I've found a few ways to make a living throughout my life. I did construction jobs part time or in the summer even back when I was a teenager. I did security for Cirque du Soleil for a couple cities back in 2004. I've taught English as a Second Language and tutored kids and adults in English.
When I came back to the US, after living in Turkey for seven years, I had just quit my PhD, after being ABD (all but dissertation), and began my life as a recovering academic.
I was fortunate to have had previous painting experience, so I was able to work right away. I lined up a painting job two weeks before I left Turkey by calling Sherwin-Williams stores back home and asking who's hiring painters.
They put me in touch with Jim DeLong of J. D. Painting, Plus. I had a good foundation in painting from when I worked at Gelhausen Painting in Bloomington, IN for a summer and part of a school year. But I think I became a "painter" while working for Jim. His motto was OJT, on the job training. I learned and practiced painting and also Plus...which gave me a chance to do some trim carpentry, floor repair, electric work, and other random jobs.
I had my heart set on moving to Denver. I loaded up my car and drove out to stay with a friend while I searched for a job and an apartment. I got a job immediately, but something wasn't right. They paid some guys less cause they were felons, or not white....The guy getting paid the least was doing all the dirtiest, hardest work. They didn't care for my work, too much either.
"You call yourself a painter....but I can't afford to pay you the originally agreed wage. I can only afford to pay you X dollars less..." That was still more than the guy doing the hardest work, but it was unsustainable. I might have tried a different paint company, but I decided it was just too much for me...to move to a new city with no extra money, no good job lined up, and no way to rent an apartment without those things.
I went back to Ohio, but by this time I had started to build up my own clientele, and was soon able to survive without working for a company.
I try to limit the kinds of work I do for money. I enjoy doing a bit of everything, but painting is what I focus on for "jobs." I could do many things besides painting, sure, but it's difficult to also make a living at them. I helped my grandfather install a door years ago. It took us hours. He said, "I'd starve if I did this for a living." But he sure enjoyed it. Luckily he was able to work as a professor.
I've got my way of doing things. I'm organized, and I generally offer good quality for less than other companies. It helps that I work alone. No one to blame if something goes wrong but myself. It's helped me improve.
I chanced to get a job teaching ESL at OSU for a few years. Painting went to the back burner. I found myself overwhelmed with the grading of essays and managing the online learning system. While grading papers, I would get distracted even just listening to music. It can be extremely boring. While writing "Nice Job!" and "Good work, but develop your points more here and here...." "Blah, blah, blah. Excellent!" I couldn't do anything else while grading.
My first day on the job painting for Jim, I started to listen to audiobooks. That first year alone, I think I listened to Moby-Dick, Plato's Republic, Thoreau's On Civil Disobedience, and more, while at work. I didn't have the patience to pick up a book and read...but I could absorb the material through audiobooks, while scraping, taping, painting, etc.
Here's a poem I memorized while painting.
I'd rather be doing something else than painting your house...something else I post about...mushroom foraging, Tai Chi, studying Persian...but painting, and the people who hire me have helped support me to be able to do all those other things. It's honest work, and there's also intrinsic value in that.
Another important reason why I'm painting houses is this. I hate wastefulness. My grandfather told me that they taught him in the army chow line, "Take what you want, but eat what you take." We don't need more waste, more garbage, more, more. If painting some cabinets, trim, whatever, will keep someone from throwing them out, then it's helping.
To add to that, I can't stand busy work. My favorite comedian, Bill Hicks, had a joke about working. His boss said to him,
"Hey Bill. Why ain't you working?"
"Cause there's nothing to do."
"Well, then pretend you're working."
"You get paid more than me. Why don't YOU pretend I'm working."
When you work for yourself, or directly for the people hiring you for a job, there's no need for busy work. You do what the job requires. When you need a break, you take a break....Also, you're incentivized to get better....to work "smarter, not harder" (as I learned from an experienced painter). The better you get, the higher the quality of work, and the easier it is to get done. You don't have to justify your use of time, every hour or minute. Just get the job done.
So here are some of the more recent painting and related projects that I've done. I've been fortunate to have had a variety of houses to work on. Rather than just post "before and after" pictures, I've tried to show some of the process.
If you're interested in getting some painting done, send me an email.
Cabinets. I replaced the particle board shelving with good plywood, made custom mahogany banding, and painted the cabinets inside and out.
Ceiling, crown molding, and walls.
Geodesic Dome Home Interior.
Ceiling and wall repair
Exterior Painting. Aluminum and wood siding and block.
Exterior Painting. Brick.
Staining treads and painting everything else
Exterior rotted wood replacement