Tag Archives: the art of Lillian Connelly

The Amazing Lillian Connelly


I have a fantastic friend I’ve never met and I recently learned that she has a relative who lives near me, so sometime in the not-too-distant future, I will be able to meet and hug and jump up and down like a schoolgirl with the Amazing Lillian Connelly at her blog, It’s a Dome Life (which she often says gets found in searches for “it’s a do me life”; I tell ya… some people…)

Lilly is an artist. I would like to say that she paints in oils, or that she’s mainly all about acrylics on canvas, or that she’s committed to watercolors, or pen and ink on parchment, but the fact is that she’s all of that. And more. She has won me over as an artist and as a friend; and her pieces that are collages, are truly, some of the most fantastic and whimsical stuff I’ve ever seen. Her colors are life-affirming; Lillian is what I would describe as an actively optimistic artist. She is fiercely happy and amazingly resilient.

The best part of what Lilly does is that she lets her darling now three-year-old daughter, Tiny-Small, get in on the action. My own mother was an illustrator and a water color artist and I’m sure she dabbled in oils because I’ve seen her art, but I was forbidden from touching her things or her pens and so I never got a chance to do what Tiny-Small is doing: growing with her mom as an artist herself.

We, these perusers of the internet, blog readers and writers, talk about relationships a lot; we have our “IRL” (in real life) friends and we have our online friends and then we have this special class: the friends we’ve made online who have patiently graced us with their trust, their humor and their wisdom in a way that no IRL person ever could.

Could it be the relative safety and distance of the internet that allows us to foster these trusts and relationships without fear? I don’t know, but I doubt it. I think for me anyway, it is a sincere and authentic meeting of the minds and true comity and friendship that engenders these relationships. Lil and I have spoken on the phone, she’s posted a video of herself and her Tiny-Small for me when the FeatherFish arrived and it melted my heart. We’ve chatted online or on our phones at least once or twice a week about ideas, art, writing, problems and it’s always a blessing. But I know this friendship is true because when I don’t talk to LC or my other online friends for a few days, I earnestly miss them. They are as important to me as the friends I have over my fence line, on the walk to school, or at the PTA meetings.

A few posts back, I wrote about the FeatherFish. Lil fell in love with them. The day prior to that, I wrote my poem about the microwave, the likes of which I have a soft spot for because my mom would write poems about food. My favorite poem of hers about food was one about linguine with clam sauce. My poem about the microwave is an homage written on the fly about the crisis we all go through at the dreaded dinner hour: what to make and how to feed the masses.

The long and short of it is that I offered to trade Lillian a set of FeatherFish for a collage made of my poem and we were off to the races. Three days later, I went to buy her FeatherFish and I wrote about it in this post; and she started her collage. About a week later I went for a row and I returned home to a package with my name on it and I was so excited when I opened it that before I could chance into something more presentable, I insisted my husband take a picture of me beside our set of FeatherFish holding the collage:


My hair is gross under that cap. There was no way I was taking it off.

But that photo doesn’t do the collage justice. Here is a better one:

she put my name first. that was totally cool of her. but she did way more work than i did.

she put my name first. that was totally cool of her. but she did way more work than i did.

The post that Lillian wrote about her perspective of how this whole thing went down can be found here. It’s all about how she lifted the images of me and my family from my Facebook page and then grabbed the appliances from somewhere else. This little blog post isn’t as lovely as hers, but I couldn’t let another day go by without my sharing how talented she is and how lovely she is and how grateful I am that she and I found each other on Twitter one night last fall. It’s been one of the nicest things to have ever happened to me.

Thank you, Lilly.

Transcendental Frienditation


What happens when you combine a love of featherfish with an artist who makes killa collages with a poem lauding the microwave and a family of five?

You get Transcendental Frienditation, and the gift of this friendship, now spanning between Northern Virginia and a little town in New Mexico has reached new heights.

I adore as you may know, the lovely and talented Lillian Connelly. The poem I wrote last week about the microwave, I wrote on the fly (as I do most of my posts; sadly, this one is sort of planned). While she liked that one enough and we had fun with it, it was the next post, the one about the featherfish that caught her eye; so much, that she fell in love with the featherfish as evidenced by many back and forth tweets on Twitter about them.

Screen Shot 2013-04-30 at 5.53.53 PMScreen Shot 2013-04-30 at 5.54.03 PMScreen Shot 2013-04-30 at 5.54.12 PM

And that’s how we got started. Here is Lillian’s post about her adventure via Twitter and how she and I are collaborating: How My Ideas Grew Two Sizes That Day.

