll get through it. Wild winds whipped through the bay area last night and today but so far no deck chairs have sailed through my neighbor’s windows. Weather as metaphor. I’ll make some comforting soup tonight and sway along with the rocking and rolling as my houseboat is buffeted by the fierce gusts (which are starting to calm down). She’ll be OK. I’ll be OK. Mooring lines are secure.

7″ x 10″ watercolor, pen, acrylic ink on paper

 

 

 

 

daily painting | zuri

The Frank Bette Center for the Arts in Alameda (“FBC”) is having a fundraiser; folks sent in photos of their pets and FBC assigned volunteer artists to create artwork of the kitties and dogs and other critters (I was kind of hoping for a turtle). Check out www.frankbettecenter.org. Zuri was my assignment — I’m working on an orange tabby as well, and the paint is drying as I write this. Kind of housebound today — a bit under the weather and this morning I freaked out as I ate some of last night’s dinner salad and it tasted, well, mediocre. Is it my taste buds? Am I sick with Covid? No other symptoms, but I’ll lie low and quarantine for now just in case. I think it was just a rather bland salad as my morning tea was delicious. I suspect it’s because my emotions are raw and my nerves are like unraveling mooring lines; had a fairly dark night last night, wondering if loneliness and isolation could be fatal. It sure feels desperate and horrid and I’m thoroughly sick of it. But then, my darling granddaughter in Sacramento FaceTimed me today and I got to say hello and laugh at her two adorable tots (who are 5 and 2) and hear the latest stories about their antics (like finding a whole jar of vaseline and covering their bodies with it — including hair, bedding, blankets, the dog); it takes serious dish detergent to remove the gooey mess, I learned. Ick. But they all seem happy and healthy and normal, and though my arms ache to hold them and my lips don’t remember what it’s like to kiss loved ones, it was fun to see the fam on my little screen. Sigh. One day at a time. Hope tonight’s dinner is a bit more satisfying. I’ll let you know.

7″ x 10″ watercolor, pen, acrylic ink on paper