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Painting It: An Author’s Painter – and Movie Sets

An author’s greatest reward can be seeing one of his or her novels reach the big screen.

A handful of novelists have had more than three of their works turned into a full-feature film.
Few of these novelists write the screenplay version of their novels. More of them do, these days, serve as technical consultants during the filming of their stories.

Earlier this year, one of these prolific authors of popular film stories got his house painter and decorator a job as a painter on the set of a movie.

Let’s call him “Joel.” The man mixed and matched the paints. Then he painted the movie set’s exterior buildings, store fronts and related areas; also the interiors of many sets. It was meant to be a very temporary gig.

Three-and-a-half weeks into the project, the construction crew’s lead painter was in an accident, and couldn’t work. “Joel,” the temporary set painter, who was a seasoned commercial painter and decorator, was put into the lead job.

At the end of filming, the author came along. He offered the temporary painter a full-time, steady job as a movie set painter. Particularly the sets of the author’s film projects. And, this author always tends to have one of his novels heading for or already on a movie set somewhere.

“It was a lot of fun,” my old painter friend told me while visiting in Florida in early July. “Being around all that action… some great actors… very talented, skilled craftspersons and artisans. That was great.”

The man’s eyes dropped to the paint color chips in my hand. And the two, 5-gallon buckets of paint at my feet.

“This,” he pointed around the paint store, “is me.” Then, he grabbed one of the heavy paint buckets and walked out to my ‘87 Chevy Blazer. The subject of movie-set painting closed!

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The mark of a real pro is often the little things that he does, and the big decisions he makes, along his way.
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Thanks to all readers and followers – visible and hidden – of “Painting with Bob.”

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

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Painter’s World: Painters and Gardens

The rain drip, dripped, then beat upon my hearty vegetable plants. I hoped that they would make it.

Last year, the torrential rains knocked my tomato, pepper and pole bean plants to the ground. Broken, limp and lifeless.

Miraculously, the repeated rainfalls recently – all of them needed desperately – saturated the earth. And, they bounced off the leaves of every plant. Even the young, more vulnerable ones.

WHY DOES ONE CROP SURVIVE AND THRIVE? Why does the last crop curl up and die?

An “THIS-GARDEN” ANSWER

This season I pre-treated the soil with a fertilizer spray solution: 1-cup ammonia to 1-gallon water. (TIP: Do not increase the ratio.)

I found the old solution printed in Amish Gardening Secrets by Mardy D. Nicholas. (Copyright 2005, James Direct, Inc., Hartsville, Ohio 64632.)

I did not expect the results that I’ve gotten so far. Many buds on every plant.

Yield estimate: If one half of the buds produce fresh vegetables, the yields will be amazing. More than enough to share with non-gardening neighbors. Plus a few local painters and former co-workers. And, still have enough fresh veggies to freeze or can.

ABOUT GARDEN SIZE

Garden size does not determine plant yield. Nutrients in the soil, quality of vegetable seeds, timely cooperation of the weather (rain, sun, shade, heat, humidity), and, planting and tending DO have everything to do with it.

Since 2013, I’ve cut down the garden size by 50 percent. Fewer tomato, pepper, bean, and pea plants, less lettuce, and only one or two herbs.

In my family, painters and decorators have also gardened. In Indiana: a huge “truck patch.” Hundreds of plants. In South Florida: six-to-eight plants in huge earthen patio pots. In Central Florida: ten-to-twenty-five plants mainly in the ground, also in earthen and plastic pots.

Teammate Tip: If a teammate shows up with a basketful of home-grown vegetables and/or fruit, take some. That’s why he or she brought them. If you’re not interested, please take a few for a neighbor or friend.

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It’s not how you start, but how you finish.
It’s not where you begin, but where you end.
It’s not what you plant, but what you end up with.
It’s not how much you plant, but the quality of your yield.

..Paraphrased quote by Tommy Tu, director, “Grand Hotel”
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Thanks to painters that also grow gardens.

Thanks from “Painting with Bob.”
Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painter’s World: On Being a Paint Superintendent, or a Boss

One time, I jumped all over my father for coming down hard on a new painter.

Dad said, “He deserved it.”

I said, “No, he deserved some respect. He deserved a chance to learn, then to get it right.”

