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Archive for November, 2014

Painting Around Sharp Budget Cuts, Part 1

Sharp budget cuts mandate many changes in an organization – such as a hotel, hospital or university – that employs a full-time staff painter. They tend to include staff terminations in some departments – including engineering/facilities services/physical plant.

The loss of even one person, in an already manpower-strapped operation, can affect everyone there. Each person in a way unique to his or her job description, role as a member of the department team, and link as a member of the organizational team.

The work load increases, usually for everyone who still has a job.

Each person must continue to complete his or her own projects and work orders – in a timely, satisfactory manner. In addition, each has to assume some responsibility for the completion of tasks and work orders handled previously by the team member or members no longer there.

A painter, even a lead painter, may take on engineering/maintenance tech jobs and work orders.

Fill-in tasks, such as pest control spraying and mold/mildew remediation, may become regular parts of his or her routine job.

He or she may do basic guest room repairs and replacements. He or she may repair and replace air conditioner units, plumbing, lighting, tile and carpeting, roofing, WI-FI connections, and door key card systems.

The painter may help with mechanical and operating system repairs, and pool and spa repairs. He or she may be asked to handle exterior lighting and property security and safety system repairs. He or she may need to assist with groundskeeping and lawn maintenance.

 Any additional load leaves less time to get regular painting done.

How did you handle your engineering department’s last sharp budget cut? How many teammates, if any, did you lose? How many non-paint job responsibilities did you take on? For how long? How did it go?

Which, and how many, of your regular job tasks and projects got pushed on the back burners? How long ago was the last cutback? Do you continue to operate under capacity?

If so, how do you schedule in your regular projects and tasks? How do you make room for the added responsibilities? How do you ensure yourself the time and resources needed to do both jobs right?

Perhaps, one or more of the following related practices may help you be good-to-go.


1. Take your calendar – paper, online, app, etc. List your current paint shop-related projects and tasks.

 TIP: Take a little time with this. Make sure you get the main ones. Get down the other ones that you do take care of – and no one, including you, thinks much about.


2. With each project and task, determine where you’re really at.

ASK YOURSELF: What else needs to be done to complete it? Approximately, how much more time do you need to get each finished?


3. Prioritize each according to need. Set approximate time line and completion date.


4. On your calendar, slot out time needed each week – or every other week, at the latest – to work on each project.

TIP: You and your supervisor need to agree which ones must be completed as soon as possible. CAUTION: This can change at any time, and often. With little or no warning!


5. Allow yourself and your department a little flexibility.


6. Determine your regular paint shop tasks. The ones high on your job description and capability lists. Yes, those lists may vary a little or a lot.


7. Determine approximately how long you need, each week – or every other week, at the latest – to do each task.


8. Consider the best days of the week, and times, to work on each one.

Example: “Good-to-go: Wednesdays, 9-2, while most guests are visiting area theme parks; sightseeing; attending major sports event, conference, etc… and I can put other things on hold.”


9. Estimate how long you will need to do each.


10. Prioritize. Consult with your supervisor as needed.


11. Schedule onto your calendar – and all department calendars, too!


Sound like common-sense stuff, that every experienced painter will not need help with? Maybe.

When team size dwindles, available skill-sets and expertise can dwindle, too. So will available work time.

Confusion, stress and overload can set in suddenly. It can throw you off. Especially, if it hits you on an off day, at an off time.

“Nip it in the bud,” as character Barney Fife, “The Andy Griffith Show,” said repeatedly.

Get good-to-go. Block-in your painting and decorating related projects and tasks.

It is up to you to make certain that every paint-shop related project, task and work order is taken care of. That’s a given!

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Protect your own “staff painter” work day! Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob” blog.

Painting It: Chaotic Office with a Million Dollar View

The office overlooked South Michigan Avenue and Lake Michigan. It was located on the fourteenth floor of the historic sixteen-floor Conservatory of Music Building. And, it came as part of the package agreement for the woman to manage the literary services division of Cosmopolitan Translation Bureau (CTB).

