In 2016 I wrote a short book titled “Lessons From The Ladder.” It’s a somewhat whimsical account of painting the outside of our house after I retired from banking, plus it includes some lessons I learned while nervously clinging to the ladder. Within those brief chapters it’s obvious I shared more than I know about exterior painting. For reasons which may never be fully understood, I felt compelled to do the same for my recent undertaking of an inside job.
Self-publishing another book would have been tempting, but our hall closet won’t hold an additional set of such boxes. So, I condensed my reflections on interior painting into three columns. Just between us, if you need advice on this subject you should skip today’s musings and talk to a real painter, a term which reminds me of a story.
A couple attended an elegant art show in a renowned New York gallery, a black-tie event which featured several highly acclaimed artists. As they paused to view a rendering of a serene landscape, the man said to his wife, “Look dear, the pastels are quite similar to our last work.” His wife nodded in agreement and noted how the faded colors of autumn’s leaves were complimented by a blue sky speckled with fluffy white clouds.
The gentleman who had painted the lovely scene was standing nearby and was intrigued by their conversation. “Did I understand correctly that the two of you paint together?” he asked.
“We do,” said the lady, “and have for almost twenty years.”
“That’s amazing,” responded the artist. “I’ve never seen that technique. What do you paint?”
“Whatever needs it,” said the man. “We finished a kitchen remodel on Friday. We’re starting on a doctor’s office next week.”
With that bit of nonsense out of the way, we now return to the main feature, a story which began in our bathroom closet. My experience painting sheetrock is limited and was from over a decade ago, so beginning in an inconspicuous place seemed prudent. Since our walk-in closet is not very big, I stuck with my brush after trimming it out rather than switching to a roller. Jane suggested I might want to roll the second coat on, explaining the rolled texture is what she preferred in more visible areas.
“A brush is all I need,” I assured her. “You won’t be able to tell the difference.”
Jane was fine with those two brushed-on coats since it was a closet, but even I could not deny it was a bit splotchy. During my voluntary third trip around the room with a roller, I saw what she meant about the difference in texture. It also occurred to me – and please keep this in confidence – there’s a slight possibility I don’t always know as much as I think I do.
There are several lessons that came from painting our closet. My first suggestion for those whose rusty skills need honing, is to begin interior projects in a low visibility area. Bumping the white ceiling with peach colored paint is far more acceptable in the closet than the den. Trust me.
A second point is that a roller is much faster than a brush. I thought sticking with the brush was saving me the aggravation of switching back and forth between tools, but rolling the walls was a lot easier than brushing. And I found that tightly wrapping my brush or roller in a plastic bag for later use works fine for a day or two. Wrapping is more efficient than the frequent washings I’m prone to do. It’s possible I’m obsessive about cleaning the bristles. My paint therapist is doing an analysis.
Lesson number three was a little about texture, but mostly about listening. Things I know and things I think I know sometimes get comingled and solidify into opinions. That’s not a big deal when painting a closet, but it’s a good reminder of the value of listening with an open mind and of being respectful toward those whose opinions may differ from our own.
The benefits of listening come not only through what we learn but also by opening the door to civil conversation. There seems to be a shortage today of dialogue which is honest and amicable. Maybe that’s because it’s hard to listen with so much shouting going on. But I don’t claim to be an expert on such matters. I’m just a man who now better understands the texture of rolled-on paint.
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Thanks for the laugh this Friday morning; a good way to start the day!
I enjoyed your book. Thanks for sharing with me. The applications of lessons learned while painting on a ladder can sometimes be sobering.
Great job Neil!