I started a very small painting project a few months back.
The landing at the bottom of the stairs in our bungalow had been an ugly brownish-red colour since we moved in over 10 years ago. I have loathed the colour since Day 1 and had always wanted to change it.
In addition to a cheap, $14 light fixture connected to the wall, there was an old security sensor still glued — yes, glued — to the ceiling. It had long since been unplugged, nary a wire left connected to it, nor any evidence that it had ever been connected. We had other options and had never used it.
On a whim one Saturday night after my wife had gone to bed, I decided to start this small painting project with some leftover white paint from a previous reno project. I can handle it, I thought.
I am married to an artist after all; a painter artist, no less. Along with those traditional marriage vows I took 14 years ago came the additional implicit vow of, “…in sickness and in health, in good paints jobs but never bad, to love and to cherish…”
There I stood shortly before midnight wearing my sweatpants, no shirt, and my pristine white socks. Fortunately, the white socks survive this story, but the security sensor didn’t.
There I stood on our basement landing ripping that good-for-nothing security sensor from the ceiling. It wasn’t glued. In fact, the sensor was attached to the ceiling via a tiny metal rod. My less-than-thorough inspection clearly had missed this pointed detail.
After repairing the hole in the ceiling, I began taping off the areas I didn’t want to paint; your usual spots — around doors, around the world’s cheapest light fixture, around tricky ceiling holes.
Then, because my wife the artist has it drilled into me, I began sanding the walls to rough them up.
However, I was burning the midnight oil (you’re welcome), and my wife was heading off to dreamland where the kids had long since arrived, and the only light on in a still house was that miserly fixture still clinging to the wall. So, I sanded methodically at a sloth’s pace to keep the loud scratching noise of sandpaper against tacky brownish-red paint to a minimum.
It was an agonizing 45 minutes of sanding that, had I waited until morning, probably would have been 15 minutes. Less. But I wanted to get my project off to a headstart before the inevitable happened.
Once I was through sanding, I stood there in the single-bulbed light and looked at my handiwork of prepping this job. Great headstart, I thought. Time for bed.
The next morning I got up, cleaned the walls I had sanded the previous night, and went to work putting the first coat of glistening white paint on the walls.
My wife made her first appearance on the project site at this point. She was travelling through to her studio, which occupies a large chunk of our basement just beyond the landing.
On her way back to the stairs, she lingered a little longer; gave me that look that only an artist’s husband knows; and matter-of-factly asked about a piece of wall that was clearly not prepped for painting.
A lesser artist’s husband would have completely missed the hint.
After she vacated the area, I quickly taped around the small piece of wall that was now added to my project, sanded it down, washed it, and slapped a coat of paint on.
The ceiling cut-in was a bit rough; the coat was unevenly applied; and I had missed filling one hole with wall putty.
Thirty minutes later, I inspected my first coat. The ceiling cut-in was a bit rough; the coat was unevenly applied; and I had missed filling one hole with wall putty. Outstanding work, if I do say so myself.
Still, the outcome remained inevitable.
I finished cleaning up, leaving all the tools ready for the second coat to be applied later on.
A few minutes later, I shared my outstanding progress with my wife; leaving out a few, select details.
“First coat is on the wall. How long until I can apply the second coat?” I asked.
“A couple of hours,” she said, before adding the inevitable question: “Do you want me to do the second coat?”
When I was standing there the previous night planning, on a whim, to start my painting project, I knew it would be her painting project by the next day. I was counting on it.
This question — “Do you want me to do the second coat?” — has come with every painting project I’ve ever started in 14 years of marriage to an artist.
As much as I loathed that brownish-red paint colour, I loathe painting even more. I would rather watch the paint dry than have to apply it myself.
Fortunately, I have a wife who takes great pride in her painting — whether a mural in a poolhouse, an original mixed media mini, or a simple, mundane paint job on the walls of a basement landing in our own home.
I’ve come to appreciate her passion for all types of painting. I’ve also come to appreciate how to
game inspire her passion to get a painting project completed.
It’s remarkably simple: Just start.
The inevitable offer to do the second coat always comes. In fact, my favourite painting projects have been the ones where I haven’t even had to touch the paintbrush for any coat.
As it turns out, for this project, I had grander plans than simply the walls. I also wanted the two doors — leading to our fitness/laundry room and to my office — to be painted to match the bathroom door, which was already white.
I offered them up on a glistening white platter shortly after she wrapped up applying the second coat and, seemingly she agreed with my assessment that the dark-brown, 1970s style doors simply didn’t “go” with the new white that was now surrounding them.
As for my favourite, $14 light fixture: Once the kids were up, I was able to shut down the power to it, gleefully rip it out of the wall, and safely replace it with a much more modern fixture that better matches the walls and the original art we have in the space.
I love you, honey. Never stop asking me if you can apply the second coat. It’s one of the things I love about you… in good paint jobs but never bad.