At first glance, it appeared that the view was the space’s only asset. The 15-foot by 42-foot open space featured very tall, unobstructed windows; a 15-foot high, discolored white ceiling; faded light green walls; chipped wood molding and wainscoting; and, badly scuffed green asbestos tiled flooring.

Discarded, outdated office furniture crammed the space. Every piece showed signs of extreme wear. Bulky steel, also antique wood, desks, chairs, file cabinets, and bookcases. Hidden behind and under some of the clutter were two leather sofas, fireside chairs, and two large upholstered arm chairs.

Before the work could start, the space had to be emptied. Most of the furniture was sold, or donated to smaller tenants on other floors of the building. Also, the building’s janitorial crew went in and thoroughly swept, cleaned and mopped the floor to get rid of built-up dust, dirt, sticky substances, etc.


PAINTING IT: CTB’s founder Professor Steen hired my father to re-paint the space. Four Saturdays, he drove into the Loop. He supervised the painting and decorating of the office. It turned into a modified restoration.

My father’s “crew” consisted of (1) Armando, CTB’s senior translator and an Encyclopaedia Britannica consultant; (2) Ed, CTB’s resident security officer and delivery/pick-up person; and, (3) me, the “go-for.” (I was ten.)

The project was divided into four Saturdays, and ten phases. Each work day ended with a clean-up of the area. All products, supplies, tools, etc., that would not be used again on the project, were packed up, and removed from the space.




  1. AM. Cleaning and washing: Ceiling, walls; doors, windows, frames, sills; molding, wainscoting, dado, baseboard; fixtures.

Products used: Degreaser in warm sudsy water; vinegar in warm clear water.


  1. PM. Prep work: Spot patching, caulking, filling; two light, gentle sandings.

Products used: Restoration fillers, shellac stopping (eg. wax fillers), animal glue (for wood repairs), extra fine sandpaper (320 grit to 400 grit).


* End-of-day Clean-up. During the following week, the building’s janitorial crew went into the work area. They vacuumed, then mopped the tile floor again.




  1. AM. Priming: All surfaces, previously painted.

Products used: Painted surfaces – custom-composition, thinned paint blend, developed by my father. Note: In the paint can, the product looked nearly clear. It went on like a white watercolor. By the way, commercial products were too costly.


  1. PM. Staining/sealing: Wood doors and frames, window frames and sills.

Product used: Special stain (formulated in 1887) used for furniture restoration; also large or built-in wood amenities. My father “thinned” the product using a formulation used by restorers with the Museum of Natural History.

Color: Edgewood Walnut.


* End-of-Day Clean-Up. Then, area was sealed off till Saturday 3.




  1. AM. Light sanding and buffing: All surfaces, except ceiling.

Product used: Sheets of finest grades sandpaper (gotten through friend at Museum of Natural History), attached to sanding block on extension poles. Note: Very labor intensive; required very controlled light touch.


  1. AM. Surface dusting: All surfaces and areas.

Product used: Clean, very soft cotton t-shirt fabric. (My mother purchased a bolt from fabric store.)


  1. PM. Finish painting: Ceiling, walls.

Products used: Ceilings – Antique white; walls – Mint green.


* End-of-Day Clean-Up. Then, area was sealed off till Saturday 4.




  1. AM. Finish painting: All molding, trims, wainscoting, dado, baseboard.

Products used: Sherwin Williams Antique white, special blend, semi-gloss; artists brushes, ½ to 2-inch brushes.


  1. PM. Finishing varnishing: Doors, frames; window frames, sills.

Products used: Clear, low-gloss varnish; polishing mop (brushes).


  1. PM. Painting and decorating clean-up.

Much of the clean-up had been done on Saturdays 1, 2 and 3 after each work day. Still, the final clean-up took time – and special care.


The varnish was still drying. And, some of the trim paint was “sticky.” So, we had to watch that we didn’t kick up any particles (eg. dust), or touch any of those wet surfaces.