Less than fifteen minutes later, my dad took the new crew member aside. He apologized and showed the man the correct way to do the job that he’d been assigned. Then Dad stepped away.

It was the first and last time that I ever heard him yell at a crew member. And, after he died, many painters told me that they had never heard him do that.

Yes, he raised his voice. Yes, he called out the painters when they deserved it. Yes, he corrected them. And yes, he even told them what to do.

But, when a painter was not getting it – or not getting it right, Dad would help him rectify the situation. Often cutting into his own time schedule that was already under tight constraints.

When more than one painter was not getting it at the same time, Dad stopped everything. And he conducted a little, on-site crash course. Whether the problem was a new product, a stubborn piece of equipment, a resistant surface, uncooperative weather conditions, etc., he showed the entire crew that was there what needed to be done. Or not.

During Memorial Day week-end, a retired and former member of our old crew e-mailed me the following…

“Bob, your dad was a commanding force wherever he went. Wherever he stood. I knew him for over forty years. We joined IBPAT (IUPAT) about the same time.

“He was a man to be reckoned with, but never a man that insisted on it. He knew the painting trade backward and forward, inside and out. He was so blamed skilled and experienced in the trade that he could do anything that he tackled. A top rate superintendent or foreman, a ‘take charge’ person that everyone respected…”

Working under my dad was overwhelming at times. His six-foot, 200-pound frame served him well for the job he was given in life. It partnered well with the way that he needed to run a job, paint crew, powerful piece of equipment, or even dealings with a client or architect.

And the nickname “Moose” suited him like a custom pair of whites. His caribou-like walk sort of shook the floorboards when he charged through a job site. More than once, I tensed up waiting for him to bellow.

Some painters and decorators are cut out to be superintendents or bosses. You just look at them, and you know that. You see it. You hear it. You sense it in the way that they approach even basic, mundane tasks. With a unique command of and presence in everything they do.

One more thing: Commanding forces such as my father often attract equally commanding forces. People just like them. In my father’s case, it happened to be very successful entrepreneurs and founders of established enterprises. Men and women whose natural inclination was to take charge… to assume responsibility… to accept accountability for how things turned out.

Being a superintendent or a big boss was never my thing. Thankfully. For one thing, I don’t know if my father could have taken the strain, or competition. (And my mother? Forget it!)

Early in my painting career, I found my niche: serving as the go-to guy for those superintendents and bosses. Their back up when trouble loomed, and things got tough. Fortunately, every one of them, including my father, has been more than glad to turn things over to me. And to trust me with them.

Being able to fulfill – and to exceed – their expectations and needs on a consistent basis has been so worth all the effort. And the hard knocks.

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Great leaders must have great people to lead.
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Thanks to all visitors to “Painting with Bob.”

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

Volunteering Your Painting and Decorating Skills, Part II: Options and Action

When it comes to volunteering our painting skills, we may overlook the needs that exist in our own community or neighborhood. Two large categories below:

1. Steer your skills where they can matter the most at this time.
Examples:
A. Local low budget nursing home unable to afford staff painter.
B. Local public school severely hurt by sharp budget cuts.
C. Local free medical clinic.
D. Local small church or church school.
E. Low income or fixed income neighborhood.
F. Family that’s been uprooted by severe medical bills, or death of main breadwinner.

2. Consider discreetly volunteering your skills for persons that you know.
Examples:
A. Relative or friend.
B. Elderly or disabled neighbor.
C. Your church pastor and family.
D. Members of church family.

Also, we may not know how to go about finding these needs in our own back yards. Two ideas:

1. To locate a local needy person or family, check with your pastor or one of a nearby smaller parish.
TIPS: Some churches only accept volunteer work through their own parishioners. Also, people have their pride. Offer help only to persons or families willing to accept to accept it.

2. To find a local low-income church, organization, facility, school or group, I suggest that you write a brief letter offering your painting skills labor-free. Include the following information:

A. summary of your experience
B. work you’re available to do, including days, no. of hours, morning or afternoon.
C. availability: 1 time, temporary for 3 months 1 year, etc.
D. statement about who buys and who pays for needed supplies – eg. paint, caulking tubes
fillers, sandpapers, paint thinner.
E. statement about when supplies would need to be purchased.
F. statement about your limits – eg. interior work, environmental conditions, hazardous conditions, tools
and equipment.

