I started my career scared! I want to work a job that would earn more than rock picking and I thought I could paint with my step dad.  At fourteen in a poor family in Southwest Minnesota. I needed money to buy what I wanted . My mom was the head of the household and she kept a tight budget so we always had food and a new pair of tennis shoes for the start of school.  We rented a farmhouse and 5 out buildings from a local farmer for $20.00 a month. He wanted someone living there because he had pigs, sometimes sheep and goats.  There was no TV and I had read the books at least twice at the local one room schoolhouse library in town.  So needing some kind of stimulus I went to work for my stepdad for the summer 

I was aware that he would be paying me 1.00 per hour. And that  the rest of the money would go to help our family. I know that helping the family was good and yet I was scared to work for my stepdad and paint.  He was physically abusive and had choked me once when I asked “Why” .  However, I was getting taller and he was now shorter than me so my fear about abuse was less.  I was scared because I wanted to work and not lose the job.  I wanted to paint well because this was someone else’s property.  Also it was a small town farm community and everyone knew each other. I knew a good reputation as a painter would get me more money for my family. We heated with wood, grew an acre of garden and had honey bees.  So most of the food and heat come from the land and not from my stepdad’s teaching income.

My first summer painting my stepdad said I will paint high and you paint low. No tarps and don’t drip.  Don’t Drip was scary. I am fourteen, with no coordination and I day dream as much as I can because I am bored and still want to impress my father figure.

Each exterior was brushed completely. I would dip the brush and slick off 4 sides on the edge of the metal paint can and then paint as fast as I could until I had to dip the brush again . A wet edge had to be kept at all times so that most only 4 lap boards could be wet and unless you wanted at all the paint congealed and form a ridge that could be seen by my step dad and my client.

Getting the paint on to the board and smooth it out into the next board was critical for me.  Each board required one to jam the paint into the bottom edge and then a second and 3rd swipe to make sure it did not drip or run down the board. As I was finishing each board I would look and check the last board for drips. I could take my finger and gently wipes out the drip and add more paint or leave it and then it would dry showing what had happened.  I brushed exterior for many years until I learn to spray the outside of house the brush technique is great for adding texture and a very smooth finish 

Most of the houses were farmhouse that had not be painted in many years so they needed preparation scrapping, sanding all the edges en oil priming those spots then 2 coats of oil paint 

Each job was paid in cash, no contract,  only! Here is what it cost and here is the cash paid at the end of the job.  I was always grateful to paint because rock picking was hard My step dad always paid me after the job. He never complimented me on  my work and told me what I did wrong and I had to figure out how to fix it.  I hear the phrase “Don’t Drip” many times in a 12 hour day which only increases my fear to painting perfectly.