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Painter’s World: How Last Stops Can Play Forward

In December of 1992, my father visited Florida – and his daughter – for the last time. Every year, he planned it so that he’d be in the “Sunshine State” to celebrate his birthday.

 

On the way to South Florida, he stopped at St. Augustine. He walked through the Fort, and checked out the cannons pointed out to sea (Atlantic Ocean). He knelt and prayed in the tiny chapel nearby, where the Spanish explorers prayed for calm seas. He toured the Henry Flagler Museum, and admired examples of the world’s rarest seashells.

 

He window-shopped along the cobblestone-covered street where top artists and craftspersons displayed and sold their works. He got acquainted with one of Florida’s, and the city’s, most renowned oil painters. He drove through torrential rains and winds to St. Augustine Island, to buy a relic nautical bell, from a diver that explored old sunken ships.

 

In South Florida, he gave his daughter a ride to work for three days straight because it took her hatchback auto so long to defrost and warm on cold, icy mornings. Early mornings, he (and Mom) walked along Bal Harbor Beach, between one of Sunnyside Isle’s most expensive oceanfront condo buildings and Baker’s Haulover Cut, a channel that connected the Intercoastal Waterway to the Atlantic.

 

Outside, he waited in line for an hour or longer to bite into one of the best, and largest, Kosher sandwiches in the Southeast. (He had a Classic Cornbeef; Mom had her Reuben.)

 

The afternoon of Christmas Day, he walked along the southerly stretch of that Bal Harbor Beach. Ahead of his daughter and Mom. His head hung low; his steps slower that usual. Whenever he glanced back at family strolling behind, he wore a contemplative look on his face.

 

One morning, he followed up with a lead from a real estate broker that handled large residential properties in Golden Beach. It was located along a small stretch of ocean property between Sunnyside Isles and Hollywood.

 

He admired several new oceanfront mansions along Ocean Boulevard. Eventually, he pulled into the drive at the address given to him. A massive, U-shaped stucco mansion, painted in a soft Golden-yellow, towered before him. A lean, bronze-tanned man – the Italian architect – stood by a long and glossy black Mercedes.

 

“Distinguished, friendly” was the way Dad described the man during a long-distance phone call to me on Christmas Day. He also said that the man’s oldest son had been pre-med at Purdue, the same time that I was there.

 

My father got out of his like-new grey Chevy Suburban, and introduced himself. The gentleman laid down his tube of blueprints, then took Dad on a tour of the 10,500 -plus square foot home.

Over thirty minutes later, the two men re-emerged, wide smiles on their faces.

 

After an embrace and a “Chiao,” Dad climbed back into his vehicle. He handed Mom two business cards, and a handwritten note on the architect’s engraved personal stationery. And he said, “We’re moving to Southeast Florida. I’m going into painting here. My own shop. Mr. V is my first client…”

 

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that Dad never made it back to Florida. (Well, not in his well-known earthly form.)

 

FAST FORWARD…

 

Christmas 2017, I will be my sister’s guest when she spends over three days at the Golden Beach home of that Italian architect’s son and his family. Longtime customers of my sister’s employer.

 

When the invitation card was forwarded to me, it contained an interesting old photo. Taken in December of 1992, it showed my father, a distinguished gentleman wearing an Ivory silk suit, and a third man dressed in “painter whites.”

 

They stood in a large marble-walled rotunda at that Golden Beach home. Under a partially-completed dome ceiling: A replica of the Sistene Chapel.

 

Standing to the side of the three men was a man a little younger than I. He was dressed in a black turtleneck and worn jeans. (He looked a little familiar.)

 

“The guy in the dirty jeans is me,” my sister’s Christmas week host had scrawled at the bottom of his invitation note. He added, “I hope that you can make it. Condolences about your father. He would have liked it here. Done very well… My father liked him.”

 

SMALL WORLD, ISN’T IT?

 

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Every meeting in passing is an opportunity about to unfold.  RDH

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Many thanks for doing your work and living your life with a conscientious soul.

And, thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

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Upcoming Paintshop Posts: November and December 2017

1. Paintshop Software Programs, Aids, Apps, etc.
– Including sources for information

2. Paintshop Policies and Practices: Reporting Problems

A. Problems with products and materials
B. Problems with tools and equipment
C. Problems with theft and/or property damage
D. Problems with teammates related to your job description

3. Painter’s World: How Job Descriptions Have Changed

A. New key words and phrases, and what they mean
B. What term “must be able to do other things” really means
C. Job titles used today
D. Other skills and abilities that painters are expected to have today

4. Paintshop: New Construction Materials that Affect Painter’s Job

A. Examples of new materials used in hotels, commercial buildings, etc.

1) Types of painting and finishing products these new materials require
2) Types of painting tools and equipment needed to apply them

B. Examples of new materials used in residential and commercial-residential buildings
1) Types of painting and finishing products these new materials require
2) Types of painting tools and equipment needed to apply them

5. Paintshop: Techniques and Methods that Painters Need Today to Work on Newer Construction

6. Painter’s World: Painting and Decorating for the Disabled or Handicapped Person

A. What colors work better for the disabled person’s environment
B. What textures work better – and which to avoid
C. What patterns work better – and which to avoid
D. What wallcoverings work better – and which to avoid
E. Why above recommendations or choices are better.
F. Which recommendations actually benefit disabled person – and how, and when.

Happy – and Safe – Halloween!
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Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved

TORNADOES

IN 1946…

At age four, my mother watched a “swirling, dirty gray” funnel approach her at the kitchen window, then lift from the ground. A while later, her father stood outside the farm house. He followed the path that the tornado had taken after lifting.

Directly above that window, the funnel tore off over one-half of the roof shingles. It ripped out red bricks from the chimney. Inside, it popped sections of plaster from the ceilings and walls in every room. Not only behind painted but also wallpapered walls.

The tornado had just missed the family inside the house. But, the “big wind” had pushed in the walls. Then it toppled the big red barn, killing four horses.

In 1993, my grandfather told me that he never figured out where the Billy goat had hidden that day. But, he was the only larger animal spared.

IN 1971…

At age eight, I stood at my third-grade classroom’s span of huge windows, and watched. “Look, Mrs. D., a BIG gray cloud.”

Then, the school’s muffled alarm went off. My teacher shouted, “Hurry, everyone into the hall!” And, next came a deafening and strong WHOOSH! Like a real powerful vacuum cleaner.

The country school was spared, except for windows blown out of four of the classrooms that stood in the tornado’s path.

By the way, from our family’s home located a little southwest of the school, my mother saw the funnel heading for my elementary school. And she phoned the school principal.

IN THE LATE 1980s…

My father had just filled his roller with more paint. A supervisor at the Lever Brothers plant shouted, “Hit the floor, everyone!”

And total chaos hit next. Toppling cases of liquid Wisk laundry detergent. Bottles of Snuggles fabric softener flying and swaying through the air. Steel equipment ripped apart.

It took a while until our company got the call that we painters could return to finish the “safety” paint job. In fact, the project was greatly expanded, because of the major repairs and reconstruction after the tornado struck. Our paint job at the plant got extended over three months.

On September  of 2017…

Decorative painter Jonathan, a friend at Melbourne Beach, secured his one-man paintshop. He hunkered down for Category 3-4 Hurricane Irma’s arrival during the next day.

He’d lived through a number of other major hurricanes and tropical storms. He wasn’t worried. But from experience, he was cautious.

What he had never faced was a tornado.

“I’ll see that twisting and hear that locomotive the rest of my life,” he said on the phone. “My shop is in shambles. All my brushes, paints, templates, etc? Fine.” The 55-year old native of Los Angeles County sounded very shaken. A guy that grew up along the San Andreas Fault Line.

IN CERTAIN PARTS OF THE MIDWEST…

Tornadoes are common and frequent.

“We batten down the hatches,” said aeronautical inventor and industrialist George Manis in July of 1960. He’d arrived home minutes before a set of tornadoes whipped across Lake Wawasee.
But too late to help his wife, Mary, and my mother secure the boats tied up at the piers, and move the heavy wrought iron patio furniture.

