watercolor of dog by emily weil

daily painting | loki

I hope your holidays are sane and warm and safe and that you did not spend Christmas in an airport (wouldn’t it be nice if the airlines treated us like humans?). This little guy Loki was a commission for a Christmas present, and much fun to paint. 

With a lot of help we got my bro into friend Sue’s house for a fabulous Christmas feast. It took some doing — wheelchairs are cumbersome and he’s a tall man — and was a bit risky, for he gets fatigued easily, and crashes hard once tired. But it worked! And I had much help. I think it was fun for him — he wore a very dapper derby hat with a red feather and looked quite handsome.

This is Jim’s last Christmas, and his demise is slow as the brain cancer advances, but I’m told there may be a tipping point in the next weeks with a possible sudden decline. I would welcome that, so he’s done with this awful march of glio sarcoma through his neurons; he’s going into the 9th month of this sorrowful journey. My heart feels like it’s in a box of broken glass, but so far my homicidal urges have been restrained toward certain callous, cold-blooded individuals in Jim’s orbit. And such is the grief path I am on. I am getting more skilled at showing myself compassion as my emotions take me down this bumpy, harrowing path. I’ve given up on trying to be warmly social in human gatherings and I’m OK with that. I’m civilized — that I can manage; I haven’t snarled at anyone in awhile. One helpful outlet is to open my window while driving on the freeway and scream. Very cathartic but it makes my throat scratchy (no one notices, ever).

Grief is hard. There’s very little room in this world for expressions of raw pain and emotion. So it’s pretty lonely sometimes. And it’s weird but I also am finding this to be a time of amazing healing and love and connection, for my moments with my brother are sweet and precious and as we hang out together I find that some of my childhood pain is mending. And as I write this I am chuckling at the purring noises my guinea pig makes when he hears the chirping mobs of finches and sparrows outside at the bird feeder. They are conversing. 

Sending new year love to you all. Isn’t it something? We keep showing up and putting one foot in front of the other. I’m proud of that.  

8″ x 10″ ink, watercolor, pencil, acrylic on paper

 

 

 

daily painting | grief in technicolor

My heart is full. There is such gob-smacking beauty in the world — earlier this week as I drove home from visiting the bro in San Rafael I was listening to Anderson Cooper’s podcast on grief (highly recommended). His mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, had a rough and lonely childhood and lost one son to suicide yet she embraced art and beauty in her life and loved the crazy juxtaposition of the heart-searing losses in life alongside the beautiful moments she experienced each day (“It’s about what is, not what if”). As I quietly cried, listening to the podcast (while carefully navigating the heavy traffic through Berkeley) I was amazed at how shattered my heart is with grief even as I marveled at the sunset over San Francisco (to my right) and the rainbow over the Berkeley hills (to my left). I am learning with humility to embrace all of life — loss, terror, joy, rage, gratitude, thrilling love and spectacular presentations from nature. It’s all just magnificent. I also heard of a book I must get, Our Book of Awesome, written by Neil Pasricha, a man whose wife left him at the same time his best friend committed suicide. He realized that every day life gives us tiny, brilliant flashes that we can embrace with wonder and awe. In this spectacular moment I aspire to keep my heart open and pay attention.  

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

 

 

 

watercolor and acrylic abstract painting by emily weil

daily painting | december.

Well sports fans get out the bucket and hang it on the tree for I’m about to get sappy. Some people scoff at the popularity of the movie, “Love Actually,” which came out 20 years ago. I’m in love with it. I usually watch it every year as I enjoy its Christmas theme (and Bill Nighy’s performance is priceless) and frankly it helps me keep my heart open so I can better see how much love is in the world, and in my life. I’d frankly rather be cynical and be a self-protected hermit — it’s safer and is usually my default point of view (John Donne may have said that no man is an island, but some of us are inner tubes [I stole that line from a book]). In my time of grief, I tend to tuck myself in and keep my distance as I nurse my wounds and soothe my sadness. Which is appropriate and it’s often what I need (like today when I have the energy of a dead slug). But I aspire to live my life wide open and with love and trust and faith as that vulnerability is rewarding and surpising, in happy and sparkly and unexpected ways.

May our holidays be sane and that we notice small, wonderful, miraculous moments that bring us hope and connection and comfort (one of my treats a few days ago — watching a soggy and healthy-looking Cooper’s Hawk on a telephone pole with its wings out and its tail feathers spread, drying off after the rains; it was a gorgeous bird).

[Finished this painting at home today. Don’t forget to stop by Frank Bette Center in Alameda for the Holiday Boutique sale this coming weekend and check out my small paintings and other artsy holiday gifts!]

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