Tag Archives: flowers

Yarrow and Cone Flower Paintings

Yarrow Flower Painting by Lillian Connelly 9x12 alcohol inks on Yupo Paper
Yarrow Flower 9×12 alcohol inks on Yupo paper.

Today I am going to share with you my Yarrow and Cone Flower paintings! I am really excited about them for a couple of reasons. To start with, alcohol inks and Yupo Paper are kind of tricky to master because they refuse to have a master. Yupo paper is basically a thin sheet of recycled polypropylene plastic. The alcohol ink does not get absorbed by the paper so it runs in sunburst type directions unless you tilt the paper to encourage it to flow in a particular way. In short, this is not a medium for people who prefer to be in total control of the medium they are working in. Which, I have to admit can be my downfall. I am a bit of a control freak, perfectionist type, artist-mom-wanna-be so I struggled at first. I struggled a lot.

Then I started thinking more about how the ink works. I had to, seriously. With this medium it’s adapt or die and I was not about to give up because, well, because of those colors. I cannot get enough of this vibrant, glowing, gorgeous, alcohol ink color! I love it. Don’t you? Can you imagine walking past all of this color in your home and not stopping for a moment to soak it all in? Well, I can’t. I’ve probably been stopping to bask in the glory of color a little too often lately. There is a reason my sink is full of dishes and Tiny-Small is wearing mismatched socks, you guys.

Lillian Connelly - First attempt at painting Cone Flowers 9x12 alcohol inks on Yupo paper.
My first attempt at Cone Flowers 9×12 alcohol inks on Yupo paper.

The only way to paint with alcohol inks and Yupo paper is to think of it as a full-body sport. It also helps to work in stages. I use masking fluid to map out areas I want to keep white or might want to fill in with a lighter color later. Then I have to wait while that dries (sometimes I do multiple paintings at a time so I can shuffle through them all day long). Luckily it dries quickly in our hot, dry climate. Then I start on the background which means pouring ink onto the Yupo with one hand while tilting the paper in multiple directions with the other. I stand up, I sit down, I wish I had at least four arms. Did I mention I am wearing plastic hospital  gloves the entire time? That adds a new layer of awkwardness. For someone who has no problem painting with her fingers this can be a strange experience and I have to be very careful unless I want to walk around with ink-stained hands for days and days. Once the ink is poured I have to let it dry again and then I use masking fluid over parts of the background, let that dry and add another layer of ink.

Then I have to remove all of the masking fluid (royal pain in the butt) and get my paintbrushes out. Once the masking fluid is removed the flowers are just white blotches. Painting the flowers is the tricky part because the ink runs wild. Some colors seem to spread across the Yupo faster and wider than other colors. That’s why I spent so much time experimenting before I started to have success. I really had to get to know each color before I could get even a little control over them. I use the term control loosely here because the inks still do what they want to. I mean, I can coax them a bit and be careful to use smaller ink amounts, or larger ink amounts, but there is always an element of surprise. Not to mention, the weather is a factor too. If it’s humid, the inks behave a little differently than they do when it is hot and dry. These  alcohol inks have multiple personalities. Surprisingly, even though I have art medium control issues, I still enjoy the surprises. I mean, even when it goes all wrong there is still gorgeous color to mesmerize me with. There have been times when I didn’t achieve the look I was going for, but over all, I haven’t been able to make anything actually ugly using the alcohol inks, so in a way, it’s a good medium to work in if you can’t draw well or like abstracts and color.

Cone Flower painting by Lillian Connelly 9x12 alcohol inks on Yupo Paper.
My favorite Cone Flower painting so far. I am sure I will paint more! I love painting this flower. 9×12 alcohol inks on Yupo paper.

I am really excited about my Yarrow and Cone Flower paintings for another reason. They feel like they are all mine. My style. They aren’t that different from my watercolor flowers, just more intense. When I start learning a new technique or art medium I often find myself imitating the work of my teachers. It’s how I learn I suppose. That’s how art has been taught over the years. You begin by copying the work of someone else. Students try to recreate the art master’s work. Once they can do that well, they start growing and experimenting. They develop their own style. Even though I have only taken a few formal, college level, art classes in my life I still work that way. If you are patient and stick with it and practice I am pretty sure you can teach yourself to do just about anything!



I Grew Exactly One Giant Sunflower

Giant Sunflower
My Giant Sunflower.

I planted a variety of sunflower seeds this year. I was determined to have a field of flowers so I could paint them and pretend that I was a modern-day Van Gogh. Mother nature must have been onto my lofty plans because she decided to make sure my field of gold was only a couple of plants. More like a spot of gold. She did a really good job of making sure my artistic dreams were put off for at least one more year.

The center of my giant sunflower.
The center of my giant sunflower.

I grew exactly one giant sunflower this summer and two little wispy sunflower plants that got beaten to the ground by a light rain. The survival of the fittest theory could not have been more clearly illustrated than it was on that day. I could complain extensively, but since I am trying to be an optimist, I decided, instead, to make the most of the one sunflower I had been given. So, I photographed this giant sunflower until it begged for mercy. Seriously, if my camera had a flash going off this poor flower would have faded to a pale yellow by now. I have pictures from every angle.

Praying Mantis.
Praying Mantis.

I even discovered a praying mantis who soon became the main subject of my photography (and Jim’s).

The back of the giant sunflower.
It’s even pretty on the flip side.