“Those lakefront homes were all well-built,” my mother said last week. “They were made to withstand tornadoes, as well as the brutal winter snow and ice storms.”

IN THE SOUTHEAST…

Tornadoes are often spawned from tropical storms or hurricanes. Sometimes by electrically-charged lightning storms.

Wherever they occur with some regularity, the residents have learned to heed the warnings. They pay attention. They try to secure outdoor furniture, vehicles, boats, etc. They pack up. They move near a sturdy inside wall.

SPEAKING FROM EXPERIENCE WITH TORNADOES…

My mother noted that, like those homes hit in Indiana years ago, the ones heavily damaged this month in Central Florida will require major repairs inside and out. “Some reconstruction and restoration.”

Agreed! Many of the Florida properties will also require toxic mold remediation before any repairs can be made. Before any reconstruction and restoration can take place. Before any painter can take a brush, roller or spray gun and apply a beautiful new finish to any surface.

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Both tornadoes and hurricanes can leave behind irreparable damages,
irreplaceable losses, and unforgettable memories.
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Stay storm safe and smart. And, thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

The Pianist, The Painter, The Singer, The Statesman

Periodically, my mother’s interior design class toured Chicago area properties.

On one, day-long tour, they visited three luxury homes that set on Evanston’s high bluffs overlooking Lake Michigan.

One home featured fine examples of classic contemporary design: simple lines, solid colors, smooth finishes, subtle textures, geometric patterns, and sleek woods, tiles, glass, and chrome.

From its trimly landscaped and broadly sweeping circle driveway, to the double set of solid red lacquer front doors, to the nine-foot main hallway that trailed through the house, to the four glass doors at the rear, that overlooked the lake.

The sprawling, one-story structure suited its owners: a concert pianist and conductor, and his wife, an artist and author.

The music room stood out. Its two most striking amenities: the magnificent black lacquer Steinway concert piano and the 12-inch square, black and white marble tiles that covered the floor.

Features also included the following:

1. dome ceiling with a huge globular skylight;
2. solid black marble fireplace;
3. two walls lined with white-enameled bookcases, stuffed with books, bound volumes of sheet music, also wood and ivory artifacts;
4. couches and easy chairs upholstered in matching white-on-white striped damask.

All of the other sixteen rooms featured equally elegant, yet comfortable appointments. It was a home that clearly represented the personalities of the owners, and met their needs perfectly.

Shortly before the design school students’ visit, the owners had decided to retire in that house. And, they’d put their South Florida home up for sale.

Nearly twenty years after touring that home, my mother was led into the luxury apartment of a former opera star, Adeline Arrigo. Interestingly, she had performed with the concert pianist on philharmonic stages throughout the United States, Canada and Europe.

Madame Arrigo resided on the second story of a red brick, three-story walk-up built in the early 1900s by her husband’s Sicilian family. The South Racine Avenue building, located on the southeast side of Chicago, set across the street from University of Illinois’s Chicago campus. And, the three-story building had five large apartments – all occupied by “Arrigos.”

The focal points of the two bedroom apartment were the portraits of Adeline and her husband, the late Victor Arrigo. On every wall, every shelf and every table top were representations of the owners famous lives. Adeline, the opera star. Victor, the Illinois statesman that drafted, then championed the Federal Fair Credit and Collection Act. (Note: A stronger version of the law is in effect today.)

The traditional apartment also featured:

1. 12-foot high, white-sponged stucco ceilings;
2. white plaster, also deep red painted, walls;
3. tall wood-paned windows in each of the eight rooms;
4. white marble, wood-burning fireplaces in three rooms;
5. crystal chandeliers;
6. lustrous hardwood floors; and,
7. large oriental area rugs depicting eighteenth century country scenes.

The apartment was appointed with elegant, yet comfortable seating in every room. In the living room: deep red velvet-upholstered sofas, and black leather fireside chairs. In the bedrooms: European-designed settees and chairs, covered in deeper pink or soft rose moiré. Plush velvet upholstery covered the dining room chairs. And hand-sewn satin, moiré, and crushed velvet pillows set on every piece of seating.

