The walls are far too beautiful, and anything that hopes for a place in front of our walls will have to prove its worth first.
- Richard Medina, Palatine
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Two children from Science & Arts Academy of Des Plaines have been working on creating a unique mural on the theme for their current academic year: Virtues. The team at Painting and Partnership has conceived of this project and is helping facilitate its creative process.

In a first session, the girls were introduced to the history of murals, going back to the cavemen. Then, our Color and Concept Consultant, along with our Muralist, helped facilitate and capture the girl’s vision for living life in the pursuit of virtue development, by putting it in the form of a rough sketch for their mural-to-be. Our muralist then refined the sketch and submitted it for approval by the girls. After incorporating their changes, we then submitted a final sketch for them to color in advance of the first painting session, which will take place later this week. As you can see from the sketch, the girls are well on their way to creating their mural!

Colored Sketch for Mural Painting Project on Virtues

I thought you might be interested in reading about the girls’ thoughts and the meaning behind the different images depicted in their sketch. Here we go:
- In the mural, the path leads from an area of bad traits to an area of good traits, but the traveler will face obstacles along the way.

- The shadow wolf is evil, made of black shadows and deceit chasing the rabbit, trying to catch the white, pure hope and devour it so the world becomes more evil.

- The deer and squirrels are running away from the shadows toward the light.

- The bulldog stands in the middle of the path, saying that you must
want to do this and work to get past me.

- And the gate is mental determination. The gate will only open once you have fully embraced the need for change. Going through the gate is accepting change and moving forward.

- The gate is part of the way down the path because you can make some improvements without admitting that you are in a dark place. But to get all the way there, you need to admit that you need to change.

- The moral compass says you must get past the gate. The compass is your conscience, the drive to get better. It is your guide on the way.

- The sun is not high in the sky, but low on the horizon. It is close to you at sunset. Finally, you have made it here where there is beauty, happiness and color. The sunset is like a sideways rainbow.

- For us, bright color represents happiness. It is hard to be happy in a world of black and white and gray. The colors’ vibrancy is beauty and joy.

- The season of the mural is mostly spring, but it moves from winter to summer as you progress along the path.

The young ladies on this project are not only artists, but are indeed deep thinkers. Cannot wait to get to the painting part!

Categories : House Painting

For over twenty five years, one of my Spring/Summer hobbies has been the cultivation of Morning Glory flowers. In the process of tending to their needs and those of other varieties of climbing plants, I learned that what allows these plants to grow into their full potential has amazing similarities to what, I believe, people and especially children need for their potential to fully blossom. In this article, I will share how this hobby came about and the principles it taught me about training.

Morning Glory Flower

My wife and I have been married for over twenty five years. We first lived in a condominium that had a large terrace over our two-car garage, which was an ideal spot for growing flowers in the warm months. One of the flower varieties she introduced me to was the Morning Glory. You start it from seed and it quickly shoots out of the ground, grows a couple of leaves and starts to shoot a creeping stem. Imbedded in the DNA of this vine is a compulsion for wrapping itself around anything that will allow it to run away, reach out for the light and blossom into countless flowers, every morning!

However, left up to its own devices, the vine will likely wrap itself around its own parts, choke itself in the process or greatly sub-achieve its true potential by grabbing to things that lead nowhere. Having intuitively understood the plant’s desire to run away and gain strength from the light and warmth of the sun, I started building an architecture of strings, starting at the base of the large wooden planters, shooting upward and then sideways to reach the metal railings around the terrace. Once they reached the railings, the vines had ample opportunity to keep on running. At their peak a total of two dozen vines were producing well over two hundred fifty flowers every morning, to our delight and the delight of neighbors!

Morning Glory and Mandevilla Climbing on Trellis

Then what? What are these principles that I learned? Besides the obvious like good soil, water/sun (a lot of it in the case of morning glories), here we go with the learning:

1- A structure is needed:
Someone has to think through a (teaching/training) structure that respects the constraints of the environment and creates optimum opportunities for growth.

2- Structure by itself is not sufficient:
Structure itself cannot be expected to deliver optimum results. There must be someone to train the young stems to use the structure laid before them. The younger the stem, the more likely it is not to recognize the structure and lose its way. Consistent energy must be invested by the teacher/trainer to help guide the stems along the path.

3- The trainer must stay vigilant as growth accelerates:
As the vine grows and develops its leaves, it gains energy and builds momentum in its growth. Vigilance and continued training by the coach are needed at this stage because of the faster growth.

4- The coach keeps a watchful eye over the maturing plant:
As the vine matures and starts to blossom, the trainer still keeps a watchful eye on the slowing growth process and still makes minor tweaks.

5- The coach must recognize what the plant comes already equipped with:
Like people, climbing plants come equipped with different climbing gear (so to speak). In the plant realm, they are called twining, suction cups, tendrils, curling strings, thorns. For people, they are talents and abilities. A good coach/teacher/trainer knows how to recognize and work with those assets.

I have learned much from tending to my climbing plants. Today our backyard is home to nine different species of climbing plants, including two varieties of Passion Flowers, three Trumpet Vines, Climbing Hydrangea, a rambling rose bush, three Clematis, a Bean Runner, Honeysuckle, Mandevilla and Morning Glory, indeed! I am thankful to my plants for helping me learn some finer points about training and realize that I find coaching and training most rewarding and enjoyable.

Children Creating a Mural on Virtues

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

The road leading to virtues is a life journey, wrought with twists, turns, obstacles and scary choices. They guide us to living joyful, contributing lives, from a “True-North” perspective. Do these words paint images in your your mind? They do for these two youngsters who will be painting a mural on a twenty square foot canvas for their school to enjoy and be inspired by. How did all this happen?

