I Can (can’t) Paint

Can you paint? Like, prepare a surface for paint, gather your meager supplies, open the can of paint and put it on the surface, whatever it may be? How hard is that? Anybody can paint, can’t they?

I’ve been painting things for as long as I can remember. My earliest memories of painting something was the pumphouse with my older brother. We painted it a 1960’s aqua color, and in the process painted ourselves, our clothes, the ladder, and whatever else happened to come between our brushes and the pumphouse. We laughed a lot as we painted and loved that job.

The first inkling I had that I might not know how to paint happened only a few years ago. A cousin said she and her daughters wanted to paint their bedroom but didn’t know how, so they waited until her brother and his family came to visit because his wife knew how to paint. Suddenly I was made to realize that some people don’t know how to paint, and the unsettling thought came with that, that I just might be one of those who didn’t.

I began watching people who knew how to paint. I asked questions and what I learned mostly was that I HAD NOT known how to paint. Real painters do not allow as much as a bird feather to walk (or fly) between their brushes and the objects they’re painting. They rarely need drop cloths. They don’t waste precious painting time taping edges first because they don’t smear the paint where it doesn’t belong. I had a LONG WAY to go before I became a real painter. I still do!

But I’m learning as I paint. Right now I’m painting my kitchen cabinets and unintentionally, spending more money than I had intended. To get the smooth finish that I hope to end up with I “invested” in oil-based paint with a hard finish, a good quality 2″ slanted brush that’s made especially for oil-based paints, and also got a quart of Penetrol, a paint additive. It’s formulated to thin oil-based paint to eliminate “drag” (I call it thick paint that leaves streaks) and slows the drying time. I’ve learned to pour paint into a small hand-held container, barely dip the bristles of the brush into the paint, then brush it on the cabinet, holding the brush perpendicular to the surface at all times. Something I read on a DYI website is to paint only until the paint begins to “feather,” re-load the brush ever so lightly again and paint the next section. It makes for slow going, dipping, brushing, dipping, brushing. Before it begins to get sticky, smooth the entire surface that you’ve just brushed on until the paint is uniform and smooth. This method works well in getting a very smooth finish, free of streaks and runs.

lve also learned not to clean oil-based brushes with anything but mineral spirits. I used to clean them with mineral spirits then wash them with hot soapy water to clean the mineral spirits out of them. No, the people who know how to paint say, don’t allow any water to get on the brushes.

My painted projects are beginning to look a little neater than what they did when I thought I knew how to paint. I’m also looking a little neater. I can paint now without needing to bathe in mineral spirits when I’m finished. AND I can paint without taping – but I keep a rag handy to wipe away smears. I also still use a drop cloth. I must admit that I get real lucky at times when brushes fall or my paint container spills and always (so far) the container was either nearly empty or I was able to grab it before paint spilled. Also, so far, every time a brush flipped off the container when I set it down it landed some place that didn’t matter. That always makes me laugh.

I’ve been working at this kitchen makeover for a month now and still have a long way to go. So far I have only one photo to share but I promise to give you a look once it’s finished (if that time ever comes.) There was one week when the weather was too bad to paint walls so I took advantage of that, took off on a rabbit trail and did some creative painting on my freshly painted kitchen wall. I can show you a picture of that.

image

My 4-year-old granddaughter likes to look at this painting and say how the birds come out to sing when the moon comes up and that makes it heaven. The first time she said that I thought (like a scientific adult) that birds don’t sing at night, then caught myself and said, “You’re right. And they’re called whippoorwills.”

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