daily painting | diana

Diana Elizabeth Weil Randrup, my older sister, took her own life yesterday, Friday, May 7, a week short of her 76th birthday. She used a gun. I have no more sisters, now. Diana was burdened by mental illness and anxiety and suffered a great deal throughout her life. She leaves behind two grown children, three grandchildren, and one great-grandson. She lived in Crescent City, CA. Her daughter and granddaughter had tried to convince her to use more peaceful means, but she had long collected guns and threatened suicide. She was finally successful. Her adult granddaughter, who lived with her, had to endure the shock of finding her body.

This lovely drawing was created by Diana, who had deep oceans of artistic talent. It was a wedding gift to my daughter. 

She was exquisitely talented. I tried to convince her to draw and paint more, but could not. She wrote hilarious send-ups of visits from mom that she shared with select family members. She did beautiful drawings and yarn creations. 

And she was broken. 

In her last few years she refused all contact with anyone outside of her daughter and grandkids who were in the same town; she became agoraphobic and stopped driving. She was paralyzed by terrors and panic attacks. I would send her occasional notes and cards, knowing she would read them even if she didn’t respond. A few years ago, I wrote her a note that may have been more heartfelt than others (I don’t remember) but I about fell over when she wrote me back! I was thrilled that she reached out — very unlike her. After I read the card I tucked it inside my bra so it would be close to my heart and kept it there all day, crying with gratitude. I hadn’t seen her in 20 years, as she refused all family contact. 

This began a correspondence that lasted about a year, which thrilled me. We would exchange political views and anti-Trump rants, mostly. It was a point of connection, obsessing about politics, and we were both news junkies. Her granddaughter Karen told me she would put my cards on the mantle in the living room. I am so grateful to have had that thin thread of connection; she finally stopped writing, saying in her last card it was too stressful.

So, goodbye, Diana. I am enraged you put Karen in this position. And your daughter. You could’ve listened! We could have helped you have a more peaceful death. But you were in too much pain to think of anything but ending your misery. I get that, I do. I hope you are at peace now. We certainly are not.

 

 

 

acrylic abstract painting by emily weil

daily painting | skylines

Did anyone see the PBS show, “American Masters” about Oliver Sacks? I was floored and inspired by his transparency and openness about his life—his missteps, his insights and honesty. And his incredible empathy (I watched it twice). He talked about his journey without hesitation or obfuscation. Which is helping me feel bolder about my own blatherings about my personal adventures and challenges. As I struggle to wrap my mind and heart around the reality of my younger sister’s death, and how difficult it was to connect with her, it is becoming clearer how my childhood wounds shape me. I have healed a great deal and worked very hard for my wholeness. At the same time, wispy fragments of longings as well as my aching quest for human connection that haunted me as a child float through my soul, and I see how I have felt ashamed of these normal and human needs. Like somehow I should be above the desire for intimacy. I should buck up, or something asinine like that. Ridiculous. Today I embrace my humanity and natural and beautiful desires. What is more precious than human connection? Yet I have often thought this was a deep flaw. Boy howdy am I letting that one go!

I worked on this small abstract on the weekend. I didn’t feel like painting at all. But it was a tonic to be in my studio and work with colors and shapes and wet gloppy paint without any attempts to make it pretty. It was a soothing experience, even with tears mixed into the chromium blues.

9″ x 12″ acrylic, oil pastel, pencil on claybord = $140

 

 

 

daily painting | maker farm hoofer

A couple of days ago I grabbed my bike to get outdoors and try to outride the dark thoughts creeping in under my eyebrows. I enjoy riding down the estuary to where the shipping cranes on- and off-load the hulking, ocean-traveling ships. Such a funky, interesting mix of sights and scenes — the clanking of the primary-colored containers as they are loaded onto the ships, small sailboats dwarfed by enormous rust-stained hulls, maybe some cute little oystercatchers pecking at tidbits at the tide’s edge with their cartoony, orange beaks; a few folks living in their RVs, humans letting their pets loose at the dog run. It’s so splashy and unsanitized. Nearby is a fun nursery called Ploughshares, a collaborative operation and a good spot to buy plants for your garden and support the local community. I was delighted to ride past their spot and see folks with rakes cleaning up an open lot alongside backhoes moving dirt around, sheep chomping on composted refuse and piglets wrestling with each other in the mud. Turns out Maker Farm, which had been next door to my marina, found their new home. They let me come in the gate and photograph the activities, and this friendly and curious hoofer came over to say hello. It’s a kind of figure drawing, right? Sheepy, shaggy models. These unexpected and fun moments are such a relief from dodging grief bombs. Last night, while out on my deck, a Great Blue Heron swung around the corner of my house and flew within a few feet of me. I could hardly catch my breath, it was such a magnificent surprise. Beats hell out of dodging raindrops dripping through my ceiling onto my bed in the middle of the night, but that’s another adventure too boring to describe. A Christmas night wake-up, but it’s OK now. Moving soggily onward.

