Rendered Fat Content


Paul Klee: New Harmony (1936)
" … just as if I might one day somehow qualify to be a professional myself."

The first week or so, I just sort of followed Curt The Painter around. I'd assigned myself as his dog'sbody, available to stoop, carry, fetch, and clean up. Since I was also The Client, this self assignment might have made things feel awkward, but Curt and I are old friends and I made my role explicit. I directed some work, like removing windows, while also assuming responsibility for some work, like refinishing windows, doors, and baseboards. By the start of the second week of work, though, my role had matured into a growing independence. I had my pop-up paint shop out in the driveway and Curt had the entry, stairway, and upstairs hall to prep. He didn't need very much help from me and I became distracted feeling my way into fulfilling my responsibilities. Curt was directing me, at my continuing insistence, for I wanted my contributions to pass muster, as if a real professional had completed them, so I sought continuing direction. I didn't always understand. I'd finished the final coat on the baseboards yesterday when Curt noted that we'd had a slight miscommunication. I'll be sanding some of the final coat off those boards today to properly reapply that last coat. I'm still Rhythming.

Rhythming provides cadence until the real backbeat kicks in.
It's indistinguishable from chaos since it exhibits sometimes extreme disorganization. Organization does not simply arise from somebody defining it. It must be discovered for each job, each piece of work. Discover the underlying rhythm of the work and it matters less what else you do. Same story if you can't find that rhythm. The first and perhaps most important part of any job, any project, involves finding that underlying rhythm. The absence of that rhythm will haunt and attempt to undermine everything you do. The presence of that rhythm will subtly improve everything attempted. One cannot simply transfer the rhythm that worked on some prior job, for each job turns out to be unique enough that such imposition induces the opposite of what one wants, an arrhythmia instead of a steady beat. This discovery cannot be rushed and demands considerable patience. The launch opposes gravity and inertia and properly should feel painstaking. A few days, a week or two, depending, and a more definite rhythm kicks in.

Repainting The Villa has become like a busman's holiday for me, a kind of working vacation allowing me to experience another world. I suppose that I might have become a professional painter like Curt, but I lacked aptitude and opportunity. Curt seems a little surprised at how little I seem to know about his equipment. I'd never used a brad nailer before he showed me how it works and insisted that I try it once. He mixes paint with the casual skill of any experienced mixologist setting up drinks, a smidge of this and a splash of that, stirred just so. He's a font of wisdom and advice, skills I secretly envy. I enthusiastically follow his leads as if his apprentice, for I'm more the font of ignorance on this project, as evidenced by my over-painting those baseboards. The good part of me messing up might be that my rework costs this project nothing, for my labor bills out at the eminently reasonable rate of precisely nothing per hour. The setback delays me finishing final coats on my first refinished door, but the project still holds adequate slack time to absorb the shock. I wear my mistake like a smock.

Once I started applying paint, a rhythm quickly emerged. I had not remembered that I knew how to do that something. Curt and I exchanged tactics for painting doors and ours were different but also somewhat the same. The game is all about being stingy with the paint because doors have so many opposing surfaces, paint insists upon accumulating along crevasses and in corners. I pull the paint toward me, using the flat surfaces as palettes to hold smears of paint which I then paint into to steal swatches which I force into the corners and crevasses with one eye always looking backward toward what I just completed. The paint's insidious and refuses to just rest where I place it. It needs me to closely monitoring its compliance and to work fast so I'm finished before too much drying occurs. It's exhilarating effort once the rhythm kicks in, after the initial Rhythming's done. I'm still this project's Dog'sbody but I take my responsibilities seriously and mend my mistakes without complaint, just as if I might one day somehow qualify to be a professional myself.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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