JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools

pictures and stories from the water’s edge

JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools header image 2

Practice makes imperfect

June 9th, 2004 · 1 Comment

Painting advice please? Oops, too late!

How about parenting advice? Too late again for that…at least in this instance…

I needed painting advice because I had missed a crucial piece of parenting advice. I’d like to share it here so that no one else may suffer the same mistake:

Do not allow your three year old daughter to have her own cherry Chapstick

Perhaps this shouldn’t be a rule set in stone. Perhaps it was my particular daughter. She is a sensitive child, and perhaps she worried that the walls were going to get chapped in winter. Or maybe it was her artistic side that wanted to decorate the bland-bone flat paint beside her bed with a fun pink crayon.

Regardless of the reason, what I know is that she took the tube of waxy Chapstick and rubbed it across the wall, drawing a face larger than a foot square. After trying every trick I could imagine, I ended up leaving the stain on the wall. It was a faint pink on the faint off-white and only showed when the light was right. I think this happened when I was pregnant with Elisabeth, or I had some other reason for postponing the re-painting of the room.

But now that the bunk beds are arriving this weekend, I figured it was the proper time to try to paint over this Chapstick mess before we rearrange their room with huge pieces of furniture. Last week I went to the paint store and bought a “contractor’s solvent” that is supposed to take care of a number of stains. I applied it twice to the pink square and it did fade but never completely disappeared.

I’ve always liked watercolor and dabbled in it a bit as a girl. In our house now we have pillows made from a fabric with a watercolor look, and the tiles have a similiar style. As I’ve wandered through the paint store through the years, the Watercolor Walls kits caught my eye. I brought home a couple bottles of Spaghetti Squash hue and decided to try to wash the girls room. I figured it would be easier than painting and it would cover the Chapstick pink, as well as brighten the room.

Painting a room is not my favorite activity. It probably ranks around #383 for things I’d like to do late at night in my spare time. I confess that I don’t have a lot of practice. The first and only room I’ve painted was our bathroom in San Jose. When the wallpaper peeled away from the wall after a storm, we knew we had to do something. I still remember that summer five years ago. Abigail was around 1 year old or so, and Ted watched her while I worked. But it was painful, this painting. I made many mistakes. Using high gloss white in a small bathroom and all for the first time, I discovered how difficult it is to leave a smooth flawless finish. Last summer I stained the deck. That involved a good amount of brush work. But I would say that I still need practice.

The Watercolor Walls kit includes one bottle of paint, one pair of gloves (my favorite – blue ones!) and a rag. The instructions are simple: mix paint, apply and #3 : “gloat”. Yes, gloat. For me #3 was groan. Mixing the paint was fun. Applying it was more work than I had imagined. Learning how to do figure 8s with my cloth across a wall, while wearing gloves and keeping a wet edge was difficult.

I used an entire roll of blue painters tape to protect the room. And then some. I fear I will drip paint everywhere. I also used three plastic drop cloths. And multiple rags (underwear!). Walking around the room I felt warm, my clothes decorated with bits of tape and paint, plastic sticking to my feet, afraid I’ll drop the bucket of yellow…

Putting on the first coat this morning took me three hours. I’m grateful the girls were so patient with me, playing quietly. That wrist action required training! I always think painting will be easy, but then I forget that there are windows and doors to go around, corners to smooth…if the room was one huge wall, I’d be set!

Looking at my work, I groaned instead of gloating. It looked like a mess to me. Like I had smeared paint across the walls. Great job, Julie. At least it was the girls’ room: I could always tell people that the girls had painted their own room. People would probably believe me.

Then I re-read the instructions. The booklet said not to worry about marks from the first coat, because they will be covered by the second coat. I had hoped to only use one coat, as the display at the paint store had implied. Two coats, eh.

So tonight after the girls went to bed, I went back for more punishment with the paint. It only took me half the time to cover the room. And I think it looks okay. Perhaps practice does make perfect. And I’m sure that the girls will allow me to get more practice painting their walls on a later occasion. I imagine I’ll make more parenting mistakes too…somehow…

Tags: journal

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Lisa Williams // Jun 9, 2004 at 11:43 am

    Ha! I love the thing about the cherry lipstick.