Sorcha Aisling

>>>>Take two house
painters. One does the job you do not want to do: You pick the colors
and make all the decisions; he provides the labor. The other comes into
your home, looks at your overall scheme, makes suggestions, talks about
color combinations and textures; will even go with you to the store to
pick out the product or even mix the colors himself. Both are house
painters, which one is the creative one?<<<<

When I was a kid, my dad had a "good" job in the steel mill that his father retired from and where everyone expected him to work his entire career. He hated it. He'd always wanted to be an artist. So he just up and quit a "secure" job and opened his own business painting houses. The year I was born, he made $600. Total. But each year he had more and more business, and in the evenings/weekends he was doing what he really loved: art.

After years of improving as an artist, he started getting the courage to make suggestions to his customers: a steel door painted to look like wood, a mural on the wall, an old table top painted like marble, etc. He started building a portfolio of that kind of work and learning new techniques. He learned how to build fireplaces cheaply from a special light-weight blend of concrete and paint it to look like whatever kind of stone the family wants. He's experimenting with scuplture.

Now the steel mills in his town are all but shut down, and a lot of people are doing do-it-yourself jobs around their homes rather than hiring painters. But it hasn't affected his career because of his new skills. People fly him in from other parts of the country to do murals and custom paint jobs in their homes. He hasn't been hired to "just" paint a room in years. It didn't happen overnight, but he is doing what he loves now and getting paid for it. If he'd done what his father wanted, what his father firmly believed would lead to a good life, he'd be another of the thousands of laid-off steel workers in my hometown.


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