Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Some Thoughts, Mostly About Paint

So far, Sleep is a fleeting visitor here at the Nest. At first, it was the unsettled nature of the Moving In...and the whole sleeping on the floor thing. But lately, even with the arrival of something soft to sleep upon, there is the combination of the bright morning light...and assorted random questions and thoughts that roost heavily on my mind, like the blackbirds in the treetops outside.

They have been gathering there a lot lately, the air full of their quiet chatter of clicks and pops and such. I've not yet gotten out the binoculars (though I did recently check to be sure they made the move with me - they have), but I believe these are mostly red-winged blackbirds, quieter at this end of the season, and possibly these gatherings are practice for the day soon when they will gather here, and abruptly head off in a southerly direction for the coming winter.

I happened to be outside last evening when they took to the air from these tree tops, in two waves...and the evening light was such that I was pretty sure that they were segregated by gender as they took flight. Interesting. Of course, that said, the two waves of birds seemed to merge into one greater cloud of birdiness as they flew toward the setting sun and the bay.

I wish I could get a photo or two of the Feline Zoomings, when they occur, so you would know that we don't refer to some kind of other activity when we speak of tearing about the apartment like cheetahs or pumas.

But anyway, here's the Furry Man enjoying some cat TV--there's a very popular bird feeder in the side yard below the window he's perched in here.

And here's a look at the morning's light yesterday, as filtered through breeze-swaying treetops and shining on the newly-painted walls of the dining room. You can see how the bright early light here almost totally washes out the color of the walls.

And I also took the photo because the unfocussed nature of it reminded me of what my vision's continued to be like out of my recently-poked right eye. I'd been continuing to visit my eye doc, who was counseling patience...but yesterday, he agreed that things had actually gotten a little worse over the weekend, and so now I've got these steroid eye drops to put in a few times a day...which seem to be helping. I just hope my one eye doesn't get all big and muscle-y and angry.

Here's Agent LaChat again, now lounging on the unmade bed(he prefers it that way), his whithering stare reminding me he is no fan of flash photography.

And meanwhile, out on the deck, the potted lantana is a continuing pleasure. I just love these red and orange and yellow flowers...and I wonder about how nice a framed photo of them might look hanging on the newly-painting kitchen walls here at the Nest.

The kitchen painting was on the schedule for last night again, with just one wall remaining. I'm glad it wasn't done, as well, as it gave me a chance to take a few more pictures of the process, because Java has questions. She's the Queen of Questions, actually; it's just one of the things I like about her.

Doc Kline told me once long ago that the only stupid questions were the ones you kept to yourself, that there's no better way to getting emails from Java with her queries actually helps me better examine my life. I sometimes hope I am asking her the right questions in reply, to offer the same benefit to her, in kind.

Yes, that's my green hand there. The sponging work is sort of messy on the hands, if a little tidier generally (once the masking of woodwork is done, I don't always need drop clothes or other protections like that.), so I like to wear a glove while I'm doing it. That also makes it easier to take a break and wander off to check emails and stuff...

Now I think Java (and perhaps others of you) were a little baffled by my previous entry, in which I spoke about the texture of sponging a solid color, and how working the paint brings out the over and under tones of the color you're working I'll try to clarify here.

Here's the sort of pattern you get working with a nice big sea sponge. In this case, I'm working with a dry sponge, as it gives me a stronger texture. You can get a softer, more blended look (which works well if you are sponging over OTHER colors) if you wet the sponge first...but that can also be a little messier, since the paint gets a little goopier with the introduction of additional wetness.

The interesting thing about sponge painting is that, like working with a brush or roller, it starts out as being an additive process. For example, here we start with the Pepto pink walls and each time the sponge touches, I leave the pattern of the sponge in the dark red brick of Mexicana.

But the whole point is that eventually, I want the entire wall to be covered with that color, so that the pink is un-see-able. As I continue to touch new places on the wall, the paint is spread about...but as the pink space becomes covered and I go back to fill in the gaps...the painting process also becomes a bit subtractive, thanks to the sponge. Every time it dispenses a little paint, it also absorbs a little back...and so in some places, you get a lighter tone.

And in bit and places where you get a second coat of the color, you get darker tones. Going back and doing a second coat of sponging helps you to cover more of those lighter areas, and they become smaller, specklings in the solid color of the wall.

So while you still end up with more or less a single color on the wall, you also get a sense of the paler notes of the color (although transparent, it is a strong enough color that the real pinkiness of the under doesn't really come through...or won't once I've been back with a tiny brush or Q tip to finish the last cutting in bits...), and also some darker notes, too.

