“About as much fun as Watching Paint Dry” is a common comment, and usually used despairingly. Not true when it applies to the title of a recent book I read. I just happened to stumble upon it searching in Amazon for something else and instantly bought it.
“Watching Paint Dry” is the story of John Burbridge’s journey through life as a painter in several capacities, he was the college student, college student franchise employee, employee, union painter, owner and hack (although using his mountain climbing gear on a commercial job may not have been OHSA approved, it got the job done!).
The book is only 176 pages, but it tells the story of just about every painter stereotype in an uncannily real way. Many of the reviews call it a “lighthearted read”, and I agree, but there is a depth and the insights into human nature are striking. This review says it well.
John Burbidge has aimed his brush, roller, and spray gun at everything from ritzy mansions to trashy trailers. He’s gone underground to paint sewage-treatment plants and risked death to paint factory ceilings. He has no doubt inhaled enough noxious dust and paint fumes to shorten his life.
But he’s not dead yet. And the captivating characters he has encountered along the way have more than offset the toils of painting for a living. Ex-cons, addicts, drifting college grads, even a guy with a hole in his head—that’s your typical paint crew, bonded only by the fact that they’re caught in a job society thinks is for simpletons. In Watching Paint Dry, John Burbidge scrapes beneath the surface of painting’s reputation for monotony while intimately portraying the men and women who craft the backdrop to our civilization.
“Informative, funny, and sometimes heartbreaking . . . this is a book you will want to recommend to everyone you know.”
–Sharon Barrett, Chicago Sun-Times book critic for 28 years
You can order the book from Amazon here.
After reading the book, I did a little more research on John, he has also created “How to Paint a House Right”. At first glance, the site may appear to cater to to the DIY crowd, but after looking at several of the well done videos, I see the answers to many of the questions I see asked here and on popular paint forums. I contacted John to learn more and he has agreed to a guest post here at Blogging Painters, and join our community.
If you have read the book, have a question or topic you would like him to address, leave a comment below, thanks!
12 thoughts on “Watching Paint Dry”
It will be interesting to hear what he has to say!
Hey, thanks, I really appreciate the nice review! I’m glad you liked the book. I’m always interested to hear what other painters have to say about the stories. I feel lucky to have worked with so many great people over the years, and to be able to tell their stories is an honor. I owe a great debt to all the painters I’ve worked with. They taught me a lot about painting and about life too.
Thanks John, I really enjoyed the book, and hope others do as well!
Sounds like a good read, I’ll have to give it a try.
Thanks for commenting Ernie, let me know how you like it!
Chris, thanks for this. This is a book I am interested in reading. I need to order it ASAP.
Our trade is all about stories. We need some good story tellers.
George, he tells the stories well, I think you will enjoy it!
Thanks, I hope you like the book and tell other painters about it. I recently read in Parade magazine that there are 450,000 painters in the U.S. If they all bought the book, I could retire. 🙂
Con-grads on your book.
After seeing your post I ordered the book. I read it in one day, yesterday. Not being a painter, but currently working for one, and having a father in the construction business as I was growing up, I found the stories quite real. John Burbidge does an excellent job of storytelling and capturing the “heart” of the people he has come to know over the years. At times I was laughing hysterically and other times could feel the disappointment of these guys who work so hard and think they are not respected by others. It’s true, most people don’t know what it takes to get a quality paint job, until they get a bad one! One of my favorite stories in the book was the paper mill job. John’s closing statement in the book sums it up nicely, “I know painting is anything but simple”. I will passing this book along to Tim, Quality Assurance Painting, Inc. to read….I know he will enjoy it too!
Barbara, glad to hear, I felt the same, and read it one day too,couldn’t wait to read the next chapter of his life. I loved the mill story too, but I think my favorite was during the union painting in the dorms, I think it was the company he kept! Glad to hear you are passing it on, I did too!
Hi–Thanks for the very nice comments! I’m glad you enjoyed the stories, and thanks for passing the book along!