I DO NOT SAND. I never do, and I've painted my little heart out for years.
The key is the primer. The label of the can must say "BONDING" or "WILL ADHERE TO GLOSSY SURFACES" Never, ever use dry wall primer. Its not the same thing at all, and your paint will just scratch off.
The last few years, I've been very happy with Glidden's Gripper. In this case, I bought the gray tinted Gripper primer.
You can see, I don't put it on perfectly. Notice the little skips here and there in the gray where the dark wood peeks out? Not big ones, just little misses.
The key to being a good faux finisher is to be a bad painter. Yep, you gotta be a little messy and non-perfectionistic.
Its a constant dab, dab, dabbing with the brush. First you dip the brush in paint, then dab it off onto a rag, then pounce it onto the piece, over and over and over.
I tell ya, its a lot easier to do a small piece of furniture or a lamp this way than to do a whole wall. If you are doing something big, try a larger brush and take some advil.
The paint goes on heavier in some spots than others, but please make sure you don't have blobs and repetitive patterns of brush marks.
To avoid that, turn your brush as you pounce. And go over the same areas more than once to blend as you dab.
After the white dried, I did the same thing, with the same brush, using a coffee with heavy cream colored paint, mixed half and half with glaze to thin it down and make it more translucent as it dries.
With this step, I pounced the creamy color over the white, layering it heavier in corners, and slightly wiping it off on the high points of the embellishments and trim.
Email me if you have any questions. I'm happy to help.