I love working with sponge treatments, because the pattern actually distracts from the imperfections of the wall you're painting, as opposed to simple brush-and-roller treatment, which lays the color out nice and smooth...a great look when you are hoping for that. The walls here at the Nest are nothing if not imperfect, which honestly, makes them a little more beautiful to me.

I think this photo to the right gives you a sense of the patterns on the sponging, though it's hard to catch with the camera. This was after the first coat of the other evening, and before I went back over it freshly last night. Now the lighter spots you see here are actually a little more muted, as they've been divided into much smaller bits of lighter tones by the second sponge coat.

I don't know if that answers questions you've had, or just brings up more. I know there was also some discussion about whether the brick red and the remaining pink pantry would play nicely together, so I've included this shot here to show you that I think, tentatively, we might be just fine.

You can see on that one pink wall there's been some spackling and I don't have the same deep pink to re-paint I'll be addressing that with a paler pink and an interesting plan still in formation. Of course, you'll be the first to know what I do, when I get around to it!

And here's a shot of the kitchen from just outside the apartment, to give you a sense of the more-or-less finished product, after the last of the masking tape was pulled off this morning.

In the midst of this project, Lenny and I have also removed the nasty old stove that was here alongside the fridge, and brought in the brand new one, which is kind of exciting (due to the size of the kitchen, it's a little small for the cookie sheets I currently own, so I'll have to research smaller ones before the holiday baking season rolls around).

We're smaht enough to have a professional coming by later today to make sure the propane lines are hooked up properly and pilot lights lit right and all.

[On a somewhat related note, Patrick's recent visit has sparked a small flurry of inquiries from some of you, wondering if painting skills were a requirement for visiting the Nest...and I'm here to let you know that, No, painting is not required. You can send me your CVs, resumes, bios and so on, in an email, which will no doubt enlighten me as to what actual home-building skills you CAN bring to the Nest...and then we can talk. Of course, if your name's Carter Oosterhouse, you can come right over. ; ) ]


Jenn Thorson said...

It's really shaping up nicely. Can't wait to see how the full plans for everything unfold. I think that was one of my favorite things when I first got my house. Finding homes for everything and making the plans.

Java said...

Oh thank you dear! Yes, that gives me all sorts of wonderful information and insight into the sponging process. I have done sponging with one color over another for that mottled look, but this shows me how sponging a single color can create a nice textured effect.

Very smaht of you to get a pro in for hooking up the propane and lighting the pilot. I have had the same trouble with too big cookie sheets. On one occasion I just bent up the handles on the metal sheet. That cookie sheet is now over 25 years old, and still works hard in my kitchen, though my current oven is plenty big enough for it.

Robin Easton said...

God, you are talented and determined. I cannot get over it. This is wild what you've done here. I mean it's a real art form. It makes me think of all the creative things that can be done instead of just slapping on dull white paint. LOL :)

I also am so happy to see you settling in. That really warms my heart and make me sit here and SMILE for you. How amazing you are. Good for you Greg! I am totally impressed. If I was there I'd give you a big hug and pick up a sponge!!!! LOL :)

Your "Aunt Robin" is very very proud of you!!! :) :)

Birdie said...

I can build a tree house. No, really. But it's more of a deck about six feet in the air between four trees. Would that help?

You've gotten quite a lot done in building the Nest.

Sooo-this-is-me said...

Sleepless nights, well you have to give yourself time to fit into your new life. You are certainly doing an awesome job with the place.

Wow! I can't believe 'Kyrie' by Mr Mister just started playing, what a great song, another one I have not heard in a while.

somewhere joe said...

LaChat looks like Brian Wilson.

What's this drop clothes approach to painting the kitchen wall? Did Patrick get a photo of that? It would really help in my understanding of the technique.

The lantana shot would be perfect, a small print, no bigger than 8 x 10 in a countryish frame.

dykewife said...

the place is becoming yours :) the pink seems to be getting pinker, at least that's my pov.

it looks marvellous otherwise.

Butch said...

It looks as though Badum has acclimated nicely to the Nest.

Love what you're doing to it as well.

lostlandscape said...

Greg, you've done a season's worth of work in just a few days--Wow! All that progress is impressive, as well as your ability to paint and photograph at the same time. (Or is the camera speckled with red paint?) Remember to sleep at least a little bit...

Anonymous said...

I can only imagine what that shutter button on your camera looks like with all the photographing between painting. It must look like a mosaic. I really am impressed with the techniques and your explanation. Seems like the Midnight Garden is "growing" into all kinds of fields (of work). I've been doing lots of woodworking as of late, hence my absence. So if you need woodworking assistance.... ;-)