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Top Ten Painting Tips from Plaid

Top Ten Painting Tips from Plaid's Painting Pro

I wish years ago when I started painting, I had a top ten list like this!  Through the years, I learned often by trial and error as to what was the best way to paint something, how to arrange my supplies on my studio table, how to properly load my paintbrush, how to easily basecoat, and even how to care for my brushes.  I hope that this Top Ten Painting Tips list will be helpful to all beginner painters out there!  Enjoy.

1.  Supplies at Hand

Organize your studio table with all necessary supplies before painting.  Make sure you have everything so that you will not have to stop in the middle of a project and go retrieve what you are missing.  Think about having:  a brush basin with clean cool water, paper towels, foam plate as a palette, paintbrushes (flats, rounds and a liner) in a variety of sizes, brush cleaner, pencil, ruler, paints in a wide variety of colors, and if reproducing a project from an inspiration photo, have photo handy for reference - have on hand any written instructions too, along with your actual project surface.  Keep your palette and brush basin on your painting-hand side thereby removing the risk of swiping your sleeve across a wet paint palette or worse, your project!  Here's another tip, if your paint bottle cap is not color coded, add a dot of paint to the paint cap so that you can easily identify the color you are searching for.  Floral Gazebo Birdhouse project inspiration, photo and instructions can be found on!

2.  Liquid Dish Detergent

When painting with acrylic paints, have a brush basin or container for water on hand.  You will want to clean your brushes between colors or when changing brushes.  Add a couple drops of liquid dish detergent to the cool water in your brush basin.  You will immediately notice that your brushes will clean quicker.  Follow through by blotting your clean brushes on a paper towel before loading the brush with a new color.  If you don't blot your bristles, the excess water in the brush will dilute or thin the new paint color. 

3.  Craft Painting Surfaces

A painted surface can be almost anything.  Use your imagination... wood, tin/metal, glass, ceramics, canvas, paper mache, terra cotta, cement, fabric, feathers, some plastics, leather and even old cookware.  But are you looking for a new and unusual surface to paint on?  Look no further than your favorite thrift or second hand store.  You may find silver plate serving pieces, old china, purses and totes, clothing, old books, fun frames, pails, baskets, luggage, trays and of course furniture!  Don't be afraid to experiment with a variety of surfaces to paint.

4.  How to Load a Paintbrush

Learning how to properly load your paintbrush will enable you to paint with professional looking results.  Stroke the brush into the puddle of paint on your palette, flip the brush over and stroke into the same puddle.  Using this technique will provide  you a paintbrush loaded with paint yet not overflowing.  If you were to simply dip your paintbrush or scoop it into the middle of the paint puddle,the brush would be overfilled with paint which may create ridges of paint when stroking the brush across your painting surface.

5.  Basecoating Wood Tip

When basecoating a wood surface with acrylic paint, the wood grain will be raised after the first paint application is dry.  This makes the wood surface feel rough to the touch.  Sand smoothly using fine grit sandpaper to remove the "raised nap" of the wood grain.  Remove sanding particles with a damp paper towel or a tack cloth before applying your second basecoat.

6.  Sandpaper Substitute

Don't have fine grit sandpaper or any girt sandpaper on hand?  No worries, you can use a section of a brown grocery bag.  Simply tear or cut off a section of the bag, fold it in half and sand away!

7.  Create Fun Backgrounds

Take the time to create a fun yet subtle background design before painting the main subject of your project.  You will be amazed how much a pretty background will enhance your painted project!  Think about sponging, striping, antiquing, decoupaging, or color blocking painted shapes.  Use a hairdryer to speed up drying times too!

8.  Easy-to-Paint Patterns

Stripes - To easily paint stripes, use stencil or painter's tape to mask the desired vertical, horizontal or diagonal pattern.  Be sure the tape edges are firmly applied to your craft surface before painting. Apply paint to the unmasked areas using a paintbrush, foam applicator, dauber or even spouncers.  Carefully peel tape while paint is still wet.

Polka Dots - Easy polka dotting tools can include: round brushes, handle ends of paintbrushes, daubers, spouncers, toothpicks, a stylus, fresh pencil erasers or even a dead ballpoint pen.

Chevron - To paint a chevron pattern easily, use painter's or stencil tape.  Tape diagonally across your surface in one direction.  You can take the time to measure equally using a ruler or simply eyeball your spacing.  Repeat taping diagonally in the opposite direction.  Then using a craft knife with a sharp blade, score and remove tape sections creating the chevron pattern.

9.  Mess-free Painting

When painting small items or wood embellishments such as:  wood buttons, small cutouts, or trims, stick these small items onto double-sided tape before painting.  Wood beads or balls can be strung onto a small dowel or chopstick before painting.  Your fingers will remain paint-free and thank you for it!

10.  Brush Care Tips

NEVER allow paint to dry in the bristles of the brush.  Thoroughly clean all your paintbrushes after each use with a brush cleaner and conditioner, then reshape the bristles allowing the conditioner to stay in the bristles.  However, if you do end up with a brush with dried paint, soak the bristles in Murphy Oil Soap, then lather and rinse.  Be sure to store cleaned brushes so that they are NOT resting on the bristles.  It is best to store a brush so that it is upright (bristles up) in a cup or container.  And here's another helpful hint:  Add a little dry, uncooked rice to the bottom of the cup to help stabilize the brushes.

Well, there you have it ... a Top Ten Painting Tips list.  There are so many more general painting tips, but I personally find these tips to be of importance.  I sincerely hope that this list helped you. 

Let me hear from you if you enjoyed this list or want to share a helpful hint!  I'd LOVE to hear from you!

Posted: 8/12/2014 8:08:00 AM by LEAP | with 0 comments
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