Tag Archives: art techniques

How My Ideas Grew Two Sizes That Day

Our ideas grew two sizes that day
When collaboration makes your ideas grow two sizes

My ideas grew two sizes the other day. Want to know how? Collaboration. A healthy helping of friendship. A little thing called social media. Yes, social media can lead to actual, productive work, who knew?

I just happened to read a post by Molly Field on her Feather Fish. Then I headed to Twitter to make fun of people myself and crack bad jokes. That’s when the magic happened. Molly asked me to interpret a poem she had written and I jokingly said I would do it for free feather fish.

Twitter screen
Twitter can lead to productivity, it’s not just a myth!

She not so jokingly said, “OK.” I hadn’t even read the poem yet. That made me a little nervous, but then I read the poem and laughed because it was so funny, and familiar, and about being a mom which I could totally relate to: A busy, has a lot of interests mom, not the Betty Crocker kind. You can read Molly’s poem here: homage to the microwave.

ideas grew
The making of Molly.

So, we had a poem and I started a collage. I immediately went to Molly’s Facebook page and bought her photos with my five-finger discount. Seriously, I stole them right off her page. Who knew it would be so easy to take your friends face and give her  a cartoon body? All I can say is, watch your back friends and family, my collage scissors might be coming for you.

The kitchen for making ravioli’s is from another era.

Then I just put her in a kitchen with her ravioli and microwave and voila, we had a collage. We had a poem. We had art meets life. We had two people who had never met in real life involved in a conspiracy to make something awesome even more awesome. Not to mention, the poem-collage has real meaning for us and probably in more ways than one.

This is where the ideas grew two sizes that day. While we were laughing and joking about poems and glue and photographs we came up with an idea to turn the poems and collage making into a bit of a series. It was the perfect plan because I have wanted to do something like this forever, but I could never get the words right. I’m a collage artist. I’m not a poet. All I could ever think to do was plagiarise someone elses catchy sayings and since that is illegal and amoral and also boring I just waited for inspiration to strike. It finally did, because I collaborated with a friend. I should say, the inspiration struck Molly and then me, like a bolt of crooked lightning. She writes, I paint. Has there ever been a better match made in the history of humankind? Have I told you I am prone to exaggeration? Did you figure that out on your own already? Seriously, this is going to be an incredibly fun adventure and while we may not be creating world peace, we are creating something, and I am pretty excited about it, obviously. I think we might turn these collages into a calendar of some kind so other cranky, silly, adorable, awesome women can enjoy our antics as much as we do.

Have I mentioned how important friendship is? Do I need to? I mean, you probably already know. Still, friendship is important, especially to the creative process. I’ve been sort of stuck in a rut lately. I’ve been doing a lot of staring at the canvas and blobbing paint on things and then hiding it all in the back of a dark closet. I’ve also been painting some watercolors in a real bad way. One painting I attempted of my daughter ended up looking like a giant, baby version of Barbie pretending to be taking LSD in the forest. At least, that’s the back story I finally came up with to explain the colors, the giant headed figure, and the arm that seems to be floating next to her instead of being attached to her body. Anyway, I digress.

My point is, collaboration and friendship can get you unstuck and make your ideas grow or just come alive. Not to mention, these collaborative moments tend to grow on their own and seep out into other areas of your life. Our moment did for Molly (you can read about her experience here: Transcendental Frienditation). Our moment did for me too. I started three different paintings yesterday. One I even finished. It’s a gift for someone so it’s kind of personal and about love. I just started and couldn’t stop working yesterday. I was all, “Art me, Universe!”

Marriage Collage

Even Tiny-Small helped.

Tiny-Small, painter of lush backgrounds.

You just never know where life is going to take you. One minute you are searching for inspiration and the next minute it just falls into your lap in the form of microwaves, ravioli and feather fish. Saying yes opens so many doors. You never know where you are going to end up. It’s pretty exciting! It’s also good to have friends. Thank you, Molly! You have no idea the gift you have given me.



Artist’s Don’t Know When To Stop

Most people think that the hardest part for any artist is starting something. Staring at a blank, white paper or canvas can be very intimidating, but for me, the hardest part is knowing when to stop. I often keep going when my work is actually finished. This is one of my weaknesses. I have to learn to leave well enough alone. When I keep going my composition gets wonky, my colors get muddled and my piece gets that over-worked quality that is never truly appreciated. If I could find an art contest for overworked pieces I would probably become their poster child. I would win awards and accolades. People would write about me saying, “Nobody knows how to over-work a piece of art like Lillian Connelly. She is the master of pushing things so far they come out as a top-notch disaster!” I have dreams of fame and fortune. Where your art is so bad it is good and people will spend their hard-earned money to own a piece of your work, just so they can put it in their collection of rotten tomato art. That is totally an art category, right? It has to be!

This mermaid painting-collage started out like all of the others.

Painting a canvas
I paint the canvas.


Then I started thinking about the images I wanted to use. I cut them out and started placing them on the canvas board.

Beginning a collage.
Arranging items for the college.

I started gluing items down. At some point I should have stopped, but didn’t. The next thing I knew I had this collage. It’s cluttered. It bugs me.

Mermaid Collage
When collages go too far because Artist’s don’t know when to stop.

