abstract painting by emily weil

daily painting | class demo abstract

I was photographing this painting today and as I edited it to clean up the image in Photoshop I realized it’s kind of a big penis in a salad bowl. Oh well. The unconscious mind at work again.
I was doing this class demo in today’s watercolor workshop I taught, showing different kinds of paper (smooth vs. textured). Then as my marvelous students beavered away on their paintings with great dedication I fooled around a bit more on the composition.
I LOVED teaching the workshop today. A welcome break from brother-care; pursuing my art passions keeps my feet on the ground. One of my lovely students professionally designed commercial displays and many of us have enjoyed his brilliant creations in the Gump’s and Macy’s windows in San Francisco. Another student, amazingly, works for a traffic engineering group for which I worked in the 1980s when in art college; I did admin work for the small office and now the company employs 300+ employees. The founders of that company were very kind to me, and in off hours sometimes let me work on class assignments on their office computers. I’m thrilled at their success.
And life goes on, and isn’t it amazing? Queens leave the planet and kings rise to rule. Enjoyed my day — as I express myself in the arts, at the same time various friends and family members and I support our dear brother as he considers MAID — Medical Aid in Dying; he is experiencing his demise from brain cancer. He reflects often on his life — yesterday he learned that the Mosquito Fire in the Sierra foothills consumed his previous home and ranch where he lived with his first wife — we went outside to enjoy the gardens at his nursing facility yesterday and the smoke was in the air and he pondered if he was inhaling his burnt-up house.

8″ x 7″ ink, watercolor, pastel 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

 

 

 

abstract pastel, watercolor painting by emily weil

daily painting | corpuscles

Today grief is a giant python, circling my neck. Some people I know are afraid of strong emotion so they avoid feelings. I don’t seem to have that ability; today my heart is just a messy, bewildering puddle of loss.

This is one stormy bitch of an ocean to navigate, as most Americans freak out at expressions of pain and sadness. “Don’t get stuck there,” some advise. Others helpfully share admonishments to not “feed the energy” of anguish or rage. Which makes me feel even more alone with my very intense, bright-red feelings. I feel branded. A scarlet letter, tattooed on my neck. Stay away, the letter warns. She’s very emotional these days. She might be overwrought. Out of control. Angry and bitter.

I don’t fear for my sanity (well, sometimes I do, but I’ve been here before). I know that fully embracing the losses of one dead sister from cancer and another sister who committed suicide and my only brother dying from aggressive brain cancer inside of two years is where I am and need to be; feeling every last damn molecule of shock and sorrow. While I hose off the spatters of family dysfunction that regularly spray around the room and forgive me for my metaphor soup.

“I resist nothing” is today’s mantra. That’s the best path. When my mom died my brother’s wife admonished, “rub it in your hair” — fully experience all the grief and sadness. Good advice. Today my gray locks are filthy with ashes. Unattractive but very, very real.

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

 

 

 

pastel, pencil drawing of yellow pepper of by emily weil

daily painting | class pepper

Saturday I taught a painting/mixed media class at Frank Bette Center in Alameda, a workshop that includes working with watercolor, pencil, pastel and other media. At the end of the class while we were winding down I did a quick take with chalk pastels of a solo pepper I plucked from the still life I’d set up. I don’t think I’ve ever started with pastel; usually I add it on top of a watercolor. Anyways, this turned out to be a chipper pepper, which is interesting to me as the colors that show up in my paintings/drawings are usually bright and primary, rarely reflecting my sad moods these days. Curious, but I’m good with it.

After class I was cleaning up, and out the window of the classroom I noticed a man walking with a person who seemed to be his son; I’ve seen them before on that block. The son, probably in his 30s, seems to be quite mentally impaired and must need constant care (for example, maybe reacting to the restraints of outerwear, he likes to remove all his clothes when he goes outside, prompting his dad to make sure he stays decent). The two of them usually walk around the block, and the affection the dad shows his adult, ailing son brought me to tears as I watched them — they stroll arm-in-arm (sometimes pausing so the young man can embrace a tree). Once I saw the dad lean down slightly and kiss his grown son on the forehead. The dad seems entirely devoted to the well-being of the young man and that show of unconditional love cracked open my sore heart. What a thing of beauty; how lucky I am to have seen it.

