Decorative Painting 101 – What You Need

by | Jan 12, 2010 | Miscellaneus | 33 comments

Welcome to the workshop series brought to you by Mustard Seed Creations and Funky Junky Interiors!  Are your spongy brains ready to soak in some DIY goodness?
Donna is currently leading you through getting your work area set up and getting organized and I’ll guide you through the world of decorative painting.  Come on, ladies, be brave.  
Decorative Painting is not fine art and it’s much easier than you think.  Today, we’re only going to cover what you need to get started.  You can shop, right?  OK, you can do this.  Take a deep breath and head to your local Wal-Mart craft section.  In my case, that’s not so local, but it’s worth the 30 minute drive. 
I want you to start out with some cheap brushes that will work well for you.  Nice artist brushes can get very expensive and there’s no need to spend a lot of money when you’re just starting out.  This pack is available at Wal-Mart for less than $5.00.  It has some brushes you’ll probably never touch, but about 6 or 7 that you’ll use regularly.  If you can’t find this set,  look for white nylon artist brushes.  Send me an e-mail if you need more specifics.
You also need some paint.  Purchase any brand of acrylic craft paint (about $1.00-$1.50 for a small bottle.)  You do not need to get one of every color you like, all you need is ten.  A light blue, dark blue, light green, dark green, red, gold, light yellow, burnt umber, black, and white. Choose specific blues and greens that you like and use in your decor.  You can use these ten colors to make just about any color you can imagine.  If there are some other colors that you love and use in your home a lot, go ahead and buy those, if you want.  Also, if money is super tight, don’t worry about buying paint at all.  Just use some latex paint that’s left over from another project.  You can purchase paint when there is something specific you want to work on.
Don’t worry about buying pallets and a bunch of other “artist” tools.  Just use paper plates, plastic cups, and paper towels.
You’ll also need something to use as a glazing medium.  This is a water-based product that helps your paint stay wet longer and makes it easier to work with.  I use Minwax Polycrylic, but I do a lot of decorative painting and will use a large amount.  You can buy glaze or floating medium in a small bottle that you’ll find in the craft paint section.  The nice thing about the polycrylic is it makes the paint more durable and it can be used as a protective coat as well.  Again, if money is tight, you can just use a little bit of water to keep the paint flowing well. 
The last thing you need is something to practice on.  You can use a scrap piece of wood or even a piece of cardboard.
That is all you need to get started! 
So, Donna, are you with me?  Any questions?

Donna: My plan is to sell the furniture I decorate up, so I’m interested in getting high quality brushes from the get go. What would you recommend going that route? Type, bristle type, size, and where to find them? I cannot wait to get going!

Actually the set I suggested are the brushes I use most.  Brushes, especially liners and small rounds get trashed pretty fast, so it’s nice to have a cheap set I can buy whenever I need them.  Keep in mind that brushes are one of those personal taste things, so try different brushes and see what you like.  One other thing to keep in mind is that a “size 4” or “size 2” brush is not always the same size in different brands.  A “size 2” can be huge or tiny, so if you’re ordering online, make sure you know what you’re getting.  I order most of my brushes from  Dick Blick.  The picture below is of my four favorite brushes that I always have on hand. 

Next week, I’m going to teach you a couple of basic strokes.  I’m hoping to shoot some video to make it easier to follow.  Wish me luck on that!

After you’ve left a comment, make sure you visit Funky Junk Interiors to learn how to create a work area with minumal space.

Grab a button to spread the word and show that you’re participating in the Workshop Series!

Miss Mustard Seed

Recap Shopping List
* Pack of white nylon brushes
* 10 acrylic paints (black, white, burnt umber, red, light blue, dark blue, light green, dark green, gold, and light yellow.)
* Glaze, glazing medium,or floating medium
* Paper plates and plastic cups
*A practice board


  1. SueAnn

    Okay…I am off to Walmart to get my supplies. This is so exciting!!
    I posted your button on my blog!!

  2. Patti

    I always squirt and mix my paint on aluminum foil…and if I have to walk away for a while, I just fold it over to keep it moist…looking forward to these helpful hints!

  3. SueBee

    Where have I been!? I new of you but had not really come by for a visit. Well I'm here now. Saying hello first then I'm going back to learn lots of good stuff.

  4. Magic Brush

    I use that Polyacrylic to topcoat all my cabinets and furniture. Wouldn't have thought to use it as a glaze!!!! Cool!

  5. Kim @ Cheap Chic Home

    Is it okay if I just call my son? He's attending an art college, his strength is drawing, maybe…

  6. Lynette

    Love it already – so cool!

    I want to make a German Sack Grain canvas – that's going to be my goal!