A FEW TIPS ABOUT DOING THE VOLUNTEER PAINTING JOB

1. Aim to leave behind a finished job as good as you do in your paid painting job.
2. Follow standard and exceptional policies, procedures, and techniques that you normally follow.
3. Be neat, thorough and friendly.
4. Respect all the health and safety rules that you would normally follow.
5. Be professional on your volunteer job, too.
6. Respect the rules that apply to your work for the person, family, organization, group, etc.
7. Maintain your pre-set volunteering parameters. Do not volunteer to do more than you have
offered or agreed upon, at least the first time that you help out that person or group. Even
one extra room, area or park bench can require more time than you have available.
8. Be honest.
9. Set and keep to a schedule. Cancel or change work dates and times only if necessary. And,
give prompt notice.

MY VIEW: I want to do my best. And, I want beneficiaries to want me to come back and help them again.

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When a painter volunteers, he or she adds special strokes of hope into the lives of others.
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Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”
Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Volunteering Your Painting and Decorating Skills, Part I: Where You’re Coming From

Whatever your painting capabilities – and specialty areas, there’s a cause or program out there that can really use your help. From the local, loosely formed grassroots organization to the international non-profit corporation, the need for skilled craft persons is basically the same.

It’s up to you to find that niche – and then help to fulfill it.

So, how do you volunteer your painting skills and abilities toward a good cause? One that you’ll feel good about while you’re working on it, then after you leave.

TIPS FOR GETTING STARTED ON YOUR VOLUNTEER PAINTER’S PATH

1. Your interests. What grabs your attention – and won’t let go?

Examples: Neighborhood park; local school/ learning center; pets, animal shelters, zoos; people: elderly staying in own home/ ALF, or skilled nursing facility, children with chronic diseases, disabled adults, homeless families; churches, church fundraising arms, youth programs; historic preservation properties, museums, art/theatre/culture centers; community/ civic centers.

2. Your obligations. How often can you help out?

Examples: 1 hour a week, two hours a month, one-half day (4 hours) a month 1 week (5-7 days).

3. Your schedule. When can you help out?

Examples: Mondays only; mornings (8am-12 noon); week-ends (Saturday and/or Sunday); vacation/ break/ sabbatical.

4. Location. Where can you help out?

Examples: A. Locally/ close to home (within 10 miles); B. In this half of county; C. Anywhere in county; D. Within my state/ region of state; E. Region of country: Northwest, West, Southwest; Plains, North Midwest; Northeast, East, Southeast; South; F. Anywhere in U.S. mainland; G. Foreign country – eg. Sudan.

5. Your availability. Are you available to live on-site – say for 7 to 10 days?

Examples: New school construction, third-world country; hurricane disaster community in U.S.; remodeling of free medical clinic on Indian reservation; restoration of historic estate; rebuilding of burned out orphanage in Appalachians.

6. Your accommodations. What, if any, special accommodations do you need in order to be able to help?

Examples: Good HVAC system (heat, ventilation, A/C); building access ramp and entry/exit, handicapped parking; assistance with lifting, carrying, moving anything over 10 pounds; limited walking; special diet. (For extended stay, on-site projects); sanitary sleeping/ restroom facilities.

7. Your tasks. What specific painting tasks do you want to help with, or handle?

Examples: New construction only; Brush/roll only; spraying; surface/ area prepping; powerwashing; mixing/ matching paints; wallpapering; cleaning up graffiti; cleaning high-sanitation area; decorative finishing.

8. Your environment. Which works better for you: interior or exterior work?

9. People. Do you want to work on a small crew? Or, with a large group of volunteers?

10. Your role. Are you interested in supervising others? How many persons? Which skill level(s): skilled, semi-skilled, unskilled?

11. Entity. Do you want to help with the same group or organization each time? Or, do you like the idea of working on projects for different groups/ organizations? OR, do you want to work on special projects only?

12. Your Transportation. How will you get to-and-from each volunteer site?

Examples: Your car/truck/SUV/van; public transportation – commuter bus or train; plane; boat.

13. Your finances. Can you afford to volunteer any time, without pay? Will you need financial help to pay for getting to-and-from each volunteer site?

