When starring out, pre-dampen your brushes slightly before dipping into the paint. Slightly damp brushes apply paint more evenly. When working with latex paints, moisten with water: when applying oil-based paints, first dip them into paint thinner, then pat them with paper towels to remove excess thinner.
Match the size of the pan to to your stovetop heating element; more heat will get to the pan and less will be lost to the surrounding air. A 6-inch pan on an 8-inch burner will waste over 40% of the energy used.