Watching Paint Dry

Idle hands are the devil’s handiwork….or something like that, so I have decided not to be idle on my wonderful days off ( which, by the way has just zoomed past me) and get on with the project which I have been planning to do for months now. I have decided to paint the walls of my flat because I had enough of the magnolia-coloured walls. It’s about time I sort out that wall damaged by damp.

Choosing my paint colours had been easy. Dulux has an online site with very useful tips and I believed in the famous line in their commercial, ‘we know the colours that go together’. I had a list of things to buy as recommended. As early as 8am I was already on the road to meet a very good friend who has agreed to help me carry my purchases. It didn’t take that long to shop for what I needed and wanted. It always pay to have a list and a second opinion.

It was almost noontime when we got home and as soon as my friend left I started to work right away. Like a bona fide amateur painter, I checked back on Dulux online and watched their short videos for those wanting to do DIY. Having absorbed what I thought was the essential, I decided to get on painting. I decided to first tackle my ‘feature’ wall in the lounge. Then I was stuck…I was supposed to prep the wall with sugar soap solution. What in heaven’s name is that? Is that just a solution of soapy water and sugar? If so, what is the concentration? Can I use any soap? More importantly, can I use brown sugar which I have in my cupboard? Panic! So I went to ever faithful Jeeves and found out that this is a commercially prepared product and contrary to its name, it not just made of soap and sugar. Luckily, there was advice online that I could just wash the wall with weak bleach or with good old soapy water. So, soapy water it was then. I tried to do everything that was expected of me…sanding down the walls, putting masking tapes on the edges, wetting my brushes and rollers with water first and stirring my pail of paint. I was sure I’ll get it right…after all, how hard can it be? Did I also mention that I had to sort out my attic door which was stuck so I can get my ladder?

So I started painting. The ‘Redcurrant Glory’ was indeed glorious in its vibrancy but try telling that to my ceiling which unfortunately still got splattered with red despite my masking tape. What can I say? I am a klutz sometimes, despite all intents and purposes. Then I had to tackle all the big walls in the lounge. Now, Dulux has recommended ‘Natural Hessian’ to go with ‘Redcurrant Glory’ so that is exactly what I bought. But as soon as my roller touched the walls, I started doubting Dulux’ s recommendation because the colour is that of wet cement. But I dug my heels in and just thought that surely the experts know what they were talking about. When I finished the wall, not only was my right shoulder crying out for relief but my spirit was also deflated because my wall looked like a disaster. All the brush strokes and roller ’glide’ can be seen.  I felt like a child who has to turn in a substandard school work. I rang one of my close friends and lamented to her about my predicament. I jokingly said to my friend that I should email Dulux customer service and lambast them for their lousy recommendation but I admit that it could all be due to my poor amateur handiwork. So I plodded along again and proceeded to paint yet another wall despite of all my doubts. Lo and behold… a couple of hours later, the paint has fully dried and walls looks good. The water-colour look was gone and replaced by a smooth wall that could have been done by a professional. I guess it’s true when they say that a little faith and patience will pay in dividends in the end.

On the second day of my role as painter, I had more confidence on my skills and more importantly, on my colour choices. But on this day it took a little longer to do just a couple of walls. Perhaps if I didn’t favour the smallest brush and smaller roller, I would have been a little faster. But I have decided to say the mantra, ‘Haste makes waste’ so I took my time especially in the little crooks and cranny. There are some parts on the wall that will not take paint as well as the rest even if I constantly go over it with my roller. I discovered that if I let the paint dry out somewhat then go over the area again with the roller then the paint will stick. As I was rolling over a particular stubborn patch, I have concluded that it’s like some pesky problems in life. Sometimes we need to stand back and see the bigger picture to come up with the solution. There were a lot of musings going thru my mind as my hands go up and down on the wall. I even thought about the differences between genders, politics in the Philippines, the smell of paint is not as bad as it used to be (or was that because it was the cheaper paint used before?) and whether winter will be any worse this year. I wonder if Michelangelo had gone thru all these musings when he was doing the Sistine chapel. Hmmm…was Leonardo also thinking of something else when he was doing the Mona Lisa? Not that I am comparing my humble wall painting with those of the geniuses but one wonders…

I have also done the feature wall in my bedroom and just like before, the colour did not look alright whilst still wet. The ‘Mulberry burst’ looks like blood red and that horrified me. I have no intention of sleeping in a room that could be featured in a horror movie or be found in a brothel. But I preserved and when the paint did dry, the colour indeed burst into life. When I spoke with my best friend, she asked me why I was doing all this painting and I actually have to stop and think about it. It isn’t just because that I was tired of the sterile, corporate- neutral look but I guess after almost 5 years of living here, I have decided to grow roots and put my own stamp on the place. It is about time that my flat reflects that I actually live here and not just another transient looking for the next adventure.

I am almost done with my painting project but I have decided to take a break. I have to rest today for a possible all-nighter tonight and besides, having done the work for 3 days now, I have come to a conclusion… There’s more to life than watching paint dry.

Written on September 2009

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