Learning Experience at Pro Faux Workshops
Somewhere along the line, some poor misguided
soul coined the well-known adage: "Those who can, do. Those
who can't, teach.
I used the
term "misguided" because the faux-finishing profession is populated
by people who do the work and teach the work. And certainly,
that's got to be the case in other professions. The best teachers
often also were very active in "doing" the very thing they are
editor of this magazine, I would propose a more appropriate
statement that applies to my own situation: "Those who can't,
write." But actually isn't fair to the many quality writers
we have filling these pages -- in many cases, I have found,
professional faux finishers can write, teach as well as do --
multitalented individuals indeed.
To do my
best for this publication, it's important that I learn as much
as possible about the faux-finishing profession -- and that
means not only reading books, watching videos and interviewing
experts but also getting paint on my hands on a regular basis.
for hands-on experience came about recently when John Catalanotto
and Greg Frohnapfel of Pro-Faux Workshops extended a gracious
invitation to me to take their class on European Textures and
Metallic Finishes. So, I headed to Akron, Ohio, to further my
thing I found out when I entered the class room was that I was
overdressed. I thought I was casual enough in my olive -green
pants, shirt and a light embroidered sweater, but John immediately
look at me and said, "You're going to get paint all over your
And sure enough, a glance around showed me that those who faux-finish
for a living knew how to dress for the activity -- since it
was summer, shorts and casual shirts, or in some cases, blue
jeans. I immediately took off the sweater, and since it was
a two-day class, the next day I would wear the jeans and casual
top I had brought. John and Greg also provided aprons for those
who wanted them, and a few dollops of paint on my paints later,
I was wearing the apron.
It was going
to be a busy class -- 10 finishes in two days using a comprehensive
texturing product line for which Pro Faux is exclusive US distributor.
We did the base work on the first day, following up with the
color work on the second day.
of having two instructors rather than one made the class extremely
enjoyable. Through out the day, John and Greg played off each
other like two experienced musician -- or maybe a better description
would be like an experienced comedy team. They poked good-natured
fun at each other, but just as frequently told jokes at their
own expense (mostly about golf -- it must be a "guy" thing.)
John and Greg could trade off in showing us various aspects
of the techniques -- an excellent method for keeping everyone
awake and attentive.
were only nine of us, John and Greg could give each of us individualized
attention. They'd call us up to the front of the class to demonstrate
a technique, then we'd head back to the table to try it out.
When I was having trouble mastering a given step in the process,
they would offer constructive advice. And when I actually did
something well, they were generous with their compliments.
class, John also lamented this "Those who can't, teach" adage.
He and Greg were so adamant to prove it wasn't true that they
entered their finishes into a competition and won several major
awards. While John and Greg have taught literally all over the
world -- from Las Vegas to Italy, from dry land to cruise ships
-- they also have created decorative finishes for a multitude
great about the class was getting to know the other students.
Some of them were strictly involved in faux finishing, while
others were painting contractors who were discovering the fun
and profits of adding decorative finishes to their professional
first day of class, we all gathered for dinner at a local eatery.
I sat near a couple of painting contractors who enthused about
the addition of faux finishing to their livelihood. One painter
remarked that his traditional painting jobs were like driving
down a highway, but faux finishing was like taking a detour
onto a scenic side road -- less harried, more enjoyable.
the camaraderie with the teachers and students was one of the
most worthwhile aspects of taking a course of this nature. Learning
new techniques and ways to expand your livelihood are also big
many great schools, studios and teachers in this profession.
Check out our Resource Guide for a partial list. Talk to your
colleagues to see which ones they might recommend. If you want
to "do" your best, then learn from the best. Those who teach
can be very good at what they do, and their capacity for sharing
will be a big benefit to you.