Friday, May 30, 2008

The Joy of Painting

Elemental, 2008, Oil on Panel, 9x18

So exactly five years ago this month we were still living in Utah and just finishing up the renovations on our money pit house here in NY. Our excellent contractor and his crew did a wonderful job, but naturally we went way over budget (well I did, I kept adding things) and the bid for painting the interior was about 20,000! Yikes! No money for that at all. So we hired the painter to do the ceilings and to prime the new walls. And our brilliant plan was then for me to spend a week or two out here, painting the house. The first trip was for about a week and there was electricity, telephone and heat in the house but nothing else. No appliances, satellite service, furniture. We had brought a load of things the previous summer so there was a bed and a few chairs and I did have a portable stereo, thank god, or I would have totally gone crazy, but that was it. There was one sink, a toilet and no shower (only a tub) hooked up. I kept food in a cooler on the porch and I would have gone out for dinner each night but I ended working almost every single minute that I was here. On that first trip I lightly sanded all of the previously painted woodwork with a palm sander, which sucked so bad I can't even tell you. I remember sitting out on the front steps just crying because I was so sick of the endless sanding. But I got the woodwork sanded and primed AND I even managed to get sides of the kitchen cabinets painted so that the appliances could be installed after I left. I also managed to paint the walls where new sinks and toilets would be installed.

The next visit a month later was better. I had a refrigerator and a microwave. The utility sink was hooked up. I had shipped out a few boxes so I had some things like dishes, a lamp, a few books, etc. I was only planning to stay a week or so but even though I was working almost every minute of the day, I still needed more time. So I talked to Doug and we agreed I would stay longer, but unfortunately that meant I would miss my daughter's sixth birthday, something I still feel guilty about and something that she doesn't even remember. Heh. Anyway, my strongest memories of this trip were of sitting on the front steps at two in the morning rinsing out paint brushes in mineral spirits while the neighbor (a doctor) drove by very slowly peering at me and probably wondering what the heck I was doing. I got most of the house painted though before I left to go back to Utah.

When we moved about a month or so later I went out ahead of the movers and finished up a few more things. And over the next month or so I did the last odds and ends. Finally I put everything away (without painting the last two window sashes, and they are primed but still no top coat five years later) and even though there are spots that could use some touching up, um thanks to the movers and to the kids, I have had a mental block about any kind of house painting whatsoever. I developed a newfound respect for painters and at the time, if we had actually had 20,000 dollars, I would have happily handed it over. On the other hand, painting this house really did help me feel connected to it, in a way that I have never felt about anywhere I have ever lived before. So I guess all in all it was a valuable experience. Um, yeah.

Why am I writing about all of this? Well, because it's another blog post to fill AND because I am having major flashbacks to that time. I have been painting my new attic studio for the last few days and all of that work five years ago is rushing back to me. I can't say I am feeling physically ill like I thought I would if I ever had to tape off a window or use a paint roller again, and in fact I am somewhat enjoying the mindless activity and loud music (see #4 below).

I have noticed a few things though:

1. I definitely am not in the same physical shape as I was five years ago. Ok, I admit it, I have gained a few pounds since then and I don't exercise near as much as I used to either. There is little chance that I can work all day, or for even more than a few hours, even if I wanted to. Crap. I need to get back to gym when this is all over.

2. I have the jiggly arm thing going now too and it is most noticeable when rolling paint onto the sloped ceiling. Yayyy.

3. My music options are much better. When I painted the house, I listened to about 10 different CD's over and over and over again. This time I have my iPod and unlimited talk to listen to on satellite radio.

4. I am not so out of shape that I can't sing while I work. The acoustics in my virtually empty attic are amazing and even though I am a horrible singer. I sound great. Well, at least the kids are at school and aren't around to tell me otherwise. Heh.

5. Every minute that I am painting the smooth new sheet rock walls, I am mumbling thank yous that there is no wallpaper to strip, no woodwork to sand and no suspicious stuff to scrape off. Last time I was just complaining about all of that stuff.

6. I don't recall bumping my head at all when painting the entire rest of the house. So far I have bumped my head at least seven times in the last few days. Mostly on the beams, and when backing out of the knee wall storage space. Luckily, I am not so decrepit yet that I can't walk while bent over without putting my back out and so yesterday I avoided hitting my head entirely.

7. I am actually afraid to paint the short wall that is about two feet from the open stairwell. I am saving it for last. Surely when I was 38 that wouldn't have bothered me at all, right?

Anyway, I am hoping to finish this up next week sometime. There is still much that has to be done in the garden this weekend, finally time to get the tomatoes in! and so I will only be able to paint in smaller increments of time.

And a post about wall color next too. Oy, has THAT been an issue!

4 comments:

Stacey Peterson said...

Ugh - I see a lot of painting in my future when our new house is built. It's no fun and I can't believe you did the entire house by yourself back then!! You gave me flashbacks to when I was first married - we moved to Houston and bought a house and I spent the entire first two weeks stripping wallpaper, sanding, and painting our kitchen and bathrooms, all by myself while Nate was at work...

Anyhow, I want to hear about the paint color decision!! I'm debating color for my new studio - don't know whether to go for white/neutral or a nice grey/green. Decisions...

Kesha Bruce said...

Don't know what else to say except that I really enjoyed reading this post so I thought I'd just say so.

Tracy said...

Hi Stacey, I know, I can't believe I did all of it either. But I doubt I will do it again, whereas it sounds as if you will be doing the whole house thing twice:) Yuck!

I will definitely write about the color. It is a real issue right now.

Thanks Kesha.

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