Examples: For gas, oil, parking fees, road tolls; tickets, fares, fees.

14. Your personality. What type of volunteer opportunity, as outlined above, really matches who you are? Under less than perfect circumstances? When very little is in your control? When the other people involved are very different from you?

15. Your health. What health issues, if any, do you need to consider when choosing a volunteer outlet for your skills and interests? Which volunteer opportunity(ies) will be very doable for you? Which needs will you be able to fulfill while helping to provide a healthy and safe atmosphere for yourself and others?

16. Your commitment. How serious are you about volunteering your painting capabilities? Are you willing to switch around your current priorities to make room for this new one? Or even let something else go?

17. Your reasons. Why do you want to volunteer at this time in your life? Examples: Have more time; see need for your kind of help; recent experience raised your awareness level; social consciousness want to pay back kindness you/your family received; realize what you’ve been missing by not volunteering.

18. Your ultimate goal. What do you need to get out of the experience? What do you want to leave behind? What, if any, personal motive do you have?

Here, I’d like to add one more thing:

19. Your “what ifs”. What if you can’t find a fit? What if the volunteer opportunity you chose turns out to be less than anticipated? Or more than you can, or want to, handle? Or very different than what you signed on for?

THE CHOICE IS ALWAYS YOURS

Volunteer where you feel you’re needed.
Volunteer where you believe you’ll be appreciated.
Volunteer where you see that you can make a positive difference.
Volunteer where you know that, later, you’ll still know that it was the right thing to do!

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A special “thank you” to all painters that have stepped up to the plate and volunteered.
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Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. “Painting with Bob.” All rights reserved.

Creating and Painting: Murals by G.B. – Part II

Do you remember the muralist, G. B., that I blogged about in December of 2015?

Well, G. B. – Gerard – resides now in an “elder care home” located in South Florida.

His knees click when he stands or bends. His arms won’t reach overhead without a painful struggle. His fingers crimp when he tries to grasp an artist’s brush for longer than three minutes. And, many tiny black dots dance through his narrowing view.

Has he given up painting?

“NEVER!” he cheered on the telephone.

Instead, guess what the 72-year old artist is doing:

He’s painting small murals on different walls throughout the facility where he resides.

He paints small flower gardens – of their choice – in the rooms of neighbors in his wing. For Marlene: a patch of red, yellow, orange, pink, and lilac Tulips. For Clara: tall Gladiolas in bright peach, coral, yellow, orange, and scarlet. For Harry: three Rosebushes full of young blooms. For Jen Lee: a garden of wild flowers: Tiger, Peace and Day Lilies; Daisies, Iris, Goldenrod, Roses.

He’s painted an herbal garden on the wall along a short hallway near the main kitchen’s pantry. In the main dining hall, he painted two wrought iron café chairs and a table, complete with a setting of Limoges Haviland tea service.

At the end of one corridor, he created a “wall” bird sanctuary. He painted in three birdhouses, a bird bath, a large ceramic frog, and “a squirrel that has seen better days.” Along another corridor, he painted butterflies. A variety of species, colors and sizes.

In January, the facility’s administrator “commissioned” Gerard to design and paint a music staf half-railing along one wall of the music and band room.

What’s next? Gerard is designing an “open-themed” half-wall mural for the “Activities Room.” He’s recruited fellow residents who want to help paint it. A group project, complete with snacks and lunch – furnished by the kitchen staff, and the administrator.

I think that G.B. – “Gerard” – is a fine example of life after life alters the way a painter – a person – must pass through it. Tweaks here and there. Some adjustments.

And changes. A part of life from birth.

Like Gerard’s 15-year old grandson e-mailed, “So what’s the big deal? Grandpére is amazing!”

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Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”
Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Paintshop and Management: Transparency and Accountability

The terms “transparency” and “accountability” are used in every trade and industry, including government and not-for-profits. Together, also sometimes synonymously.

 

What do transparency and accountability mean, in relation to the painting and decorating trade?

 

Transparency: Painter demonstrates a clear, honest and understandable picture of his or her, as well as others’, decisions, choices, actions, behaviors, etc.

 

Accountability: Painter becomes answerable and takes responsibility for his or her, and/or others’ decisions, choices, actions, behaviors, etc.