The two distinctive period homes – the sprawling contemporary house of the 1960s-1970s, and the large traditional apartment of the 1940s-1950s – provided a very similar peak into elegant yet understated living. In their respective spaces, the owners and residents had created environments that supported their need for creative thought, good taste, peace and contentment. All had surrounded themselves with meaningful symbols of who they were as persons. And, what they represented.

The Chicago area featured many architectural and design masterpieces. I never had the privilege to visit the residences described above. Yet, I have had the opportunity to work on many similar homes. In doing so, the greatest pleasure has been in meeting the unique persons that have lived there.

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Fine design deserves to be preserved with the hand of a fine painter-craftsperson.
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Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painter’s View: Painter Apprentices at Work

Most painter apprentices start out by doing grunt work – in the paintshop, and on site.

 

THINGS A PAINTER APPRENTICE MAY HAVE TO DO

 

  1. Basic surface preparation: sanding, washing, caulking, puttying, degreasing, masking, dusting, patching walls/ceilings, scraping off loose paint.
  2. Studying job site blueprints and specifications for scheduled paint/finishing product.
  3. Learning to prepare various surfaces for specific types of coatings and finishing products.
  4. Driving company supply/equipment truck to and from job sites.
  5. Loading and unloading paint products and equipment.
  6. Picking up, delivering and packing up, storing supplies, tools, work tables, etc. used by the journey painters.
  7. Moving or removing furniture, large fixtures, area rugs, etc.
  8. Spreading out dropcloths; covering furniture, fixtures, built-ins, flooring, that can’t be removed.
  9. Organizing and setting up, then taking down work areas.
  10. Removing, then replacing fixtures, electric outlet covers, window shades/blinds/treatments.
  11. Mixing and pouring paint, filling paint pots and trays.
  12. Setting up masking/tape dispensers and machines, and other supplies, tools, equipment.
  13. Opening, unwrapping, unrolling boxes of plastic sheeting, masking/film papers, wallcoverings.
  14. Holding or stabilizing ladders, scaffolding sections, planking systems.
  15. Assisting journey painters.
  16. Stripping wood and metal surfaces.
  17. Repairing metal with polyester patch.
  18. Rough sanding and scraping of chipped, alligatored and worn paint and finishes.
  19. Basic drywall finishing and sanding; also prepping if that job was left to painters.
  20. Applying prime and finish paint products, when all other work is caught up.
  21. Stacking wood moldings, trims, frames, etc.
  22. Moving doors, framing; shutters, thresholds, railings, etc.
  23. Removing masking and taping materials, dropcloths, sheeting, etc.
  24. Cleaning all overspray from unpainted surfaces.
  25. Folding up dropcloths, sheeting, etc.; loading them onto supply truck..
  26. Cleaning up, picking up, sweeping, and clearing out work areas at end of each day.
  27. Soaking, cleaning and restoring paintbrushes, roller covers and frames; extension rods, etc.
  28. Flushing or washing out paint spray systems: spray guns, spray pots, hoses, compressors.
  29. Cleaning out buckets, paint trays, filters, racks, soaking carriers.
  30. Properly closing and sealing all product containers, boxes, tubes, wrappings, crates, etc.
  31. Disposing all chemical and hazardous products and supplies according to EPA, HazMat, and manufacturer instructions.
  32. Keeping paintshop storage and work areas organized, picked up, cleaned up, cleared out.

 

Actually, the list is endless. Too, it can be extended at any time, and by different persons, too.

 

Working as a painter apprentice can seem like a very dead-end and thankless job. And, most apprentices can’t wait to get handed that first paintbrush and a gallon of paint, and be ordered to paint a surface.

 

However, the smart apprentices will take advantage of every minute that they must spend doing that grunt work. They will literally see what it takes to run a job. Every physical aspect of it.

 

And, they will UP their learning curve every day that they’re on the job. From check-in time till check-out. (Actually, off the job, too.) Observing more. Listening more. Seeing more. Smelling more. Touching more. Learning more. Soaking in all that they can. Like a top grade Greek sea sponge.