Hopefully, I’ll have something to paint this fall, even if it isn’t a field of gold! One giant sunflower might be all I need after all. I’ll just have to paint it from multiple perspectives and with or without a praying mantis (also from multiple perspectives). If not, I can always fall back on the Starry Night, right? I’ll be the modern day Van Gogh one way or another, at least in my own mind.



Examining The Creative Mind: Carrie Schmitt

Today on Examining The Creative Mind we are incredibly lucky to have the talented Carrie Schmitt talking about her art and her life. I am in love with her beautiful paintings. They energize me with their vibrant colors and instantly put me in a happy mood. I hope you enjoy her interview today as much as I have. Links to her website and Etsy store are at the bottom of the page so don’t forget to check them out.

Carrie Schmitt
Photo courtesy of Carrie Schmitt.

Can you tells us a little about who you are and the kind of work that you

I am an artist who lives on a moss-covered mountain on the outskirts of Seattle WA. I began painting in 2009 when I developed a life-threatening allergy to heat and could not leave my home for several months one sweltering summer in Cincinnati. Today I have licensing deals with home décor and stationary companies, such as Hallmark, and paint as often as possible despite a busy life with kids and freelance writing jobs.

Where do you do your work? Can you describe your workspace?

My studio is a room in our home with lovely windows.  Making it my dream studio is a work in progress. I have a wish list for what I want and am slowly acquiring things. I love that I only have to walk down the stairs in the morning to get to work, and I love being near my family so that I am always available when they need me.

My kids are often in the studio with me studying, playing, doing crafts or just talking. We have some great talks in there. It is nice because I am not going anywhere as I paint so it creates an ideal time for conversations.

Scmitt studio
Carrie Schmitt’s Studio                 Photo courtesy of Carrie Schmitt.

My favorite item so far is a vintage garden cart that holds my paints so that I can easily transport them around the studio to the different areas I paint. Because I paint florals, I couldn’t resist the garden theme.

I was given a table that had heavy drab curtains and wanted to replace them but didn’t have the patience to sew new ones. I tore colorful mismatched fabric scraps into strips and tied them to the rod—it complements my painting style quite well.

Painting by Carrie Schmitt
Que Sera                                                                           Photo courtesy of Carrie Schmitt

Do you have a favorite artist? What attracts you to their work?

I love too many artists to name—so many take my breath away. I do have a Pinterest Board of art that I love if you would like to join me there. I think each artist I see influences me on a subconscious level, leaving imprints on me in ways I don’t realize that come out in my artwork.

How would you describe your work in 3-4 words?

Colorful, joyful, vibrant.

Painting by Carrie Schmitt
Kitchen Window                                                      Photo courtesy of Carrie Schmitt.

As an artist, is there anything specific that you hope to accomplish?
I want to always be learning and growing as an artist. I hope to have enough success that I can support myself through my art, which would allow me the time I crave to dedicate myself to this every day.

As an artist, how do you define success?

Success to me is getting my art out in the world and sharing it with others. Also knowing that I am always learning and growing. I figure if I keep creating and putting myself out there, hopefully other forms of success will come as a byproduct to living my authentic life.

Painting by Carrie Schmitt
Where Love Resides                                        Photo courtesy of Carrie Schmitt.

What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you practice?

I’m a mom of 3 busy children, so my only ritual involves flexibility and acceptance of my time constraints. I’d love to say I light a candle, meditate and do sun salutations before I paint, but that is just not going to happen at this stage in my life. I run into my art room every chance I get and paint while I am quizzing my daughter for a test, trying to find my son’s baseball hat and running back and forth from the kitchen trying not to burn dinner.

What are you hoping to communicate through your art?

I believe in beauty. I think it has a transformative effect on our psyche, our thoughts and actions. Plato said, “Children need to be surrounded by beautiful things.” I think adults do as well. My paintings are my peaceful and non-intrusive attempt to make the world a brighter place. To bring delight and light-heartedness to a space. My hope is that my art makes someone pause and smile.

I just don’t understand our culture’s obsession with violence and negativity in all sorts of media. I think this is my own little subtle response to this. We need more people creating beauty every day.

Painting by Carrie Schmitt
Friendship                                                     Photo courtesy of Carrie Schmitt.

How do you come up with ideas?

I often find inspiration from floral bouquets and the farmer’s market flower stands that Seattle is famous for. Home décor magazine covers, such as Country Living and Better Homes & Gardens, are another favorite source of color inspiration. A lot of time is spent designing those covers, so somebody has already done the work for you as far as color scheme. Sometimes when I paint, I look at the magazines shapes, colors and patterns and paint very quickly and loosely to see what happens. This is almost a painting exercise for me to see what happens. It is a great starting place to begin painting.

Painting by Carrie Schmitt
Photo courtesy of Carrie Schmitt

What do you think is your biggest strength?

I’d say my biggest strength is perseverance. There are so many times when I have doubted myself or felt frustrated for a myriad of reasons, but I don’t give up. I think this is the key to most success in anything you do.


You can see more of Carrie Schmitt’s work on her website Carrie Schmitt Art + Design or purchase some of her work in her Etsy Shop. Her work is so beautiful. I can imagine her work makes you feel as if you have brought your garden inside with you. I can’t imagine a better way to bring some cheer and happiness into a home! Don’t forget to visit her on Pinterest and like her on Facebook too!