Susan Harrison-Tustain in her studio next to her painting featuring girl with umbrella in red poppy field in Provence, France. Susan is an internationally acclaimed artist, author, workshop art teacher, how to paint DVD and how to paint video download demonstrator. Susan Harrison-Tustain writes free painting lessons in her blog for artists of all painting skill levels.

Susan Harrison-Tustain Artist, Author, Workshop teacher – with girl in red poppy field oil painting

 Wow what an overwhelming response to Part 1 of my ‘FREE PAINTING LESSON: How to Gain Confidence and Courage in your Painting Skills’ article.  (If you haven’t seen it yet – Part 1 can be found beneath this post on my blog/news page) or Click here

The feedback was amazing – not just from artists and creative people – but from people from all walks of life. The unifying principle was that there are so many who  felt this article was speaking to them, personally. They knew all-too-well how self- doubt was holding them back from being all they could be.  

Is Self Doubt Stopping You From Reaching Your Full Potential?

Having taught painting for more than 25 years in international workshops and my how to paint watercolor DVDs and how to paint video downloads – I often hear artists speak of how they felt their lack of confidence had stopped them from becoming the artist they wanted to be. It needn’t be that way. Why would you let that happen? I would like to help you to overcome self doubt, find  the courage to stretch your wings and fly high. I hope this free painting lesson will help you see how the lessons within can be applied to any medium and are for artists of all painting levels.

I hope you enjoy Part 2 of this 2 part series:

These writings are generic – and with a little adaptation – I hope they will help anyone who would love to grow their self-belief and enjoy the benefits that flow on from the revelations I have shared.

Here is ‘Part 2’ – FREE PAINTING LESSONS: Many More Key Tips that are Written to Help You Overcome a Lack of Self Confidence, Gain Courage to and Find Your Wings:

In Part 1 we have discussed the philosophical things and how to push negative thoughts aside – and replace them with the excitement and the very real reward of leaping over that barrier and seizing the moment…

Susan Harrison-Tustain loves to capture emotion in her paintings. Echoes of Yesterday focuses on the history absorbed within the walls of these derelict homes that once were the hub of the family. The girl is symbolic of youth and new life. The aging of the home is turning the wood into soil but from within the detritus, new life evolves and the bracken emerges bearing fruit and promise. Harrison-Tustain creates oil and watercolor paintings that speak to the viewers of the work. She captures emotion

“Echoes of Yesterday” – Figurative Painting – Oil on Belgian Linen 29 1/4″ x 15 1/2″ 742 mm x 394 mm Available as Giclee Print by Susan Harrison-Tustain

Now let’s look at some of the practical things you can do that will be great confidence builders.

  • Confidence grows from “just doing it”!
  • Taking the time to experiment and experience the pitfalls (by creating a ‘practice run’) of the areas of a painting that daunt us,  allow us to confront and resolve any issues that may arise prior to working on the finished piece.
  • We have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
  • Experimenting also gives us a visual reference as well the opportunity to tweak things to make the final painting more successful.
  • Here is another great tip to help you absorb the lessons and create a great future reference: 


Write notes by hand as you are working on your practice run. Then simply transfer your notes to your computer or subsequently write them in your notebook. I am sure you will find they will stick much more readily. Doing it twice like this – and rearranging them in the best order for future reference, will help you to commit them to your memory.

Catch Phrases are a Simple Prompt

  • It is easier to remember lessons using ‘catch phrases’ that will pop into your head at the appropriate time. For example here is a watercolor ‘catch phrase’ that my workshop artists and art instruction DVD/video watchers often hear me say: “Don’t forget: More water = less control. Less water = more control”.
Susan Harrison-Tustain loves to capture the emotion the moment. In this watercolor painting Susan Harrison-Tustain has captured the young girl's fascination and delight in a field of golden daffodils as they nod their gentle heads in the breeze. Susan loves to share all she knows about painting in watercolor. You can find free painting lessons for artists of all abilities in her news/blog on her website.

A Daffodil a Day – Watercolor painting by Susan Harrison-tustain – A Work in Progress.

