After honing my painting skills in our closet, I felt ready for the big time. With swelling confidence and unfathomable enthusiasm, I cheerfully began painting our bedroom and bath. Jane may not remember it exactly like that, but my standard for column facts has some flexibility.
The paint fell steadily for forty days and forty nights as I jotted down tips for beginning painters and level three amateurs. If you’ve already advanced to level one or two, you likely won’t benefit from this information. If you’re at level four you should not paint indoors without supervision. Level fives should generally avoid painting, driving motorized vehicles, or operating heavy equipment.
Somewhere back in elementary school we read a short story titled, “Clothes Make the Man.” Why I remember that I have no idea, nor do I recall any details other than it was about the significance of how we dress. That title came to mind as I made notes about the importance of proper attire for painting.
My recommendation for warm weather indoor painting is to wear a 100 percent cotton tee-shirt with a pair of cotton shorts. I’m wondering, though, if shorts should have an s on the end. It seems a reference to one pair should be short. And I’m not sure a single short should be referred to as a pair. Maybe a pair of shorts should be called shortses to avoid confusion. Either way, wear cotton.
Cotton provides two distinct advantages for painters, the first of which is its unparalleled comfort. Adam and Eve’s original garments were made of leaves. We don’t know what kind of leaves, but hopefully not poison ivy or Venus flytrap. My guess is they used the big leaves from an elephant ear plant, but scripture is silent on that matter. In Genesis 3:21 we learn that God later made them garments of skin. That was great in cold weather, but when summer came Eve probably asked Adam if he would like a cotton shirt. And Adam surely loved his shirt and was pleased with the woman God had created, although he remained skeptical of her fruit salad.
Another advantage of wearing cotton apparel when painting is absorbency. I’m not talking about soaking up sweat. We kept the air conditioner running along with a high-speed fan. The absorbency I found helpful was in cleaning my hands and dabbing specks of wayward paint. I kept a rag in my pocket for major catastrophes, those “Clean up on aisle three” scenarios, but cotton clothing works well for small splatters.
On a related matter regarding splatter, I strongly recommend using a drop cloth. Jane found a great bargain for twenty dollars at Sherwin Williams. She had gone there to purchase paint and on impulse bought a huge drop cloth for me as a birthday present. I had been using plastic to cover the floors, which initially seemed like a wonderful idea. A slick surface, however, is not ideal. Rather than droplets of paint being harmlessly absorbed, they patiently waited atop the impermeable plastic then discreetly attached themselves to the soles of my shoes which smeared them across the room.
The drop cloth deal got even better when I learned it’s made of duck fabric from Pakistan. I don’t know how the duck was involved and I’m not sure I want to, but it’s 100 percent cotton. Jane has a sewing machine upstairs and the heavily weaved duck cloth seems perfect for cold weather garments. Its mauve color, with specks of light blue paint which I generously added, could work for shirts or dresses.
Tip number three is, “Don’t paint past supper.” When patient, I did a pretty decent job, carefully trimming out borders and leaving paint mostly where it was intended. A few times, however, my painting outran my patience. It happened when there was a small section to finish, or a dab of paint in the bottom of the can which I was determined to use rather than reseal. Painting past supper sometimes caused me to hit speeds faster than I could handle. Splatter happens with impatience.
The rest of my interior painting tips will have to wait until next week’s column. I need to stop writing now and go cut that drop cloth into sections which are manageable for sewing. Jane hasn’t told me what size pieces she wants, and she’s been rather evasive about garment plans. I guess she hasn’t decided on a pattern yet. Or maybe she wants to surprise me.