Windfall - Watercolor painting on Arches 300 gsm hot pressed paper 9 1/2″ x 14″ 240 mm x 355 mm. A celebration of the Fall in Maine - an over ripe luscious apple aroma fills the air as windfall apples lay strewn on the ground beneath an old apple tree which is reflected in the window panes. A rich red apple sits on the window sill. The peeling paint reveals the history of seasons past.

When it comes to self-doubt – you are not alone! It is rare to meet an artist with absolute and supreme confidence in their painting skills. Painting is challenging and if we want to grow our painting skills, we need to work on the edge of our comfort zone and beyond. Most of us are mere mortals who have times when we feel invincible and other times when we feel challenged and that is when we can let doubt seep in. The great news is there are things you can do to help yourself rise above these more vulnerable moments. Let them become motivating!

I have taught painting for over 25 years and during my international workshops and in feedback from my how to paint 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 hoped they would be. It needn’t be that way. Why would you let that happen? I would like to help you…

Susan's painting studio. Susan working in her art studio demonstrating how to gain solid painting skills that will enable artists to paint any subject at all


Here are some key tips that will help you overcome a lack of confidence, gain courage and find your wings:

  • Confidence grows from ‘doing’, ‘experiencing’ and ‘learning as we go’. 
  • The more we ‘do’ the more we will learn
  • Painting and learning how to paint is a journey of discovery – a wonderfully endless journey where we develop a repertoire of our favourite painting skills. We never ‘arrive‘ at our very highest pinnacle because just above that pinnacle is another inspiration, idea, composition, new method, painting style – and off we go again – exhilarated by the challenge.
  • Sadly it is so easy to cripple our creative selves with self-doubt. I think you would be surprised just how many artists do this. You will know when you are doing it  – it is when you find you are procrastinating.  
  • I made a pact with myself many years ago and that has stood me in great stead: If we talk ourselves out of trying something that feels a little daunting, we may always regret that we short-changed ourselves and often spend our time pondering what we could have achieved. 
  • Don’t do that. 


  • Learn to ignore thoughts of doubt. Exchange them with thoughts of the excitement – we are going to have our brushes flying – no matter the outcome – we will feel freedom to express our emotion through our brushes.
  • Nothing is a waste. 
  • If everything goes perfectly, we have less chance of extending our painting skills repertoire less than we otherwise would. Where is the challenge and satisfaction in that?  It is better to encounter some things we haven’t painted before – or that we find we have a hiccup on the way – because we will have learned something new that may not be ‘right’ for the current painting – but if we take the time to analyse what we did and the effect we got – we may well find there is another application where that effect would be perfect. Make notes for future reference. Take a photograph. Build a reference library of your breakthroughs and inspirations.  Ask yourself how you can capitalize on the effect you got. I often find a slip of the brush will reveal a new path and inspiration. Sometimes a better path..
  • Be flexible. Feel the excitement of riding a wave in new territory. It can be exhilarating!


  • I think we all know the saying “If you do what you have always done – you will get what you have always got”. Be brave! Think it through and then go for it! What have you got to lose? Some paper, a bit of paint, some time? Compare that to the benefits of discovering a new way of painting a subject, texture or surface. Every time you lift your brush, you are learning. These lessons are valuable stepping stones.
  • Think how investing this time will help you to create paintings that will speak to viewers for generations to come
  • I love the notion that long after we have gone, our paintings will still remain. Maybe someone in the future will ponder who we were – as they take in a moment in our lives that touched us so deeply that we took to our brushes and paints to capture it for all time.
  • Our confidence can take a knock if our painting is not going well. Detach yourself from this self imposed pressure as much as you can. Imagine painting when we feel you have disappointment looming on the horizon? Then imagine the joy of painting when you feel free release your creativity and allow the paint allow your happiness to flow into your brush and onto your paper. YOU are in control of how you feel. Whatever happens will be so much more rewarding if you have enjoyed the painting stages of the work – without allowing doubt to dictate how high you can fly.  


  • Nothing is a waste of time or materials. Each time you have your brush in your hand – you are learning the ‘feel’ of painting – how much watercolor or oil – how much water, how much medium to use to get what effect. This is the life of an artist and the wonderful exhilaration of letting your thoughts flow off your brush and onto your paper or canvas. Nothing is wrong or right – it just ‘is’ – and that is art.

Here is a great way to begin your next painting that you have been procrastinating about:

Breathe out the doubt and breathe in confidence

Susan holds nothing back when she teaches and explains all she knows about painting and how to develop the best painting skills.

This is the first in a two part free art lesson series of blogs on how to overcome a lack of confidence in your painting skills – and how to replace that with courage! 

Many years ago a friend told me ‘You don’t need confidence – just do it!” I did and an international painting and teaching career has followed. NOW I want to help you on your journey too. Learn to believe in yourself and everyone else will too! 

I want to take you to a window, throw it open and allow you to see a whole new world of possibilities before you.

Do you want to join me? I will see you here next week for the next installment……


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 here for a sneak preview of these DVDs and Video Downloads

See you here next week for the second installment sharing how you can gain confidence and courage to spread your wings and fly high. 

Happy painting!


Susan Harrison-Tustain

Dedication framed - Oil on Belgian Linen Size: 21 1/2″ x 11 3/4″ 550 mm x 295 mm. A country church, a shaft of light and a special place where a dear lady used to workshop every Sunday. The brass plaque speaks of her dedication. The shadow from the window mullions caught my eye and along with the warm glow from the native timber, were the inspiration for this work. Susan used yellow and orange underwash painting skills which allowed the glow emanate from within the wood.


Visit Us
Follow Me

Subscribe To Susan's Newsletters

Join my email list to receive the latest news and updates on upcoming exhibitions, workshops, DVD/download releases, promotions, art tours, painting hints and tips and more.


Thank you for subscribing!