watercolor of flowers by emily weil

daily painting | january blooms

So today is about accepting limitations with as much grace as I can muster. OK I’m going to try not to be hideously boring here. My floating home (or “flouse”, a term I like) only has so much electricity feeding into it from the dock. I have no way of upping the amperage. Which means the tankless water heater Jonathan installed uses too much juice (we both researched it ahead of time but we missed the fine print). So we are going to try a different water heater, but it hasn’t arrived yet (today I hope). To make a short story long, this morning I ran out of hot water mid-shower while my head was full of shampoo and it was 45° outside. I grabbed a bathrobe and did a quick rinse of my hair in the kitchen sink with cold water, then ran out to switch the breakers back on out on the dock. Then I unplugged everything electrical in my house and tried again. Hot water in the shower! Yay! Which ran cold again while my drippy locks were full of conditioner (literally rinse and repeat! ha!). And yes it was sunny and not -3° as is forecast this weekend in Iowa. So there’s that.

This is not a life-threatening problem. These are first-world challenges, however unpleasant. One thing I’ve learned from years of therapy and support groups is that there are always solutions to problems — I might not like the answers, but I’ve been around long enough to know that I can trust myself (and trusted helpers) to resolve things one way or t’other. 

Which reminds me of going to a 12-step meeting in San Francisco eons ago and laughing my butt off when a woman talked about how, as a child of an alcoholic, if she gets a flat tire she doesn’t call AAA but suicide prevention hotline. Today I follow a therapist’s directive from long ago: Dial 911, step over the body and do the dishes (even if in cold water). 

[I did this painting in our Brushes by the Bay group yesterday, referring to a crisp, brightly-colored Trader Joe bouquet in my cute fiesta-ware teapot. I wasn’t thrilled with the piece, but it improved some after I cropped it. It was a blustery, chilly and wet January day. I like real weather.]

8″ x 6″ ink, watercolor on paper

 

 

 

daily painting | maker farm hoofer

A couple of days ago I grabbed my bike to get outdoors and try to outride the dark thoughts creeping in under my eyebrows. I enjoy riding down the estuary to where the shipping cranes on- and off-load the hulking, ocean-traveling ships. Such a funky, interesting mix of sights and scenes — the clanking of the primary-colored containers as they are loaded onto the ships, small sailboats dwarfed by enormous rust-stained hulls, maybe some cute little oystercatchers pecking at tidbits at the tide’s edge with their cartoony, orange beaks; a few folks living in their RVs, humans letting their pets loose at the dog run. It’s so splashy and unsanitized. Nearby is a fun nursery called Ploughshares, a collaborative operation and a good spot to buy plants for your garden and support the local community. I was delighted to ride past their spot and see folks with rakes cleaning up an open lot alongside backhoes moving dirt around, sheep chomping on composted refuse and piglets wrestling with each other in the mud. Turns out Maker Farm, which had been next door to my marina, found their new home. They let me come in the gate and photograph the activities, and this friendly and curious hoofer came over to say hello. It’s a kind of figure drawing, right? Sheepy, shaggy models. These unexpected and fun moments are such a relief from dodging grief bombs. Last night, while out on my deck, a Great Blue Heron swung around the corner of my house and flew within a few feet of me. I could hardly catch my breath, it was such a magnificent surprise. Beats hell out of dodging raindrops dripping through my ceiling onto my bed in the middle of the night, but that’s another adventure too boring to describe. A Christmas night wake-up, but it’s OK now. Moving soggily onward.

7.5″ x 7.5″ watercolor, pen, acrylic spats on paper = $75

 

 

 

daily painting | christmas satsuma

This time of year brings oodles of these tangerines to grocery stores with their puckered, wrinkly shapes. I snagged a few of these from the local produce market — the antithesis of the perfect sphere of a navel orange. I love how easy they peel and their sweet juiciness. I was wanting to do a quickie the other day so I got out my small watercolor sketchbook and did a few versions of this solitary guy. Which reminds me! [I love this story]. A million years ago in an art workshop, the teacher had put a bowl of oranges at our work table for snacks. As we worked on our drawings and paintings, an elderly woman in the group reminisced about being a small child in post-WWII bombed-out Berlin when the citizens were starving, suffering from blockades and sanctions. The Americans began the Berlin Airlift, dropping food and supplies to starving Germans. This lovely woman remembers the utter joy of running after the parachuted bundle and finding juicy oranges. She said she never takes food for granted, especially such wonders as succulent fresh fruit. I was so humbled by her story, for as a privileged American I’ve never run from bombs, been herded into refugee camps, fled from war across an ocean or suffered from the war-ravages of hunger. I’ll always remember that kindly woman and how she helped me be a bit more grateful.

3.5″ x 5.5″ watercolor, pen on paper

 

 

 

daily painting | nancy’s hydrangeas

As I was Photoshopping this image of today’s daily painting and saving it (you have to clean up photos taken of paintings, no matter what), I cracked up looking at the list of files on my hard drive that start with, “Nancy’s.” It’s because of the amazing things that grow in my friend and fellow gramma’s San Diego yard — pomegranates and gardenias and figs and then these guys. Took a photo of her hydrangeas when there last summer; in winter I root through photos for subject matter (was hoping for grocery delivery sooner today so I could pluck out fresh produce and make a food arrangement still life, but, alas, no internet for half the day today which forced me to paint and put my feet up and read; I guess it was a good idea because my weeping last night left me this morning feeling like I got flattened by the grief bus). SO. Putting asides aside, I was not unhappy to be a homebody today with my paints. It cheered me to create puddles of purple and pink paint for these lovely flowers. I didn’t even feel skitchy today as I often do these days with nervous loneliness and cabin fever. Something about kicking back with my book in the middle of the day felt naughty. I liked it. Especially with a full view of the finches and towhees at the bird feeder. These things boost my sore heart, as did washing up my dishes this morning — I filled a pan with soapy water and the floating bubbles made the shape of a heart. Made me cry. Messages from something bigger than I am, helping me through these days of pain and healing, and boosting my faith and trust. I’ll be OK. We’ll be OK. We’ve made it this far.

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