On-site tool and equipment cleaning was kept to a minimum. Used paint and varnish brushes were wiped off with clean cotton rags. Then, they were placed into their respective wet-solution carriers. Paint and varnish cans were wiped clean, and sealed tightly. Materials, supplies, tools, and equipment were packed up, and placed on carts in the hallway. Dropcloths were folded carefully and also put onto the carts.


One week later: Moving Day!


The following Friday, A&S’s managing editor moved into the office space. Already in place were the furniture pieces that had been rejuvenated or restored by the furniture crew.


The pieces included one leather sofa (forest green), one arm chair (dark green slipcover with white piping), both leather fireside chairs (black), three wood desks with pull-out typewriter shelves (mahogany-stained oak), three swivel office chairs (repaired by Ed), two smaller bookcases (mahogany finish), two floor lamps (circa 1950s), and, two table lamps (one of them a Tiffany, retrieved from an unused office next door).


Two faded 12-foot by 12-foot oriental area rugs appeared one week later. Professor Steen sent Ed out to purchase a solid area rug (dark green) for the narrower entry area. Ed donated a wood-trimmed upholstered settee from his apartment on the 16th floor.


Over seven years later: Law firm moves in!


The space kept its restored look for over seven years. At one point, Professor Steen sub-leased the space to a young law firm. By that time, he needed to retire. And, A&S had been merged into a full-service communications firm, located two blocks north.


The law partners turned the space into a modular-type office suite. They maintained the restored ceiling, walls and trim. Plush wall-to-wall carpeting – a soft blue-green – was laid throughout the space. Then, they used a custom, wood-grained paneling wall system to create four lawyer’s offices – two with that Lake Michigan view. A secretary’s office and front reception set near the front entry.


The “million dollar view” from those tall, tall windows was preserved. The open window treatments featured dark green velvet tie-back drapes, with matching cornices and tie-backs.


Final note: Eventually, the building owners (Conservatory’s board) invested in the total restoration of the historic property.


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This blog is dedicated to my father – and to the historic Conservatory of Music building, South Michigan Avenue, Chicago.

Thanks, everyone, for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Changes and Advancements in Hotel/Facility Painting, Part 2: Products and Materials




Products and materials designed for the hospitality painting market are developed for (1) aesthetics of the guest environment, and (2) durability. For a paint job to last, there has to be color retention, as well as resistance to fading – and the elements.

The market now manufactures products with low odor, excellent matching qualities and high coverage. All to reduce the amount of products/materials used, and increases in cost.


1. Changes and Advancements in Products:


A. Waterborne interior alkyd. Feature: Provides hard, durable finish ideal for moldings, doors, furniture, and cabinetry.

B. Dual component paints. Feature: Designed to act as both primer and finish.

C. Exterior clear coats for wood. Feature: Increase color retention, and to aid in the prevention of cracking and mold damage.

D. Flame retardant additives for paint.

E. Silicon-based anti-fouling paints. Advantage: Reduce ship hull conductivity and corrosion.

F. Waterborne odorless epoxy. Feature: Provides hard, durable interior finish on drywall and masonry surfaces.


Comments about Products:


Manufacturers make every effort to develop products that are designed to ease application by painters and finishers, and consumers. Also, they strive for products that create a more durable finish.

2. Changes and Advancements in Materials – eg. wallcoverings:


A. Resin-based wallcovering. Feature: Designed to simulate natural woods and textiles.

B. Plasticized resin. Featured use: Coating of siding, wood, or metal.

C. Vinyl wallcovering. Feature: Simulates decorative finishes.

D. Colorized sand-finished plaster. Advantage: Eliminates the need for paint.


Comments about Materials:


Advancement in materials is highly specialized. Modern architectural design stimulates the need for materials which are new. Also, it requires an advanced chemical design and composition of materials. Example: A plastic which looks like metal.

Closing Comments about Painting Products and Materials:


Select a product or material which best suits your intended use. When you want a finish to last, follow the manufacturer’s and vendor’s recommendations. From surface preparation through the final finishing stages.

Learn about the development and testing of construction materials that address problems with which you must deal on a regular basis. Example: Materials that actually deter the growth and infestation of toxic black mold fungi.  Such materials are of special interest to painters and engineering techs, as well as other hotel and facility workers, in high-heat/high-humidity regions of the country.


