Sunday, August 17, 2008

How to paint your boat

I promised a feedback report on Phil Speight's boat painting course which I attended a week ago, so here it is.

30 of us paid their £60 and turned up, so you can see how many people want to learn from the master. With that number of course, there was no chance of hands-on teaching so it was a lecture and demo over two days. Starting with a bare sheet of steel, Phil showed us how to prepare it, paint the various layers of primer and undercoat, and sign-write and finally decorate it. The rubbing down bits were described, but not demonstrated (imagine the mess).
I can't go into all the detail here but here are a few things that particularly struck me.

To get a good finish you need to paint much faster than you might think - and with what most folk would consider big brushes. Phil reckons to cover the cabin side of a 60 ft boat in about 20 minutes. The finish Phil gets with just a brush is amazing. It all looks very simple. Hmmmm.

There seem to be a hundred ways you can spoil the job - condensation, inadequate ventilation, skin oils on the prepared surface, tiny bits of silicon from sealants etc etc. You do need to plan and to be meticulous about prep and cleanliness.

Even when you have done a nice paint job, it can easily be ruined by lack of after care - regular washing, stuff on the roof etc

Amazingly, Phil does his sign writing totally freehand. No measuring, no accurate marking out, no rulers or straight edges, and masking tape only to mark the top and bottom of the letters. Watching him pull a perfect freehand arc in masking tape is a bit jaw dropping!

From very close up you can see it is not perfect, but from a couple of feet back it looks right. From across the canal it will look perfect but much livelier than geometrically set out stuff.

Phil likes what he calls the all or nothing approach to the paint design on a boat. On the name panel, great big bold letters and lots of decoration, then going forward a very plain minimalist look until at the bow another blaze of decoration. Here he starts on bunches of roses

On the second day, Phil forced us to endure (his words, not mine) his lecture on the origins and styles of traditional narrowboat painting and he brought along a wonderful display of the real stuff by the old masters like Frank Nurser.

Here it is almost done.

My pic is a bit blurred because it was all to shiny to risk flash photography!
You might gather that Phil is a Ferrari fan. Well, nobody's perfect :-)

A great course and I'm very tempted to have a go on Herbie's cabin sides in the next year, sign writing and all!

1 comment:

saltysplash said...

Now that you are fully trained in the art of boat painting, I would like to commission you to re-do Lady Elgars Top sides.....Laura however says, " not commission, but allow you to practice your new skills on our topsides" and she wont charge very much.....Ill settle for the roof to begin with :)

Sounds like a great coure Neil