Mural Project – Brainstorming Session

Every year, our Chicago area painting and decorating company participates in a community project as a thank you for all our blessings. These projects have included painting the sets for local theatre companies, the painting of mural scenes on public benches, among many others. This year’s event is special in that it involves working with children in creating a unique piece of art that is expressive of their views on life. The mural project was conceived by our company as a raffle item at a large gala held earlier this year as a fundraising event for Science & Arts Academy of Des Plaines, Illinois. The mom who won the raffle passed up an $8500 Rolex to get the mural project for her daughter and her best friend. That was some inspired mom, with a clear sense of her “True North”!

Hands Holding Compass

Last Saturday, the two moms brought their daughters to the school for their first session with us. The purpose of that meeting was twofold. First, we introduced them to the history of murals going back to the cavemen, with modern examples of how murals meet people’s needs today, taken from our inventory of completed mural projects. The second part was a brainstorming session with Rita, our Color and Concept Consultant (and my wife) and Fran, our Muralist. In their interactions with the girls, they were able to facilitate the articulation of the kids’ vision for their mural. As the girls were speaking about their views on virtues, our muralist was capturing their thoughts with sketches. At the end of the session, we had a rough sketch of the mural, a list of the mural elements and yes: homework!

Below are some of the elements the girls came up with for their mural: two hands holding a compass, winding path, gate, obstacles, storm clouds, rain, lightning, sun, flowers, wolf and animals. They already completed their first post-meeting assignment. They met last week to find inspiration pictures online for their various painted elements. They even found one for the two hands holding a compass! At their next meeting, they will redo the preliminary sketch developed in the first session. Part of their homework assignment also includes their keeping a journal of their discoveries and learning during the mural project. Stay tuned for more updates on their exciting mural painting project!

As painting and decorating contractors in the Chicago area, Painting in Partnership, Inc. is built around the concept of Craftsmanship. Our Craftsmanship begins with a Commitment to “do the right thing” and couples with the Knowledge to “know what the right thing is” and the “Skill to pull it off”. These craftsmanship fundamentals enable us, to deliver to our clients: Peace of Mind, Pride in Finished Work and a Delightful Painting Experience, every time, every craftsman.

Painter Craftsman at Work

When we look to hire a painter, in addition to painting skills, there are six major qualities we look for. They are:
1- Love of One’s Work: Someone who loves to paint, because it is satisfying and adds beauty to life.
2- Thirst to Learn: Someone who displays initiative in their learning process, through research, experimentation and perfecting one’s practices and tools.
3- Focus and Intensity: Someone who focuses and engages all his/her senses in the coordination and mastery of the great many variables involved in painting. Someone who enjoys maintaining a healthy body, fit for the high daily physical demands of painting.
4- Pursuit of Excellence, Within the Constraints of Time and Purpose: Someone who understands that the ultimate challenge of a true craftsman is to achieve the desired quality in a time efficient manner, while respecting the constraints that may exist.
5- Openness and Desire to Share One’s Knowledge: Someone who willingly shares their knowledge with others and is open to learn from anyone.
6- Passion: Someone who has energy, enthusiasm and a positive attitude. Passion is the result of engaging one’s heart in the work process. This is the quality we most seek in a painter candidate. This is the quality that distinguishes a good “technician” from a true craftsman.

These are the qualities that will enable someone to develop as a true craftsman over time. As a company, we hire people at different stages in their development as craftsmen. We help fill the skill gaps through hands-on training opportunities and the use of our Craftsmanship Operating Procedures (COPs). Painting in Partnership sees itself as a training ground for craftsmen. We write our job ads to attract people who see painting as their avocation, not just a job.

Here is a commentary that Steve, our most senior craftsman, wrote on the fundamentals of craftsmanship:
“Craftsmanship only happens when all those fundamental traits come together. The challenge is unifying them on a daily basis. For me, being energized and engaged is probably the most important aspect of craftsmanship, because without the energy, nothing can come together. I believe craftsmanship is a life-long endeavor and a work in progress. There are setbacks along the way, but believing in the prospect of doing things well, in a timely manner is the key.”

If you have residential painting experience and have a craftsman’s attitude, we are very interested in talking to you.

Categories : Careers in Painting

After a three-year search for a painting contractor they could trust to refinish their prized garage door, they found our company on the web and hired us for the project. This client lives in Oak Park, a near suburb of Chicago. A few years ago, they purchased a ninety-year-old house, which they completely remodeled. The only remaining portion of the house left untouched was the garage door, which was in sore need of restoration.

Doug Fir Garage Door – Before Refinishing

Doug Fir Garage Door – After Refinishing

As shown in the “Before” picture, the old finish looked foreboding. It was thick, had wrinkled and crackled in a veiny pattern. The door looked like it had not seen a can of varnish in at least forty years. What saved it from ruin, was that, first, it was made of Doug Fir and, second, it was facing North, away from sunrays. All the wood components were perfectly sound. However, since the varnish in the lower panels had long worn off, dark water stains had substantially marred the wood in many places. The same thing was also true of the areas where the varnish had crackled and exposed the wood. After stripping the wood, we used a wood brightner to lighten those areas as much as possible.

Replacing a Doug Fir door of this quality would be extremely expensive. The wood grain was also very tight, which would indicate that old growth lumber was used. West Coast Doug Fir is the second tallest conifer in the world, right after the Redwood. It has been known to reach heights of four hundred feet. It is a very decay-resistant specie, as demonstrated with this garage door.

Our client did not know that their door was made of Doug Fir. They just knew that they had a great old door, well worth the preservation and restoration effort. Thirty eight hours of work later: voila! The garage door now matches the house’s great bones and noble history.

Categories : House Painting