I planned to go all by myself the following Sunday morning to the Eastern Market in D.C. It’s insane to get out of the house with the kids for a planned event; a spontaneous one: fugedaboudit. When I thought I was sneaking down the stairs, I saw my husband on his computer. That was fine. Then I saw Thing 2. Thing 2 likes shopping and going places, so I knew he’d be game. That’s ok. But I really wanted to be there hassle-free: out and about, in the sun, eating a crepe without having to deal with “idonwanna” and “letsdothisinstead” coming from the back seats.

The truth is, I love my team and as much as I wanted to be alone, I really wanted them to see the fantastic experience that lies only 25 minutes away.

My thoughts and plans of leaving at 9:30 in the morning were dashed like a skiff exploding on the rocky bluffs of Ireland when Thing 1 decided he wanted to come too. That meant Thing 3 simply could not stay home alone. Despite his assertions that he would be fine alone for several hours in our house, we made him accompany us. It was on this day that his fever returned and that the amoxicillin he’d recently been prescribed stopped working on his strep throat. He was an absolute pleasure to be around.

But what started out as a solo venture, ended up becoming one of the most fantastic days my family has had together in a long time.

Upon arrival, the first order of business was to stop and get some featherfish for Lillian. Imagine my shock and awe, when we encountered this:

featherfish, featherbears, featherbirds, featherowls, feathergoats, bullfeathers...

featherfish, featherbears, featherbirds, featherowls, feathergoats, bullfeathers…

I simply could not decide. I mean, what if she had a preference for the tortoises or the rams? So I called her, at likely 8am her time on a Sunday (you know, late) and left her a message that she did not listen to until Monday. It’s ok. I chose the fish, and I’m sure she’ll write about them. But in the meantime, she has been working on my homage collage, and I’ll let her show that to you.

So while we were purchasing the featherfish, my husband started talking to FeatherMitch, the maker of the featherthings. And um, let’s just say they got along well. “He is my long-lost brother!” Mitch said, about my husband. “You never know!” he said:

Mr. Grass Oil and FeatherMitch, long lost brothers. Mitch has a zen that makes my own husband's mellow ways seem like my zen, which is to say: no zen.

Mr. Grass Oil and FeatherMitch, long-lost brothers. Mitch has a zen that makes my own husband’s mellow ways seem like my zen, which is to say: no zen. (that little creature in front of Mitch is a featherladybug)

We spent about half an hour with featherMitch and he told us his story. I will sum it up: his grandfather left China during the revolution with nothing. He was not allowed to take his sheep or his money or his food or his clothes with him. He could only take his roll-up mattress and almost no money; China got everything. He wanted to go to Thailand. He met his eventual wife in Thailand, she too was a Chinese refugee. He stayed there and they raised a family, Mitch’s father. He married and Mitch was born. He said that his grandfather wanted to die in China, he wanted to die where he was born, but he wanted all his money to stay in Thailand. The story is a little sketchy and I have a feeling my husband will return many times to iron out the details because he has told me he has a fondness for Mitch (and honestly, who can’t?).

When Mitch was finishing his story, he looked at my oldest son. “What you want to do when you go to college?” he asked. My son stammered a little, kicked a rock, smiled, wasn’t quite ready to answer the question. Mitch had asked it so deliberately. I answered, “He likes engineering, and he loves science and math.”

“You be a doctor. Medical engineer. My daughter, I have two: one is at Columbia, getting her PhD, all she does is call me for money; and the other is at Berkeley. I don’t want them to call me anymore,” he said with no irony. “It’s expensive to live in New York, she calls me for money all the time. I tell her, ‘stop learning, get a job!’ but she’s my daughter. So I send her money.”

“You learn technology, but stay away from Facebook, iPads. Study instead. China wants you to stay on Facebook. All of us, it wants us to be all ‘waaaah waaaah woooaah…’ like zombies on the computers. That’s the only way it will win. Stay away from that. Go outside, exercise, meet people, read science and literature. Artists. Keep doing things, stay away from online talking. China will win and we will all lose,” he said very sharply and lovingly to all my sons.

“I joke with my mom that we should all learn Chinese because we will be speaking it one day when China buys the United States…” Thing 1 said.

“This is no joke.” Mitch said. “Mandarin. You and your children will speak Mandarin if we don’t get away from the iPhones and the Facebook. China loves that we love our phones. They make them and we forget we are alive when we use them.”

He was so correct. My heart sank. Here is a man who knows what China is capable of. We left him for other kiosks, but we planned to say good-bye before we left.

After featherMitch, we went to see a glass artist make pendants and watched his glass blowing demonstration:

Thing 3 was entranced. He and this artist talked so much about the pendant and heat and compared it all to the sun's heat.

