Rendered Fat Content


About 90% of painting requires no paint. Preparation so dominates every job that the act of painting nearly qualifies as a vacation from the real work. In the paint store, 90% of the shelf space does not display paint, but preparation supplies. On the job, the paint cans idle while the would-be painter scrapes, sands, washes, caulks, and putties the surface in question. Calling such work painting seems equivalent to calling writing punctuating.

This is honorable work, one that discloses quite a lot about the one engaging in it. The finished product might well out-live the creator; each brush stroke potential legacy. The next one in line will know almost everything worth knowing about the previous painter of this particular surface; their patience or lack thereof, their taste, their values, their skill.

This seems little different from the least of anything we do, though with a twenty or thirty year limited warranty, paint more than implies its intention. It’s gonna be around a while. Shortchange the preparation and you’ll live with that short-sightedness for decades. Create a quiet masterpiece and no one might even notice. Slop something on, and, believe me, everyone will notice, though most will say nothing.

I am far from an expert painter, but I’m learning that paint fools the eye. Small imperfections disappear when camouflaged beneath a single, unifying color. Problems fade into features, and features into eternal problems. Undoing the sins of past painters challenges even experts. Much of the work involves undoing past sins.

Each wall, every surface offers a new opportunity to amend the past, and this work should be engaged in reverently or not at all; making a lasting mark. Someone in the far, distant future will hold responsibility for undoing whatever I might leave behind. I have nothing, not a freaking thing to hide behind. Though my brush hand might feel like a claw as this day wains through searing summer sun, I must not forget why I’m here. I am not here merely to get to the end of this job. I’m not here seeking respite, though I feel as tuckered as any ever have. I leave fresh marks upon this ancient surface, no matter how spent I feel.

I should not forget just how important even this simple, pedestrian work might prove to be. That crooked garage, long a sore thumb in the corner of the yard, disappears, and a secret, almost invisible cottage appears in its place. Same structure. Same space. Forever different for my passing.

©2014 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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