  • By saying this short phrase, you will know that the more water you use in a wet on wet wash – the more freely and readily your pigment will move, and the further it will travel within the wet wash. Whereas the less water you use – the closer the paint will remain to where your brush deposited it. In other words if your watercolor painting is looking a bit ‘scratchy when you really want it to have a lovely flowing gentle transition – then simple use more water in your wet in wet washes. If your painting lacks detail and the paint won’t stay where it is put – then what do you think you should do? Yip. That’s exactly right! – use less water to give you more control over where the paint remains. It makes sense doesn’t it! These catch phrases bring the lesson to mind and these short phrases are so easy to remember.

Understanding the Logic Behind a Method, Technique or ‘Rescue’ is the Next Step

  • Why not start now?  Create a wonderful new reference of troubleshooting ideas and solutions as they reveal themselves to you. Write your own catch phrases or for those who have my DVDs or video downloads, write them as you hear them. Not only will you be gathering  a fabulous and varied repertoire of hints and tips – but even more importantly you will be developing an understanding, and an in-depth awareness of what happens, why it happens and how to take control over your painting methods (I call it my WWH reference of painting).
  • Artists often remain within their comfort zone for fear or in trepidation of ‘making a mistake’. Here are some tips to help you overcome this common shackle:
  • Don’t label things.


Some Examples of Why we Shouldn’t Label Things

  • Don’t look at a nose and think “I haven’t painted a nose before – how do I paint a nose?” “Teeth – how do I paint teeth?” “Water – but water is clear – how can I give the impression we are looking through water ?”
  • Let’s analyse what we are doing to ourselves when we allow these thoughts to set it:
  1. We start to lose the passion for the subject.
  2. This leads us to feel daunted before we have begun.
  3. Our self confidence becomes undermined and this can stop us in our tracks before we have even begun.
  • What to do about it? Answer: Start looking at each and every subject differently
  • Why. Answer: Because labelling a subject such as a nose, an eye, water means nothing in painting terms. Does it help? No. Does it hinder? You bet it does!
  • How? Think of objects as surfaces and textures. Also take note how the light and/or shadow influence what we see too.
The sunlight catches and highlights her blonde hair as her thoughts are far away - lost in the moment. This is an oil painting by Susan Harrison-Tustain who specializes in capturing emotion within her brush strokes. Luminous shadows, against gentle light on her hair - Susan has caught a moment in time where the young girl is lost in thought.

Lost in the Moment. Oil Painting by Susan Harrison-Tustain

  • We know a nose is a nose – but why not ignore the label. Instead ask yourself “What is it that I see before me? Answer using painterly terms.
  • Surface: Is the skin shiny or satin or does it have a matt surface? More on surfaces below.

What else do we see:

How to see Light and Shadow:

  • Depending on the direction of the light – we can often see a light area on the top ridge, a shadowed area on one side of the nose shape, a warmer glow within the dark recesses of the nostril area and local skin color on the other side of the nose (‘local color’ means the color of the object without light or shadow influencing it). Learn to see things in color, color temperature and tonal value terms. (Color refers to which color.  Color temperature refers to warm or cool color. Tonal Value relates to how dark or light a color is).
  • It sounds complicated – but it isn’t. Simply imagine the shapes before you are  sections or planes: The light area is a highlight and therefore it is generally cooler and lighter than the shadow area down the side of the nose. So you may like to create a mix of: a little red, a touch of blue and a touch of yellow to that shadow area. The recesses in the nostrils are warmer and darker still – so that mix of colors will be similar to the shadow mix above – but allow it have a little more red in the shadow mix to give that lovely warm glow to the darker shadow. So there you have your recipe!
See Susan Harrison-Tustain's invaluable tool at work. An inexpensive easy to make tool that will help artists and painters determine how to mix colors that are perfect for their subject. Compare the subject color with your painting color. Easily see the changes you need to make. This free painting lesson is another wonderful lesson Susan shares with artists in her news/blog pages on her website

My Color Isolating Tool. An invaluable free painting lesson and easy to make tool you will soon find you cannot do without!

