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 Tidbits For The Artist Heart 

Floral Photo by permission

 A “tidbit” is ‘a choice or pleasing bit of anything.’ 



A story about how artist paper is made.

St Cuthberts Mill is nestled in the shadow of the Mendip hills in Somerset, England. Paper has been made on this site since the 1700s, utilising the pure waters of the River Axe that issue forth from the cave at Wookey Hole.

With the 100 year-old cylinder mould machine, one of the few left in the world, master papermakers produce beautiful papers with stunning texture and excellent surface stability that are used by artists and photographers world-wide.



As Artists we are always looking to stay fresh & inspired even as we shared how-to thoughts back on Oct 26, 2011 below. Here's a new Slideshow to help you stay inspired.  God's handiwork is so breathtaking! Put your speakers on as well...lovely music plays along with these photos.  Enjoy!


 NEW   Helpful Tidbit - October 11, 2012

Billy Showell and her brushesRaphael Billy Showell Kolinsky Sable Watercolor Brush Round

It's been awhile since I shared a new tip, but here is one worth investing in.  In fact I just received these wonderful beautifully constructed brushes in the mail from the U.K. and I can't wait to get painting!   I know you will love using these fine brushes as well, especially for fine detail work: A marvelous addition to one's cherished, yet practical brush collection! You will enjoy her beautifully illustrated instructional Art books as well at

Brush Facts:  These beautiful brushes are hand-made in France by Raphael using only the finest Kolinsky sable.

"The well known botanical artist Billy Showell has designed these brushes with a unique long tapered extra fine round point for detail work. The brushes are available in sizes 2, 4 and 6. [Her Eradicator brush is a great little tool as well.]

Billy Showell graduated from St Martins School of Art and now teaches Botanical Painting in Sevenoaks. She has been awarded the CBM (Certificate of Botanical Merit) for five years running."


  Helpful Tidbit - August 1, 2011

Last year I began researching a new product called Frog Tape hoping to preserve a pristine border around my painting surface. This Green version is usually used for painting stripes and borders on walls & other household jobs. I learned it’s adhesive would be far to strong & probably mar my art paper.  So I put the idea on the back burner.

FrogTape package photoBut several weeks ago I discovered they now have a “Delicate” Yellow version designed for wallpaper etc.  It is just starting to come into Canada, but with some help from dear friends I was able to obtain a roll to test it out.

It worked beautifully and gave that lovely crisp edged border I was looking to create!  It uses PaintBlock Technology, a unique  super-absorbent polymer similar to what’s used in diapers to keep babies dry. PaintBlock reacts instantly with latex paint, OR water, forming a micro barrier along the tape edge. That barrier helps prevent paint from bleeding under the tape when moistened by water or paint and blocks any seepage of paint onto the part you need to protect.  SEE LIVE DEMO  BELOW

I am also testing it out to see if I can use it to act as small, mini masking templates for areas I want to preserve as whites by drawing the outline of the area I need to protect, cutting it out and applying it to my painting surface and then painting over the template.  We will see how it goes.  I will keep you posted.

So this may well be a great tool for your Art box too, as well as your home decorating needs! Let me know how it works for you.

Happy Painting,

Blessings, Jan.



 Helpful Tidbit - See Photo Included   April 17, 2011

I always spend a fair amount of preparation time in studying as much of the background information on any chosen subject I draw long before I even think about laying down paint to canvas.  It is a vital step in producing & painting authentic real-life compositions

For example I spent months studying the structure & habits of the Bald Eagle. I knew of the scientific methods of measuring and determining the differences between the Male and Female birds in general, but was unable to use that data to the full.  Once I was satisfied, I started the drawing & finished my painting!

I thought I had done all my homework, but to my great dismay I happened upon a simple visual test, thanks to Norfolk Botanical Gardens Eagle Cam,that helps identify Males from Females at a glance.  What a live saver! It works great!

Simply put, the beak of the Male ends at about the ½ way point just below the middle of it’s eye. The Female beak extends fully under her eye.  My concern? Did I happen to get it right in my art piece? Thankfully this time, yes!

But this nearly missed vital piece of information and error not only served to re-enforce all the more that I make sure I personally continue do my homework as fully and carefully as I can in order to present accurate art work for the trained viewer & for God’s great glory, but also to encourage all Artists Hearts to do the same.



 Award Winning Photography- Inspiration

As you listen look for the different  ways this artist has framed his subject matter, used the lighting, used color temperature & mood:

all of which tell a compelling story.  Enjoy....

By Kenneth Martin, 5 Time Kodak European Gold Award Winner
Landscape Photography Slideshow with orchestration accompaniment by  Laura Sullivan - Magical Creations: America's Stonehenge


New Tip:  USING UNIFYING WASHES  July 2-2010

The value of a harmonizing glaze or clear water "Unifying Wash" is a wonderful and useful tool.  By applying this unifying wash often times you can soften and settle the hard edges and layers that if not applied would leave a subject that had many smaller parts looking choppy or cut out in appearance.


For instance, the many inner unfolding petals of a complicated rose will with this application (a clear water wash in this case) become softer and look almost immediately more like a unit than simply jigsaw puzzle pieces suggesting the shape of a rose.


Remember to use a light, gentle stroke as you apply this wash so as not to disturb any underlying layers or the top layer, especially if it was applied as dry brush. 


Let it become BONE DRY before you continue building your next layers in the normal way, if more are needed to complete your element.


A pigmented unifying wash painted over a particular element of your painting that has had several pigmented washes will also help to 'gel' all your colors together, especially if the wash contains a pale amount of pigment comprised of the main color of your subject or element. 