I have these two mermaid collages started. I keep hoping I recognize when each piece is finished. I am hoping to become an artist that knows when to stop!

mermaid collage painting. mermaid collage painting




10 Things Painting Has Taught Me About Relationships

10 Things Painting Has Taught Me About Relationships.

Not to just repeat the title, but I am going to repeat the title: 10 things painting has taught me about relationships. I mean, that is what this post is about. It’s a list. A long list (forgive me), mostly about relationships, but also a little about painting. Maybe I should just zip it and start the list.

10 Things painting has taught me about relationships
Cone Flower watercolor painting by Lillian Connelly

1. Not everyone is going to like you or your painting. It’s true. You are fabulous, but there will be a few people who just can’t stand you. Some will tell you to your face. Some will avoid you. Some will talk behind your paintings back. Some people will just blurt out, “I don’t like you. I don’t like your paintings.” Some will just walk right by. Some will tell other people, “Who does she think she is painting THAT?” The good news shows up in number two:

2. There will always be people who think you are super cool, amazing, smart, funny and nice. They may also think the same thing about your painting. They will say, “Look at that beautiful use of color.” They also might say, “That girl is going places and I hope she remembers me when she is famous.” They will want to be your friend and hang your painting on their wall. These are the loves of your life. Hug them like you mean it. Good friends are sometimes hard to find and they help you combat that negative energy you feel from all of those number one type people (see above) out there.

Paper Dolls mixed media painting
My mom didn’t like this one at first. Then it was “OK” and now she doesn’t want me to sell it. Weird, right?

3. Some people won’t like you at first, but you will start to win them over with your charm and wit and free baked goods. They will get past the initial shock and awe that is you and realize you aren’t half bad. You might even become friends…possibly best friends. Same thing with painting. Someone might see your painting one day and exclaim, “What the heck is that crap?” A few days later you will catch them looking at it and hear them say, “I think I am starting to like this one.” Then, a few days later they will buy it and hang it on their wall. Seriously, this stuff happens ALL THE TIME.

4. People get jealous. Sometimes they get jealous of your painting. They will either think you spend too much time with other people (or with your painting). They might think your other friend (or painting) is cooler than they are. They might be jealous of your ability to attract the beautiful people to you (or to your painting). They might get jealous of your talents, ability, time…this list could go on forever. My husband gets jealous of my Twitter followers because he thinks I would rather talk to them about politics (he’s right because they can’t break my TV). I know that has absolutely nothing to do with painting, but it has everything to do with jealousy. My point is, people get jealous. I get jealous. Jealousy makes the world go ’round. I should totally turn that into a love song.  I mean, sometimes jealousy gets you motivated, but also it can put a lid on your creative process. So, just like in life and relationships, don’t let the jealousy of other people stop you from doing great things. Also, don’t let your own jealousy stop you from doing great things. Just do great things and be happy that you are doing them.

Painting Tiny-Small
I took this photo of myself. Note the forced, hurry up camera timer, smile.

4. If you want to have strong, solid relationships with people you have to spend time with them, care about them, and devote some energy towards their well-being. Same thing with painting. Showing up is half the battle. Practice makes perfect. All of the practice I’ve been doing with my painting has paid off. All of that reading to my daughter, feeding her good foods, and pretending to be both a ballerina and a monkey starring in an off-off broadway version of Annie has paid of too. My daughter and I get along pretty well. Don’t be afraid to dive in and give something your all. It works.

bad horse painting
I should never be allowed to paint horses.

5. Sometimes you have to know when to walk away from a painting…same with people. Some people just weren’t meant to be and some paintings just weren’t meant to be either. That’s Ok though because look at number 6:

bad horse painting 1
Horses are not my thing, but maybe they will be someday…

6. There will always be new ideas and new paintings and new people coming into your life. You may have some dark, lonely periods. You may lose your creative spirit or a few friends, but they will be replaced with a new vision and a new support system. Change is one thing you can count on. You will not be like you are right now forever (good or bad).

7. Sometimes you won’t be able to paint something and then two years later you can paint it like a boss. Same thing with friends and loved ones. Sometimes they go out of your life for a while and pop back in when you least expect it. There are always surprises in art and in relationships.

8. Sometimes you just don’t have the right tools to work with. You want to paint, but the paint is sticky and the canvas is torn. It’s a good idea to get the best tools you can. Same thing with people. You can surround yourself with positive, supportive people who believe in you or you can surround yourself with people who don’t. You will go much further and be much happier if you have the right tools and the right people in your life.

collage painting with acrylic paint by Lillian Connelly: Mixed Media

9. Painting is messy. Paint gets on your clothes. Things go right and wrong at the same time. Same thing with relationships. They aren’t always easy. Things go up and things go down and sometimes things go round and round. It’s OK to get messy. Develop strong problem solving skills and you’ll go far both in art and in relationships.

watercolor painting

10. If you are struggling with your painting ask for help. Someone out there knows more about what you are doing than you do. Don’t be afraid to get an education on the subject. Same thing for relationships. Learn how to communicate or get some help from a professional when you are struggling. Don’t spend years doing things that don’t seem to be working for you. Ask for help.

That is my long-winded wisdom for the day. Stop laughing at the horses! You’ll make them cry and ruin their watercolor.


Like this post? Check out: So, I Declared Yesterday Family Art Day or Sometimes You Have To Break The Rules.