Sometimes You Have To Break The Rules

Trixie painting by Lillian Connelly
Painting of Trixie based on a photo taken by A Faded Ginger.

Sometimes you have to break the rules of life, and art, and diets. You don’t have to break the three rules all at the same time, unless you are feeling especially wicked, but rule breaking happens. I have totally been eating too much dessert, breaking the rules of painting and, you won’t believe it, but yesterday, we realized our car registration had been expired for a month. I am officially wicked. It feels pretty good too. I mean, except for the waistband on my pajama pants being a little too tight. How does that even happen? They are supposed to stretch!

Anyway, in January, WordPress sent me some statistical information. In that information it declared A Faded Ginger as my star comment writer. She has written the most comments on this blog since August (when I moved to WordPress). More than anyone else! I thought that was impressive. I think that might make her my #1 Fan. In my book, #1 fans should be rewarded and so I offered to paint her a pet portrait. I painted Trixie! She’s gorgeous. She’s a dog my whole family wants to adopt. We have never even met her and we are already in love.

I broke some painting rules. In the world of watercolor painting it is considered a No-No (slap that hand) offense to use black paint. Art teachers and books will scream, “Black is the absence of color…it’s a black hole in your painting. It’s dead! Don’t use it unless there is an extreme emergency.” Luckily, I found an artist who broke that rule. She wrote a book about how using black ink can make the colors in your painting really stand out. Her name is Suellen Ross and the book is Paint Radiant Realism in Watercolor, Ink & Colored Pencil. I got the book at the library. You can too if you want more information about the technique. Don’t be afraid to use library inter-loan because it really works. I have used it often to get my hands on a particular book that I wanted to look into. I often get art books out of the library first to see if I like them enough to buy them. This one is going on my “to buy” wish list. It’s the kind of book I will be referring back to more than once. I really loved the results. I didn’t even get to trying out the colored pencil part yet. Her paintings are amazing. There is one under the section “birds” where she paints an owl. She painted each individual feather and the reflection in the owls eye is just breath-taking. I am in awe of her skill level. I am also reminded that I have a lot of practicing to do.

I used waterproof India ink. You can get a small container of it for about three dollars. It’s not expensive. I painted it on with a paintbrush. Don’t use your expensive brushes. Use an old one or a craft brush because you have to wash it with soap and water to get all of the ink out. This would be a great way to make a stained glass picture too.

step one dop painting
The yellowish part is the masking fluid.

I drew out the design. I added Trixie and some of A Faded Ginger’s favorite flowers. I also added some of the flowers from her garden (that’s where Trixie likes to frolic). Then I used masking fluid (it’s a thin, rubbery substance) to paint in the places I wanted to keep white, just in case my paint ran into those areas. I painted in the reflection of light in Trixie’s eyes with the masking fluid and then outlined her with it because the sun was lighting her up. All of her little hairs were glowing like a halo.

background color for Trixie painting
Adding the ink and then the background colors.

Then I painted on the ink. This part is difficult because you have to pay attention to values and use the black ink only in the darkest parts of the painting. Once the ink hits the paper it is not coming off! It also will not come off of your clothes or furniture, so take precautions to avoid any mishaps.

Painting the flowers in the foreground of trixie painting
Beginning to paint the flowers.

Then I started adding color and defining Trixie and the flowers. My pencil lines are still showing through in places, but I kind of like it that way. It’s another rule I like to break. I like to see the steps and process that I go through to get from start to finish.

Finished painting of Trixie the dog
Finished watercolor painting of Trixie.

Then I finished! I added some hairs, removed the masking fluid and touched up the edges. You will notice the first picture (above) is much warmer. This is because I took the picture at night and the lamp light changes the colors. This last picture of the painting has more accurate color because I took it in daylight. This is an example of why it matters when and where you photograph your art! You probably don’t want to break the rules when it comes to photography.

Would you like a pet portrait for your pet? I am running a special right now through April 1, 2013. You can get an 11×15 watercolor like the one featured above for $75.00. If this interests you, please leave a comment below or email me using the contact form under the banner at the top of the page. Pet portraits make excellent gifts for the people you love.

Thank you to A Faded Ginger for letting me paint Trixie and for being such a terrific comment writer. I appreciate your support!  I hope all of you will check out her blog by clicking on the link. She writes about many interesting topics and is a very smart and funny lady!

p.s. Don’t be afraid to break the rules today…at least a couple! 🙂


31 thoughts on “Sometimes You Have To Break The Rules”

  1. I will break the rule with the dessert for sure! But my excuse is that we have guests from Germany and we decided to show them the best places in our city (strangely, the good places that we know are only cafes full of chocolate variations!).
    Love the painting and I am glad someone broke the rule with blank paint, too. Black has been, is, and will be my fav colour!

    1. Chocolate vacations are my favorite! Art should be about breaking rules. I don’t even know why people spend time making them.

    1. I can really see my progress. One day soon I am going to do a post with the paintings I did when I first started painting again. I have learned so much since then.

      Thank you!

  2. I would love you to paint a picture of Sylvia. I just don’t know which picture to send you. Do you work better with close ups? Can you use pictures from Instagram or do you need the file? I think your work is amazing!!!

    1. Can I print out a photo from Instagram? I am new to using it so I am not sure, but I will need something I can print out. Staring at the computer will make my eyes fall out…haha!

      1. So emailing you a photo is the best way for you to do a painting? Do u use several photos to make a painting and just design your own background? Or do you mimic a picture?

        1. I usually do my own background, but I would do something on a request. It helps to have a couple of pictures. Clear and close up is best. Emailing works fine! 🙂

  3. I saw this on Instagram (so glad you joined btw, I use it more than any other social media.) and love it! I haven’t used watercolors in a very long time. Thanks for sharing your techniques! I had no idea about the “no black” rule. Whoever came up with that is tapped in the head. Art has no rules.

    1. I am excited about Instagram too. I am still learning how to use it. I like that it is phone based. That makes it easier to do on the go!

    1. I am fascinated with processes too. It’s pretty neat to see how things are made and how each person does things differently.

  4. I loved seeing your work as it progressed. Thank you for sharing how you broke the rules by using black ink and the fabulous result. I hope one day you’ll paint something special from my life… I’d be so honored! You’re awesome! (P.S. I just had to pin this!)

    1. I have painted all of my own dogs, except one. She still doesn’t sit still long enough to get a decent picture. I am hoping once she reaches adulthood she will cooperate more.

  5. What a beautiful painting.How cool of you to do that for her. Breakin the rules is kinda fun sometimes. I have been trying to eat better, but I definitely broke a rule the other evening by hiding out in our office, eating out of the Valentines box of chocolates from my hubby. I wasn’t just nibbling on once piece, I was devouring multiple pieces like a ravenous dog. Then walked out of office as if I had only been in there writing out the bills or filing or something.
    I will check out your etsy shop too:)

    1. That is so funny. I have eaten chocolate like that more than I care to admit. Sometimes the harder I try to eat “right” the louder the chocolate calls me. Thank you!

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