So keep those brushes working to create wonderful paintings.  See you next time.



The 'shadows,' we paint into our compositions reveal the depth and character of our subjects. Indeed, they convey a telling story.  Shadows are never just gray or black: they are full of rich shades of color and color value.

Their colors can be warm or cool in temperature as they are affected by the surrounding reflected light and sky, all revealing important information whether pleasing or basic things about your subject.

Watercolor Sutter's Gold demonstrating how shadows bring your subject to lifeShadows add shape and structure as well as dimension and depth to our subjects that without them would otherwise appear flat and lifeless. Shadows cause your subject to stand out on your page and read believable and therefore ensure that your subject will tell a story that will touch your viewers emotionally.  Your composition will be full of lively, interesting character.

Likewise, the way we react to the 'shadows' that come into our lives clearly reveals the character of our being.  If we know Christ as our own personal Lord and Saviour, grounded in the Word and character of God Himself, then when those 'shadows' appear in our lives they will reveal the beauty and strength of Christ and not the ugliness of corruption and sin.  How we all long to radiate a Christ-controlled spirit and life to all who know us.

Keep your brushes ready and create shadows that glow with meaning and life!


Post:  February 16, 2010:  NEW PRODUCTS Feedback?

I just learned about two new products that you might like to experiment with for your art supply arsenal.  I have not personally tried them yet, but hope to in the near future.  If you have experience with these two items we would love to hear your feedback on how you think they perform. Just email us a  

1.   Faber Castell called the Perfection 7057 eraser. (An online artist says, "It is a very hard eraser in pencil form, which helps you to get highlights back when you later decide to add dewdrops and you have not saved the highlights before. It is a great tool.") But what do you say?  and what about...

2.    Acquacover: Liquid Watercolor Paper ? (The same artist says, "it assists her in getting lost highlights back. You can use it with your brushes, it doesn’t ruin them.")




Staying Inspired:  Always a challenge for sure, but....

Being in an itinerant ministry with my husband affords many trips to various rural churches.  Many of the routes we travel are picturesque and become the perfect way to take advantage of collecting photographs for new art ideas and compositions. 


They become a wonderful resource for seeing colors, textures, unusual tree shapes, especially in each of our four Seasons, as well as a source for every conceivable topic or subject matter.  I carry my little automated digital camera with me just about everywhere we travel. (you don't have to be a whiz at photography either to do this-Yea!) 


When I see something that intrigues my "artist's eye" I snap a picture.  Not every photo will be crystal clear especially those things very close to your side of the road or through your passenger window, (the glass will reflect somewhat) but the ones that are even fairly good you can use for your idea file.  If you have a computer or access to one, you can tweak it sufficiently to be very useful and inspiring.


A WORD OF CAUTION:  Be sure to keep the flash disabled especially in early evening hours so as not to distract or blind another driver.  I also strongly urge you to carry extra camera batteries so you will never run out of power to take that one last fabulous shot for your art library!  Keep them pre-charged ready for any adventure.   

Slide Shows:  Below is a Slide Show of various photographs from a tool offered on the Internet that I posted some time ago as a way to encourage keeping inspired, however.....

Jan's Rural Farm Photo

if you take your own photographs, as mentioned in the segment above "Staying Inspired," then you can create your own personal Slide Shows and view them on one of the new Digital Frames that are so popular these days.

Set it up in an easily visible spot where you spend your evenings and when you need inspiration or refreshment turn it on and drink in the beauty of God's creation captured by you on your travels.   Not only will you hopefully enjoy the memories associated with that trip, but the new inspiration that will come as you enjoy your own Slide Show.  Happy Painting. 


A “tidbit” is ‘a choice or pleasing bit of anything.’  One art tidbit I learned from an art lesson from one of my mentors Susan Harrison-Tustain, a year ago, was the wonderful use & value of watercolor pencils in a pinch!

The Shepherd's Gallery Logo for Jan's Watercolor Artwork

Happy Painting!!

If you loose a crisp edge on a rose petal or a water droplet for example, use a sharp watercolor pencil of the same color or slightly darker hue & lightly draw in a new line or defining edge.  Don’t wet it. 

Or, if you have lost a very fine highlight on the rolling part of a petal, just where it begins to turn over, you can use the pencil again to regain that highlight. Don't overdo it.  Again, keep it dry.  It’s the last fine-tuning detail work you do at the very end of your  project.  Enjoy!

Jan's Photo of Doreen's flower called Amaryllis Glow



What's On The Easel Today?  See below....

Here is the first pencil sketch of a new art piece in progress called "Sue's Glorious Begonia."  The details and shadow areas are now lightly marked in as well as the outline of each Begonia.  There are yet a few more small buds to be added and then we will begin to work on the color scheme. 

The Scripture verse has been selected to fit the testimony behind the composition which has been designed with my dear friend Sue in mind, knowing how much joy her garden flowers afford her each summer.  Come back to see the painting progress through each stage of the watercolor method of glazing.

Sue's Glorious Begonia on Jan's Easel 

Jan's preliminary pencil sketch for Sue's Begonia painting in process

 To continue following this watercolor art project

Look for J's Easel Notes #1 on her "Blog for hislambs"

Just Click this Link


Artist's PalletteCheck out these ARTIST LINKS where you can view

their work or learn from their helpful advice & tips!


"Tidbits For The Artist Heart"  are for the most sake from  Shepherd's Gallery-Jan's Watercolor Art- & FHLM Newsletters

which include choice findings and advice to be shared with all those who have the passion of a creative heart.  

We will be updating this page with new bits of information and helpful hints. So enjoy!


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