Mackenzie Devereux-Batchelor Traditional Painter Q&A
I asked Mackenzie Devereux-Batchelor, Traditional Painter, a few questions in order to provide some background to how he arrived at this point in his career.
What part of the UK do you cover for Traditional Painter?
At what age did you first wield a paint brush for money? And for how much?
My first job self-employed, I was 25, and earned £255 for a 4-flat property. It was £50 per flat plus paint!
Can you briefly outline your formal training?
After leaving the army I did a 6 month Skills course and then a traditional apprenticeship for Johnson’s Decorators in Leicester, a 3rd generation firm specialising in ecclesiastical and “High End” domestic decorating.
Who do you consider your “mentor” in your early years, and why? (Name names!)
Pop Green was responsible for my training in the first year at Johnson’s. He was a shirt-and-tie guy, and for the first 6 months so was I. He was a great teacher and very patient, and drummed into me that Patience in Preparation Produces Perfect Finishes. He said I would do alright if I calmed down. He was right.
What brand paint were you predominantly using on woodwork when you started out?
And now, what would you use as your best shot on a front door?
What was the most unpleasant decorating job you ever did? (Don’t name names!)
I brushed out 6 store rooms with oil based thixotropic eggshell, there was no ventilation.
Tell us briefly about a job that you think encapsulates your craft skills?
Easton Neston Hall in Towcester was a 3 year project and required us to draw on every decorating skill in our trunk. A lot of hand painted furniture, plus gilding, graining and wallpapering. It was an excellent project. Really enjoyable. Fab results.
Name one aspect of the decorating trade today that makes you cringe?
Am I allowed to say: often being asked to use Farrow and Ball paint?! There are some great and even better paints on the market, which our clients perhaps haven’t heard of. Little Greene Paint for example has always produced superb reliable results and their technical support is always first class.
Name one aspect of decorating that is infinitely better than when you first started out.
Choice of primers, and particularly water-based paints.
If a young person said they wanted to be a painter, what would your advice be?
Aspire to be the best and do the best work possible. I had difficult conversations with my apprentice whose college mates were earning twice what he was. They were working on price knocking out new houses on big estates, he was learning gilding, graining, wallpapering. I told him his mates would be going in and out of employment and doing that exact same type of work their whole working life, whereas he would always be employable with such a broad range of skills to offer.
What decorating trend do you hope never makes a comeback?
Portaflek, Dulux Duette floppy rollers, Artex. Shall I go on?
Based on your experience, is there a “most popular colour” for hand-painted kitchen cabinets?
Bone China Blue or Slaked Lime are very popular
Is your own home decorated to the nth degree, or is it a case of cobbler’s shoes?
My house is in very good shape, shall we say half way to the nth degree. I am also a Virgo…
Outside of work, what are you working on at the moment?
I run a lot and sponsor Save our Paras. Next weekend for instance I am training for a Challenge Run (endurance) called the Para’s10, which is 10 miles over tough terrain ending in a trip over the paras’ assault course. One run in Colchester and another in Catterick.
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