Tangerine Dream Part 3 – The Finished Look

Today I went to the studio on my lunch hour and laid down the final coat of paint on the second side of the room, the small side. I had to be careful as I was almost out of paint, and I didn’t want to waste a drop. I also had to freehand the line between my studio and the hallway, which turned out pretty well. I could have used painters tape, but I have found tape to be more trouble than it’s worth. For one thing, it often doesn’t come off cleanly — then you have to work it off of a wall or molding only to find rips or tears in the paint underneath. For another, freehanding challenges me to keep a steady and slow hand as I paint.

Today I was so excited about how I was almost finished, that I had to tell myself, “Relax, don’t be so excited that you lose your focus!” Painting is a kind of zen practice. If you stay relaxed and focused, it is not that hard to free hand and not rely on tape. If you know how to gently spiral your wrist as the paint goes on, you can keep an even flow. The other trick, at least with latex-based paints, is to keep a moist rag in your pocket (or in my case, the waistband of my old yoga pants). That way if you do drip or smear where you don’t want paint, it’s easy to simply wipe the area gently with the damp cloth and move on! The main problem comes when you rush it too fast, or tune out too much and make careless errors. It’s all about that sweet spot of focus.

After the last coat was down, I began the arduous process of CLEAN UP. It turns out that preparation and clean up for a painting job takes as long or longer than the painting itself. You can’t rush the clean up. I was especially careful as I didn’t want to drip orange paint anywhere in the hallway that led to the sink. I have a plastic tub full of old towels, washcloths, drop cloths and rags. It’s a great resource because then you know there are plenty of supplies in case you need them.

I had access to a utility sink, always nice because it usually already has some stains and isn’t a pristine surface. I cleaned out my brush really well. I started to clean out the roller covers but then I realized they had been used more than once before, had a few pebbles and other gunk stuck in them, and were probably best thrown away. (If I had another paint job coming up soon and no money left that month, I might have saved them. But since I should be done with painting for awhile I decided that for my next paint job I’ll buy new roller covers). I also threw away the paint tray liner, but washed off the paint tray itself. Finally, I kept that final little bit of paint in the can in case I ever need to do a touch up. Later I transferred that paint to a mason jar that I’ll keep in a drawer at the studio, along with a small brush.

I was so happy and even though it has taken me a bit longer than I planned, I feel like the project progressed smoothly. Check out the picture of the finished floor, and also with the furniture back in.

Note about maintenance: as I am moving and settling in, I’m very aware that any kind of painted floor is going to be subject to chips and scrapes. Even with the primer and two coats of paint, it wouldn’t be very hard to scratch the floor. After all of my hard work, that’s the last thing I want! So, I’ve decided that when I’m in the back part of the studio I will first remove my shoes. I’ve placed a small stand at the front of the studio for shoes. I’ll worry less about that front area – if it gets scratches I can touch them up or just live with them. Hopefully by keeping shoes off, I’ll ensure a longer life for the paint on the back area of the floor. I’ve also placed rugs and yoga mats to function as chair mats for my roller chair at the desk. What fun! I love the finished look so much! (see photos)

That’s the story, morning glory!  I hope if you live in Jackson you can come check out the studio in person. In fact there will be a building open house May 17, 2014.

Just be ready to take off your shoes!!!

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Tangerine Dream – Part 2 – The paint goes on!

A very big part of a successful paint job is careful planning. You want to plan ahead, because once the paint can is open, you need to have all of your ducks in a row. As I looked around my studio, I realized that the best way to handle this job was to divide it into two sections. That way, I could move all of the furniture and gear I already had in the studio to a small area in the front and paint the big back area. Once that part was complete, I could move everything back there and paint the smaller front area. Easy enough to do, and would not require me to store my stuff somewhere else during the job.

After moving all the furniture to the small area at the front of the studio, I mopped the big area that I intended to paint first and let it dry for a few hours. When I returned, I opened up the primer and got to work cutting in around the edge of the room. When painting walls, you can really roll first or cut in first. When I paint walls, I prefer to start with the hardest part (cutting in) and get that out of the way. It’s like having a nice PB&J sandwich, and eating the crusts first while anticipating how much you will savor the pillowy middle part. In my case, when painting walls, the rolling usually comes last – that’s the part where the results are fast, fun & gratifying.

However, because this job was a floor and not a wall, the process was different. if I wanted to cut in and roll in the same session, I had to cut in first. Otherwise I would have been walking on the wet, rolled paint to get to the corners of the room.

As I got started, I was a bit surprised at how runny the primer seemed. Normally, latex primer (for painting walls) is quite a bit thicker than the paint itself. In fact I usually have to spend twice as long cleaning out my brush after using primer than when I clean it out after using paint, because it’s thicker and sticks to the brush.

This is a great reminder to ALWAYS READ THE INSTRUCTIONS! (I can hear my hubs Daniel reading this and rolling his eyes now!) Because I was so familiar with painting walls, I assumed that the cement floor process of “primer + paint” was the same. With great luck I ran into print-maker and building manager Richard Stowe on my way to wash my hands. (Note on that – if you are painting with latex paint – washing your hands frequently will help you avoid stuck-on paint and long scrubbing during clean up). “How’s it going?,” he asked, “have you become light-headed from the fumes yet?” I told him the primer had gone on a bit thin but I thought that after two coats of paint on top of the primer that the floor would probably have good coverage.

“Thin?” he asked, puzzled. “Make sure you wait long enough to put the paint coat on.”

