To be honest, I don't have much practice using Tim Holtz's Distress Stains and Paints. The few times I've used them, I've just slapped them on the medium I was using and didn't think anymore about it. Then I watched a Youtube video from Tim Holtz, Distress Stain Basics, explaining how to use both and decided to experiment in their use in my own art journal.
It's particularly useful if you move the page around, allow the water and stain to roll off the page or even use a two inch paintbrush to create puddled and mottled effects as well as to ensure even coverage.
Next, I tried to opaque paint daubers and love those as well. Great coverage, can thin in out with wet brushes. Love it.
The most useful technique was to use the stain and paint directly from the dauber top, by taking a wet brush, getting a little stain on the brush, and then painting with it in my art journal book. I had more control over coverage and could get some really fine detail work done using the great stains and paints. I'm definitely stocking up on Tim Holtz.