7″ x 7″ pastel, pencil on paper = $75

 

 

 

daily painting | abstract amaryllis

I tried to ignore the impeachment trial today. I really did. And I failed. But then I did turn it off for a bit and crank up a few blues tunes and work on the deliciousness of yet another blooming amaryllis stalk, v. 2 from the bulb I received as a gift. The first set of flowers faded and dried up and were replaced by these! And there’s another shoot visible, popping out. Woot! I wanted to be super loose with this painting and use bright colors and pastels and be freewheeling and splashy, so I started with sticks-and-ink, then added big splotches of watercolors, followed by pastels and acrylic pens. Didn’t really care if you could ID the subject. I couldn’t tear myself away from the news so I did this at home, and that was fun too though I often suffer from quarantine cabin fever. But I’m safe. Vaccines are on their way and I’m ready. My gosh I’ll be squeezing my kids and grandkids and great-grandkids until they squawk. Not soon enough. Oh! And Happy Valentine’s Day! You know what? Here’s another thought. Such a damn loaded day of the year, right? I’d always longed for a romantic celebration of this day. And I’m truly fine with what is. And I got wonderful prezzies from my daughter in San Diego (which included a darling mug printed with the words, “Best Effin’ Mimi Ever” [I’m Mimi to my grandkids]). So sweet and it makes my heart so full. Accepting what is is the best. I resist so much, often. But trusting, and letting go, and “non-resistance” equals contentment, and — dare I say? — joy.

16″ x 12″ watercolor, pastel, sticks-and-ink, pencil, acrylic ink on paper = $250

 

 

 

daily painting | contained

A favorite place for me to visit is the nearby Alameda/Oakland estuary where these huge ships deliver and pick up containers filled with all kinds of goodies. I love watching the shipping cranes in action, seeing the tugs escort the hulking beasts to moor under the praying-mantis-like contraptions, admiring the lovely San Francisco skyline and bridges in the background. The other day I snapped a few photos of this scene as I loved the bright red hull of this hard-working, ocean-crossing vessel.

Ok folks a bit of therapy-speak coming up so feel free to check out now. Here goes. Some of my most profound healing moments occurred in a group therapy setting, facilitated by our skilled and beloved counselor Peter Frechette, several decades ago. One exercise we did was to create a “container” — a safe way to express deep emotion, grief, sadness. This amazing environment, where trust had developed between group members, was difficult, challenging, healing, life-changing. For example, a person I might choose with whom I felt comfortable would hold me in a protective, gentle way so I could emote and let old childhood feelings out. For me to feel so secure was earth-shaking and phenomenal. Thus, the title! For this painting is of a container ship, and I hope you think I’m SOOO clever! (I’m not, but still.) These days grief often overtakes me, and while I do not have the safety of that group of peers to hold me while I weep, I know how to create a protected setting, which is often the overstuffed chair in my studio. Where I can sob away. Which brings profound healing and mending of my heart. I was immersed in the creative process of this painting today, pastel chalk dust flying. Loved every minute of it and danced away while drawing and painting (Sam Cooke is a favorite). Yesterday, though, I sank into my spattered chair in my studio and cried and wept and was immersed in profound sorrow and loneliness. Relinquishing control of those strong emotions is the only way to heal. You have to let them wash over you. And you get to the other side. Contained, sheltered, better.

20″ x 30″ watercolor, sticks and ink, chalk pastel, pencil on paper = $775

 

 

 

daily painting | outburst

My lush, blooming amaryllis bulb has four giganto blossoms atop its stalk like those tall poles with siren loudspeakers you see outside sometimes. Four! Each the size of a big salad plate, with another stalk reaching up, hoping to outdo its sibling. I decided to do a rendition of this lushness in my studio using larger paper, ink with sticks, watercolor and pastel.

In elementary school I remember science projects, simple experiments of planting seeds and watching them sprout and grow. I was quietly and secretly amazed that little small hard things could contain a miracle like that — how could a tiny seed hold so much information, and need so little to burst open with life? I carefully — unconsciously — held back my curiosity and thirst for knowing these things, as that meant vulnerability and vulnerability meant exposure and exposure meant danger, either from my father’s rage and derision or my mother’s mocking, sharp tongue. I learned to stay deep inside myself and thus survive. Once I arrived in my twenties, struggling with crippling PTSD from childhood trauma, I sought — and found — professional help. My first therapist gave me words for my roiling feelings, helped me find support groups, counseled me and guided me into hope and love and wholeness.

These spectacular blooms grew out of a lumpy, humble, ugly duckling of a bulb. How is that not a divine marvel? As I painted these flowers, I got completely lost in the creative process and felt a joy in making art I hadn’t felt in many months. I was a whirling dervish of splashy bright paint and powdery pastel chalk and drippy India ink and I hardly knew my name, what day it was, the time. It was a Disney Fantasia dream reminding me that life happens, whether from seeds or bulbs or paintbrushes or pens and inks. No stopping its amazingness!

22″ x 19″ watercolor, sticks and ink, chalk pastel, pencil on paper = $550