  7. Carol

    Wow! This is such useful information. Thank you for sharing it. I've always been interested in decorative painting. I think I'll give it a try.

  8. Deb

    I love your blog…and so grateful that I found you!!! I only have one small favor to ask…could you…would you…increase your font size in your posts…I'm not a young lady…and it's so hard to read the small print!! Of course…I'm only one person!!! Thanks for all the tips and pointers and beautiful pics you show us!!!

  9. Jacqueline

    I can't wait for the next installment! I love all of your painted furniture and always think, "I wish I could do that"… off to Walmart!

  10. Marianne@Songbird

    I think I am way to scared to try this. I can't even get stencils to look right. But I think I have most of the supplies you mentioned already. So maybe, just maybe I'll give it a go. I'd like to make a grainsack too.

  11. Michelle Hoad

    I have some furniture in my house that has seen better days, so I really want to try some of your techniques. Really looking forward to your next post!

  12. Dana @ Cooking At Cafe D

    Honestly, when I read the title, I thought "What I NEED…is talent!" But, I'm glad I kept reading.

    Fingers-crossed. I'm hoping to learn a couple of basic flowers. I'm really excited about this series. Thanks for doing it!

  13. Amy@TheLemonCottage

    Whew. I'm already nervous. I'm off to Walmart.
    Are we all starting off with A's? I couldn't bear to fail the class! LOL

    This is so exciting!!!
    Thanks for doing this.
    Exquisite hand painted furniture, here I come!

  14. Lizzy @ Lizzy Designs

    I really like your creations, and am enjoying this new series. You never know, I might give it a go! I'm looking out for a bargain to experiment on. 🙂

  15. fairfieldhouse

    Will get my supplies all lined up. I have painted before but it's always fun to get others techniques and tips.

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge and time.


  16. pk @ Room Remix

    I'm going to love these workshops! Thanks so much for taking the time to put the information together. Very helpful so far.

  17. Gwen

    I have my gear and am eager to learn more!

  18. Nezzy

    This Ozarks farm chick has actually done this on several pieces of furniture. My best work was the headboard I gave my son and his wife for a wedding gift.

    Ya'll have a wonderfully blessed day, as we say here in the hills and hollers!!!

  19. Destination Seaborn

    MMS, have you ever met someone with no artistic talent? Hello, my is Lisa and I can't paint. I'm going to sit back and just watch for awhile. But I really do appreciate these great tutorials! Thank you!

  20. Kolein

    I love you gals for doing this! I'm so excited! I feel like I just went over a big bump while sitting in the back seat! Wooooo!

  21. Traci@ Beneath My Heart

    I love this series! You guys are awesome. Thanks for sharing all of your crafty know-how with us.

  22. The Little Red Shop

    Those are pretty much my favorite brushes too. My only recommendation would be to use a plastic plate or bowl rather than paper…because paper absorbs moisture and will dry out your paint much faster. This is a great way to recycle plastic take-out and frozen food trays! If you need to step away for a bit…just pop your paint tray into a ziploc, making sure to get out as much of the air as you can before sealing.

    What fun! I'm looking forward to seeing what ya'll create!

    : )

    Juile M.

  23. Melanie

    This is going to be so much fun. I can't wait. Walmart (or Michaels) here I come.

  24. Corn in my Coffee-Pot

    I want to paint Too!

    Lately it seems like everyday I'm thinking to myself…what can paint. So far I'm just a nut with a spray can; but I so want to try my hand at painting flowers or SOMETHING!

    I can't wait to get started.

    Thank you for doing this project —

  25. Erika

    Thanks for the tips about the brushes. It is good to know that less expensive isn't always bad.

  26. Gina @ The Shabby Creek Cottage

    I already have all that! I have more brushes and paint than I ever care to admit. I can't WAIT for this series to continue – you know I've been begging for it!

  27. Gill

    great to see decorative painting here. I took up this hobby 8 years ago and love it! Anyone can learn with practice. I went on to become a teacher & was even on BBC TV lol. I have a couple of free practice sheets on my FB group for pretty rosebuds. I love this blog – all the things I've always loved doing. At the moment we are travelling in Europe in our RV so I can only paint & make small things, then give them away as gifts to make room for more. Happy painting, Gill – The Shooglie Brush

  28. Sommer

    You are a godsend! I found a hand painted desk on Craigs list a while back that took my breath away. I grabbed some cheap brushes not knowing what the heck I was doing lol. I tested out some practice strokes on scrap wood and I was horrified at the outcome! I thought it would be so simple. I've been scared to try again since. So now I am very excited to have another go at this and I will send you the pics of the last time I tried and this time with you help =)


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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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