7.5″ x 7.5″ watercolor, pen, acrylic spats on paper = $75

 

 

 

daily painting | nancy’s hydrangeas

As I was Photoshopping this image of today’s daily painting and saving it (you have to clean up photos taken of paintings, no matter what), I cracked up looking at the list of files on my hard drive that start with, “Nancy’s.” It’s because of the amazing things that grow in my friend and fellow gramma’s San Diego yard — pomegranates and gardenias and figs and then these guys. Took a photo of her hydrangeas when there last summer; in winter I root through photos for subject matter (was hoping for grocery delivery sooner today so I could pluck out fresh produce and make a food arrangement still life, but, alas, no internet for half the day today which forced me to paint and put my feet up and read; I guess it was a good idea because my weeping last night left me this morning feeling like I got flattened by the grief bus). SO. Putting asides aside, I was not unhappy to be a homebody today with my paints. It cheered me to create puddles of purple and pink paint for these lovely flowers. I didn’t even feel skitchy today as I often do these days with nervous loneliness and cabin fever. Something about kicking back with my book in the middle of the day felt naughty. I liked it. Especially with a full view of the finches and towhees at the bird feeder. These things boost my sore heart, as did washing up my dishes this morning — I filled a pan with soapy water and the floating bubbles made the shape of a heart. Made me cry. Messages from something bigger than I am, helping me through these days of pain and healing, and boosting my faith and trust. I’ll be OK. We’ll be OK. We’ve made it this far.

10″ x 10″ watercolor, pen on paper = $130

 

 

 

daily painting | loss

Grief sucks. She’s a powerful bitch that mops the floor with you. She eats you for lunch. She puts cement shoes on your feet in the mornings. She flops your brain around until you don’t know your name, what day it is, how to prepare a meal (not that you have an appetite). It gets even more confounding when the person you loved, who died, was someone you struggled with in your lifelong relationship. It muddles things. I’m not very coherent today but I can write down the feelings that are fizzing through my veins and leaking out my pores: rageful, sad, angry, peaceful, resentful, grateful, confused, sorrowful, doubtful, betrayed, frustrated, agonized, tenacious, lost, wrecked, sturdy, disbelieving, broken, in searing pain, outraged, content, wretched, regretful, distressed, desolate, flattened, furious, despondent, incredulous, volatile, bereaved, exasperated, defeated, hopeful, squashed, depressed, panicked, funky, deranged, thankful.

My belief is that it’s best to hand yourself over to this process and feel every last damn mother-flipping feeling. It moves through you better if you don’t fight it. When my mom died, almost exactly 15 years ago, I experienced a “complicated grief,” according to counselors. I didn’t get along with Mom, and neither did my older sister. I felt the need to protect myself when I was around her; she could be cruel and demeaning. But my younger sister, who died a week ago, had a better relationship with her and was always loyal to Mom. Which was a tense, sore spot in our sisterly relationship. But it was the truth of our family dynamics, and I learned to accept it.

Making things even more murky, Kay and I could never talk about the painful moments of our childhood that we suffered together at the hands of our abusive, raging dad. That is a sadness I carry today, deeply. Always will, I suppose.

Thank you for reading through this long treatise on mourning with all its criss-crossing metaphors. It reveals the contents of my heart, and I appreciate your kindness and compassion for this life experience I am having.

Oh, about this painting. I worked on it over the weekend in my studio and it is helping to contain my grief and pain. I actually felt joyful, painting in my space again. But oy, you should see the spatters! I actually wrecked a small painting that was against the wall, too close to the Jackson-Pollock freewheelingness of it all.

22″ x 30″ acrylic, India ink, pencil, crayon on paper = $795