watercolor painting of wildflowers by emily weil

daily painting | vargas wildflowers

Yesterday I finished up the commissioned painting (which I will post once the loving gift of the artwork has been received) and as I putzed around my studio and sprayed the piece with fixative (outside, very toxic) and waited it for to dry, I pulled out my phone to view my photos and decided to do a quickie watercolor and pastel of the lovely wildflowers just starting to bloom in the East Bay hills at Vargas Plateau near Sunol where I had plopped myself down at a viewpoint hoping to spot the resident Golden Eagles. Saw many more cows than eagles (along with ravens and meadowlarks and red tails and kestrels!), and a bovine portrait or two might end up in a future painting. In that park, ridges of rocks pop out of the hilltops looking like dinosaur spines and since these days parks are way busier than usual, I got to say hello to few hikers and bike riders while there with my scope. I took a few pics of these very pink, small flowers, growing like a mat on the ground, and since my main watercolor supplies live in my home, not my studio, I improvised with colors I don’t usually use, adding chalky pastels once the paint was dry, keeping things quick and spontaneous. It was more a time-filler than anything else, which supports my theory that the less I try to produce “good art,” the better the results as I liked how this one turned out.

And here’s another puzzle — my moods currently ping all over the room, in my time of loss and grief, and I’m mystified at how I can flip from joyful dancing and painting and arting with the tunes of Otis Redding or the Temptations in my earbuds to, 5 mins later, sitting in my studio chair, weeping. We humans are weird. They were good days last week, both out in the hills and in my studio.

.

9″ x 9.25″ watercolor, pencil, pastel on paper = $85

 

 

 

Watercolor painting of shipping float by Emily Weil

daily painting | moon landing

At times I need to just get out of the damn house; I mean, vacuuming is fine and satisfying, in a limited way, but… really? Boring. So I roam around Alameda, sometimes on my bike, sometimes in my car. Yesterday I ended up at Ballena Bay, which is beautiful and wind-whipped and has stunning views of the SF skyline, a backdrop of navy ships moored nearby, and wintering ducks in the water (there were also people walking their dogs and not cleaning up their pooch’s poop; is it acceptable to grab a plastic bag and pick up the shite and fling it at the dog walkers? No?).

I was quite smitten with this large metal float planted along the shore, which I’m guessing was used to indicate something-or-other in SF bay eons ago (WWII vintage? Marking shipping channels?). It is now retired and perched in the ice plant at the water’s edge, and its rusty patterns and textures were gorgeous — full of pockmarks and craters and pitted with decay. Exactly the kind of deteriorating subject matter I am drawn to. It begged me to capture its likeness, and as the painting developed today it looked like a kind of man-in-the-moon portrait. Which is cracking me up. OK, getting edgy again. It’s that time of day. Time to venture out. Maybe a new container ship will be moored in the estuary with pairs of oystercatchers poking about in the rocks at the water’s edge. I think I’ll go see.

10″ x 10″ watercolor, pen, acrylic ink on paper = $130

 

 

 

Painting of figure by Emily Weil from Bay Area Models Guild marathon

daily painting | rachel

Here’s another study from the Bay Area Models Guild marathon on Valentine’s Day. It’s fun and at times quite satisfying to do monochromatic paintings — these warm tones and interesting textures come from ArtGraf water soluble graphite that comes in a hard cake you moisten with water to use. Breaks up my watercolor routine. The human figure is endlessly fascinating to paint; I prefer women models as feminine curves are more interesting to paint. Rachel set up a wonderful pose in her home she held for hours (with breaks).

So what is my next painting subject? I think I’ll pull out my luscious, colorful  farmer’s market veggies and compose a still life. I made an attempt yesterday afternoon but was hungry and irritable and wanted to make dinner and comfort myself with a delicious meal (it worked). Doing routine tasks today. Paperwork and boring stuff; trying not to be flattened by how mundane life can be. But! I’m getting my first Covid vax on Saturday! Woot!

10″ x 7″ watercolor, pen, acrylic ink on paper = $90

 

 

 

painting of bay area models guild model barbara by Emily Weil

daily painting | barbara and hat

Yesterday was another fun Bay Area Models Guild marathon on Zoom. They used to have these events at various locations around the Bay Area, but it actually works pretty well online. Was a blast — there were a number of expert models in various poses, funds were raised for the guild, and I could create art more comfortably in the privacy of my home. I think this was my favorite model, Barbara, with her glorious red hair and magenta hat, who has been modeling for more than 35 years. As always, painting and drawing saves my bacon. And Barbara’s expertise and perseverance and joy in modeling was inspiring, which leads me to today’s musings.

Sometimes life’s challenges strip you down to the studs. As I sweep up the drywall dust, bent nails, chunks of linoleum and splinters of dry-rotted siding, I can see the bones of my insides. Is the framework sound? Can I rebuild? I’m finding that, yes, the original structure was created with high-quality building materials. My bones are sturdy and good. I remember feeling similarly after my mom died 15 years ago. Things got stripped away in the grief and pain — stuff I no longer needed got chucked into the dumpster, which cleared my head — I found my path as an artist, I was directed to my GGRO tribe, and I discovered my houseboat community. What will happen now that I’m pushing 70? Dunno. But I’m not done yet. Never too late to rethink goals and dream new dreams and move forward. And be my truest self. Who I hope is kind and compassionate.

