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