abstract painting by emily weil

daily painting | belly band

Today’s blurb is for Mike. I found out today that my childhood neighbor and pal died, and I am grieving him. Mike and I played and climbed trees in our little Mill Valley hillside world. I spent hours and hours in his home, which had a friendlier vibe than my house. Debbie, his sister, was my best friend, Rhonda was the oldest with her magnificent flaming red hair (so compelling to me, this older teenage girl with mysterious ways) and baby Jimmy came along when we were in grammar school. I think we had a Bluebirds meeting in their house, and I held baby Jimmy and then dropped him on the floor (short drop from the couch, no harm but I still feel bad). Mike, my crush, was a sweet boy who loved motorcycles and news of his death is hitting me hard. This happens as we enter our later years. Peers and childhood buddies and family members die. Their lives are done. I am keenly sensitive to my choices here — to be sad, to be depressed, to be bitter as I sort through loss. Or I can keep my heart open, committing to live as largely as I can regardless of my age. I think I’ll do the largely part. 

[Working on this today in my studio was great therapy]

12″ x 12″ acrylic, oil pastel on claybord = $200

 

 

 

watercolor of chair by emily weil

daily painting | damn chair

When I was a little girl, the starry night sky enchanted me. That there were huge gassy balls of light a zillion miles from our planet helped lift me out of my sad body tied to earth and marvel at such miracles. One August a yearly meteor shower was happening (must have been the Perseid) and the Weil kids and the Swango kids laid out our sleeping bags under the stars to see the show. I don’t remember much from that night but I can remember the anticipation and excitement that such celestial fireworks were visible from our little Mill Valley yards.

So when I got this email from Colossal it reminded me of the magic that is all around us; it’s a fantastic image of an exploded star: www.thisiscolossal.com/2024/03/vela-supernova-composite/

It was like angels were all around me when I was little, urging me to look up and dream (as I write this I am hearing a song play on TV, “All I Have To Do is Dream” by the Everly Brothers. Cool beans.)

[Regarding this artwork, there’s an old chair that hangs out near the “yacht club” in my marina (community room). I’ve done 6 or 7 drawings/paintings of the thing and this is my favorite. Loose and funky.]

12″ x 9″ watercolor crayon, water-soluble graphite on paper = $150

 

 

 

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, ink painting of clematis by emily weil

daily painting | clematis

I have a spiritual practice. It holds me up. I am challenged these days to nurture a sense of wonder. Like a child delights in daily things that spark her curiosity. I take notes on these bright spots and go back and read them when I’m wearing iron boots and can’t move. 

These are my twinkly moments from yesterday: 

• The stunning red-tailed hawk I saw on the light post, hoping for a prairie-dog lunch. 

• The pleasant afternoon I enjoyed with my brother, as we visited the Homestead Valley Community Center in Mill Valley, where my dear friend Sandy is showing her beautiful watercolors. Sandy met us there and brought the sweetest, fattest grapes I’ve ever tasted. Kids were outside doing an exercise class to Beatles’ tunes; the school next door used to be Homestead School where I went to kindergarten.

• Email correspondence with Jordon the roofer, who had just approved of my idea of creating an arrangement of large paintings of Briones for his office wall in exchange for part of my roofing bill.

• The crescent moon setting in the western sky.

• The happy anticipation of teaching art for a week in June at a camp in Plumas County.

• Laughing as the “poker boys” crack wise on Zoom as I got my brother set up for the Tuesday night online poker game.

Tuesday’s wonders. My heart is happy.

[This is a painting done from a photo sent to me by my friend Diane who is an amazing gardener; I’m doing well if I don’t kill my jade plant.]

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

 

 

 

watercolor of dog by emily weil

daily painting | daisy-may

I really like my Sunday mornings. I watch the news shows because I’m a junkie, sip my tea, watch Buster, my guinea pig, chow down on his morning salad and delight in the dancing shadows on my living room curtains of finches at the bird feeder. I’m getting more skilled at self-care, allowing myself to rest after almost 11 months of looking after my bro — his brain cancer is advancing, but slowly. He is in good hands; I don’t need to be there every day. I feel guilty, but am noticing how beneficial it is to not be so worn out. I’m no good to him if I’m a wrung-out old dish rag.

Jamey and I often have amazing conversations. Last week we had a difficult discussion about the secret abuse my little sister and I suffered at the hands of our fury-spewing dad. Jamey is 9 years older, so he was mostly gone, doing teenager things, when I was a kid. He wasn’t home when dad would go into his rages — he was worried he had been there but either didn’t realize what was happening, or chose not to intervene. I am certain my funny, kind older brother wasn’t around, as I don’t think Dad would’ve dared the abuse if he’d had witnesses. These hard facts weigh on my brother. He’s an engineer, not exactly conversant with his emotions, but his love for me is clear. I believe that more than anything he wishes he could have prevented those horrors experienced by his two little sisters.

Phoo, this is heavy stuff. My apologies. My point is that I am grateful for the sweetness of my times with my only remaining sib. These incredible moments would have never happened but for his illness and being confined in a nursing home where I can visit and spend time with him. He often surprises me, bringing up family topics I assume he would rather avoid. These exchanges heal us both. Isn’t that somethin’?

[About this painting — a dear friend’s sweet little Daisy May moved on to happier hunting grounds recently and this is a tribute to her.]