This is a bit ‘general’ – but I want you to see that with deliberation and analysis you can paint anything at all. You need never be daunted by a new object or subject. Let’s take a look at a couple more surfaces and textures:

Another Invaluable Free Painting Lesson to Help Raise Your Confidence and Bring New Awareness to Your Skill Repertoire 

Look at teeth – what do we see? Are they bright white? No. Do they reflect light? Yes some do. How do we know they aren’t bright white? The simplest way to determine the real color of an object (and not the perceived color we think we see), is to isolate it with a white piece of paper that has a 1/4 inch hole in the middle of it. The problem with guessing at a color is that any surrounding colors will influence what our brain thinks it is seeing. This color isolator is a great tool – an invaluable tool that costs nothing!

How to Paint Shiny Surfaces

  • We are looking at teeth aren’t we. Now ask yourself – how do you know the teeth are shiny? We know they may be wet. But how do we paint “wet”? Look at what the surface and texture of the teeth are telling you. Can you see a highlight on some teeth that are influenced by the light source? How do you know that is a highlight? What is a highlight? Highlights are light – naturally – we know that. But let’s look at the edges of those highlights. Ask yourself what is the difference between the highlight on the teeth and the highlight on the nose? Look closely – the answer is found in the edges of the highlights.
How to paint wet surfaces and how to paint teeth. Susan Harrison-Tustain shares how you can create natural looking teeth that sit back beautifully in the mouth. Learn how to create observe and paint wet surfaces, and wet looking highlights as well as how to paint soft gentle highlights in natural skin tones.

How to paint teeth. Learn how to analyse what is in front of you and how to capture what you see – in this free painting lesson

  • Shiny surfaces generally have a harder edged highlight. Matt or satin highlights generally have a flared edge that gently melds and transitions into the local color. Take a look at the images I have used as examples.
  • You can see how the sharp the highlight on the teeth indicate the teeth are wet? Compare that to the highlight on the right side of her cheek/ mouth. Can you see how soft-edged that is? That highlight rolls onto the cheek and the edge flares into cheek.


Sharp Edged Highlights on Glass

Glass is a hard surface. It reflects light. Highlights are hard-edged. We know instinctively the surface is hard and the surface is glossy


An oil painting on Belgian Linen by Susan Harrison-Tustain. This Chateau Petrus and Bordeaux wine glass emerge from the shadows into the subdued light. The cork bears the toasted insignia. Can you smell the aroma of the aged red - did you hear the pop as the cork was pulled? I want to capture these moments and conjure them in your senses too - the moment of being there. I have highlighted this painting as it demonstrates a fee painting lesson on how to paint glass and how to paint reflections on glass.

‘A Wine of Distinction’. Petrus. Oil painting by Susan Harrison-Tustain.

How to Paint Water

  • Lastly let’s look at water.  
  • How do we know something is wet?
  • How do we paint clear water? Look at my subject image. ‘Adesso chi la Sente la Mamma.’
  • Can you see how there are dry cobblestones in the distance?
  • Ask yourself “what is the difference between the dry cobbles and the wet cobbles?”
  • Use comparison to help you determine what you are seeing.
  • Forget that these are “cobblestone”. Remove the label. Replace it with painterly terms.
  • The answer is obvious: the wet surfaces are more colorful. They have more detail. The water glides over the recesses – suggesting a transparent body of something that has a shiny surface.
  • How do we know the surface is shiny? Highlights cross the recesses giving the impression of a clear shiny surface on a transparent body or clear skin of ‘something’ that is reflecting the light.  You know highlights on a glossy surface have hard edges. Compare those to the cobblestones that are dry. Ask yourself how you would establish the impression the other cobblestones are dry? You have the answers before you. You have the recipe!
A young lad has washed a piece of fruit he found in the discarded fruit box. A relic of the morning fruit market. He washed it in the fountain - but the water has wet his Sunday best. He develops a perturbed look on his face as he ponders what mama is going to day about his wet clothes. A drinking fountain in a square in Venice, Italy.

‘Adesso ch la Sente la Mamma’ Translated Now we are going to hear from the mama! Watercolor on Arches hot pressed paper. By Susan Harrison-Tustain


Unlocking the Fear of Painting a New Subject

  • Learning how to see and understand what is before us, is the key to unlocking the fear of painting a new subject. A practice-run will help you determine the best the methods you can use  to describe what is before you.

