watercolor of honeycrisp apple by emily weil

daily painting | honeycrisp

Oh it felt good to take my paints out today. After December travels followed by holidays and then the unwelcome visitor of a flu bug on New Year’s Eve (clever little arsehole; it’s making the rounds) I pulled out my trays of the gooey, brightly-hued pigments. I’ve been doing ink drawings, but it was a delight to perch this apple on my counter and find the largest pad of watercolor paper I had and wet the big brush after weeks of monochromatic artwork.

I am grateful to be able to catch my breath while 2024 is fresh. As I’ve rested while my body fights the pesky virus I’ve read some great books. I finished House of Broken Angels last night. I could hardly put it down. It’s about Big Angel and his expansive, boisterous, loving, crazy Mexican family. Big Angel is dying (I swear I didn’t know that about the plot when I downloaded the book onto my Kindle) and started a notebook of things he loves about his life. So I started one too. I suppose getting out my paints would fit into that category.

So today I’m grateful for hot showers (my water heater died and will be replaced tomorrow) and hugs from my very tall neighbor and my guinea pig’s hilarious chirps and the night herons that slow-dance through the mud out my window and Facetime calls from my granddaughter and gin cocktails and black-chested African snake eagles and a lovely chunk of soup in the freezer I found today that I’d forgotten about. I woke up so sad today — grief is just part of the fabric of my life, and it’s tough to wrap my mind around the fact that my brother isn’t on the planet any more. I miss him every day. And I’m happy we had so much time to love each other while he was dying. So my mantra today, which helped me get out of bed: 1. Show up 2. Pay attention 3. Tell the truth 4. Let go of the outcome. I did that. And I had a stupendous day.

10″ x 14″ ink, watercolor on paper = $185

 

 

 

monochromatic painting of book table by emily weil

daily painting | book table

Looking for a dry and quiet spot for a private art lesson with Mathilde, my lovely young student who hails from France, we landed in the funky but functional meeting room, fondly referred to in my marina as the Yacht Club, where we trade books with neighbors. Mathilde wanted practice drawing and painting indoor scenes so we painted this book table using little cakes of ArtGraf water-soluble graphite which are great fun. We paint side-by-side, as is her preference, so she can observe my choices and techniques. I love these little cakes as when the painting is dry, depending on which color I choose, the results are textured and interesting.

In November, a week apart, we spread both my brother Jim’s ashes (in our home town of Mill Valley) and my sister Diana’s ashes (on her favorite beach in Crescent City). This means that now I have all three of my sibs’ ashes (including Kay’s) in little glass jars on a kind of altar where I light candles and put fairy lights. I’m feeling quite stunned by this little collection, and am wobbling around trying to get my bearings and embrace this reality. Phoo. I’m going to give myself permission today to cry as often as I need to.

7″ x 10″ ink, water-soluble graphite on paper = $90

 

 

 

watercolor of rose bud by emily weil

daily painting | rose bud

I created this small painting a few weeks ago and thought I’d post it before my schedule gets a bit more busy; we scatter my brother’s ashes tomorrow, I’ll join family members up north for turkey day, and then soon after will have the privilege of going on an exciting international trip.

I’m hanging on during the emoting. The ups and downs are like being on the Giant Dipper in Santa Cruz (just looked at images online and they made my stomach lurch) — so far I’m still strapped in but am a bit dizzy. I am enjoying the sweet company of friends and family who are arriving for the ashes ceremony tomorrow and also when I stopped at the grocery store to buy Thanksgiving pie ingredients I started crying in the dairy section (well, as I write this, that makes sense, as bro was the family’s supreme commander of holiday pie-making). This led to me doubling over in the elevator down to the parking garage (I was alone). Then there was the contentment of arriving home where it is safe and beautiful and dry and I felt the deep satisfaction of knowing I will see more loved ones tomorrow.

I don’t expect Mr Toad’s Wild Ride to be over any time soon (keeping to amusement park references) but I did get a case of Dramamine® at Costco.

Have a good holiday season, everyone. May you enjoy peace and love and fun and contentment. If your heart hurts may you find solace and comfort and places that soothe. 