6″ x 6″ ink, watercolor, acrylic on paper

 

 

 

watercolor, ink, pastel painting of morning glory by emily weil

daily painting | pill hill morning glory

I can’t remember why I was driving over Pill Hill in Oakland last week; trying to get to the freeway after getting a 2nd booster shot at Kaiser I suppose (Pill Hill is what folks call the area off Broadway that is chock-full of hospitals and medical facilities). But I pulled over for some reason, I think because my purse was on the back seat of my car and the seat belt sensors are ridiculously sensitive and Michelle was yelling at me (Michelle is my wonderful new RAV4). 

Anyways these enormous morning glories, the size of large saucers, with their pointy, lavender tips, were profusely blooming on the corner so I snapped a few pics and painted the scene a few days ago. They were just so healthy and gorgeous. I always get a kick out of seeing lush gardens in urban areas, and that corner of Oakland is about as urban as you can get.

Anything that is part of the natural world comforts me enormously as I watch my brother slowly fade and decline from brain cancer. Last week I visited my wonderful friend Sandy who very recently lost her husband to a heart attack. I was so glad to see her and left the house (the house I grew up in) at dusk. As I went out to my car on that wooded Mill Valley hillside I was surrounded by bats! They danced around me and over my head and I was frozen in awe and wonder, listening to the whooshing of their wings. I love bats. It was bat magic.  

10″ x 10″ ink, watercolor, pastel on paper = $130

 

 

 

daily painting | lilies at lucy’s

I just wanted to get out my tray of watercolors today and I didn’t care what I produced. I started working from a photo of lilies in my therapist Lucy’s front yard, and it wasn’t quite working so I made it an abstract. I disappeared into art. It was out of ragged desperation — I’m home today after a nutty few weeks that included a string of bonkers events — my bro is slowly showing more symptoms of the brain cancer advancing and mental illness and addictions are ravaging my family and my car is failing (with elusive causes) and I had an argument with the hospice social worker and … well, blah-blah-blah. I was frantic for relief today (while also grateful to have a chance to rest), jogging one step ahead of a melt-down-panic-attack tsunami, so today was weird. I pulled ice cream out of the freezer and melted chocolate to put on top. This alone was alarming — I never do that. I sat and did breathing exercises, fighting off going completely numb while staring into space. I briefly worried I’d lose my lunch. I paced the floor, wondering how close I am to a padded room in the psych ward (but I’d hate the drugs).

My most loving friends would remind me of all that is happening in my family and in my life and tell me my crazy feelings are only natural. But how can I make them go away? Not going to happen. So now as I type this while sitting on my couch with my laptop waiting for the senate hearings to begin I invite the grief, rage, pain, sadness and disbelief to sit beside me. It’s crowded, but this is today’s party at Emily’s house.

7″ x 10″ ink, watercolor, acrylic 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 painting of bouquet of flowers by emily weil

daily painting | tj posies

I did several iterations of this Trader Joe’s bouquet, getting my paints out before my commute to Mill Valley for brother-time. As I’ve said about 100 times already, grabbing my porcelain tray full of watercolors and opening a hot-press watercolor paper sketchbook to spatter some “Opera Pink” onto wet paper heals my soul and helps me grieve. I feel so fortunate to be an artist. I suppose it helped as a kid too, now that I think of it — I doodled a lot with pencils.

Well maybe this post will actually trigger the MailChimp feed to send out emails to you folks who signed up for daily painting alerts. Invisible anti-art ghosts in the system have made things kind of messed up.

So here’s a question I wouldn’t ever in a million years have expected to ask my brother, but I did this morning on the phone: “How’s your penis?” He had a catheter malfunction yesterday which nicked him a little; the hospice nurse came to remedy the problem but, yuck, poor guy. The indignities and discomforts of needing nursing care. Once he was fixed up, I left his facility to drive home. Cried along the way, especially while listening to an interview on the radio (Fresh Air) with a neurosurgeon. I’m kind of tired of learning about brain tumors (while at the same time I continue to be fascinated). Should have changed the station to hear about how we women are again second-class citizens.

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

 

 

 

watercolor and ink drawing of hollyhock by emily weil

daily painting | peralta hollyhock

As I left my therapist Lucy’s office on Peralta Ave in Albany the other day I noticed this lovely hollyhock towering in a yard across the street (snapped a photo). There’s something about these flowers — I only see them in the summer, and they seem quite accessible and almost pedestrian but also very gorgeous. They are not sophisticated or aloof, like a perfectly grown rose or an elegant lily. Which is why I think they are magnificent. Lucy is helping me walk through this very difficult chapter in my life (and in my family) — death, dysfunction, addiction, estrangement, cancer and suicide lurk. And death is a natural — even miraculous — part of life. And those of us left behind get out our mops and try to clean up the bloody bits of our beat-up spirits. Lucy advises me to keep my heart open. Which often seems impossible. But when I do, and choose to see the love and magic in the world that surround me, my steps are a bit lighter — I appreciate the red-shouldered hawk that flies overhead when I have conversations on the Mill Valley patio with my brother as we sit under a huge, blooming magnolia tree. Bright scarlet dragonflies zoom around outside my houseboat, skimming the estuary waters. Red tail hawks in a nearby Monterey Pine dodge dive-bombing crows. I get to see golden eagles have kids in the Sunol hills. Finches and sparrows mob the bird feeder on my deck. And, best of all, I absorb the warm hugs and loving affection from my brother. It’s a beautiful world.

OK now I am going to follow the steps a counselor suggested years ago when we experience hard times: Dial 911, step over the body, and do the dishes.

10″ x 7″ ink, watercolor on paper

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