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Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”


Changes and Advancements in Hotel/Facility Painting, Part 1: Techniques and Methods



Advancement occurs according to design. Extensive changes have taken place with pre-finished and patterned products such as doors, moldings and furniture.

Surface applications have been added to decrease drying time and increase workability. Examples: Water-based varnishes, scented coatings, waterborne paint thinners.

Hotel/facility painters and finishers face greater demands for modified and new techniques. They need to know how to apply the products that are developed (a) to adhere to newer construction surface materials and (b) to provide greater durability, and easier maintenance.


1. Changes and Advancements in Techniques:


A. Metalized painting procedures including powder coating and electrostatic finishing, especially for non-ferrous metal.

B. Multi-layered plaster applications with emulsified coatings.

C. Textile fabric applications. Feature: Simulate natural designs.

D. Reduction or elimination of solvents by increased use of waterborne-based coatings. These have replaced typical use of varnishes, sealers and polyurethanes (clear coat system).


Comments about techniques:


Hand and spray applications have increased in detail and overall effect, through wide use of decorative finishing. It is the most creative area of painting.

From a sample, the duplication of a finish into the selected space requires the applicator to envision each step in a process as accurately as possible. Even a random, homogenous finish requires a detailed perspective. If a tool is involved, then every aspect of its use must be known.


2. Changes and Advancements in Methods:


A. Spray gun application involving HVLP (high volume-low pressure).

B. Pressure-fed roller system. Advantage: Allows continuous large scale wall painting.

C. Paint removal systems with solvent entrapment. Change: Less toxic.


Closing Comments about Painting Techniques and Methods:


Often, an existing method of application is used, because the newer product or material is similar to the previously used one. Or, the proven method is redesigned to accommodate the new product.

Methods for applying paints, finishes and coatings are all about adaptability. To select the right method for the project at hand, the painter/finisher must know the product, substrate and condition of the surface, area’s usage and traffic volume, and environmental exposure-cost-durability ratio (ECD).


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HOTEL/FACILITY PAINTER’S TIP 1: Once a month, or more often, stop by your paint supplier. Look around. Check out the new displays. Grab a few brochures. Find out “What’s new.”


HOTEL/FACILITY PAINTER’S TIP 2: Every year, attend at least one trade/industry show. Examples: Hospitality; hotels and lodging; building and construction; painting and finishing; facilities; and/or products, finishes and coatings.

Note: Try to get a non-member event pass/badge from a member, participant or presenter. Examples: paint store manager, product manufacturer’s rep, trade association member, trade officer, large area contractor, etc.


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Changes and advancements in the techniques or methods you use, especially when self-initiated, build a better painter.  Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Upgrading Your Painting Team Skills and Abilities: Keeping Pace with New Trade Standards and Property Changes


Adapting to changes often requires a versatile outlook. A project such as remodeling or renovation is a capital improvement, designed to increase the value of the property.

In painting, it is desirable to possess specialized skills and abilities such as applying wallcoverings, decorative finishes and custom textiles. The location does not depend on your skills.

Skills and abilities which are innovative fill needs that the average painter is not able to offer. My suggestion: Seek out specialized training. Learn about the advances in new building products and materials, finishing products and coating systems. A background in one or more of these areas will ensure that you are diversified in a competitive market.

1. How the painting trade standards have changed – eg. IUPAT.

A. Regulations on product use ensure the safe implementation of the application.

B. There is an expectation to use low VOC products for clean air provisions.

C. Regulations and implementation of hazardous chemical containment has been increased.

D. Lead abatement has become required for presence of pre-existing lead-based paint materials.

E. Rules established for disposal of used paints and solvents are more specific – and stringent!

2. How commercial/facility painting job descriptions have changed.

A. Jobs specify experience in multi-surface preparation, methods, techniques, etc.

B. Jobs specify experience in application of surface/substrate products, materials, etc.

C. Many employers seek persons with electrical, plumbing, mechanical, and tiling skills.

D. Descriptions are broader, allowing for more diversified experience and abilities.

E. Jobs require more flexibility in scheduling, budgeting and costing-out, product use, etc.

3. What experienced painters need to learn today.

A. Popular new paint products: How to apply Zolstone, Multi spec, Venetian plaster, acrylic glazing techniques, hand-texturing techniques.

