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

 

 

 

monochromatic painting of diana randrup by emily weil

daily painting | tribute

I decided today, on this Memorial Day holiday, to do a simple sketch of my sister Diana who took her life about three weeks ago. It seemed fitting — her death was not a result of fighting in the military, but she was certainly a victim of life-long mental illness battles. And I mean no disrespect to our fallen soldiers. I always thought she was so gorgeous — long flowing hair, a beautiful figure, sharp, intelligent eyes, a full mouth that didn’t smile much. 20+ years ago my brother had a family reunion up on his lovely ranch in the Sierra foothills, where a photo was taken of Diana on the front porch (from which I painted today). I think it was one of the last family events she ever attended, as she became more and more housebound due to debilitating panic attacks and constant, paralyzing terrors. She suffered a great deal. It’s just weird, you know? Assimilating the fact that I don’t have any more sisters? The world feels knocked sideways. Anyways, I feel wretched most of the time, not a surprise. I’ll get through this terrible storm that is rocking myself and my family, but I will keep my life raft close-by. I’m pretty sure I won’t capsize. But the waves are pretty big. [Also want to extend props to my brother James who just completed his 50th Bay-to-Breakers, and he has Parkinson’s! Wowee. Fierce.] 

10″ x 7″ water soluble graphite, pen on paper

 

 

 

watercolor of wilted rose by emily weil

daily painting | droopy blossom

A wonderful and supportive friend brought me a lovely bouquet from her garden the other day, including a lush and gorgeous rose. The rose was getting droopy today, and I wanted to paint it. As a follow up to my sister Diana’s rose drawing in my last post. A rose that is done. Over. Spent.

If you have read my last blog, you will know I lost my sister Diana to suicide several days ago. And here is my request, my dear friends — please toss out hesitancy to talk about mental illness. Diana had any number of diagnoses, from depression to schizophrenia to anxiety disorders. A long list. She suffered a great deal and was hospitalized at times. While I am angry she could not or would not be more aggressive about her own care, it’s important to break down the taboos about being mentally ill. It’s essential we talk about it; most of us have been touched by it either directly or indirectly. I have had my own battles with depression and as a teenager considered suicide but decided it was too scary; I knew where mom’s full bottle of Seconal was (one of the things that pushed me close to that cliff was idiot parents of fellow teens in high school who gushed, “Oooh, these are the happiest times of your life! Enjoy them!” I thought, jeez, if this is as good as it gets I think I’ll check out now). Instead I found solace in the born-again Christian belief system which I no longer practice. People who commit suicide don’t want to die. They want the pain to stop.

It’s good, to be honest about these things and discuss disturbances and disorders and craziness and suicidal ideations. Put it all out on the table; there is nothing to be ashamed of. Someone who is bipolar or schizophrenic didn’t choose that any more than someone chooses a brain tumor or cerebral palsy. It’s physical. It’s a messed up brain. 

So. Please talk amongst yourselves.

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