An Inside Job – Part 3

I originally thought this series would end after part two, but I found some more notes which I made while painting the interior of our home. Here are three additional tips that have a slight possibility of usefulness.

First, a good painter keeps within the lines. That’s the same way it worked with paint-by-number pictures which were popular decades ago. My brother, Jimmy, completed a paint-by-number picture of a ship at sea when we were little. He’s five years older than me and his steady hand was obvious.

On the other end of the spectrum, I never mastered paint-by-number or even using color crayons. Filling in the elephant at the circus outline was beyond my meager level of talent. The pictures I colored had an aura of disarray because I didn’t stay within the lines.

There are several important lines in painting, such as where the wall meets the baseboard, crown molding, and window trim. Keeping within the lines in those and other areas can be challenging, but our home project turned out well. I know that’s true because it came straight from the lady of the house. Patience helped me stay within the lines as I learned to paint with smooth strokes instead of dabbing.

Dabbing is sometimes needed but not often. A television ad for Brylcreem, a hair product for men, aired in the 1950s and included a catchy song. “Brylcreem – a little dab’ll do ya. Brycreem – you look so debonair. Brylcreem – the girls will all pursue ya. They love to get their fingers in your hair.”

I tried Brylcreem for a while, but not a single girl ever ran her fingers through my hair or gave the slightest hint she wanted to. Perhaps I didn’t use a big enough dab, or maybe those little dabs of Brylcreem were rendered ineffective by residual traces of Butch Wax and Vaseline Hair Tonic. Sometimes I had enough grease on my scalp we could have had a fish fry.

Eventually I switched to Vitalis in a quest to be noticeably suave, then The Beatles came along and slicked-down hair went out of style. Anyway, dabbing paint is occasionally appropriate, but a little dab should do you. Smooth strokes keep paint within the lines where it’s supposed to be.

A second tip is to spend time on your knees when painting near the baseboard. My legs aren’t as flexible as they once were and staying on my knees isn’t comfortable, so I tried sitting on a low stool to paint. It didn’t take but a few misdirected strokes of the brush to realize that wasn’t working. A cushion made painting on my knees tolerable enough that I scored an A minus on the final exam. That’s not perfect, but if I had not spent time on my knees, my grade would have likely been a low C.

The third point, with which I’ll close, is the importance of painting in good light. I painted without enough light a few times, thinking it would be fine. And it was until the next day. Sunlight exposes flaws which darkness conceals. Good light revealed my errantly placed paint or those spots where a thin coat didn’t fully hide the previous color.

My trusty assistant offered to bring me a lamp on multiple occasions, but for a while I declined. It’s easy to grow accustomed to the dark, painting in the shadows while ignoring the need for good light.

I’ve now shared everything I know and then some about interior painting. The only thing left to cover would be to elaborate on our stairwell, a story I’m not sure I’ll get around to. Covering those high walls with paint was a task I approached with trepidation and finished with a sigh of relief.

Countless online videos are available for those who want to learn more about painting. A lot of them, in contrast to the author of this column, were done by people who know what they are doing. I don’t claim to have any expertise, but I heartily recommend the ideas mentioned today for making interior improvements. My tripod of suggestions has three legs: keep within the lines, spend some time on your knees, and be sure to stay in the light.

And if that’s too much to remember, then focus on the last point, staying in the light. All other means of interior improvement will fall into place, if we faithfully stay within The Light.   

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7 Responses to An Inside Job – Part 3

  1. Fran says:

    Enjoyed this series. Some good lessons, told with humor!


  2. Ann K. Nutt says:

    Great conclusion. Have enjoyed all three.


  3. Cynthia Couch says:

    Great lessons on painting, Neil! I’m sure you don’t need Brylcream to convince Jane to run her fingers through your hair. 🤣. You have obviously mastered the art of spiritual application of painting.


  4. Sue Goodman says:

    Enjoyed this series and learned some good tips – actually good “ life lessons” in all areas! Am certain the “lady of the house” is pleased with the results! 😊


  5. Michael Chason says:

    I anticipated the ending. I could see it all coming together. Well done thy good and faithful painting servant!!

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10


  6. Ellen Hunsucker says:

    Love this series of life lessons!


  7. Patrick S. Dennard says:

    I think you need to start a tv sitcom ( PAINTING WITH NEIL ) I will direct!!!!!!!!!!!


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