B. Less known new paint products: Metallic glazing, low odor two-components, epoxy, urethane; moisture-cured polyurethane, water-based alkalai resistant primers, moisture-cured zinc primers, water-based interior/exterior solids and semi-transparent stains, water-based varnishes.

C. New finishing products: Water-based rust inhibitive primers and dryfall coatings; 2-component polyurethanes, mark resistant interior latex paints. Check Gliddens, PPG, Sherwin Williams, etc.

D. New, preferred methods to use: HVLP is preferred over standard, conventional spray painting.  You have reduced material use, and much less overspray. Depending on the spray gun selected, a finer spray pattern can be achieved with HVLP.

E. New supplies: Plastic or plastic biodegradable dropcloths, long-release masking tapes, paintable siliconized caulking, cageless roller frames.

F. New tools: Purdy and Wooster paint brushes are considered the top two brands. Whistler (made in Great Britain) and Sympthony stand out as the two best in decorative finishing brushes.

G. New equipment: Graco, Sharpe, Devilbiss, Iwata (Japanese), and C-A techniques provide the most advanced spray finishing equipment available.

4. How to help experienced painter(s) on your team/crew upgrade their skills.

A. Hold training sessions in areas of surface finishing – eg.painting, wallcovering, decorative finishing, texture applications.

B. Make available the basic, necessary tools and supplies for the particular upgrade.

C. Create work areas where new skills can be used.

D. Provide reference materials to use as guides – downloadable apps, DVDs, books, e-books, manuals, tip sheets, etc.

5. How to help experienced painter(s) on your team/crew adapt to, and welcome, changes.

A. Tell the painters they are not expected immediately to create new skills. Being proficient takes time.

B. Allow each painters enough time, daily or weekly, to exercise a new skill or technique.

C. Require that everyone, who will paint, will know the proper way to finish each surface they will, or might, be required to work on.

6. How to help experienced painter(s) on your team/crew ask for help, feedback and resources.

A. Let each team member know that he or she has the support of supervisors, coworkers, and management.

B. Create open dialogue within the department, and organization, where suggestions can be offered freely, without reprisal or offense.

Closing Comments: The more diverse that one’s skills are, the more you can offer the employer, and hope to guarantee you will be needed in the future. Requirements are always changing. And, a painter must be able to adapt so that any given situation is readily manageable, or solved to meet the needs of the market.

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Paint with spirit! Live with soul! Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Training Engineering/Maintenance Techs Basic Commercial Painting Skills and Methods


Mechanical repairs for a Maintenance Tech are no less important than the appearance of the room or space that you seek to improve. Surface repairs and painting can be learned to a point where you are as confident in doing it, as you are in performing your normal duties.

Building skills as a painter/tech requires the ability to respond to a wide variety of conditions. You want to be ready to use appropriate methods of painting to improve the appearance of a commercial business. You want everyone to be satisfied with the work: guests, visitors, customers, supervisors, management, and yourself.


1. What every tech needs to know about the painting trade.


A. Standard methods and techniques continue to work, when they match the criteria for which they were developed: surface/substrate, product/material, tools, equipment, environment.

B. Paint store managers, manufacturer’s reps, and interior designers tend to be excellent resources.

C. Many standard methods and techniques can be adapted – when used skillfully and carefully.

D. Surfaces should be touched-up, when you know the exact paint used before – or you are very skilled at mixing, matching and blending products, colors and textures.

E. For best results, the existing area should be blended with the touch-up or newly painted area.F. Before painting, the area should be prepared, so the new application matches the surface.

F. To preserve brushes, roller covers, work container, etc., clean them at the end of each day.

G. When finished, the work areas must be kept tidy and clean – guest room, walkway, paint shop

2. What every tech needs to know about painting and finishing products, in general.


A. Three main categories of products include waterborne (water-based), solvent borne(oil/petroleum-based), and catalyst  activated (eg. epoxy, urethane).

