How the heck did I do it? Here’s the heck how.

When The Pioneer Woman awarded 14 of my mini portraits to contest winners on her site, I knew I was going to have to be organized about their production. Here’s how it went.

I started by taping up four pieces of Yupo because I’d decided to do  four paintings at a time. I kept dragging my sleeve through paint when I worked on the top row but didn’t learn my lesson.

I realize that a photo of this step was completely unnecessary.

I drew the main shapes of the subject on each piece. Then I applied masking fluid to the areas that should remain white. (You paint over the mask and then when the paint’s dry, peel it off.)

The parts that are blue will be white. If that makes any sense.

After the masking fluid is dry, I usually start by painting the background first; I spritz some rubbing alcohol on it to give it that funky texture.

I wait.

This background color is Winsor & Newton "Indigo." It's one of my favorites.

There is a lot of waiting around with watercolor. I wait until one part is dry before I paint next to it.

Then I did that four times.

Then I waited some more.

And painted the eyes and stuff.

Then I you know, did that four times.

One of the photos was of a cat looking through a screen, so I had this idea that I would put a piece of tulle over the painting and paint over the top. When it was dry, I pulled it off and you could actually see the pattern and it actually looked like a screen door.

Okay, every now and then I get a great idea. Sometimes they are greater than others. This is one of those times.

Look! It really worked!

I repeated the whole process twice, for a total of eight mini cat portraits so far.

I love cats.

35 Responses to “How the heck did I do it? Here’s the heck how.”

  1. leslie Says:

    Wonderful! I love that screen look!

  2. tj Says:

    …How clever – I love that screen look too! And I love how you organized this…I’d be sitting in a corner singing Christmas tunes under that kind of pressure! lol… :o)

    …I love your work!

    …Blessings… :o)

  3. The Art of Doing Stuff - Karen Says:

    Holy crap! Kay, um … this is one “stuff” I could not do. Well that’s not entirely true. I could tape the paper to the board. Quite well as a matter of fact.

    GREAT job. Those are amazing, not-your-standard pet portraits. Love ’em.

  4. Angela Says:

    What a great idea for the tulle! Also a great idea to work on several at a time since there’s so much “paint and wait” with watercolours. They look beautiful. How the heck do you do all you do is what I want to know.

  5. Bush Babe Says:

    Soooooo CLEVER!!! They are beautiful… am quite jealous!!
    PS LOL at Karen – I could take the photos of the step-by-step. How’s that?

  6. Megan (Best of Fates) Says:

    Man, you are so talented.

    I’m in awe.

  7. GA in GA Says:

    Thank you for sharing your techniques! Cannot wait to try this!

  8. Ryan Says:

    Those are beautiful. Love the window screen texture. very impressive.

  9. debb Says:

    This is amazing. Will that alcoho trick work with acrylic paints. I love your art. Do you do kids, too?

  10. Rachael Says:

    Thanks Debb. Not sure it would work with acrylics, but it is always worth the experiment. And yes, I do paint portraits of people. Check out my gallery by clicking the paint palette, above!

  11. Rachael Says:

    Disregarded! 🙂

  12. Julie Says:

    Love your stuff. Haven’t tried Yupo yet. What drawing implement do you use to draw the outline? Wondering about the lines smearing when you start to paint?

  13. Rachael Says:

    Julie – on Yupo, I generally use transfer paper instead of drawing directly on it with pencil. Yupo is a little tempermental and if the surface is compromised at all (by erasers, dirt, oil from your hands) the paint will not adhere.

  14. patty Says:

    wow – these look amazing. you are very talented!

  15. Rebekah Greiman Says:

    I have tried to paint my cat and to no avail. I am glad there is someone out there that freakin’ rules when it comes to cat painting.
    I have decided my cat is just not paint-a-genic. Could this be true?

  16. Rachael Says:

    All cats are paint-a-genic! But, I’m a cat person…

  17. Rachael Rossman: Watercolor Portraits of Man and Beast » The Shaggy Dog Says:

    […] I paint dogs, cats and other furry things, but when I receive a photo of a particularly hairy breed I have a momentary lapse of confidence. You see, hair is difficult to paint. Especially with watercolor and especially on Yupo. […]

  18. AbbieD Says:

    So…how do I go about ordering a painting? And how much do you charge? I would L.O.V.E. to have my Sissy girl up on my wall. In every room. 🙂

  19. Rachael Says:

    Abbie: There’s info over here: but I’ll send you an email too!

  20. Beth Says:

    What do you use to seal the painting? Also, have you had any problems with the paint cracking on the Yupo since the paper is bendy? GORGEOUS cats!!! I’m going to give Yupo a try.

  21. Rachael Says:

    Beth: I use a UV acrylic spray to seal them and nope, haven’t had any problems with cracking paint. I can see how one might experience that with acrylic paint though…especially if applied thick.

  22. Michelle Says:

    beautiful work!

  23. Christine Edwards Says:

    Fantastically done…loved seeing your process, as well as the finished results!

  24. Lee Ann L. Says:

    Came over here from Pioneer Woman to see how it was done and I have to say this: Awesome! Loved seeing the finished work in addition to the process of doing them.

  25. SarahB Says:

    These are all so beautiful and I love having a peek at your process!

  26. Barbara Rocha Says:

    Love it! You are talented. I am going to follow you for inspiration!
    I love cats too.

  27. JennA Says:

    These are so lovely. Enjoyed seeing how you do this. I haven’t looked around your site yet… can we have out cats done? What’s the cost?

  28. Rachael Says:

    JennA – YES! There’s more info here…

  29. Lindsey (aka modchik) Says:

    I’m so glad Weebee was a part of that contest although we didn’t win we MET YOU!! so who’s the real winner??


  30. Tricia Says:

    Wow! I love seeing the behind the scenes. Thanks for sharing

  31. painting lessons Says:

    “I always think photographs abominable, and I don’t like to have them around, particularly not those of persons I know and love…. photographic portraits wither much sooner than we ourselves do, whereas the painted portrait is a thing which is felt, done with love or respect for the human being that is portrayed.” — Vincent van Gogh

  32. Nima Says:

    Your pictures inspired me to try watercolour again – I generally prefer pencil or acrylic. I have been trying and trying to get the texture you have on the background – I got the Yupo paper and went out and purchased winston inks in case that was the problem – to no avail. I have tried dropping on the rubbing alcohol and spraying it and I although I do get some neat textural effects I just can’t get the same effect you seem to. I don’t wan’t you to reveal trade secrets but if it would be o.k. – do you have any tips?

  33. Rachael Rossman: Watercolor Portraits of Man and Beast » Lovely in Lavender Says:

    […] I just finished another portrait for one of the winners of the The Pioneer Woman cat photo contest. Here are the other eleven, as well as how I did it. […]

  34. Rachael Rossman: Watercolor Portraits of Man and Beast » Crunch Time Says:

    […] paintings and two larger ones. I know I can do it, especially since I have been known to complete 11 paintings in a weekend before. I just need to get […]

  35. Rachael Rossman: Watercolor Portraits of Man and Beast » Pioneer Portrait No. 1: Sierra Says:

    […] if you have a minute, check out this post from the last time I painted for a Pioneer Woman giveaway. There were FOURTEEN. […]

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