daily painting | aldersly rose

Ahhh… the hungry ghost. He’s back. Here I was cooking along on this watercolor — I loved how the rose was developing — and then things got a bit muddy and complicated and the hungry ghost is jabbering in my ear about what a shitty artist I am. I HATE that.

A hungry ghost is a Buddhist concept I heard about in a lecture once. It is perpetually ravenous and feeds on joy, happiness, contentment and self-confidence. I notice that when I feel happy to be an artist or confident in myself as a sister or competent as a GGRO bander, the damn ghostie likes to rob me of my moments of peace and joy.

So I’m going to post this painting anyways. It is from a photo of the lovely rose garden at Aldersly, where my ailing brother resides. Those wonderful folks there told him that if he wished to employ Medical Assistance In Dying (MAID), they would help him do that in their beautiful rose garden (he has brain cancer and had expressed a wish to die outside).

He just told me he has decided not to make the choice for MAID, but will let that damn hungry cancer ghost do its nasty work. And I support him (as I would whatever he chose). Today painting is soothing me (I just started another rose painting) as I take a day off from brother care to stay home and rest. I feel so fortunate. I can paint and enjoy my home where I feel safe and content. Many,  many gifts in my life. 

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

 

 

 

watercolor and ink painting of peruvian lilies

daily painting | peruvian lilies

Over the last weeks I’ve gotten my paints out to poke around at being an artist pretty regularly, but without uploadable results. Today after a blast of a morning playing at my new passion, paddling in a dragon boat in the alameda estuary, I came home to draw and paint, doing my best to be heedless of results. Good thing, too — I photographed some lovely sunflowers in Seattle two weeks ago as I wandered through my sister’s old neighborhood (we scattered her ashes in her favorite park), wanting SO badly to produce a good sunflower watercolor. Nope (they were OK, just not up to par). So I decided to do a wet, sloppy painting of these lovely purple Peruvian lilies from Trader Joe’s. 

It’s an excellent October afternoon — a few breezes (not as bad as forecast), slightly overcast skies, comfortable temps, smoke-free air. Enough sun to dry the paints when I prop the painting in the window.

And again I lean hard into the things that keep me right-side up. As my brother fades from brain cancer (fatigue, wobbliness but thankfully no headaches or seizures; he’s mostly still lucid) I find myself feeling skinless and vulnerable and out-to-sea most of the time. I’m learning to accept this state of my mind and heart. It’s exceedingly painful and uncomfortable but I certainly have no control over my desperate, excruciating emotions (and a pox on those who blow “toxic positivity” in my direction — do look that one up). And so be it, dammit. I’m here. I’m showing up. I’m trying really hard not to be an asshole (with splotches of success). Getting outdoors in nature (Tomales Bay was a treat last week) and getting out my watercolors and bending the ears of my compassionate pals are my mainstays. I don’t know where I am on any map. Can’t tell where I’m going; I am without a horizon. But as I write this my guinea pig Buster Posey is foraging in his cage for small-animal hay and making cute noises, I’m roasting some veggies in the oven (the thyme smells deliciously fragrant), the view outside my window of the marina is beautiful and calming, and I wave to my neighbors walking by on the docks. Life is awful. Life is hard. Life is wonderful. Life is amazing. 

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

 

 

 

daily painting | birthday orchid

I thought I’d post today (don’t usually do on weekends) as I’m soon heading up to Seattle & can’t predict my coming days in terms of painting and blogging. And I wanted to share this painting I did today. I’m sitting writing this on my couch, hoping some trick-or-treaters come by who live in the marina. I just love the darling costumes. [Here’s a Halloween memory — living in a kid-filled neighborhood in OR when my kids were small, two costumed kids knocked on the door and I still remember them — that area used to be a big logging area, and the little boy was dressed like a logger, with a plaid shirt, a pillow to indicate a big belly, a hard hat and big boots and drawn-in stubble on his chin. Adorable. His “wife” was in a ratty bathrobe, fluffy slippers and curlers in her hair.] But I digress. This orchid, a generous gift from my amazingly wonderful neighbors who took me out for lunch [outside seating] for my birthday, has vibrant, show-stopping magenta and purple blooms. I hope to keep this plant alive (2 ice cubes a week, I’m told). Anyways! Life in upside-down, crazy 2020. I had a truly terrific birthday, which is amazing these days. I felt happy and celebratory that I was born 68 years ago. OK back to my couch. Dinner’s in the oven, it’s a beautiful clear October day, hummingbirds are at my feeder, I had a fun bike ride today to go see the big container ships on the estuary, and I appreciate the countless gifts in my life today. Thank you for reading my posts, as it means a lot to me. Happy for this vivid, interesting, unpredictable existence.

