Sunday, September 29, 2013

Painting Courage

Although I had been contemplating this for a while, sometime in the middle of the summer I decided that I was going to paint the living room.  I didn’t have much of a plan in mind except that I like blue and that I wanted to get rid of the stencil I put on the wall about 25 years ago.  So, I went to the hardware store and chose some paint colors.  I showed them to my cousin Janice who was visiting.  She told me they were too bold and to modify them, but was very encouraging.  She told me to go for it and have fun.  When I told my sister that I was going to redo my living room and that I’d noticed that it was a bit drab, she said she just thought I “didn’t care” which I am assuming translates into saying that she figured I was content with not having house beautiful.  In reality, I just hadn’t given it much thought.

At any rate, I have to thank my involvement in theater for giving me the courage to paint.  I have been painting sets for years.  Mind you, I haven’t done the fancy stuff, but I’ve painted plenty of flats (that is the term for the “walls” in theater) and even some fancier stuff with lots of instruction.  So, with that under my belt, I felt “courage” to paint my own walls, and theater set painting has armed me with lots of simple “tips” to make the job easier.  Plus, I already have lots of paint clothes.


Theater has taught me a number of things.  The most useful one is that you can make mistakes.  I can think of a number of mistakes I’ve made painting sets, and lo and behold, if you mess up, you can paint it over again or fix it.  One of my favorite painting stories was the time I was painting shingles on the front of a house, which consisted of drawing dark lines equal distance apart onto the base color.  One day, I dripped, and a drop of the darker color fell on the white of the house.  I couldn’t do much about it and I figured, in my creative fashion, that every house needs a bit of bird poop on it.  Well, the rest of the story is that the next day I came back to find that someone had painted over my “bird poop” and the house was white again.  Presto!  But, back to my own house, I’ve definitely learned the art of practicing and fixing mistakes. 

Another thing that theater has taught me is that “good enough” is okay.  Behind the scenes of a show, we have a mismatch of paints to choose from and often “make do” with a particular color, for example, or slap on some yucky paint as a base coat before we fancy it up with other stuff.  Certainly there are occasional places where the paint job is not perfect, but on stage it is generally “good enough.”  My motto is that if the audience notices that a little bitty line is crooked then the actors aren’t doing their job.  The way this translates to home is that I’ve decided that “good enough” is good enough for me.   I don’t really need house beautiful, but I do need a fun and creative outlet, which this provides.   

There are definite differences between painting at home and painting in the theater.  If there are holes in the flats, we generally cover them up with tape whereas at home, I’ve learned (and like) the art of spackling and sanding.  Also, when you paint a flat, you lay it horizontal on the ground and take the roller on a long stick and go over it while standing up – pretty darn easy and fun.  At home, most (or rather all) of the walls are vertical, making it a bit trickier to paint, and you can’t run over the edges with the roller (like with a flat).

It will be no surprise to anyone that once my walls were painted, my furniture looked drab.  I hadn’t thought much about what would happen after the paint, unlike with a set, which is very well thought out.   So, I’m making it up! I have been adding furniture, curtains, pillows and accessories in a rather spontaneous, although thoughtful, way.  I don’t know how it will turn out, but I’m having a blast.  And, I realize that the paint on the walls simply creates a palette for the creativity that will ensue.  This whole project has turned me into an art nut.  With my new-found courage, I’ve given up my old ways of debating about what should go where which leaves my walls bare, to buying and covering my walls with beautiful art that I like.  I can’t get enough of art shows. Surrounding myself with beautiful art is exciting, and I’ve created my own set right in my living room!

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