watercolor painting of oranges by emily weil

daily painting | adrian’s oranges

About this painting — a dear friend asked me to do a still life of oranges from her back yard tree. And it’s a good thing I didn’t eat any of them before I got my watercolors out or there wouldn’t be any left to paint. Tastiest, juiciest oranges I’ve ever had (I think it’s time for another one).

Monday musings — I’ve been chewing on this idea for days. Heard it in a snippet from an NPR interview with a woman who I think teaches poetry classes to prison inmates (only heard the last few mins of the story). Trying to get incarcerated young men to write poems in order to think beyond their current circumstances. To believe in their strong hearts and in hope and in a future.

She asks people to consider: “If I believed one positive thing about myself, how would it change my life?”

So I am practicing believing I am a good artist. A REALLY good artist. And the resistance I feel in my body to that thought! Lordy! Arguments in my head from years of conditioning as a female. That’s boastful. That’s shameful. Quiet humility is best. Shut up and be quiet. Don’t be arrogant or vain. Don’t make noise. Mediocrity is just fine, you wouldn’t want to threaten anyone, especially a man. Don’t aim too high.

What if I did this thing? Believed without hesitation in my abilities to create art? What if you did the same, believing in yourself? In just one thing? It’s so audacious I can hardly digest it. And damned if it doesn’t make me stand taller and square my shoulders and step into sunlight. Talk about going against the current. Well, I can paddle. Got a sturdy canoe. Join me.

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




watercolor painting of sunflowers by emily weil

daily painting | sunny flowers in teapot

Obviously my sisters have been on my mind lately since they have both recently left the planet. Younger sister Kay was a force to be reckoned with — focused and determined; when she had her sights on something you stepped back and got out of her way. I admired that strength, and also was frustrated by it (easy to feel bulldozed by her). Similarly, I think of older sister Diana who only a few months ago committed suicide. She was so shackled and hobbled by mental illness (she had a number of diagnoses throughout her life), paralyzed and tortured by panic and daily terrors. I related to her as I also absorbed a lot of fear as a little one, as our dad, a truly miserable guy, often flew into rages. Which makes me think, well, how would my sisters think of me? And did they see things in me to which I am blind? All too likely (this quote comes to mind from Fran Lebowitz: “Being judgmental, to me, just means I have standards.”). But I so aspire to clear-headed self-reflection. I do not want to live an unexamined life, which brings me to these sunflowers. They have such wide-open faces and seem so trusting. So American, too, being native to this country. Home-grown. My reflexive reactions to life when I hurt are to withdraw, to keep myself safe. Which is the illustration of Diana’s life; she was agoraphobic and painfully tormented in her later years. So it feels risky for me to open myself up to all of life’s myriad experiences with trust and faith and hope, which makes for a richer, often bumpier life. I’ll take it though. 

I am somewhat on that wobbly cliff as I ponder retirement and my future. I’m pushing 70, and in light of my sisters’ deaths, want to live to the max in whatever time I have left. What does that mean? Not sure yet, though art certainly is the hub of that wheel. These past 15 months have been ridiculously challenging and painful, for many reasons. As they have for all of us. Yet I feel extraordinarily grateful for the many gifts I enjoy every day, from my health to my life on the water to creating and teaching art to time with loved ones to holding a wild hawk in my hand (see GGRO.org) to… well, too may things to list. I’ve been encouraged lately to celebrate the life I have designed. OK. Will do.

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