watercolor of leaf by emily weil

daily painting | september leaf

I was cleaning up this image in Photoshop, created yesterday, when I realized the leaf is heart-shaped. I had a ball (as usual) with our Brushes by the Bay artists group, and stayed after the group dispersed to keep playing with paints. This leaf drifted from trees behind me onto my work space and I changed direction from painting the small bouquet I’d brought to do this simple autumn offering. I am encouraged — my heart is OK. I’m healing.

I love this time of year. Hawks are migrating, the air is cooling, days are getting shorter which means better rests at night. Maybe it is wisps of memories of forever hopes from childhood that my October birthday will be fun. Maybe it is memories of kid excitement for a new school year with unknown possibilities. Dunno. But this heart-leaf comforts me in my time of grief. To everything there is a season.

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




watercolor of alameda house by emily weil

daily painting | view from franklin park

So I picked up my brother’s ashes on Monday. I was pretty rattled — it made it very real, that he’s gone —and yet I still attempted to teach a drawing lesson of 2-point perspective to a lovely French woman who is taking private art lessons. It was so bad I refused payment — boy was I muddy puddle. She was very understanding. 

Before our meeting, I arrived early at Franklin Park in Alameda and started this painting of one of the lovely homes bordering the park (this went better than teaching architectural angles of roof lines). 

It was an amazing day. Once I returned home, I was quite upset and crying, hard. I saw a dear neighbor walking his dog and went to ask him a favor — would he please give me a hug? He held me close as I sobbed (he’s a tall man and very kind); he knew my grief as he’d tragically lost his wife about a year ago. The next day he left me a stunning bouquet at my front door. 

That evening I went outside to my deck around 10pm to admire the crescent moon. Almost as soon as I was outside a meteorite (or maybe space junk?) streaked across the sky, with a brilliant green tail! I could hardly breathe, it was so amazing. It lasted all of one second. I’m not alone.

8″ x 8″ ink, watercolor on paper = $85




watercolor of flowers by emily weil

daily painting | alameda fence

Lesson for today (from a helpful book on loss): Plan one thing a day you can look forward to that gives you pleasure. OK, I can do that. So I got my paints out. Did I feel like it? Nope. But once I got out the tray of watercolors and the papers and brushes I did feel better. This is the result. Subject matter is from a photo I took of a front yard that exploded with technicolor flowers; this purply-pink stunner was against a picket fence in a neighborhood I sometimes ride my bike through on the way to the grocery store. I wanted to play with paint as opposed to creating a nice watercolor. 

Art students often feel pressure to create something that proves they have some worthy skills. The highest compliment, I once thought, was, “Ooh, that looks exactly like a pink flower against a fence!” Today I just wanted to do a painting, and I like this one’s loony looseness. I think it holds my feelings pretty well. And creating it gave me pleasure. I’m learning a few things.

9″ x 12″ ink, watercolor on paper




watercolor of flowers by emily weil

daily painting | holly’s bouquet

I choose today to let Madame Grief do with me as she wishes. I believe she has healing powers, but surrendering to her is the only way to access those outcomes. The catch is that she roughs you up along the way. Because I have a technicolor basket of things to mourn, it’s best, in my opinion, to just let go and trust this path, shitball nightmare that it is.

This is my soapbox, as you know (my name is engraved on the side). When my mom died almost 20 years ago, it was a similarly intense experience, grieving her. We had a complicated relationship. I thought I was losing my mind. But I emerged, afterward, stronger, clearer, and more confident. So I guess feeling all the raw pain today is a kind of investment, right? Hoping for a stronger, healthier me? I suppose so. It’s quite isolating, these beliefs. Our culture doesn’t exactly encourage warm hugs and comfort. Lots of people recommend drugs. But I want to be alert for this and see it through. Maybe I’m a masochist. I’m OK with that. Maybe I will come out the other side with increased strength and joy and clarity.

And boy howdy it sucks. Every effing minute. Some days I wish my broken heart would just stop beating and save me from doing this one more day. But maybe my heart is just getting sturdier. Maybe I have the ovaries to see this through.