7″ x 7″ ink, watercolor on paper = $65

 

 

 

abstract painting by emily weil

daily painting | belt it out

So the thing about grief is that it rips your skin off, and then it knifes deeper into your muscles and organs where, with surgical precision, it tears open all the old wounds that you’d rather not look at. This is its gift.

So I kind of celebrate this moment (she said, perhaps masochistically). And I would like it very much if I never again felt like this. But I know things are shifting and re-balancing and I will come out stronger. I’m certain of it. It effing sucks but chains I have dragged behind me my entire life that I didn’t even know were hindering me are rusting through and falling off. Childbirth and open-heart surgery come to mind, to add the list of metaphors.

This painting represents part of my journey.

Broken hearts are more open, I am told.

40″ x 28″ acrylic, oil pastel, pencil, cut up scarves, cut paper on canvas = $1450

 

 

 

acrylic abstract painting on canvas by emily weil

daily painting | seventy-one

I’ve often longed for a frontal lobotomy. That desire is fresh again — anything for relief from Nurse Ratched, who embodies the grief that is my daily companion. I hardly know how to explain myself. “How are you doing, Emily?” is a question asked by people who genuinely care. “Doing my best,” I answer. Because it isn’t culturally acceptable to answer the question honestly: “Well, I was writhing in my bed this morning from stabbing pain in my gut and shards of glass in my heart and it feels like my kitchen floor is jaggy with razor blades and I can’t sleep and I sometimes spontaneously sob hysterically in the produce dept. of the grocery store and I wish I knew who put TNT under my mattress and blew me up. But other than that, I’m fine.”

Truly kind people want me to feel better. I get that and appreciate it. But it also adds pressure, like I’d best hurry up with my mourning. So that makes me withdraw, and then the grief process becomes more isolating. 

Just being honest here. Thanks for reading this. I’d like our culture to be smarter when it comes to holding and supporting those who have had difficult losses. It’s just amazingly lonely and takes years. I’m so bored with justifying my technicolor emotions.

And I’m deeply grateful for redwood trees that I can literally lean on because they help absorb the pain. And for a studio full of paints. And birds. And October moonrises.

30 x 24″ acrylic, oil pastel, pencil on stretched canvas = $1025

 

 

 

watercolor of convict lake by emily weil

daily painting | convict lake

I hardly know where to begin. I am the grateful recipient of a gift of a vacation in Mammoth Lakes, in the eastern Sierras, an offering from a dear relative who has a place here, and who knows the losses of the last few years in my family. It is a reset button for me — I am resting, crying, grieving, exploring, painting and writing. At Convict Lake, a gob-smackingly beautiful place, I set up a little painting station and chatted with fisher people and other hikers and watched bald eagles catch trout. After painting I walked partially around the lake, and a man stopped me and pointed up to a bald eagle in a tree just above the path! So we marveled and shared our views with other hikers. An elderly couple came by, and I gave them my binocs to get a closer look at the majestic creature. The man said he was 87 and had been in wild areas all his life and this was his first sighting of a bald eagle. I was thrilled for him. 

I am healing. I am absorbing all this beauty and love from the wild. Craggy peaks out of every condo window and aspen trees with changing colors. Stars and the milky way — I’m at 8,000 ft. and Jupiter beams like an incoming airplane. Local natural hot springs to soak in. This is good. This is beyond good. I’m a big grateful, absorbent sponge. 

Don’t want this to be a boring travelog. But boy howdy I am appreciative of this slice of magic wedged between death and grief and mourning and my life in Alameda.

10″ x 7″ ink, watercolor on paper

 

 

 

watercolor of flowers by emily weil

daily painting | gorgeousness from holly

Aahhh… October. Such a beautiful month. Autumn is a lovely time of year and I will get to enjoy it up in the eastern Sierras in a few weeks for a vacation of napping and hiking and painting and reading and exploring. So grateful.

A very generous friend gifted me with another bouquet from her stunning garden; worked on this yesterday. I may do another painting today of same.

Today is the 6-week mark of my brother’s death. Tiny little glimmers of sunlight are poking through, encouraging me that grief is a process, and I won’t always feel skinless and inside out. Boy am I grateful his journey is done. No more broken hip or Parkinson’s or brain cancer or unhappy marriage. I feel him with me sometimes, loving me and comforting me and encouraging me that I’m not alone. Thank you, Jamey.

