Banyan Studios: Decorative Painting
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Frequently Asked Questions


How do I find time to paint, I have a family and a full-time job and, and, and...?
How do I get started?
What do you mean I can’t use my kids watercolor brushes for decorative painting?
I used to paint a lot but I just can’t seem to get it together to do it any more.

1. How do I find time to paint, I have a family and a full-time job and, and, and?

  • That’s easy just don’t cook dinner one night a week. If the kids are over 5 they are ready to learn how to prepare a meal for themselves.
  • Don’t do the dishes after dinner one night a week. Either get someone else to do it or just do it later.
  • Get the neighbor to time-share and pick up the kids from sports practice once a week.
  • If the children really aren’t old enough to open a peanut butter jar – get your husband, sister, mother or anyone to take them out one night a week.
  • Sign up for a class at your local craft store. It means you pay the money and you don’t get it back if you don’t attend. You’ll find new friends with a common interest and you will begin to make time.
  • If you are going to paint at home make yourself a “painting area”. Ideally it would be a space where you can leave your paints out and your books and your brushes. Having to set up and break down every time you want to paint is restricting. You will always add that into the equation and end up saying, “forget it”.
  • If you can’t keep the materials out on a table because the kids are too young or the place looks too cluttery (of course that never bothered me!!!!!) you can pick up one of those plastic rolling carts with 3 or 4 draws. Make sure at least one of the drawers is big enough for your paint bottles to stand up in so you don’t have to pull them out and set them on the table each time. If you paint the color or write the color on the top of the bottle all you have to do is open the drawer and reach in. Put the brushes in another drawer (see "brushes" section), Styrofoam plates, pencils, etc in other drawers. Clean-up is a breeze and you just roll the cart back into a closet.

Personal thought: Competence is one component of happiness. Notice I didn’t say Perfection! Perfection is a goal; competence is a road trip. Take time to enjoy the scenery.

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2. How do I get started?

If you can take a class, do it. There is nothing like the personal interaction that happens in a classroom with a competent teacher. Your local craft store usually has an offering of decorative painting classes. That way you can learn what materials to purchase for the kind of work you want to do.

If you can’t get to a class – buy a book. Most books have an introduction that tells the basic strokes and what brushes produce that stroke.

I have a ‘bible’ that I won’t lend out. I have marked, highlighted and spattered it with paint, but I still use it almost daily as a reference.

The Big Book of Decorative Painting: How to paint if you don’t know how – and how to improve if you do. By Jackie Shaw. It is comprehensive but not unwieldy. She presents 3 skill levels for every project and gives you the faith and encouragement that you need to know you are in fact a decorative painter.

If you are reading this, you have the internet at your disposal. Search away, lots of sites have free projects and discussion groups.

Get your hands on a Video. They are the next best thing to a live teacher.

You can contact me if need help getting started.

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3. What do you mean I can’t use my kids watercolor brushes for decorative painting?

I know, I tried to get by on this one too but it won’t work. Part of the glory of decorative painting is the concept that the brush does about 96% of the work for you. If you have a limp brush, you know like the celery that has been in the refrigerator for a week or two, it will not work for this kind of painting. (see “brushes” section)

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4. I used to paint a lot but I just can’t seem to get it together to do it any more.

I got it and I have been there. There are reasons for that kind of an attitude and I will outline things you can do about it.

First: Answer these questions honestly:

  1. Did you read a new book or pattern on painting that you didn’t quite understand? Were there words and painting terms that you just never saw before?
  2. Are you stuck on a particular technique or project and you can’t seem to get help with it?
  3. Are you getting interrupted by your teacher, Your kids, Your life, And you just can’t seem to get on with the business of painting? Does your teacher take the paintbrush out of your hand to “help” you?
  4. Did someone tell you that you shouldn’t be painting? For a minute or for a career?
  5. Is the trunk of your car filled with painting supplies that you don’t dare bring into the house? Did you buy a toothpaste tube roller so you can squeeze the last bit of toothpaste out of the tube, therefore extending the life of the toothpaste 1 week longer thereby allowing you to spend 2.75 on painting supplies this week? Your painting transgressions may be different than mine!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But maybe not!


  1. Get yourself a good English dictionary and a painting glossary. If you read the term in a magazine or book, make the author accountable for the use of the term. E-mail them or write them a letter and get that term defined. It will make the difference between ability and inability.
  2. Again, call, email or write to the originator of that technique. Use the resources available to you to get some help. Take it to your next class and ask your teacher for assistance. If you put it under the table and say you will get back to it – trust me you will cut your painting passion – your interest – your drive to paint and you will not get back to it. Solve it fast.
  3. In your calmest manner tell the person to stop interrupting you. It may mean you will have to conduct yourself in a like manner when your children are busy. Setting a good example is the best way to be treated with dignity. If it is your teacher who is interrupting you try not to let loose in the classroom with a “Jeez, leave me alone!” but after class let him or her know your learning style. If they are a good teacher they will learn something from you that day. If they can’t do that, find a different class.
  4. Anyone who is telling you that you shouldn’t be painting – needs a reality adjustment. Again, calmly tell the person that this is something that you are passionate about, something you want to learn and something that takes some patience and practice. Ask for the same kind of support that they would like to receive with any new endeavor. Be willing to take constructive criticism from a source who knows what they are talking about and the rest, forget about it.
  5. Get honest about your painting. Be proud when you find a sale. Be proud when you figure out how to squeeze painting supplies into your existing budget. Buy handi-wipes and teach the kids how to use them on their faces so they look neat and tidy when Dad gets home and tell him, “Johnny learned something new today.”

Personal thought: When you first get started don’t go out and buy every gadget and brush and book that you can get your hands on. Work with one technique, a few brushes and a pattern or two that you like. If you “over-mechanize” you will overwhelm yourself. K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Silly!

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Decorative Painting Tips  

Summer Class & Show Schedule

Getting Started On Your Decorative Painting Project

How To Add Dimension

How to Pick Brushes