 

SPECIAL BONUSES THAT PAINTER APPRENTICES MAY GET

 

Many painter apprentices have the opportunity to go onto different job sites. They are able to meet many people: experienced craftspersons and bosses in various construction trades. They get to be around architects, engineers and designers (in various fields); suppliers and manufacturers’ representatives; government inspectors; customers and clients; even investors.

 

Starting at the bottom in the painting trade offers so many long-term benefits. It offers invaluable preparation work for building a successful career as a journey painter, a finishing/detail painter and decorator, a contractor, a consultant, a trainer/instructor, an construction industry expert, an U.S. government expert in construction and building, occupational health and safety, environmental protection, etc.

 

I’ve met over a dozen painters that have ended up building successful careers as product designers or inventors; others as product/materials testers and analysts. Even as speakers and authors.

 

Where grunt work can take the painter apprentice is really up to him or her. Where it leads some day may be to a quality of life, and a way of life, that he or she could have never imagined when first signing up with IUPAT, a technical school, and/or painter apprenticeship programs.

 

The door is wide open.

 

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There’s honor in beginning at the bottom. There’s honor at the top,

especially if you respect others who are just beginning. RDH

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Have a safe, rewarding week. And thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

WHY PAINT?

Artist Bob Ross used to say, “Painting should not be agony.”

I agree.

Over the years, I’ve met and/ or worked with construction industry painters that fit into one of these categories:

1. Some painters loved what they were doing; and it showed in their work, and their attitude about life.

Example: “Bob, the Painter,” my father, smiled a lot on the job. And often he stopped to admire others’ workmanship… to watch a bird in a nearby tree…to double check his own work.

2. Some painters, overall, liked to paint, and seemed to be fine with the likelihood that they’d be doing it for years in the future.

Example: Jesse hummed on the job… drank, and tried to share, cantaloupe juice made by his wife… took on any task that needed to be done.

3. Some painters liked to paint and did a good job; but they wanted to do something else career-wise, and to earn a living.

Example: Larry and Wayne wanted much more independence than a foreman painter had. So both went into contracting, and demonstrated that they were okay with the added responsibility that entrepreneurship required.

4. Some painters really didn’t like to paint; but they lacked the will, nerve and resources to try anything else.

Example: “W” dreamed of doing something where he could visit more with others on the job, and get paid for it. But, he had no real support system in the U. S. to help him try something new.

5. Then there were a few painters that had an intense dislike for painting, and much associated with the trade. And, increasingly, they demonstrated their disdain and discomfort.

Example: W.R. complained about everything, it seemed. He showed up intoxicated… violated safety rules…put crew members at risk…misused products.

What each of those painters knew about their jobs was complemented, or contradicted, by their respective attitudes about painting, and their own lives.

Which painter would you like to work with on a regular basis?

Into which category do you think that others might place you?

Into which category do you believe that you really fit?

Something to think about, right?

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Whatever you do for a living, including painting, give it your 100 percent at least 85 percent of the time. The remaining 15 percent? Take a good look at how you’re doing, and why.
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Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Upcoming Posts…

The fun, and challenge, of writing and publishing any blog for painters is to cover topics that will be helpful. Being in the trade has its benefits in that area.

Here are a handful of subjects that I’ve dealt with recently – and I’ve decided to take a closer look into:

1. Paintshop Software Programs, Apps, etc.

2. Paintshop Policies and Practices: Reporting Problems.

3. Painter’s World: How Job Descriptions Have Changed.

4. Paintshop: New Construction Materials that Affect the Commercial Painter’s Job.

5. Paintshop: Techniques and Methods that Painters Need Today to Work on Newer Construction Surfaces.

6. Painter’s World: Painting and Decorating for the Disabled Person.

Now, I can’t promise exactly when any of these topics will be posted. But, they’re coming!

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Curiosity may have killed the cat; it also keeps the curious painter always looking for answers.
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Thanks for checking in with “Painting with Bob.”
Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

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