I’m agog at life’s winding roads. Surprising twists and turns and storms and fog and sunshine and healing and hope and loss and love… well, I could go on (well, I already do). I could never have imagined this path with my brother — that we loved each other so much, that we helped heal each other of childhood wounds. That multitudes of loved ones and friends showed up to love and comfort him. It was stunning. I will always be filled with gratitude I got to be part of his life and his death. It was a privilege.

12 x 9″ ink, watercolor, acrylic on paper = $140

 

 

 

watercolor of leaf by emily weil

daily painting | september leaf

I was cleaning up this image in Photoshop, created yesterday, when I realized the leaf is heart-shaped. I had a ball (as usual) with our Brushes by the Bay artists group, and stayed after the group dispersed to keep playing with paints. This leaf drifted from trees behind me onto my work space and I changed direction from painting the small bouquet I’d brought to do this simple autumn offering. I am encouraged — my heart is OK. I’m healing.

I love this time of year. Hawks are migrating, the air is cooling, days are getting shorter which means better rests at night. Maybe it is wisps of memories of forever hopes from childhood that my October birthday will be fun. Maybe it is memories of kid excitement for a new school year with unknown possibilities. Dunno. But this heart-leaf comforts me in my time of grief. To everything there is a season.

7″ x 7″ ink, watercolor on paper = $65

 

 

 

watercolor of alameda house by emily weil

daily painting | view from franklin park

So I picked up my brother’s ashes on Monday. I was pretty rattled — it made it very real, that he’s gone —and yet I still attempted to teach a drawing lesson of 2-point perspective to a lovely French woman who is taking private art lessons. It was so bad I refused payment — boy was I a muddy puddle. She was very understanding. 

Before our meeting, I arrived early at Franklin Park in Alameda and started this painting of one of the lovely homes bordering the park (this went better than teaching architectural angles of roof lines). 

It was an amazing day. Once I returned home, I was quite upset and crying, hard. I saw a dear neighbor walking his dog and went to ask him a favor — would he please give me a hug? He held me close as I sobbed (he’s a tall man and very kind); he knew my grief as he’d tragically lost his wife about a year ago. The next day he left me a stunning bouquet at my front door. 

That evening I went outside to my deck around 10pm to admire the crescent moon. Almost as soon as I was outside a meteorite (or maybe space junk?) streaked across the sky, with a brilliant green tail! I could hardly breathe, it was so amazing. It lasted all of one second. I’m not alone.

8″ x 8″ ink, watercolor on paper = $85

 

 

 

watercolor of flowers by emily weil

daily painting | holly’s bouquet

I choose today to let Madame Grief do with me as she wishes. I believe she has healing powers, but surrendering to her is the only way to access those outcomes. The catch is that she roughs you up along the way. Because I have a technicolor basket of things to mourn, it’s best, in my opinion, to just let go and trust this path, shitball nightmare that it is.

This is my soapbox, as you know (my name is engraved on the side). When my mom died almost 20 years ago, it was a similarly intense experience, grieving her. We had a complicated relationship. I thought I was losing my mind. But I emerged, afterward, stronger, clearer, and more confident. So I guess feeling all the raw pain today is a kind of investment, right? Hoping for a stronger, healthier me? I suppose so. It’s quite isolating, these beliefs. Our culture doesn’t exactly encourage warm hugs and comfort. Lots of people recommend drugs. But I want to be alert for this and see it through. Maybe I’m a masochist. I’m OK with that. Maybe I will come out the other side with increased strength and joy and clarity.

And boy howdy it sucks. Every effing minute. Some days I wish my broken heart would just stop beating and save me from doing this one more day. But maybe my heart is just getting sturdier. Maybe I have the ovaries to see this through.

[Regarding this artwork — my dear friend brought me a spectacular bouquet from her stunning garden and it was my subject matter today for our artists’ group, Brushes by the Bay. I find great comfort in making art with other creative folks.]

6″ x 6″ ink, watercolor on paper = $45