“I was thinking 24 hours, ” I said.

“Well, what does the can say?” he asked.

“Ah, let’s take a look.” We walked back to the studio and I picked up the can of primer. To my great surprise, the directions said that you must place the first coat of paint on top of the primer between 1 – 4 hours after priming the floor. If you wait too long, you have to start over from the beginning and put another coat of primer down! What??? With every other kind of painting I’ve done, I’ve had to make sure to wait long enough to let the primer dry thoroughly. In this case, though, the primer is called a “bonding” primer and it needs to be coated with paint within four hours to make a good seal. Otherwise you have to start from the beginning again, and lay down another coat of primer.

How fortunate I am that Richard was there to offer that simple, yet crucial suggestion to “read the paint can!” I find the biggest challenges with projects like these comes from assumptions I’ve made – often assumptions that I don’t realize I have made. (What is that saying? “You don’t know what you don’t know?”) Luckily since it was Sunday I had the time to go home for two hours and then come back and put down the first coat of paint within the 4-hour window.

I loved the smooth texture the primer coat made – almost a glisten (see photos).  The paint went on very well, though the first coat did not achieve complete coverage. Also, the original floor color was a stained concrete that was somewhat dark, so sometimes it takes a bit more paint to cover a darker color.

I put a second coat of paint down (total of one coat primer, 2 coats of paint) to get really good coverage and protect against chips (see photos). I could go another step further and treat it with an epoxy clear coat. However, my budget was spent for the project, and I was getting tired of breathing fumes. I know I’ll have to be careful to not scratch the floor but I’m okay with that.

After the second coat went on, things really started to gel. What a powerful color! It seemed to me to be just perfect! It doesn’t hurt that orange is the color associated with creativity in the Indian system of chakras. To me it is associated with grounded energy, with the earth, with fun and with abundance.

Stay tuned for Part 3 – The Finished Look

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Tangerine Dream Part 1: A Studio Space in Midtown, Jackson, MS

Over the past few years I began to record and mix music myself instead of buying studio time. Having reached the limits of what I could do at home, I decided to take a leap of faith and lease a studio space in the North Midtown Arts Center (NMAC) building in the Midtown area of Jackson, Mississippi.

The space itself has lots of light, good natural reverb, and a rich history of art, music and creativity thrumming in its walls. Immediately after entering the space I began to write and sing in beautiful new ways. A blurring of moments filled my spirit: the train nearby…the trees in the courtyard outside…the memory of opening up for Teneia Sander’s CD Release party at Ezra Brown’s club called Seven down the street…the knowledge that Luckytown Brewery (Jackson’s newest microbrewery) would soon be in view from my new studio window…playing improv at Figment and laughing…all of this hums in multi-layered chord that I feel in my cells and in my bones.

It’s true, as a place for recording music the space does have some drawbacks. Those evocative train sounds for one. And, occasional noise from neighboring studio spaces and sound of the heating unit going on. Since most of what I’ll be doing involves line-in tracking and midi-based instrumental work, these issues seem workable. On the occasion I want to record vocals or mic instruments, I can work around these challenges with careful planning, patience, and a bit of good luck.

The studio is one of those gifts I’ve given myself. Maybe the best creativity present, ever! Though I had moved in several pieces of furniture and some art, and recorded, practiced and written well there…I didn’t quite feel settled in.

Knowing from my training in feng shui that the need to ground and settle can be super important for creative work, I thought about the best way to quickly and inexpensively create a harmonious and comfortable place that felt as if it were mine. I debated painting one wall a bright color. I thought of different kinds of colors that might be fun. I liked the idea of orange. Later that night as I was getting ready for bed, a voice in my head said, “You aren’t going to paint the wall – you are going to use that orange color and paint the floor!”

At first I thought, ah, that’s too much trouble. Painting floors means moving all of the stuff around. But the more I thought about it, the more I fell in love with the idea. The floor is stained concrete, and coated in years of drips, splatters, and other stains from the tenants before me (see photos). After talking to the property manager, I got permission to cover over all of that with a layer of color, called “Baked Squash.” Though it sounds very “fallish” in truth on the floor the color is more of a charming, rich tangerine.

I knew I’d need to prime the floor if I wanted the paint to stick. Even so I want to be careful in the future, once it’s done, not to drag furniture across the floor. Painted floors can tend to scratch but they look great.

I bought a gallon of concrete floor primer and a gallon of concrete paint, asking the paint person at Lowe’s to tint both the primer and the paint with my selected color.

I got my painting clothes on (old yoga pants & a t-shirt) and my other supplies:

  • a bucket for water to store the wet paint roller between coats
  • 2 paint roller covers (one for backup)
  • a paint roller
  • an extender pole that screws onto the paint roller, making big jobs easier
  • a metal paint tray and plastic tray liner
  • rags
  • a stir-stick
  • a brush for cutting in
  • a flat head screwdriver to use to open the paint can (don’t forget that!!!)

Note, I did not mention drop cloths. Though I have painted plenty of walls and a few ceilings, this is the first time I have painted a floor. Best part – no worries about dripping paint on the floor. (I did end up using a drop cloths when I got to the final area, because I had to put my supplies out in the hall).

Also note, I did not list painter’s tape. I have been taught that painters tape is way more trouble than it is worth and can create problems you didn’t have when you started. By keeping a wet rag in my pocket to quickly wipe drips up, and by using a careful technique, I get good results without the tape.

Stay tuned for Part 2 – “The Paint Goes On!”


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