FREE signed print of any art from my shop.


This is your chance to get a free signed print of your choice of artwork from my shop.

Take a look around the shop and see if there is anything you would like for yourself or to give as a gift.

To be in with a chance to win, all you have to do is sign up for the newsletter in the box at the side of this page and share this blog on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.

All names will go into the draw to choose a winner.

All names will get a money off voucher to spend in the shop.

On top of that you will get our monthly newsletter with news, hints and tips on creative activities. Watch out for some fantastic guest spots as well as links to great places for art and craft on the net.

Happy Creating,

Janice πŸ™‚

5 essential tips to improving your painting.


Sometimes even the most experienced artist needs a reminder of these basic tips for good practice.

When I paint, I sometimes get so subsumed in the creative process that I forget some of the hard learned lessons of past works consigned to the “good idea but didn’t quite work” cupboard. Here are a few of my cardinal sins.

  1. Don’t overwork – less is more. When you are focused on a detail and struggling with it’s representation it can be all too easy to “labour the point”. Practice that detail elsewhere – in your sketchbook or on some practice paper/canvas. Come back to your painting when you know exactly what you are going to do.
  2. Know your colours – blue and yellow don’t always make green. I have a sheet that I keep to hand showing all the colours I use and their mixes with every other colour. There are some surprising results. To stop your mixes turning to mud, aim to use as few pigments as possible. To do that you need to take a look at the tube. Some colours are a mix of several pigments – these are best avoided to make your mixes from as they often create mud. Use them as they are or lightened only. Knowing your colours will help you use less paint too as you will know the mixing strength of each colour. The picture above is a link to an example of a ready made mixing chart with frequently asked questions answered.
  3. Practice, practice, practice. Like exercise to keep you fit, doing a little every day will help you improve in leaps and bounds. I know how difficult this can be – four children, moving house more times than I care to remember, working long hours, caring for family. The list goes on. That’s when you need to set aside even the smallest chunks of time to keep your creative brain exercised. In the kitchen while cooking, waiting for appointments, travelling on public transport to work, doodling in those tedious meetings and so on. It will soon become a habit and you will reap the rewards I promise. The saying use it or lose it is never so true as in any creative endeavour.
  4. Look for criticism from experts you trust who create work you like. And learn to take it. Your family and friends are all well meaning people and will enthuse about your work endlessly. If they are not critics though, it may not be helpful to rely on their input alone. I don’t recommend community groups either, especially those online as many are not trained to look objectively at a work. Also, many are looking Β to get comments on their own work and so aim not to offend. A good way is to join a class by someone whose work suits your genre or take one of the many courses that include a critique.
  5. Copy work by great painters especially the great masters. Yes, I really did say copy. Of course, this is work for you only. What you learn from this is invaluable. You get to see how a picture has been constructed, the design, how the elements relate to each other. What has been left unsaid for you to interpret, how the eye is drawn to what the artist wants you to see, how illusion is created. This is your opportunity to “stand on the shoulder of giants”. You can look at a painting and see it, it’s not until you complete that process of creating it yourself that you understand.

I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand. -Confucius

Happy Creating,

Janice πŸ™‚

Scarey plans and a crafty tutorial.


Dragonfly pendant tutorial
Dragonfly pendant tutorial

I have a bit of a block today deciding what to write. There are lots of things I want to add to this blog but they are quite demanding of my time and it’s late on a Sunday evening. I have also already written 2 posts today, so I am going to cheat a bit.

I have another blog, a blogspot called Jangill Designs. I put a few how-to jewellery making ideas on there and quite a few of my photographs. It tends to get ignored when I get busy. One post that is regularly visited is this one. It’s a step by step tutorial on how to create the dragonfly pendants above.

Each Tuesday I would create a piece of jewellery and photograph each step to create a series of tutorials. It was great for me, as it kept me thinking in terms of teaching and demonstrating, as well as designing and making. It provided great added value for the demonstrations I was doing as people could look up steps if they forgot them later. It is one of the goals for this site too. I’m not sure if I will be confident enough to do a video, but it is a challenge I have set myself. It scares me, but that is supposed to be good for us πŸ™‚

Have you set yourself any challenges? Do they scare you a little? Would love to hear about it, so feel free to share in the comments πŸ™‚

Happy Creating,

Janice πŸ™‚




Brexit Effect – craft supplies diminished.


lace hand painted alpaca silk - all colours

I am still shocked that Britain has decided to leave the European Union. I personally voted to remain. I thought the good outweighed the bad and prefer to be on the inside trying to bring about change rather than being impotent on the outside. The Union has overseen 60 years of peace in Europe after tumultuous times for the first half of the 20th Century. Talking and working together is so much better.

I expected some change after Brexit was announced. I didn’t expect it to impact the sector I work in so quickly. My favourite yarn supplier has gone into receivership. That may sound like a small thing, but the speciality yarn they imported from Peru helped support their economy. I can see the same happening to many small businesses as the pound buys much less now.

I hope things settle quickly and that we remain close to our European neighbours. I guess I will find out first hand how the people of France feel about it all when I go over there next month. Shame I hadn’t bought some Euros already, will get less currency than I hoped – c’est la vie!

