General Painting Tips

For Decorative Painting


The below are all from my experiences, I hope that you will learn from my mistakes, and have a enjoyable painitng experience.

Paint Supplies
Brush Care
What surfaces to paint on
Tips on Painting

Paint Supplies

Invest in good brushes and paints

When I first started painting, I used cheap brushes because I was always not willing to invest in good, expensive brushes and paints. As the years passed by, I realised that I had bought a lot of low quality brushes, and ended up feeling frustrated, because I could not get the end result. It was not until 5 or 6 years ago when I finally decided to use the best.
The results certianly paid off.

First timers can start of with just 4 colours

For beginners who just want to try out, you can invest in just these 4 colours from decoart - True Blue, Calico Red, Lemon Yellow and Snow White. These are the primary colours that you can use to mix a whole range of beautiful colours .
As for me, I prefer pre-mixed colours, as it gives much convenience and precision to the colours that I want to achieve in my painting.

What you need to get started

A Starter Kit should consist of:

  • No. 6 flat brush
  • No. 3 round brush
  • No. 1 liner
  • 1 inch flat brush for varnish
  • 1 inch flat brush for basecoat

Loew-Cornell brushes have good resilient snap, sharp chisel edges (in the flats), and fine point (in the liners and rounds).

Other Supplies:

  • Sta-wet palette is a must
  • Brush cleaner
  • Black and white graphite paper
  • Stylus
  • Varnish
  • White pencil
  • eraser

If you are interested in getting any of the supplies, please email me with details.



Sta-wet palette consists of a flat plastic box layers with a sponge, a piece of palette paper over it which absorbs the water from the sponge to keep it damp. The well fitted lid keeps the paint damp for a few days.

Choice of brushes


Natural and synthetic brushes are available in an unlimited range, for a wide variety of effects. Traditional painters prefer sable brushes for their versatility and beautiful sharp points. In most cases, it is the matter of choice, depending on the projects you are doing.

Round Brush

Beginners will usually start off with this brush. A round no.1,2,3 or 4 can achieve fine lacework to large, dry brushed flowers.

Liner Brush

Liners are long, round and straight, usually without a point. The long hairs can hold more paint so that they can draw long continuous linework without having to load consistently.

Flat Brush

Flat rectangular- shaped brushes come in different lengths. The shader is medium length and is versatile. The blender is shorter and a little easier to use.

Angular Brush

Angular Brush has the end of the hairs cut on diagonal. This make painting corners easier.

Filbert Brush

Filbert brush has end of the hairs cut into a round shape. It is ideal for painting round -ended petals like daisies and bird feathers. It is also suitable for blending as it avoids the sharp edges of corners which often result from using square flats.

Deerfoot Brush

This is made from bristle for its stiffness and is round and stubby with hairs cut on an angle. Load colours on toe of the brush and stipple to create a fluffy fur effects. We use this to paint teddy bears.

Brush Care

Having invested in expensive brushes, the last thing we want to see is mistreated brushes.

During Painting

During painting, you need to wash your brush frequently. Do not allow the paint to go up the ferrule of the brush. Acrylic paint dries very fast, and may harden and cause a lump near the ferrule. This may interfere with the way the brush should work.

After Painting

After painting, wash your brush thoroughly. Add a drop or two of the brush cleaner on an enamal plate or plastic container, stroke the brush hair to and fro a few times gently. Wash off with water. Repeat the procedure again until the brush is clean.

After cleaning, put fresh soap (brush cleaner and preserver, or any ordinary white soap) into the brush, and reshape the hairs. For round and liner brushes, shape hairs to a fine point. Shape flat brushes to a smooth chisel edge. Leave them to dry; placing flat or leaving them in a mug with bristles facing up.

Store your brushes in cases to protect the bristles.

Additional tips

I usually have two sets of brushes, one for rough use and another for fine use. Some of our wood surfaces are rather rough, so if we use expensive brushes, they will spoil easily. This is as the rough wood causes brushes to curl at the edges and not give precise work anymore.

I also keep my old brushes for other effects like dry brushing or for painting the rough trimmings and back of my plaques.

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What surfaces to paint on

So far, I have experimented mostly on wood, canvas, tin, paper, furniture and ceremic.

Some of these objects include:

  • An old watering can
  • Trash can
  • Chuppa Chup Container (which I begged a provision shop lady to sell me. She eventually did at 50 cents)
  • Discarded furniture (my student found a lot at her estate)
  • Cheap new furniture (available at IKEA)
  • Flower pots
  • Mirrors
  • Bird house
  • Tray
  • Picture frames
  • Old plates (my neighbour asked me to paint her old plate)
  • Container lid
  • Wooden spoons (I painted and crafted many of these)
  • Side table
  • Magazine rack
  • Lamp shades
  • Frying pan (back)
  • Denim jeans
  • Clock (I've done 3 pendulum clocks so far)
  • Biscuit tin
  • Clothes hanger
  • Wooden tissue box
  • Stool
  • Sign (I did a lot of these)
  • House number plaque
  • Wooden boxes
  • Wall (you can actually paint a mural)
  • Canvas shoes (my daughter did one for a friend)
  • And the list goes on...

Practically anything you lay your hands on can be painted, so let your imagination fly!

Painting sources

Where to get these ideas
Most of our painting designs patterns come directly from art books that are supplied by the painters themselves for this purpose. These art books can be bought from specialised art shop like Spotlights or Artfriend (in Singapore) or obtain from internet.
A trip to your local library can prove fruitful too.
You can also trace your design from stickers or wrapping papers provided it is not for profit. I like to improvisd them though.
I had come across a book which the painter actually took pictures of flowers and traced out the design for painting. What a brilliant and original idea !

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Tips on Painting

As a self-taught decorative painter, I read lots of books and have gathered many tips. These are some of them that I have gathered over the years.

Make yourself comfortable, find an airy place with plenty of natural light if possible.

Be sure you are in a comfortable position for painting.

Your shoulder should not be raised up, or in an awkward position, or you will feel tired very quickly. If that should happen, get up from your chair and do some stretches.

Do not paint over mistakes.

If you make a mistake, quickly wipe it off with a cotton bud. If the paint is already dried up, sand it lightly and repaint a thin coat of the basecoat over it, as there will be a difference in thickness otherwise.

Specialise before diversifying

Try to specialise in a certain kind of painting (e.g. rose, daisies, animals) before you go on to something else. Practice on mini-projects, like cards, door hanger, a small name plaque or even small clusters of flowers on a wooden spoon. They make lovely gifts.

Time management

Paint only if you know that you have at least half an hour to spare. It will be very frustrating if you have to attend to chores in between.

If you are interested in learning how to paint, check out in the classes page.

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