[Regarding this artwork — my dear friend brought me a spectacular bouquet from her stunning garden and it was my subject matter today for our artists’ group, Brushes by the Bay. I find great comfort in making art with other creative folks.]

6″ x 6″ ink, watercolor on paper = $45




watercolor of pear by emily weil

daily painting | single pear

This morning I am thinking things like, “What would Jamey do?” My brother was so stoic, accepting; even fatalistic. In his 16-month decline from brain cancer I never once heard him complain or feel sorry for himself. I thought that was remarkable. (The nursing facility staff loved him.)

So I’m reframing my current life situation with that in mind. No resistance, no self-pity. I’ll adapt and find what I need, even if I don’t know what that is yet. 

Another thing I admired in him was his sense of civic duty. He helped the Dipsea foot race run more smoothly for 40 years, purely for the love of the race. He served on the board of his condo organization, wanting to contribute out of a sense of responsibility to give back. 

I was told the Dolphin Club in SF lowered their flag to half-mast in honor of him; he was remembered as someone who offered helpful advice and support to other bay swimmers. I am so moved by that (he was a life-long member, which means his photo is up in the club and at some point I’ll go visit it to pay my respects; I loved hearing his stories of different swims, including, amazingly, swimming under the Golden Gate Bridge from SF to Marin). 

So, here’s to you, my beloved big bro. You were respected and admired for the goodness of your soul and your generosity and selflessness and brains and integrity. I hope to become more like you.

7″ x 6″ ink, watercolor on paper




watercolor of pears by emily weil

daily painting | august pears

I walked along the estuary last night to the perfect waterside bench for watching moonrises. The August blue supermoon, pumpkin-orange in the smoky air, rose like a beautiful ghost. I didn’t understand why hundreds of people were not lining the estuary with me, appropriately worshipping her lunar beauty. 

Earlier in the day I spotted a gorgeous adult Cooper’s Hawk perched high on the silos in the marina parking lot, scouting for a small feathered snack. 

I painted pears yesterday with our Brushes by the Bay group. Such a peaceful, pleasant, satisfying afternoon. 

I embrace my grief. It is deep, reflecting the close bond my brother and I formed in his 16 months of sickness. It is a gift. Evidence of living at its most glorious. I am elated and shattered and grateful all at the same time.  

6″ x 8″ ink, watercolor on paper = $65




watercolor of flowers by emily weil

daily painting | quickie bouquet

I think love survives death. I think it is such a powerful force that the ending of a human life cannot extinguish it. I believe love between humans transcends the death of the body. That’s how powerful it is. That’s how transcendent it is. That bond is transmuted into a force that glues our molecules together and that keeps us afloat in this treacherous, beautiful journey on this earth.

That is the power of life. The sacred miracle. John Lennon got it right.

8″ x 8″ ink, watercolor, acrylic on paper = $85




watercolor of apples by emily weil

daily painting | holly’s apples

I splashed some paint around yesterday with our artists’ group, Brushes by the Bay. We meet, paint and discuss our work every week, and provide support and encouragement to each other. Holly brought these nice apples for subject matter. 

That I could function at any level was encouraging, for I am grieving my brother who died several days ago after a long, 16-month journey with brain cancer. I am happy for him that he’s done and I’m heartbroken. For a couple of days I felt him near. I felt his love for me. I think he’s looking after me (I told him before he died that he’d better).

It’s kind of like being on hallucinogens, intense grief. How can it be that I lost all my siblings in less than three years? What? I looked at a to-do list I’d written and I might as well have been watching ants crawl across a piece of white paper. Concentrating on anything is useless. Everything is upside down. I’m trying to remember how to do basic household chores; simple tasks confuse me. I’m disoriented. My ears are ringing. I’m nauseous. I suppose I wouldn’t be so shattered had we not loved each other so much. So maybe I’ll focus on that. The miracle of that.

I sound like I am feeling sorry for myself. Please forgive me. I think it’s more like shock. But self-pity works too.

I think I’ll go lie down.

