A few weeks before Christmas last year I received a message from an old rowing friend who lives overseas. His wedding anniversary was coming up and he wanted to paint a trophy blade for his wife as a gift. No problem I thought. I can do that.

Then he told me the date he needed it. THAT would be an issue.

Then he solved one problem for me by telling me that he wanted to paint it himself. And then he asked me if I could tell him how.

Sure. How hard could it be? I used to be a Design Tech teacher. Surely I could show a grown up how to do something using a few messages and images.

(* apologies that I have no images to show – we have to protect the names of the innocent…)

It started off quite easily. I’ve helped a few clubs before with blade repair and preparation for paint, so I already had emails with step by step instructions that I could forward on. Sanding, filling, sanding, more filling, priming, sanding, undercoating, sanding. Simples.

The top coat wasn’t so simple as there is a bit of skill and experienced involved in getting good coverage, a smooth finish, and also avoiding any drips or runs. On top of that the design had two colours that needed to be masked off and done separately. Let’s just say, that for a bloke who’s in a very technical and specialised field of high finance who has probably not painted anything since primary school, it was not too bad.

With a few sample images from my archive to act as a guide, he made a stencil and marked up the design very well. Then things got a bit difficult. Most people are fine with a pen in their hands, but few are comfortable writing with a brush.

To get him comfortable with a brush I asked him to look up some step by step calligraphy images and to see how to build up the letters with pen/brushstrokes. Instead of dabbing at it randomly to try to build up an image that looked like writing, he should approach it as if he was writing. A quick demonstration video also helped.

The club logo is quite detailed and he did get a bit frustrated with that, but then he had a great idea. Would a paint marker pen be OK for the fine detail? Yes it would!

The finished job was a bit wobbly in spots, but it was his first ever go at this – and all from very much a standing start with no applicable artistic experience to fall back on. He was a bit down about it at times during the process, but I did have to remind him that I’ve got more than 20 years of experience at this, so of course my demonstration videos made it look easy!

However, the most important thing was the recipient. His wife would have been pleased to get a blade that I painted, but to get one that her husband had painted was all the more special on their anniversary.