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

 

 

 

daily painting | she

I painted this female wolf as a tribute to animals that sometimes visit me and bring me their medicine in my meditations and dreams. She is powerful, wise, fierce, brave, protective and takes no bullshit. I painted this from a photo in a book about the packs of wolves in Yellowstone Park, some of whom I got to see on a winter trip there years ago.

I have always been attracted to top-of-the-food-chain predators. Wolves in particular fascinate me, as they are social animals, family-oriented, robust and stick together (if you are similarly interested, I highly recommend the book, Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowatt). This is more than I usually share about my spiritual journey, as it is such an intimate experience, but I draw a great deal of strength from my prayers, meditations and contemplations. Which makes me sound waaaay more spiritual and noble than I truly am (I swear like a sailor and like cocktails). But I have learned to develop these practices and they heal me and give solace and direction and joy. It’s kind of my own designer religion, Created by Emily.

You can probably tell from this painting that I love this creature. She comforts and guides me, and I’m kind of outing her by sharing this but she won’t mind and I wanted to honor her. The journeys I have had over the past weeks have been memorable and heartening as there has been a convergence of life events that are healing old childhood wounds of loneliness and lovelessness — spending time in Mill Valley where I grew up, visiting with my sister who is dying of cancer, and today is my birthday. I always hated birthdays; they made me feel alone and isolated but today I truly celebrate my birth, and believe I belong to this glorious family of humanity. I welcome that little baby, a boomer born into the world in 1952. This is a great leap for me, and I am proud of these soul-celebrations.

OK now it’s time to go frost the birthday cake I made today and have my own little party. After that I’ll do a ritual, letting go of old, stinky, mouldering beliefs that I’m done with. I will forgive myself, forgive my parents, and welcome my future.

10″ x 7″ watercolor, pen, acrylic ink on paper

 

 

 

daily painting | (ret.)

I woke up today having decided a few things. I’d love to frame this in a spiritual way but the deal is, I QUIT. I decided the time to retire is now. What am I retiring from? Here’s my list: 1. Carrying worry for my family. I cannot control the well-being of my sibs who are ill, my children who have their own lives to figure out, the well-being of my grandkids. None of these things are my responsibility; hell, my kids are in their 40s and whatever they need to sort out is up to them and I have zero control over how we relate to one another. 2. Art career path. I have no ability to manipulate its trajectory. I will never be an Instagram influencer or a Facebook darling. I am walking away from The Struggle of trying to be successful. Instead, I renew my commitment to paint every day, to show my work when I can and to express myself authentically and keep finding my own voice. And scream it at the canvas. 3. Trying to control my future. I’m here today, and I am showing up. I can’t determine who I will love, how I will find comfort, when I will die. Nor can I worry about the economy and how it affects my old-lady money. What I can do: Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. Let go of the outcome. This is my mantra. Today the ambulance came for an elderly, ailing neighbor. I did not see the ambulance take him away, so today may have been his last day (not sure). Someday the ambulance may come for me, and I won’t waste my energy trying to resolve situations over which I have no control. I am not abdicating responsibility. I am, however, taking leave from trying to fix things I cannot.

OK so here’s about the persimmon! (How can I tie this in to my blabbering?) There’s a healthy, huge persimmon tree behind our marina laundry room. These fruits are gorgeous. I love their color, and as they ripen I’m sure I’ll paint a few more of these beauties. Maybe the parallel story is that these guys ripen ONLY according to nature’s schedule. I’m plenty ripe and juicy myself, as I steady myself for my 68th birthday. Don’t think any rot has set in yet but I’m not entirely sure.

[I would like to add, please vote, everyone, if you haven’t already. Just saw a 104-year-old woman on the news interviewed at the polls (on her own 2 feet!) where she voted and she said, adamantly, that in all her years she has never experienced a more important US election — and she’s lived through two world wars.]

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