B. Generally, these products are composed of latexes, oils, urethanes, epoxies, and polyurethanes.

C. Many more types of products are available.

D. Products are designed for interior, exterior, and both interior/exterior applications.


3. What every tech needs to know about hotel/facility painting.


A. Touch-up paint color/tint that you use must match the paint on adjacent surfaces.

B. Some work orders can’t wait until you complete your current project or task.

C. Your chief engineer is your supervisor – not any other department manager.

D. When you stand in for the painter, both he and your supervisor are counting on you to do a good job – and to follow the rules and procedures.

E. Advance notice of the designated work areas, and “WET PAINT” use must be given to others.

F. Making note if more paint, supplies, etc. are needed helps you get job done on schedule.


4. What every tech needs to know to handle priority painting work orders.


A. Clearly understand what’s needed, also any limits – eg. time, budget, non-budgeted needs.

B. Select products/materials, tools, etc. based on need, inventory, budget/cost, time, traffic, etc.

C. Select method or technique based on surface/substrate and condition, location, time limit, etc.

D. Always give notice of painting to supervisor and/or other department managers (housekeeping, front desk) that room is to be put “OUT OF ORDER.”

E. Any work area – guest room, public restroom, restaurant, pool area, etc. – must be unoccupied, or “OUT OF ORDER” to complete the work safely and satisfactorily.

 5. TIPS: Training techs to perform basic painting tasks professionally.


A. Respect each tech’s unique set of skills and abilities, and known limitations.

B. Ask where, when and how they got painting their experience. (Basic information)

C. Find out the type(s) of painting projects they have worked on. What did they do? How often? For how long? Which were under no…little …a lot of supervision?

D. Assume they know the basic brush and roller techniques for materials to be used.

E. SHOW THEM the proper paints for specific areas.

F. Ensure that all techs, who will do paint-shop work, can repair areas that need to be painted.


6. TIPS: Training techs basic painting – the journey-apprentice way.


A. Work side-by-side with each trainee to ensure continuity in his or her workmanship.

B. Help each tech to find his or her comfort level using required methods, products, tools, etc.

C. Provide techs with tools of quality equal to those used by a journey instructor, or painter.

D. SHOW techs the basic methods of repairing wall damages on different surfaces and areas.

E. SHOW techs the proper way to spray paint a large surface. Include safety requirements.


Closing Comments:

An engineering/maintenance tech’s painting savvy will be only as sharp as the quality of his or her training; access to needed products, materials, supplies, and tools; and on-going support (departmentally and interdepartmentally).

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Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Painting It: Painting in Office Ingenuity, Inspiration and Integrity

What office style and environment motivates and inspires you?

Before we worked in modular work stations, we functioned within offices. Rooms with visible walls, soundproof ceilings and windows with views. Spaces that accommodated real wood desks and bookcases, and allowed them to be rearranged when we wanted or needed a change. Environments with a sense of atmosphere, individuality, privacy, and permanence.

The private office settings described here existed prior to 1993. Three of them set in office complexes, that included modular work stations. Each of the spaces had been personalized with photos, drawings, cartoon drawings, travel souvenirs, vases of flowers, candy containers, etc.


1. Whimsical and Productive

The director of production, Kiver Communications, sat in a custom-designed pink and white office. Hard-core corporate clients melted when they entered. Every year, the employee helped her technical publishing company exceed its sales record of the previous year.

Two features stood out in her office. One was the thick, cotton-candy pink carpeting. The other was a huge white rocker in which sat a life-sized Miss Piggy.™ A custom-made gift from Anita’s boyfriend. He had gotten special permission from Muppets’™ creator, Jim Henson, to have Piggy re-created.

Painting it: Regularly, a staff painter cleaned, then touched up the office. Every two years, he gave the two-room suite a fresh paint job. The 12-foot high ceiling was sponge-washed, then re-textured in bright white interior enamel. The walls got a fresh coat of light pink interior latex. The baseboards, doors, and door and window frames were sanded lightly, and repainted with interior bright white enamel.


