painting of magnolia seedpod by emily weil

daily painting | seed pod

At my brother’s previous home, Marin Terrace in Mill Valley, a real shithole of a nursing facility (I will be filing complaints), the one saving grace was that there was an outside patio with a huge magnolia tree that provided shade and a pleasant place to sit and chat and visit. After the flowers bloomed (the luscious beauties only lasted a day or two), these seedpods would be left behind and they were so beautifully designed — such a fascinating and sturdy structure. My bro would pick them up and play with them, and so would I — the stem had a kind of velvety feel to it.

So since my bro has now moved to a much nicer facility (Aldersly in San Rafael) I thought I’d draw/paint one of these pods which I’d saved. He needs some fresh artwork for his new room so I’ll bring him this one today.

Death and dying and grief are part of my world, daily. Sorrow joins me every day at the table and takes my hand and I accept those frequent visits. Yesterday I learned that my wonderful new friend Sandy lost her husband suddenly from a heart attack. No warning. Sandy purchased my childhood home in Mill Valley and has lived there for 50 years and through a few crazy-wonderful turns of events we have become connected (sometimes I even stay at the house, thanks to her generosity). Russ was a lovely, kind man. I did not know him well but was very fond of him, and he was very sweet to me. RIP dear Russ. Please look after Sandy. I will try to too.

7″ x 9″ ink, artgraf graphite on paper




watercolor painting of magnolia bud by emily weil

daily painting | magnolia bud

Lucky me to have time with my dear friend Claire, visiting from WA! We visited my brother and afterward we headed over to Uncle Fuzzy’s yard in Mill Valley to enjoy some Chardonnay and chat. Claire and I (90% Claire, 10% Emily) looked after our old friend as he was dying of cancer two years ago, and the house is still in probate and not yet up for sale so I pulled my camping chairs out of the back of the car and we watched the woodpeckers and crows in the nearby trees and reminisced. During those months in 2020 Claire and I sat in the yard many times, sipping wine and laughing and shoring each other up while Russ (his given name) napped, as we loved him and he was soon leaving. So in Russ’s back yard is a gorgeous blooming magnolia, and this bud was just peeping out and getting ready to pop. 

I feel immersed in death and dying, and that sounds darker than I feel. Death is a fascinating part of life, and yes I will be shattered after my much-loved brother leaves the planet a few months from now. You get up in these years and loss is a part of the landscape. As one writer opined in an NPR interview, once you get past 60 you constantly carry a 100-lb sack of grief on your shoulder, as loved ones grow old and die. Yes, exactly. And there’s a magnificent beauty to that natural unfolding of things, though our hearts break daily. And this is a part of life, and how glorious to fully live, which is my response in the midst of all this. I want to live as largely as is humanly possible until I, too, get ready to leave the earth. I want to skid into that moment, waving my freak flag and laughing and rollicking with irreverence and giddy with joy at having been given this amazing gift of life.

7″ x 10″ ink, watercolor on paper




watercolor and ink painting of magnolia by emily weil

daily painting | love?

Today’s frivolous subject: What is love? How do you define it, whether lover-to-lover or daddy-to-daughter or friend-to-friend or gramma-to-grandbaby or sister-to-brother? Well, you can’t, not completely, unless maybe you teach philosophy at UC Berkeley, or are a poet laureate, and probably not then either. I’m pondering these things as I learn new ways of being in the world. Maybe it’s just as I turn into an old lady, maybe it’s because I ponder death and am in the stupor-inducing, all-consuming process of grieving my dead sisters. Don’t know, but the older I get the more I believe the Beatles lyrics, All You Need is Love. 

And here is a stunning (only to me) moment of soul transmogrification — I seriously believe, I think for the first time in my life, that I am loved! Isn’t that somethin’? That realization is soaking deeply into my bones. I grew up in a mangled family where love was scarce and sadness and loneliness abundant. Not big news, or even remotely unusual, but those dreary notions of sparse possibilities formed my threadbare perceptions of living. I decided about 30+ years ago that I’d pursue healing and therapy and psychological help to the ends of the earth, if it would help me become whole and have a more satisfying life and be a better human, and — Bob’s your uncle! Here I am, living fairly largely. And beginning, astonishingly in my experience, to truly feel loved. A brand-new experience, and wow it’s amazing. Am I getting married, you might wonder? Have I recently been dazzled by new romance? No. Nothing really has changed except my insides. With tons of help and buckets of counseling and spiritual guidance, my heart is mending. 

So this painting of an open, lush magnolia blossom feels like an appropriate illustration of an open heart and a life with hope and faith. I am truly flabbergasted and blazing with gratitude.

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