Happy Creating,

Janice πŸ™‚

Life Happens – 3 day catch up needed :-)



Durdle Door,Watercolour painting by Jan Gill
Durdle Door, Watercolour painting by Jan Gill

It wouldn’t matter what month I tried the ultimate blog challenge, I would always be away for a few days or have other commitments. This month is no exception and 3 of the five weekends are filled up. This weekend my youngest daughter visited, next weekend I travel to Wales to visit my son and the following weekend I have a show.

The best thing to do would be to write some posts in advance which will be the plan for next weekend. Keeping my goals in mind, I will not stress too much if I get a little behind with the challenge – more important for me is to be ready for the show.

One picture that won’t be going to the show is this one of Durdle Door, a natural rock arch on the Jurassic Coast in Dorset. Rather romantically, it is going to a couple who became engaged at this spot. I hope they spend many more happy years together.

Happy Creating,

Janice πŸ™‚


How to make a Cheap as Chips Light box.

Pristine Snow, Watercolour.
Pristine Snow, Watercolour.

Cheap as Chips Light box.

This is a post I wrote some years ago with some additions.
I was reading a forum today where someone asked about making a cheap lightbox for photographing small items in. Funnily enough I have just made one πŸ™‚ I needed to stop reflections on my glass tile jewellery and this worked amazingly well. I will now be going back to some of my glassware listings and putting up better photos!
In Β this picture the top is the third tissue covered window – the light in the room made it look brown
Here is how it’s done. Take a cardboard box roughly cube shaped. Mine is about 18″ on all sides. Cut out a square window in 3 of the sides, not the bottom of the box. Cover these in white tracing or tissue paper. Cover the inside bottom of the box in white card. Also cover the third side and that Β will be the base. You can add whatever color you want to stand your item on each time you set up. You can also create an infinity back drop by taking a piece of unfolded card, taping it to the top of the back panel and to the front of the base panel, bending the card but not folding.

Mine looks very crude but does the job πŸ™‚
You can now set up lamps pointing into the box through the tissue windows. Daylight bulbs are best if you have them.
When using your camera, turn off the flash – this is what causes the really harsh reflections and unflattering shadows. I usually over expose by one stop to make the light areas nearer to white. You can check your histogram on your camera to make sure the big peak is close to the right hand side. If it isn’t, Β you need to increase the exposure. It is worth taking some time over this as the less you have to adjust on your computer the better. If you have no control over your exposure, take a few pictures on different settings and see which gives you the brightest result.
If you are photographing something much larger, such as paintings, you can create something similar. I hang a white bed sheet (any white fabric will do) from my mantelpiece as the backdrop and use four panels made from very large boxes and lightweight white voile. They are hinged together with duct tape so they fold flat and store away. Set your painting up against the backdrop and place your “light box” in front. Use strong lamps to light from the sides and above.
If you have a conservatory this is one of the best places to photograph. You can set up the same system in there or if you have translucent blinds, use those instead.
One important thing to remember with photographing paintings is to make sure your camera is level with the centre and both painting and camera are vertically upright.
If you have some cash to spend there are some good light tents on the market. I have one that pops up then folds back into a small bag. It’s a bit like this one.
Have you got an idea for a make your own light box? Leave a comment if you’d like to share.
Happy Creating,
Janice πŸ™‚

Great Surprise Extra Value

I knew that joining the Ultimate Blog Challenge would bring traffic to my fledgling blog. I hoped I would also find useful tips on making the most of the site bringing visitors and ultimately making sales in the shop.

The lovely surprise on day one was that advice was proffered immediately – I didn’t have to ask for it or hunt for it. Bonus πŸ™‚

It was pointed out that my tweet of yesterday’s post could have been improved by including a better written link. The link is generated from the permalink of the post which I had left at a default setting. This ended with an uninspiring number. The advice – change it to something that might attract a reader.

As there is an edit button on the permalink I had a look at what

On a Misty Morning, watercolour painting
Early morning mist with trees, watercolour paintingΒ I loved the light coming through the mist and the natural bridge created by the low branch over the path.

I could do. One option was to include the post title, which is how the links are now set up. Not sure why that wouldn’t be the default, but I’m sure someone can tell me.

I think this month may be a very steep learning for this novice πŸ™‚

Today’s picture from the shop is titled On a Misty Morning. It’s a watercolour painting of the trees at the bottom of the garden.

Happy Creating,

Janice πŸ™‚

31 Days of Blog Boost

This is Day 1 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge.

My aim for taking part in this challenge is to get my new blog off to a flying start and bring visitors to the art shop attached to it.


Spring Blossom, watercolour.
Spring Blossom, watercolour.

For new readers, the reason for creating this blog is to detail my journey into selling Art online. I have used sites such as Etsy and Artfinder, but I wanted to see if it was possible for a complete technophobe to set up their own website and create sales through it with the eventual aim to ditch the day job.

So far, I have set a shop using WordPress with WooCommerce as a plug-in. It is an entirely free option – no fees, no commission and if you opt for payment of goods by BACS, no bank charges either. If you are on a shoestring like I am, it’s a no-brainer option.

Over the next 31 days, I will be showing you how easy it is to set up, sharing results and showing some of my work.

Good luck to all my fellow Ultimate Blog Challengers – I look forward to reading some interesting tales. Feel free to comment with your details πŸ™‚

Happy Creating,

Janice πŸ™‚