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

 

 

 

daily painting | cota street chimneys

Here’s another watercolor sketch from my week in Santa Barbara a few months ago to attend a watercolor workshop. Gosh I’m glad for that wonderful trip there; how amazed and grateful I am that I got to do that, as I came home to the brother brain crisis very soon after. This apartment complex, called “Cota Street Studios”, was designed by an imaginative, coloring-outside-the-lines architect who created quirky chimneys and wonky corners and amusing architectural flourishes that made us all smile with delight. Finding such colorful scenes makes life a wonder, don’t you think?

Well I wasn’t so thrilled with the wonders of life yesterday, I tell ya. After spending $1400 to fix my 2006 Prius last week, heeding advice of knowledgeable mechanics who tell me it’s a great car and worth fixing, it broke again yesterday (same symptoms, ugh). That’s when my dear pal Claire and I, after putting in a day of painting blinds for GGRO in the Marin Headlands, found out that tow truck drivers call that area, “The Deadlands,” as drivers don’t like to go out there. But someone finally did show up to truck us to the car shop in Berkeley and now I will await my mechanic’s next diagnosis. Sigh. Wish me luck. I know in life the tide comes in and the tide goes out. And jeez this muck is getting sticky and stinky.

7″ x 8″ ink, watercolor on paper

 

 

 

watercolor painting of old farm house by emily weil

daily painting | lonely house

I have a delightful student named Harvey. We meet for private lessons and he brought me a photo of an old, isolated farm/ranch house (I think taken in the eastern Sierras); he had started a painting of the scene, and I did a demo painting of the snapshot to show technique (students either love or hate my loose style of painting; I think my approach to watercolors is growing on him). I’m posting this today as a kind of a test as my automatic RSS feed stopped working (that’s a fancy way of saying you who have signed up for emails when I upload a new painting weren’t getting the notices). So I’m wearing my IT hat today and hope the Mail Chimp issues have been resolved.

So many ups and downs these days — to be expected I suppose. I bounce from deep depression about my brother’s grave illness to joy at the love of the visitors for my brother. My darling niece Melody and her husband and two little girls visited the bay area from Seattle several days ago and without her mom’s presence — Kay had a very strong personality (she died 19 mo ago) — we could have a marvelous visit. Funny how death and life work themselves out. With pain and loss come gifts and unexpected blessings. OK we’ll see if the link to today’s posts reaches the inboxes of my fan club. Thanks all. Time to head over to Mill Valley to hang out with the bro.

7″ x 10″ ink, watercolor on paper

 

 

 

watercolor and ink painting of old farm house by emily weil

daily painting | cota street studios

Feels like eons ago now but in early April I got to join a watercolor workshop in Santa Barbara and it was such a blast. And the timing! A week or so after my return, the crisis of bro’s brain cancer crashed into my family. I could fully enjoy my week in Santa Barbara without worry, thanks to the generosity of my dear friend Sue who gifted me the workshop (and also because my kind neighbor Beth took good and loving care of my guinea piggy).

Anyways, we had a wonderful afternoon painting at Cota Street Studios near downtown — a marvelous and quirky apartment building designed by an architect who definitely colored outside the lines — chimneys atilt, iron balcony railings full of wondrous twists and turns, hidden little alcoves built into the stucco filled with delightful surprises. Here is a door of one of the apartments; the entrances to the residences (each apt worth millions) are accessed from a wonderful and lush courtyard. Very peaceful and beautiful and quirky and lively (and yes I misspelled Cota). Here’s a link: www.jeffsheltonarchitect.com/cota-street-studios

7″ x 5″ ink, watercolor on paper

 

 

 

watercolor and ink painting of flowers by emily weil

daily painting | tumors & tears

Well I’m not sure where to start this post. I’m sitting in my big bro’s hospital room on the neuro-care floor at UCSF, looking over at the row of incision-closing staples that snake through the top of Jamey’s noggin like an aerial view of a row of dominoes set up to topple. The incision stretches almost ear to ear, and indicates where surgeons entered his skull last Friday to remove an avocado-pit sized malignant tumor, of the same variety as John McCain’s. He’s sleeping a lot which is good, so when he does I get out my laptop and do my life. 

I spend most of my time here (good timing on NBA playoffs which he loves) and he’s a little better every day though still stuck in bed and unable to walk. His sentences are getting longer and he’s a bit less confused. But progress is very slow as he recovers from this “insult to the brain”. It will take time, and he’s 78 years old and has Parkinson’s (he assumed his sudden symptoms were his Parkinson’s getting worse). He’ll go into a rehab facility in a few days and treatments will be discussed in a week; palliative care may be in his near future but we can’t know quite yet. 

Will I be the last sib standing? It’s entirely possible, but my own brain can barely take in this information. 

