Was he speaking directly to me, the esteemed Dr. Seuss? Would the poem provide answers to the absolute gut-wrenching reaction I used to have when contemplating a project where I’d spend days on ladders?
And the bad reaction only began with ladders. There were scaffolds to climb and scissor lifts to navigate.
Seems the love of painting was and continues to be greater than the fear. If you shudder at the idea of heights, tag along with me through a few of my challenges.
First check out this barrel ceiling. Here is the space during construction.
It’s good you can’t see my face as you’re reading. I really had to work hard keeping the panic in place.
However, and it still amazes me every time, once I have that stern talk with myself and start painting, the fear truly dissipates. Got my backer’s scaffold in place and commenced painting this ceiling, grid method, square by square.
This next project was a cloud dome that was over an inside pool. Look at the support structure to hold the dance floor that would span over the approximately 28’ wide pool. Once I climbed through the trap door onto the dance floor, I was in my own little world, happy as a lark.
Let’s swing down to the Woodlands in Texas for this next dome. The background for my work was beautifully executed by the talented crew of Janie Ellis of Anything But Plain fame.
It is “shabin”, broken pieces of silver leaf, which were then treated to a soft wash of umber glaze. I will show you the finished space in this foyer first.
My dome height is approximately 50 feet.
The dance floor was structured in such a way that my access required climbing from the landing of the second floor onto a straight ladder and then climbing onto the dance floor.
And let’s not forget dragging all my tools with me. I was disappointed not to see the finished dome with the chandelier hung but it made for great pictures of the hand painted ornament.
I need to explain the anguish this next wall presented. You’ll see a 16’ A-frame ladder securely attached to the scaffolding. Because of the slope of the ceiling, there are no guard rails on the scaffold. I would climb the ladder and then THAT moment. The moment where I had to move from the ladder to the top of the platform. I made sure I was alone each time I made the transition ( and yes, it’s worse coming down). I had to talk to myself out loud to do it, and admittedly, that conversation was not always ladylike.
But once again, once I was in place, I was good. This photo was taken by designer Arianna Thill @actdesignct. Thank you for your lovely comments. You made my day. The second picture shows the toning layer of plaster being applied to the brick.
Another dome in Conroe, TX shows one of the crew finishing up the erection of the scaffold. Again, the access to the dance floor was one of leaving the safety of the landing, climbing 12 feet and hauling me and supplies onto the dance floor.
I was also advised to get myself a fan up to my work area.” Why?” said the ignorant traveling painter from Connecticut. “Because you are in Texas, in August. The temperature is above 100 and your area is above the air conditioning.” The things you learn.
When possible, a scissor lift is far less frightening that climbing a scaffold. Choose your battle when you get the choice. Here I am in a scissor lift at St. Barbara’s hall in Orange, CT.
This last project was in Grapelands, Texas. This time, I must admit, although heights were involved, I knew that great care and thought had gone into making the accessibility of the 22’ height of this bas relief mural.
Guaranteed by my client and dear friend Jan who had the best scaffolding team of her husband’s construction company, the distinguished Marek Brothers of Houston. Check out the scaffold and the finished mural.
So there you have it, another view that you probably never considered , in an artist’s life.
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