How to Correct Problem Areas in a Painting

  • Now let’s go back to the challenges we can face when something is not as we envisaged it to be.


  • When faced with a challenge – analyse and compare the differences between your subject and your painting. Use what you have learned in the lessons above to help you.


  • Begin surmounting the problem by understanding these differences. Ask yourself
  • Why the problem happened?
  • What result you want to avoid?
  • How you can avoid it from happening again?


  • Once again – this is my “WWH” reference of painting. Another simple ‘catch phrase’. Immediately something goes a bit haywire or you feel daunted by something you haven’t painted before – then remember the phrase: “WWH” (What, Why and How – refer to that section above for more details). Delve into the reasons that tell you What, Why and How things are as they are – and you will find all the answers you are looking for.


Learn to Analyse What is in Front of You

  • Take the time to deliberate.
  • Building an understanding and an awareness comes not only from having  a practice run – but it also comes from taking the time to think about it, deliberate and then do it.
  • Adjust where you need to make changes and make notes to help remind you what you need to do when you put paint to canvas or paper in your final painting
  • Are you like me – you just want to get painting? Hmm – that’s a trap for young players. I should tell you that over the years I have not taken the time to practice the little passages that challenge me. But more recently I have begun doing this – and I want to tell you that wow! – the difference it makes to my confidence and joy in painting the final work – is huge adn well worth the little time it takes to experiment.
  • A short time practicing can bring excitement and unleash your free spirit. It will show in your work.  A few little practice passages on a rough piece of paper or canvas brings confidence and courage to let your creatively flow so much more freely in your final piece. The final work becomes a joy and will inspire you to follow your creative license when the brush reveals a slightly different direction – that is even more exciting. That is confidence and that is fun – with huge rewards!


I would like to finish with one of my favourite quotes. I feel it sums up how so many of us feel when we are daunted and lacking confidence.

The reality is that we can stay in that very populated and confined space – or we can leap that self imposed barrier, spread our wings and feel the breeze in our hair and the freedom that knowledge and understanding that ‘just doing it’ can bring.

Painting inspiration - 'The Wind's Song' - watercolor painting by Susan Harrison-Tustain. How to paint reflections in water and how to paint the wind and how to paint clouds

‘The Wind’s Song’ – Watercolor on Arches Hot Pressed paper. By Susan Harrison-Tustain. Do you feel the breeze building as it tosses her hair and the gulls. I want viewers of this painting to feel as if they can sense the heavy laden sky and the impending squall – and hear the gulls cry as it is carried away on the wind. I want my free painting lessons and DVDs and video downloads to help artists to feel they have found their wings and fly with their work. Be confident and have courage to spread their wings wide and learn to enjoy the freedom and creativity that follows. Fly high!

I hope you love this this beautiful quote as much as I do. It inspired me to take that leap!:


“…and the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud

was more painful than the risk it took to blossom”   Anais Nin

I would love for you to share my lessons with other artists so they too can find their wings and find the joy of portraying what is in their hearts too.

Watch this space for the next free painting lesson!



Susan has created four 2 disc art instruction DVDs and art instruction video downloads full of invaluable hints and tips, methods and techniques including her famous Priming Method, how to mix clean, fresh fabulous colors, how to lay washes, soften edges, capture beautiful soft blends and transitions, rich deep dark transparent shadows, shadows that dance with color, delicate light tones, create realistic form and a true sense of presence using five essential elements for a successful painting. Susan also shares her philosophy on painting and holds nothing back as she reveals everything she knows about painting to help you fast-track your learning and also avoid the ‘traps for young players.’ These DVDs and downloads are best sellers around the world with over 40,000 copies sold,  Playable in ALL REGIONS. Click below for a sneak preview of these DVDs and Video Downloads

Or Click on image library of DVDs below to be transported to a video preview and comprehensive information to give you  confidence in the value of all you will learn within each of the How to Paint DVDs and How to paint Video Downloads

                                                                                          Happy painting!


                                                                                     Susan Harrison-Tustain


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