7″ x 10″ ink, watercolor on paper




watercolor of snapdragons by emily weil

daily painting | lucy’s snapdragons

Such a quiet, peaceful, soothing Sunday. Soaking it up. No errands, no driving anywhere, just resting, feeding my news-junkie cravings, listening to Roberta Flack while I paint. 

I took a snapshot of Lucy’s snapdragons which were today’s watercolor subjects. I only cried twice while listening to Flack’s lovely ballads.

Then I called the bro to check in and now I’m feeling raw sadness as he was quite confused. His befuddlement is accelerating which is so hard to observe, but it doesn’t seem to bother him, so how cool is that?

Wish I could brush off his brain-cancer symptoms as easily.  

An announcement: From mid-Aug to mid-Sept I’m in an art show at Falkirk Center in San Rafael. If you are in the mood (and in the area) there’s a reception this Thur there at 5pm. 

I have to tell you that background story as it makes me giggle a little. Some of you know about a service provided by Café. You sign up to get their emails which list many art shows and exhibitions with links on how to apply. I often submit work to local art shows, and I was happy to get the notice that I was accepted into the Falkirk show. A wonderful honor. So the process is, you send a few digital images of paintings you hope they consider. The show’s curator selected an abstract on paper. That I couldn’t find anywhere! I have so many pieces, they fill flat-file drawers and pile up in corners. I looked everywhere. Incredibly embarrassing and humiliating.

So I wrote them and apologized profusely. They selected another painting after looking at my website.

Nope, it’s gone as well (I think I cut it up, which I do sometimes when I’m not crazy about a painting, to make cards).

Flustered and abashed! Twice!

Another email to the curator, more apologies and promises-to-self to catalog my inventory. I’d written off the whole project as a lesson learned. Then the lovely woman emailed back. She really likes my work, she said, and could I submit a couple more digital images (obviously of works I could get my hands on). Success! She loved the painting I sent (she also said that my name was already printed on the program, which was a motivation for them to select another painting but I am choosing to believe her when she says she appreciates my art).

That’s today’s blah blah. Hope your weekend was cool as a creek.

7″ x 10″ ink, watercolor, pastel on paper




watercolor of shallots and onions by emily weil

daily painting | shallots & onions

My phrase for the day: self-compassion. As per usual, I woke up feeling skinless. Raw and half-crazy. Kind of the norm, but once I’m up and sipping my Earl Grey tea and taking care of various things on my to-do list, I feel like my joints get lubed up and forward motion has kicked in. I’m in gear.  

Kristin Neff has a wonderful website with meditations on self-care. It’s really helping me push back on the voices in my noggin that tell me I shouldn’t feel bad, I’m just feeling sorry for myself, I shouldn’t be so bothered by my brother’s decline and coming death, I should move on (even typing this I see how ridiculous those thoughts are, good grief!). I put my hand on my heart and say, 

May I be peaceful. May I be safe. May I be happy. May I be kind to myself. May I accept myself as I am.

Very calming and soothing. Bro is declining more quickly these days, so it’s anyone’s guess how much longer he’ll be on the planet. He’s getting noticeably more tired and confused, plus he’s having more scary falls (no matter my lectures on using his walker to go into the bathroom). Somehow the angels are watching over him for he gets by —  so far — with bruises and scrapes. And he’s a tall man (was 6’6” in his prime) so it’s a long way down.

Tomorrow I’ll visit him and bring a roll of bubblewrap which I will tape to his entire body.

One more thing. I was a bit baffled by my brother’s request that I take down a couple of marvelous watercolors he has had for many years, paintings he bought from another artist. So I did that and put them aside. He then asked me to see if in my studio I had a painting that would fit in that spot. I brought an abstract in the other day and hung it on the wall. Last night when I called him, I asked him how the painting was sitting with him? Did he like it?

He did. I can’t remember his exact words, but I got the message he likes it there because I painted it. It comforts him, my artwork. One more reason I should buy stock in Kleenex®.

[I painted this shallots/onions still life during the very fun inaugural meeting of Brushes by the Bay. Contact me if you want info!]

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