watercolor of poppy by emily weil

daily painting | briones poppy

“Grieving is a full time job.” So says my wise and wonderful therapist who is herself grieving her dad who died recently. This helps me relax a little. Oh that I could be that fictitious genteel Victorian woman who would be sent off to a year-long tour of Europe to recover from her loss. What a wonderful dream.

But no. We live in modern times and very few of us can take twelve months away from daily living to work through painful losses. Which is why I’m absorbing the reality that I have things that break in my house and they need to be fixed despite how I feel. Life problems present themselves (broken water heater) and it feels like the end of the world! Which of course it isn’t. And yes these are first-world problems. Which wipe me off the road in a messy mudslide.

So? And now? Well, practicing self-compassion. As I’ve ranted about before, our culture gives us about three weeks to get over a death. Move on, people say. Don’t live in the past. (SO helpful.) Which makes one withdraw more deeply into the grief process, which can be horribly lonely. But, you know what? I have compassion for those who have had painful losses. It can take years — YEARS — to work through grief. Which is a sign of a big heart  — if we didn’t love deeply, we wouldn’t feel the pain of loss. Yay for us.

So I’m deeply grateful that what’s in front of me is creating art. I’m working on a series of commissions, and I completed this one today. I’m doing large paintings from photos of Briones, as a partial trade for my new roof that was installed last year. The client has been exceedingly patient with me, as I took time for brother-care and then did some traveling late last year. And now as I work daily on this project, I’m grateful to experience the joy of being an artist. Once again I am thankful to Leigh Hyams and for her Esalen art workshop I stumbled into in 2008. She gave me a whole new life direction. And it’s good.

32″ x 32″ ink, watercolor, pastel on paper

 

 

 

watercolor painting of poppy by emily weil

daily painting | vargas poppy

This poppy was fully unfurled in the warm sunlight at Vargas Plateau in Sunol, where I spent time last week looking for golden eagles. I enjoyed painting its pic Monday in between gathering materials and supplies to teach my drawing class at Frank Bette Center. Today this image encourages me to keep my heart open and walk in the sun and soak up some light and warmth (which at this moment is pouring in through my living room glass doors and warming my house and reaching into Buster’s cage, saying Good Morning). I’d rather withdraw, though. And close up my heart which is achey. Which creates a false sense of safety and breeds loneliness and fear. This is today’s invitation to me from Mama Earth — to be open to life and all it presents. When I would rather not. But I will anyway, as I prefer living life fully than to pretend to be Buster and crawl into my plush, dark little guinea pig cave.

I’m on a bit of a Jane Campion kick, the director of the movie, “The Power of the Dog,” an exquisite work of art (I watched it twice). I read an interview about her yesterday, which made me curious about her other movies (“The Piano” has always been a favorite). She has an amazing way of portraying strong characters who thrive and shine in difficult circumstances, women in particular. Last night I watched “An Angel At My Table,” about New Zealand writer Janet Frame. It probably wasn’t a wise choice, as her difficulties with anxiety and her wrenching experience of losing two sisters made me feel like a sad 11-year old again (but depictions of her childhood were so authentic and honest and heartwarming!). Then again, maybe it was good to take in that story — Frame had incredible talent, and was always true to it, even when she was misdiagnosed with schizophrenia and hospitalized. She lived a full life, and expressed herself with courage and an open heart. A very good role model for me.

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