Thing 3 was entranced. He and this artist talked so much about the pendant and heat and compared it all to the sun’s heat.

Then after that, we met another artist, Shumba Masani, who makes “canimals”: giraffes and other animals out of aluminum cans. Thing 3 saved his yoo-hoo can for him; he planned to make a turtle out of it. This artist’s works have been in the Smithsonian. He made a 6′ tall giraffe and sold it for $1,000.

This is Masani’s interview on YouTube, he’s amazing and he just sort of stumbled into his art. His lesson is important, so check it out:

I bought this little rhino from him for $20. It’s made from a can of olive oil -infused hairspray:


I suppose $20 is steep, but I’m thrilled because as Thing 3 said, I get to have an original piece of art from an artist whose other works sit in a museum. What I was most thrilled with was that my kids met him and talked to him and saw that all things are possible as long as you try and never give up.

After Masani, I found a second-hand leather backpack purse. Fully lined, “Fossil” brand and it was as soft as butter. At this kiosk, it was originally $35, but that price was scratched out and the new price was $25. I just had $23 on me. “That’ll do.” said the vendor.

“I love that it’s already got scratches on it and that it’s broken in.” I said. “It’s like a car: once you get that first ding in the door, no matter how painful it is, it’s still a car. It’s just less than perfect now. The pressure’s off to keep it pristine. Are you sure? Just twenty-three? Really?”

“Sure. Man, I like your style,” he said. “I wish more people were like you.”

I inspected the bag; it was fine inside: clean, no smells, intact. I love a bargain and I love a broken-in, butter-soft, leather backpack purse even more.

Yesterday, Thing 3 called me from school. He wasn’t feeling well. The amoxicillin had not done its job. We needed to go back to the doctor’s. While we were waiting, I opened my new backpack purse to put away my insurance cards and I looked over and saw this:

It looked like it was talking to me.

It looked like it was talking to me.

So we were having more fun in the exam room and Thing 3 asked me to take this picture:

"It said, 'Gryffindor!' mom, like the sorting hat from Harry Potter, but it's a sorting bag."

“It said, ‘Gryffindor!’ mom, like the sorting hat from Harry Potter, but it’s a sorting bag.”

I have a sorting hat puppet. As far as I’m concerned, you can love Harry and Hermione and Ron and all those people all you want, but when I saw that sorting hat, I was sold. No one else mattered, ‘cept McGonegal. No one messes with Maggie Smith.

Lillian and I are going to embark on more homage collages; or collages with poems and make a calendar of them all for people to buy. It’s all because of the featherfish (that post is about living in the now) and the fact that I was stalled on what to make for dinner one night. The takeaway from all this is that friendship is everywhere and the gift we’ve given to each other is one of new ideas and possibilities for our work; something that will take the writer’s blech for me and give her new things to play with. But the gift she gave to me and my family is permanent and lasting and it’s those little things: taking a leap of faith on a friend and loving what comes of it, that makes it all the richer. So do it: get to know someone and collaborate.

The featherfish were packed up in a box by featherMitch waiting by my front door Monday. Taking them to the post office was also a gift, I stood in line with some of the funniest people and shared stories with them and the very clever man behind the counter. Who knew one set of featherfish could bring me this much joy?

all ready to go to new mexico!

all ready to go to new mexico!

Lillian should get them today. I can’t wait to hear from her when she opens the box. She’s so great. As it turns out, her grandmother lives near me. When she comes to visit her, we are SO going to meet featherMitch. It’ll be a reunion of people who’ve never met.

Thank you.

Guest Posts Today



I’m not here today.

And technically yesterday, I wasn’t here either, but I was, when I wrote “Hail Marys” in my random, stream of consciousness way as I processed what happened at The Boston Marathon.

Today: I am pontificating at the lovely and creative watercolor and collage studios of the equally lovely Lillian Connelly. She was daring enough to ask me to write about the creative process, and true to my definition of it (to create something out of nothing), I managed to do just that. You will see a picture of my scary desk. And then it will all be quite clear… She’s one of those people… You can find me here: http://itsadomelife.com/2013/04/examining-the-creative-mind-molly-field.html

Yesterday: I was also at Peevish Penman where I waxed … confusedly about online book reviews and my notions of whether any unbiased ones exist; I discuss my fear of writing a book because I don’t want to ask anyone for favorable reviews as well as the petulant-like behavior of brand-new writers who are disgusted when their first tome ever doesn’t hit the coveted 5-star mark. You’ll also see why I don’t believe in 5-star reviews. You’ll also see how Carole Anne from the movie “Poltergeist” has anything to do with my thinking in that arena and you will recall the horror of JoBeth Williams when she slipped into her family’s as-yet unbuilt pool and how I feel like her when I read a shitty unedited self-published first book. (Just a little thought: being able to type doesn’t make me a better writer; it just makes me a faster bad writer.) Go here: http://peevishpenman.blogspot.com/2013/04/poltergeist-and-online-book-reviews.html

Tomorrow: fiction.