But I’m good in a crisis. I stay clear-headed and know what to do (or how to find someone who does). Then at some point I melt down, which I did when they wheeled him down the hall for pre-op last week. I completely fell apart, not sure I’d ever see him alive again. A kind nurse held her hand on my shoulder as I sobbed. As I started to recover, a Cooper’s Hawk flew past the hospital window. A bit later I sat outside in the sun, near the hospital, having a latte and collecting myself, and the SF parrots flew overhead (they are hard to miss, very noisy). Since surgery would take hours and hours I went to Ocean Beach, not far from here, as beaches always soothe. After my ocean visit, as I drove home on Lincoln Ave which is alongside Golden Gate Park, I was stopped in traffic and I looked over at the thick greenery on the park’s edge and saw a Peregrine Falcon perched in a tree. I cried some more but got home safely. 

[Did this class demo for a watercolor workshop several weeks ago.]

10″ x 7″ ink, watercolor on paper

 

 

 

watercolor and ink painting of flowers by emily weil

daily painting | workshop bouquet

Last Saturday I taught a watercolor workshop and did several demos, referring to a lovely bouquet of posies I pinched from a few Alameda office building landscapes. It’s a delight to teach a painting class to students who are so open and willing and hard-working. Though I felt sadness from missing grandkids on Easter, coming home to my warm floating home community after class filled up my achey heart — especially when, as I was literally roaming online searching for local bakeries to find a gluten-free treat, a neighbor dropped by to bring me some delicious macaroon-like gluten-free cookies that she knew I loved. Brought tears to my eyes — the timing was remarkable. What welcome medicine that was (I gobbled up the last of them this morning).

Sunday came with an Easter visit from my son. I made us some brunch and we visited and I learned more about his bipolar challenges as he openly shared his thoughts with me. How I wish I could wave a magic Mother-wand and fix his brain, as I could feel his concerns (and he never, ever complains). Lovely moments together with my grown boy and I am happy he was willing to drive from Sacramento for time with his mom. All the bits of my heart and soul and mind are sloshing with thankfulness.

10″ x 7″ ink, watercolor on paper

 

 

 

watercolor painting of santa barbara courthouse by emily weil

daily painting | santa barbara courthouse

Today is Good Friday. In the Christian tradition, it is the day Jesus was crucified, with Easter being the celebration of the miraculous resurrection. Though I no longer practice these beliefs, I am always heartened by the promising and hopeful message of new life emerging after death. Because I’m kinda tired of death. The daffodils and happy faces of the ice plant flowers blooming in my marina cheer me — every year they pop out, and they don’t care of news of war or pandemics or family strife. They just happily do what they do; I also so love the row of calla lilies blooming in Fort Cronkhite in the Marin Headlands. Here in Alameda we don’t have snowy winters, but still the blooms in Spring boost our hearts. 

And I am sad today not to be with family for Easter, but there are unresolved difficulties still keeping folks apart. Families! Always somethin’. But I believe in love and hope and resolutions and resurrections and reunions. I do a morning meditation every day, where I calm myself and ask Great Spirit to walk with me. Today I visualized my two sisters who have recently left this earth hugging me, happy we are together. Every day I am grateful they are no longer in pain. I think they watch over me, helping me find my way.

About this painting — done at the watercolor workshop in Santa Barbara last week. And hey, I just heard a blurb on the news that today is the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier which is amazing and wonderful — and his widow Rachel, now 99, continues to work to fight racism. Doesn’t that just make your heart light up? Happy Easter and Passover and Ramadan, everyone.

6″ x 9″ ink, watercolor on paper

 

 

 

watercolor painting of leaves by emily weil

daily painting | kevin’s leaves

On the last day of the Santa Barbara watercolor workshop with Shari Blaukopf, it was a blistering hot day (95°+). I played hooky for the afternoon lesson (painting figures on the streets downtown) as I knew the heat would melt me. Instead I found the shadiest, coolest spot in the back yard of the house where I stayed and painted the gorgeous, large leaves of a big tree (which I forgot to identify). It was fun and relaxing and quiet and cool(ish) and afterward I dipped into the pool before heading to the group’s 2-1/2 hour, mind-fogging farewell dinner inside a restaurant with no A/C (but I really enjoyed my conversation with fellow artist, Anna). Now that I am home, I am just starting to sort through the many lessons and observations from this past week that are ping-ponging around my cranial cavity. 

I felt more joy during those six days in SB than I think I’ve felt in two years (heart-shattering grief does, in fact, subside, in time). And I am deeply grateful my artist pal Sue gave me this opportunity to take her place in the week-long class, and also for my astoundingly generous neighbor Beth who at the last minute was willing to again take care of my little guinea piggie (without her, the trip would have been a no-go). It’s kind of like, How can I begin to count the ways I am thankful? Many, many ways. I think the top-of-the-list insight I’m chewing on is that I now fully inhabit who I am as an artist. I’m my own me. I read in my meditation book last night that I need make no excuse for who I am and how I want to be in this world. Unrestrained girl power, baybee.

7″ x 10″ ink, watercolor on paper