 

How can transparency and accountability work in the painting and decorating trade?

 

Problem/Situation: Yellow paint used for “No Parking” and “Yield” lines faded, wore off fast.

Transparency: Painter shows management the difference in composition and durability between paint product supplied, and the product recommended for high-traffic exterior surface.

Accountability: Painter takes share of painter-supervisor-management group’s responsibility for approving, ordering and using less durable and low-cost paint product.

 

Problem/Situation: Re-touched up others’ surface touch-ups, still left paint color differences.

Transparency: Painter shows G.M. how budget and time crunch drove decision to re-touch up small area versus repainting entire wall or room.

Accountability: Painter takes responsibility for completing work order that way, knowing results and need to still repaint wall or room as soon as possible.

 

Problem/Situation: Repainted entire wall after bleach clean-up of major Black mold fungi buildup, costing more than touching up immediate surface.

Transparency: Painter shows Housekeeping Director and G.M. why repainting wall was necessary and explains why it may be needed again in near future.

Accountability: Painter takes responsibility for own and supervisor’s decision to repaint area as soon as possible, and to help get guest room back into circulation.

 

Problem/Situation: Painted office walls stripped of wallcovering and heavily infested with Toxic Black Mold Fungi.

Transparency: Painter shows management why applying paint vs. wallcovering is safer, healthier.

Accountability: Painter assumes responsibility for tone-down appearance; offers to add border.

 

Problem/Situation: Caulked, repainted lobby’s slylight area vs. touching up water leak spots.

Transparency: Painter shows management that treatment plan protected area. Also, how it “bought” them little more time before major repairs and reconstruction would be needed.

Accountability: Painter takes responsibility caulking and repainting jobs temporary, visible fixes.

 

Problem/Situation: Declined “quick-fix” project to repaint all exterior guest room doors.

Transparency: Painter showed management dire need, and wise move, to properly prep, fill cracks, sand, and prime area before applying finish coat.

Accountability: Painter shared responsibility for appearance of doors, if repainted with minor prep work.

 

Problem/Situation: Discreetly inspected major wall damage, and advised extended-stay family of guests in suite before notifying managers.

Transparency: Painter explains to guest that damage must be reported before repairs could be done. Reported damages, situation to managers; suggested creative solution for repairing area.

Accountability: Painter takes responsibility for inspection and assessment before reporting problem. Takes responsibility for proposing that guest help make repairs to save everyone money and face.

 

Problem/Situation: Completed priority-scheduled project late, delayed by manager’s switching painter to handle unscheduled, extra project.

Transparency: Painter shows managers how delays impacted completion of priority project, before arrival of large group of guests.

Accountability: Painter assumes share of responsibility for non-completion of project in time, also for not holding firm to shared goal of General management-Engineering/Paintshop-Housekeeping.

 

Tips on how to look at any problem or situation

 

  1. It falls within the painter’s/paintshop’s scope of expertise, abilities, resources, responsibility.
  2. It has a solution. * So let’s find out what that is
  3. Let’s take care of it, the best we can with what we have to work with.
  4. Do it for the people. Do it for the place. Do it for the community.

 

Tips on how to look at Transparency and Accountability

 

  1. In the short-run or long-run, honesty is the best policy – and the easiest to justify.
  2. The obvious will always shine through, one way or another, eventually.
  3. It’s easy to understand what’s true, and to see through the rest.
  4. Self-responsibility is the trademark of a good human being.

 

A Painter’s work life is full of tests. Beyond skill, ability, knowledge, and adeptness.

 

Among them are tests that measure:

 

  1. His/her character, sense of ethics and philosophy of living.
  2. His/her loyalty to the painting trade and construction industry; the employer, manager, team.
  3. His/her commitment to the organization, and the business.
  4. His/her respect for and appreciation of everyone served by that organization – eg. guests.
  5. His/her collaborative spirit toward everyone with whom the business deals.
  6. His/her self-responsibility toward the organization’s role in the community at large.

 

A painter’s willingness to be transparent and accountable is a central key to professional and personal success, fulfillment and longevity!

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Thank you to every painter that tries to live and work a self-responsible life.

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Thanks, everyone, for visiting “Painting with Bob.”
Copyright 2015, 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

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