We’ve all been through a lot these last years; 2020 was simply a bitch. For everyone. Some suffered more losses than others but no one got through the turmoil unscathed or unchanged. My hope is that I can embrace loss and grief with grace and an open heart. Like the line in a Bonnie Raitt song, “Don’t let me grow bitter I pray.” Amen.

11″ x 8″ watercolor, pen, pencil on paper = $120

 

 

 

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 | poppies demo

It was my privilege yesterday to do a Zoom watercolor demo offered by Frank Bette Center for the Arts in Alameda. I was so nervous at the beginning! I couldn’t get my phone to function properly to video my work area but we figured it out. My brain stops working when I’m anxious, but then I started to relax; I am learning how to let go of nervousness when people watch me paint and draw. I worked on two paintings, so I could paint on one piece while waiting for the 2nd one to dry, and so on. I did the drawing first for this painting with sticks and black acrylic ink, working from a photo of poppies in Tilden Park, taken during a lovely hike last year. I started painting #2 with a fountain pen drawing from a photo of begonias, but that one was not successful and too busy. The sticks method keeps things looser, less rigid and I liked how this turned out, wanting the white, papery flowers to stay simple and less worried-over. Must do more sticks work! It’s fun, keeps me relaxed, and the final work is less fussy. It’s always good, from my viewpoint, to play with the media and not worry about end results. To create from a place deep inside myself. If I am aiming for a keeper, I produce crap. The pressure was on to create a work that the Center could auction, so this was kind of a happy accident. It was sold during the Zoom demo and I am honored to have had this experience. Watch this space as I start to create my own painting demos which will be posted on YouTube. I also will be offering classes on video for sale. Thanks for reading!

10″ x 10″ watercolor, sticks-and-ink, acrylic ink on paper

 

 

 

painting of Marin Lilies by Emily Weil

daily painting | marin lilies

Anyone watching the impeachment trial? Jamie Raskin is my new hero. The House lawyers are presenting a strong and dramatic case, and what gob-smacks me is that Raskin is doing a terrific job after losing his troubled son, who was in law school, to suicide last December. My sister died in November and I can barely rub two neurons together, so I admire Mr Raskin and have great respect for him. Talk about grit. (By the way why is no one talking about how gleeful Putin must be these days, watching our troubles?)

So here’s the latest addition to my collection of calla lily paintings. There is a secret stash of lily plants I pilfer from; they bloom every year in a neglected corner of a certain spot in Marin County. I suppose I shouldn’t help myself but I don’t think the flowers are missed, and I only take one or two blooms. Surreptitiously. Which gives me a thrill, kind of like when I shoplifted costume jewelry from Woolworth’s in Corte Madera when I was 13 (my criminal career was a short one after I nearly got caught). Maybe I’ll turn into the cliche of the old woman klepto. Don’t know. Maybe you should keep an eye on me.

10″ x 7″ watercolor, pen, acrylic ink on paper = $90

 

 

 

daily painting | tiny blooms

I am still sorting through photos taken last November when I stayed with my sister during her last weeks on the planet. I enjoyed walking through the damp neighborhoods, snapping pics, hoping to paint certain scenes. These small white blossoms were lovely and prolific and beautiful. Was taken aback — gorgeous blooming front yards right there in chilly, wintry Seattle! I started this small painting yesterday after returning from doing volunteer work in the Marin Headlands which takes the better part of a day. After cleaning myself up I wanted to get my paints out and do a small work. The very act of taking a wet paintbrush, loaded with Daniel Smith watercolor pigments, and splashing it over a chunk of clean white paper soothes and focuses me.

I had sort of a light bulb moment the other day — these days of grief and recovery and healing are necessary, however wrenching. Remember a million years ago when forest fires were often a good thing, before terrible outer space villains started focusing laser beams on California in order to destroy the state (wish I just made that up)? When flames burned off the undergrowth, without harming the trees, making the whole ecosystem healthier and happier? Well I sort of feel like that. Times like these are painful, and even feel dangerous at times, but crap gets burnt off I don’t need. Detritus goes up in smoke. I am seared into a better version of myself. Trust in myself deepens. Wish it wasn’t so damn uncomfortable, but I think it’s all good. I do keep my fire extinguisher nearby though. Must mind the embers. Or find some asbestos socks.

6″ x 6″ watercolor, pen, acrylic ink on paper = $45

 

 

 

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 | crab cove calla

Aaahh… the time of year my favorite flower blooms. Spotted this glory at Crab Cove, and no I will not divulge my secret stash of overlooked Calla Lily plants somewhere in the bay area where I can swipe a few and no one pays any mind. The simplicity of this flower! The sexually suggestive “spadix” — isn’t that a fabulous word? — stunning. How they unfurl when  blossoming, like a sail. The creamy whiteness of the “petals” (actually the scientific name is “spathe” and aren’t you excited to learn such trivia?). There is something cosmic and magical about these beauties and I can’t get enough of them, which is obvious if you’ve seen past blog-posts. The challenge for me is to keep the painting uncomplicated and not noodle around too much, avoiding adding details that only distract. I love juicy simplicity. Which is a good thing, as life during Covid has been pared down to fewer elements — simple exercise, an afternoon on a socially-distant beach, cooking soup, Zooming with friends, playing with pen and ink and watercolor. Grieving. Challenging days, now. But I know there is much to look forward to when it’s safer out there in the world to roam around and travel and go to a favorite cafe and hug our friends. Holding on to those visions during my darker, sadder days, which helps.

8″ x 7″ watercolor, pen, acrylic ink on paper = $75