The business of house-painting has so outgrown its former insignificant proportions, that its past and present features have almost lost their resemblance.
Today, more money is expended in the painting of a single edifice than would have sufficed to paint every house in a respectable-sized town thirty years ago ; and the amount of capital, skill and intelligence now required to conduct the business successfully in the cities and large towns, was not dreamed of at that time.
The services of the painter are better acknowledged and appreciated, and his labor more adequately rewarded, than formerly. The business tact, knowledge, skill and capital of employers, in many cases, meet with ample but deserved remuneration, for the business seems to be attended with more than its fair share of the vexations and annoyances which, to a greater or less degree, appertain to all the various branches of the mechanic arts.
One of the most serious difficulties with which the employing painter contends is that of obtaining the services of skilful, reliable workmen, during what is called the busy seasons. This grows out of the fact, partly, that a large proportion of repainting, interiors par- ticularly, is crowded into the brief season of spring, and partly from the idea that once generally prevailed, and which unfortunately obtains now to some extent, that anybody can do plain painting, and that the art of mixing and laying on of colors requires less skill, and is more easily acquired, than skill and dex- terity in other trades.
During this brief busy season, the employer, under the pressure of necessity, avails himself of such workmen as present themselves ; some of them, perhaps, fresh from the lapstone and the last, who have stepped from the shoemaker’s bench to the paint-brush, as if the same were a natural and proper transition.
The elements, too, conspire against the painter : a sudden shower will sometimes produce a most undesirable commingling of tints, blending black, white and gray in streaky confusion. The dust-plague, too, is ofttimes a double plague to him. A change of temperature may check the drying disposition of his pigments, for the property of absorbing oxygen, which the oil possesses at ordinary temperatures, seems to be wanting under cer- tain atmospheric conditions.