2. Subdued and Professional

The founder and ceo of SHS, Inc., a health industry recruiting firm, watched from his blue-gray office, as boats cruised by on the Chicago River. Sports memorabilia and framed photos of his young family added personality and warmth to the large modern suite on West Wacker Drive.

Few of his pharmaceutical and health communications clients visited him in the office. The persons that he was recognized for recruiting – marketing, advertising, communications, and public relations job candidates – visited his office only when necessary, and convenient. The atmosphere was always welcoming and friendly, yet very professional.

Painting it: Painters, employed by the property management company, maintained the high-rise office building. As needed, they touched up the walls, woodwork, and trim. Especially in the front lobby and offices. Every three years, they repainted the high white ceilings, and soft blue-gray molding and trim. The commercial wall vinyl required only a periodic washing down with warm, sudsy water and a sea sponge.

My sister visited the office once during a school vacation. She seemed more excited about the recruiting professionals and “creatives” that she met there. Less impressed by the expansive size of the suite, and its contemporary décor.


3. Corporate and “Welcoming”

The director of sales, Marriott of North Michigan Avenue, seemed relaxed in his office appointed with classic soft gold, burnt orange and brown paint, and matching commercial wall vinyl. Photos of family, favorite vacations and hobbies set in his area of the sales suite.

Among them were framed newspaper and magazine clippings of his sister at Academy Award and TV Emmy events. (Already, she was a rising star.) At times, he shared his two-door, “Grand Central Station”- atmospheric office with sales associates. All seemed comfortable working amidst their director’s photo gallery. They had their own desktop personal photo and memorabilia displays.

Painting it: One of the hotel’s full-time staff painters kept the office suite in pristine condition. The commercial wallcovering, that had replaced the semi-gloss paint, always looked fresh, clean and uplifting. Quite a feat for one of the busiest offices on the hotel property.


4. Opulent and Ostentatious

In complete contrast, Mr. Kutner sat behind his imported, hand-carved antique desk on the top floor of the original Continental Bank Building. The colorful, and most-published, international attorney was the author of “The Living Will,” and “granddaddy” of the World Habeas Corpus Law.

He surrounded himself with black walnut paneled walls, plush crimson red carpeting, matching red velvet draperies, and marble fireplaces. His open lobby was appointed with polished black and white marble floors and carved walnut “courtroom” banisters and railings. Ornate bust sculptures of Aristotle, Plato, Strauss, and Beethoven set on marble-topped, hand-carved pedestal tables. The door to his nearby private vault set open when he was in the office.

Painting it: Once a year, two commercial painters and decorators, contracted by Continental Bank, revived the entire 4-office suite, lobby and private baths. They repainted the 12-foot white ceilings. Above the wall paneling, they painted the crown area in a softened crimson. They cleaned the stained glass windows in each office. They gently cleaned and linseed-oil treated the paneling, doors, window frames, woodwork, and trim. Also, the desks, lawyer’s bookcases, tall hand-carved Romanesque chairs, and carved frame of the cut-velvet settees were revived.

A retired painter that worked on the picturesque property called it “classic luxury.” He said the office suite maintained its original beauty and style. “The same as when Mr. Kutner still served as chief counsel for Continental Bank… He had many famous clients…”


5. Extravagant and Colossal

Real estate magnet Arthur Rubloff set a gold standard in extravagant office design. His “taste for the best” in everything carried over into the concept of first-class designs in executive offices.

Often, these offices took over one-half to an entire penthouse-level floor. Their private lobbies and elevators were decorated in paneling crafted from rare, imported woods, or wallcoverings. The wallcoverings were custom-designed papers, flocks, foils, textures, woods, or expansive, scenic murals. The brick, stone, steel, and glass/granite structures often housed a major real estate corporation and its staff. Fortune and Inc 500 companies took up most of the space.

