painting of funky old fry pan by emily weil

daily painting | albany bulb

The Albany Bulb, a thumb of land poking out into SF bay behind Golden Gate Fields race track, is a wonder of funky, fabulous art. I’d never been there so was excited to join the urban sketch group yesterday, though it was quite chilly and drizzly (the weather eventually improved). Dogs joyfully run everywhere, there’s a small beach, and chunks of discarded concrete are piled up, where artists have applied paint (my favorite cement block was painted with the words, “Call Your Mother”). It was just great fun to explore all the varied art installations tucked around the walking paths. I stopped at a grove of trees where old pots and pans were strung between tree limbs, creating kitchen wind chimes. One pan had fallen onto the ground, which I chose to paint using monochromatic media. Painting this scene, stopping occasionally to say hello to a roaming, happy dog, was such a welcome change of scenery from the sad nursing facility where my brother is in hospice care. Art as therapy — it’s an enormous help, yet at the same time I am glad for many sweet moments these days as I hang out with my brother. In a few months he’ll be free of brain cancer, Parkinson’s, and a rocky marriage. I’m glad for that, though I can’t begin to imagine life on this earth without him.

7″ x 10″ ink, artgraf water-soluble graphite on paper




watercolor painting of tennessee valley trail by emily weil

daily painting | tennessee valley trail

After visiting my brother in Mill Valley the other day I headed to the Tennessee Valley trail not far away, a spot I hadn’t visited in several years. The fog was roaring in and I knew my afternoon hike would be breezy and deliciously cool. My walking sticks helped me along the way and at one point I stopped to listen to at least five different species of birds calling, including a Swainson’s Thrush, who sings a lilting, gorgeous song (I’m not so savvy about identifying birds by song, but since I bugged GGRO’s Allen Fish about this mystery birdcall a few years ago I knew this one). A wildlife photographer was trying to spot the bird for a good photo but it was elusive visually; its song, however, filled the valley. That lovely walk soothed my heart. As nature always, always does.

So. Time on my hands? Seriously? What IS that? (I’m adapting, however — now in its ninth week, this brother-brain-cancer crisis has consumed my life). But with Covid roaming the halls of James’s nursing home I’m at home for now (no argument there). So the paints are coming out. And the laundry is done. The dust on my bookshelf is wiped clean (it was practically sprouting seedlings). I’m still tired, but I think that is a fact of life these days. And I am learning that I need to call by name the sadness that sits next to me on my couch every day. To welcome it and not ignore it. To embrace it, even. Loss is a central ingredient of my life for now. I accept it.

7″ x 10″ ink, watercolor on paper




daily painting | buzzy bees

Saturday afternoon painting. I was going to head to my studio, but felt happier/safer here in my home, getting out my watercolors and selecting a photo to paint from, taken on a recent hike in Tilden Park, where small squadrons of bumblebees were collecting pollen in the profuse poppies growing alongside the trail. It was beautiful, magical, hopeful and fun to watch these industrious critters, buzzing from flower to flower, their legs laden down with pods of pollen like fat orange water-wings. Today: disappearing into a tray of paints, listening to the finches sing outside on my deck, greeting warm and friendly neighbors as they walk by on the docks, sweeping up bird feeder leftovers of sunflower seed husks that stick to my shoes when I walk inside, making peace with my life as it is in this moment. Can’t expect too many functional neurons today. That’s OK. My hands remember how to hold a paintbrush. I am alive, breathing, accepting.

7″ x 6″ watercolor, pen, acrylic ink on paper = $55