watercolor painting of flowers by emily weil

daily painting | courthouse posies

My day of jury duty last week in Oakland was brightened by finding a secret stash of blooms tucked behind a metal fence next to one of those big, cold, gray commanding buildings near the Alameda County Courthouse. It was a very chilly, overcast day, and we were not allowed to stay inside the building for lunch, so I wandered around a bit hoping for a spot to land. It was a challenge as lunch spots are all take-out due to Covid, and damn it was nippy and breezy, which made all those official buildings near Lake Merritt even more imposing and coldly intimidating. But here was this little gem of a bush, sporting flowers I’d never seen before and they cheered me. I hope the other members of the jury pool enjoyed these too, as we filed out of the assembly room and looked for somewhere to perch for an hour and then some — I felt spit out into the concrete jungle where there were no warm havens. Glad I layered up. Which is different from being lawyered up. Ha.

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

 

 

 

sketch of jury room by emily weil

daily painting | assembly room #100

Yesterday was a gray, chilly April day in Oakland, and as a member of jury group #1010 I was required to show up in the Alameda County Courthouse (I argued I am self-employed, which sometimes gets me excused, but no). Here are a few sketches I did as I fought stultifying boredom, hoping I didn’t hear my name called over the speakers (but I hasten to add I believe in this kind of civic duty, and if chosen I will embrace my responsibilities — I served on a jury for a fascinating federal case years ago involving a confiscation of 70 tons of hashish on the high seas). It was an 8 hour day, and after the Chauvin trial folks on all sides are skittish, so jury selection for a trial that involves a Black man, a gun, a robbery and lots of cops is taking quite a long time. This courthouse is famous for the photos taken during the Huey Newton trial in the 1970s with the Black Panthers holding rallies on the front steps. One photo has legally-armed (at the time) Black Panthers outside the front doors; can you even imagine what would happen if that took place today? Bloody hell, that’s what. 

But that was over 50 years ago and my god I’m old. I’m reminded of comments a racist family member made, who was a judge in the 60s-70s, opining about Angela Davis. Chilling and nauseating. But I won’t rant here about racism in the US as I get kind of riled up. (Side note: I was lucky enough to have Davis as a professor for a Women in Music class at CCAC in the 1980s and she was incredible; don’t think I’ve ever met a more intelligent or thoughtful woman in my lifetime. She was the antithesis of the scary Black woman firebrand militant the media painted her as in those days, and that bit of history looks quite different in light of the Chauvin trial, yes?)

Let’s all wake up, OK? White supremacism and bigotry is real, dangerous, and rotten and needs to be rooted out, especially in police departments and courtrooms. And in our own hearts.

 

 

 

daily painting | splash zone

I was watching a documentary about Keith Haring and loved seeing him do his line work. I’m already crazy about my oil pastel sticks, so I couldn’t wait to take a break from watercolor and head into my studio and take out fresh sheets of paper and mark them up. The sticks are gooey and thick with pigment but take forever to dry, so I do hesitate to use them at times. But not last weekend. This drawing will be sticky for months, but that’s OK. Working like this taps into a deep part of me, and is quite healing and cathartic. Abstract works are helping me work out complicated feelings about my sister who died in November. Why did we fight so much when we were little? How much childhood pain & trauma did she subsume into her chanting practice? I know she suffered during her teen years, as did I, with depression and despair and we both found ways to comfort ourselves. Today I feel deeply saddened by the dramas that played out in our family with our parents who were terribly wounded souls. I am glad for the mental and emotional stability I have worked hard for, and I am sad for the ways Kathy and I acted out, as little ones, the unspoken frustration and rage in our family. Today I feel peace and heartbreak at the same time. Emotions can be so confounding. Best not to argue with them. [Note: after I posted this, I watched this 16-min TED talk and was a bit blown away by it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVnwC-taQXM&feature=youtu.be or look up, “Through the Mud We Rise | Michelle Esrick”]

15.5″ x 18″ pencil, oil pastel, crayon on paper = $360

 

 

 

daily painting | dance it out

I love my Zumba classes that are available on Zoom from local dance teacher Lynda Gutierrez. Her classes always cheer me (and make me really sweaty), and she is such a bright and warm presence. She often says, “Dance it out!” Meaning, work out your frustrations by dancing. It helps! And working out my emotions in my art studio helps as well (especially since I managed this morning in my stocking feet on my wood floor to have my foot slide out from under me, pulling something in my hip; no dance class today, must rely on art to work out emotions). Last weekend I was hankering to express myself with pen and pencil and oil pastel sticks on paper, inspired by several art documentaries I watched. It was surprisingly satisfying, and provided grief relief. This piece kind of looks like a dance party on paper, which made me think of Lynda. On this rainy day as I sit on a bag of frozen peas, feeding my news junkie tendencies, sipping my Earl Grey tea and writing this blog, I appreciate the sanctuary my art studio in Oakland provides. I will hobble there this afternoon and keep working.

15.5″ x 18″ pencil, oil pastel, crayon on paper = $360

 

 

 

daily painting | back fence nasties

Last weekend when I took a wet painting out into our back studio garden to dry in the sun, these nasturtiums were growing up the fence and I was smitten with the bright sunny blooms. Today I find solace in painting that scene of twisting, twirling vines and orangey-yellow blossoms against the dark fence. The colors of the flowers are cheery, as are the bright green, veined leaves that cling so fiercely to the dark boards woven through the cyclone fence background. Sloshing watercolors around on paper today is comforting me as I seem to be veering from the shock of my sister’s death into depression, loneliness and deep grief. But here I am, still upright, one foot in front of the other, as my mother used to say. Storms do pass. And jeez what a year of swirling, violent, catastrophic tempests. This particular weather system may be parking itself at my door for awhile. [And as I write this I am greeted by the chitters of the hummingbirds at the feeder — exotic, beautiful and etherial creatures, they are. I so love their visitations.]

9″ x 12″ watercolor, pen on paper = $140