Thank you.

Guest Blogger: It’s a Dome Life – How to Paint “Prince Charming”


Today I am honored to host the talented, lovely and modest Lillian Connelly, a New Mexico mother of one, a painter, survivor of McDonald’s playland and a member of tribe of people I refer to as “some of the nicest people I have never met.”

Lillian recently sold her first piece at an art show, so she’s gonna be famous, peeps! She also shows her works at her online studio gallery. Along with being a wonderful artist, she’s pretty good with the words too. You can see her blog site here at It’s A Dome Life. The long and short of this piece she painted for me is that I love roosters. But I want you to know she paints beautiful wildflowers in watercolors and southwest sunsets and landscapes mixing in media to bring depth and dimension to the works. Not having seeing anything yet in my hand, I feel like some of her work reminds me of more sophisticated Eric Carle (The Very Hungry Caterpillar). Enough of my blathering!

I’m gonna hand off to Lillian here…

Prince Charming And Old McDonald: The Painting of A Rooster

I’m like old McDonald over here. Seriously, between the chickens and the dogs and the cats and the people and the toddler singing, “e-i-e-i-oh,” we might as well go ahead and call this place a farm. Molly and I became friends one day through a mutual stalker convention on Facebook.

I stalked her fan page and then she stalked mine (or vice versa) and we’ve been laughing at (or with) each other ever since. She knows my life is crazy. She reads my blog. She’s seen the pictures. That’s why when she asked me to paint her a rooster I had a good, long laugh. Not so much at Molly wanting a rooster, but at the fact that my daughter has been practicing her rooster crow for days, weeks, and months (I can’t say years because she hasn’t really been alive that long yet) now.

I just knew painting a rooster was going to make my daughter crow even longer and louder morning, noon and night. I just knew I’d have to sing Old McDonald Had a Farm at least twenty times a day. I was right. I am sure Molly knew that too. I bet she is smirking the good smirk right now. You go ahead and smile, Molly. One day revenge will be mine. Well, not really, but I may record my daughter singing and force you to listen to it. I will think of something. Anyway, this is Molly’s rooster, finished:

Cock-a-Doodle-Doooo! this is the finished product. You can see that because it’s got the signature. Read more below to see how it started…

I really need to give him a name. Molly suggested a name that was “something-something gonads,” but I am thinking something more suitable for the ears of children might be a little more appropriate. I found some old sheet music in a piano book I have with a music selection called, “Prince Charming” and that seemed a much more appropriate name for this Mr. Rooster. So, I glued it to the back of the painting and now Molly can never, ever deny that she is in love with Mr. Rooster. He is her prince charming after all:

The sheet music is still a little wet in this picture, but after a few coats of gloss it will be shiny and old looking (mostly, because it is old looking). It’s from my grandmother’s music magazine “The ETUDE” and this piece of music was published in that magazine in 1907 (it’s over 100 years old). I am hoping Molly’s son will play it for her on his guitar or slide whistle. It will sound timeless either way.

So I promised Molly I would share the making of Molly’s “Prince Charming” with you, so here goes:

“Prince Charming” started off as an 11″×14″ hardboard panel. I used the back of a paint brush to scratch up the surface so the gesso and paint would stick to it better.

Then I applied a layer of gesso and a layer of white paint. The gesso is like a primer for the surface.

With a cock-a-doodle here and a … agh… forget it.
Once the panel dried I sketched the rooster’s head. I made him a little ornery looking because roosters are like that. Also, because that’s how I felt after singing, “And on this farm there was a roo-ster…” for what felt like the millionth time that day.

Then I started filling in the color and after a while I added gel medium to attach some paper to give a nice feathery look and add dimension. Because you know, this inanimate rooster might be stuck on hardboard, but he’s gotta strut his stuff no matter where he is.

I hope you enjoy your “Prince Charming,” Molly! I certainly enjoyed painting him.

How can I NOT enjoy that rooster?! He’s awesome! I am waiting on a Lillian Connelly original and I am very excited for him to get here. I know that once he does, these photos won’t do him justice. My downy feathers are all a’ruffle.

Thank you!


i’ll never figure out this facetime / take a picture of yourself thing. but there he is! woohoo! (is that a vacuum behind me?)