I'm days late for Monday's white, but white's all I've been surrounded by this past week. It'll disappoint some to know that the orange wall from last week is a "before" shot: it wasn't nearly so lovely in real life, I promise. Wholly underqualified for the task, we started with ten litres of undercoat. By yesterday, punch-drunk with victory, I idly suggested to Andrew that perhaps we should knock on our neighbours’ doors to see if anyone needed a touch-up.
Over the week, the job grew in proportion to our confidence. At first, I suggested that perhaps we'd just tackle the orange. Then we decided on a single coat over the other three walls, minus the window frames. By Friday, I was taping the glass; on Saturday, Yeup was poly-filling the frames and suggesting silicon caulk. Isaac and Andrew felt that it'd be a shame not to do the ceiling beams, which is lucky because even with the extender pole I can't reach them. The last beam nearly broke us when the paint lifted off in great, wet sheets on Sunday night, and there was nothing to be done other than re-sand and seal. This was when I got cranky, and even Andrew's imagining of the Scrape 'n Paint, a two-in-one tool that scrapes and paints in one fluid motion couldn't shake my gloom.
This morning, I washed the white streak out of my hair, which Isaac described as more Paulie Walnuts than Susan Sontag. The windows need a little more work, but other than that, we’re done! And, fingers crossed, it seems that The Move Part II will take place this Sunday.
The week of painting gave me ample time to think about white. I thought I’d lucked out at Bunning’s the Saturday before last with a paint specialist on hand. But he knew far less than I did, identifying cool whites as warm and vice versa, so I was on my own. Turns out I’m a bit of an armchair paint maven, courtesy of Martha and years of shelter porn. I’d love to pitch out for a Donald Kaufman shade, or Aalto Colour, or a custom-mix from Porter’s, but I decided to stick with Dulux, a standard Australian brand.
One of the first things I noticed looking through Dulux’s white selection were these two shades: Chalk U.S.A and Antique White U.S.A. As an Australian living in the US 1994-2005, I never identified a particular shade of white as American. (At least, not a paint colour.) A white named Santorini I’d understand. U.S.A: nothing resonates, I’m afraid. Perhaps an American reader might have some ideas about this? I did however, dally with Antique White U.S.A, but ended up selecting Fair Bianca. I went through this process painting our bathroom three years ago, and chose Fair Bianca that time as well, so I guess this is the slightly creamy white for me.
I’ve always envied those responsible for naming colours, and I’m often amused by what they come up with. But I don’t think I’ve ever been struck as forcefully as I was this week, idly flicking through chips for a line of outdoor weatherguard paint. In the midst of utilitarian Pot Blacks and Garden Posts was a solid, no-nonsense grey named Simone Weil. If you happen to be a socialist, teacher, resistance fighter, factory worker, labor organizer, anarchist, Christian or philosopher you need look no further the next time you paint your outdoor retaining wall.