Painting it: A specially-trained team of painters kept the Rubloff office suites, at each location, looking like prime real estate. The decorators re-coated the  accoustical textured ceilings. They cleaned, repaired and replaced the wallcoverings. They cleaned and treated the wood paneling with a special-formulated oil from Europe. They redecorated the lobbies, executive secretaries’ offices, and also private bath suites. They restored the interiors of each elevator.

The painters and decorators paid special attention to the unique cabinetry in each suite. It had been built to house a part of Mr. Rubloff’s world-famous collections of miniatures and crystal paperweights. (See Chicago History Museum and School of the Art Institute exhibits.)


The environments of closed-wall office spaces always differ from the open-walled ones. Aesthetically, they tend to be much more personalized, private and cordial. Physically, they lend themselves better to open communications. Even with their private entry doors left wide open.

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Enjoy your space! Enjoy your life!  Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

“Orange light” from Kilauea Crater: A Hawai’ian Painter’s View

FLORIDA—Written Thursday, October 30, 2014.


A painter friend on Hawai’i’s big island offered me an unlimited amount of “Orange light” to decorate for the Christmas season. (Yes, Christmas versus Halloween.)


He was joking. And, he was referring to the orange lava flowing from Kilauea Crater. I understood his efforts to keep light-hearted, and stay grounded. His hotel and resort was filled to capacity with vacationers and conventioners that had evacuated Pāhoa, and other south and southeast areas of Hawai’i.


“Joel (not real name), what are you doing with all of those extra guests? And staff?” I emailed back to him on Thursday, as the lava flow slowed down. “Getting ready for Christmas, Bob.”


“I hear you.”


“We have a huge property here. We’re used to being very busy. The extra team members – highly trained and proficient – have been a big help already. It takes a lot of hands to decorate for the holidays.”


Joel always reminds me of the Energizer Bunny. Some of it comes from his industrial painting background in the Chicago area (eg. steel mills, foundries) – and his family. (A lot of firefighters and police officers.) Anyway….


“We’ve recruited some of the guests. I’d say at least nine to help the staff set up for the holidays. String up lights. There are MANY MILES of those,” he e-mailed.


“We have our story scenes. Our – Hawai’i’s version – celebration and fun. Seven of those in all.” He ran off the list of seven. I was very impressed. All of the scenes’ structures, props, etc. have been hand-crafted from native woods.


“Groups of children are making decorations for our Christmas trees – three of those. Centerpieces for the tables, also extra pieces for our Luaus…” Joel said the hotel had added a special Luau, early dinner time. Just for children. “They’re eating it up.”


“Yesterday, I put three retiree guests to work repainting Santa’s sleigh scene. This morning, we unpacked the contemporary nativity scene, and set it up for repairs and touch-ups this PM.


“Some of the guests came over to us somewhat shook-up, feeling on edge. Looking for some reassurance they’ll be okay. Needing something to ground them, to hold onto.


“This is a good time of the year to be here, Bob. Gives these families a little time to re-ground, re-group. Plan their next move. Gives them some extra attention.


“They’ll be fine. More and more, I see them relaxing, walking holding hands, smiling. Heading for the beaches. Venturing off the property. That’s real good, Bob.”


“Yeah, that’s real good, Joel.”


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Thankfully, as of Friday, October 31, 2014, Kilauea had calmed down. Pāhoa area residents were still taking precautions. Staying away, in safe zones. We wish them the best.


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Communities in Kilauea’s path: The residents of Pāhoa, and also Kalapana, have been in jeopardy. Pāhoa is located directly east of the Kilauea Crater, and south-southeast of Hilo. Kalapana is located between Kilauea and Pāhoa, to the south.


Location of Kilauea Volcano: Kilauea Crater is located west of Pāhoa, northeast of Puna Forest Reserve, east of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, southwest of Hilo, and west of Hawai’i Paradise Park and Hawai’i Beaches (south of Hilo).


A piece of Kilauea history: Kilauea Volcano is a “hyperactive shield volcano.” It is the most active of the five that form Hawai’i. It has been erupting continuously since January 3, 1883. Between 1750 and 1982, it erupted sixty-three times.


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This is for painters wherever you work, and live. Try to stay safe, everyone. Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

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