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Art School #5: The Painter Lady

My mother gave me every opportunity to express myself through painting. She was the driving force behind most new opportunities that came my way.

"Anna, do you want to paint your bedroom? You can choose the color." That meant if my bedroom survived the paint job I would have the privilege of painting the rest of the house!

"Anna, there's a lady painting a new house down the street. If you go there right now you can watch her paint." That meant the lady was expecting me and was ready to teach me everything she knew about house painting.

"Anna, Mrs. McKay needs a painter and she will pay you. " That meant I got my first real paint job and earned real money.

That really was an experience. I had no equipment of my own so relied on Mrs. McKay to provide all the tools. There was no extension pole, something that every professional painter uses to paint a ceiling. I had no idea what that was anyway. I just dug in and climbed the ladder with roller in hand.

The bed was not to be moved and, of course, we couldn't put the ladder on top of the bed. The only solution for me was to stand on the bed and bounce up and down while swiping the roller across the ceiling on every up bounce. If only I could freeze like one of those photos with everyone jumping. I would have given anything for wings but my method worked….eventually. I remember Mrs. McKay standing in the doorway, wringing her hands, worried and questioning, "maybe we should have someone come and move the bed?"

I assured her that everything would turn out fine and it did. Thanks, Mom, for all of the references and encouragement along the way. I learned early that contracting paint jobs paid better than minimum wage. My career as a house painter began early and laid the foundation for a successful decorative painting company, called AK Donahue Design.

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