Today I started painting my shed in the backyard. This shed is pretty old and was in need of a new coat of paint. I am always amazed at what painting can do for a structure that is about to fall down or how it can completely change the outside of a house or a room.
I love painting – I got this from my mom who always seemed to be painting a room in our house growing up. In fact, one of my earliest memories when moving to Lubbock was sitting on the floor of our new house while my mom was painting the living room. She bought me one of those Tiger portable electronic games that you could either move left or right; this particular game was a race car game and you had to dodge other cars or hazards in the road as you zoomed by. I would love to see what the current generation would do if their if their iPod Touch was taken away and they were handed a Tiger portable game!
At any rate, because my mom was always painting, I learned to love the smell of fresh paint. When I got older, I started helping her paint. Any painting job can be divided into two separate types of work. The first is rolling where you get a roller brush and a long handle to paint large areas of a wall. This is where the room begins to change dramatically as you alter the predominate color. The second type is cutting, or taking a paint brush and going around the edges of the room and trim where the roller brush couldn’t cover (at least without painting over parts of the room you don’t want painted).
While I like both types of painting, I prefer cutting. I love zoning out to this very methodical task, concentrating on covering only the area that needs the particular color of paint on my brush without splattering on the other parts. While some people use tape, I learned from my mom on how to paint without tape. This is more satisfying, you don’t waste time taping the room and you don’t have to worry about peeling off some of the paint when you remove the tape.
Painting is satisfying because I get to zone out. Nothing in the world matters when I am painting, with the exception of making sure that I do the best job possible. I love the singular concentration of applying a fresh coat of paint – no smartphones, Internet, blogging or worries trouble my mind. I focus solely on painting.
I’ve painted quite a few rooms and houses since coming to San Antonio. My mom and I painted the interior of my first house; we had to use several coats to cover up this My Little Pony purple in the former girl’s room, a denim blue in the boys room and a rose red in the dining room. These colors were hideous to me, but I am sure that the previous owners (and their children) loved them. I often helped one of my good friends, real estate mentor and coworker Giovanni paint a couple of his rent houses. I loved working with Gio, helping get his houses ready and looking fresh for the next tenant or buyer. I remember one house in particular when the sun was setting fast, so we hustled to get the job done that day. We were drenched with sweat but were able to knock it out, preventing us from having to come back an extra day to work.
I painted another old shed at my first house; it was a metal shed and my buddy Putman came into town from Houston. He and his wife were living in an apartment, and he wanted to actually do some work instead of being cooped up inside, so we cleaned out this nasty shed (we found this weird shopping cart contraption that previous owner must have used to hold tools), almost got bit by several brown recluses and redid the decking on the floor. Afterwards, I primed and painted the outside a fire engine red that looked sharp – four years later, it is still up! To think that I was going to knock down that shed!
When I had left my company to try to start a business, things weren’t going too well. I had the bright idea to try and get jobs painting, so I decided to paint my rent house to drum up some business in the neighborhood. The work was tough and the sun was hot, but I loved being outside working on making this property look better. To top it off, my friend Gio came out to help me on my rental property, returning the favor for my previous work.
Painting is such a powerful activity. You get to transform something right in front of your eyes, and doesn’t take a huge amount of effort to reap such amazing rewards. You often get to work with a friend on a project, alternating between talking and silence; it is one place that I feel you get to know a person. But the greatest joy of painting is to spend the time in singular concentration, leaving the world (or at least something in your world) look new, different and beautiful.