Doug Colonese is a professional painter who works in the Colorado College Facilities Paint Shop. When he is not in the shop, Doug can be found all around campus, repairing and touching up CC buildings. Since starting at CC five years ago, Doug has mentored many student workers. Working in the paint shop is both fun and rewarding, as Doug brings energy and excitement to every project as well as a unique sense of humor. This week, The Catalyst sits down with Doug to talk about painting and life perspectives.
The Catalyst: How long have you worked at Colorado College and how has it changed over time?
Doug Colonese: Five years. I’m not sure if there are changes or if I’m just getting to know more about what the students do and how things work on campus.
TC: Do you have a favorite memory from working in the shop?
DC: Ooh there’s many. Many. Oh, this is good and bad: the hailstorm. That was about three years ago or something? It was around 4:45, and we get off at 5 o’clock. And then a hailstorm comes rolling through and pretty much breaks a lot of the windows in Palmer. Large, single-pane glass. So we were told to stay and get over there and start boarding up the windows and stuff like that because it was raining all night long and everything. We were here probably till 11:00. You know, it was bad because stuff got damaged, but it was fun because we all got to do things and we had all the supplies on campus already. So it’s not like, “Oh gosh, go to the store and all this other stuff.” No, just run to the shops and start grabbing all the tools, and it was people from all departments doing it.
TC: How did you get into painting professionally?
DC: Originally, I started on the East Coast. I was probably 19. I started working for a construction company, and since I was a new guy — most people don’t like to paint — they made me paint, and I liked painting. So, I went to a professional painting company. I went through a few until I found actual, respectable craftsmen that take the trade seriously. And then, yeah, I’ve been doing it for 20-something years. Most of the time, I’ve been here, but it was a good stint in Jersey. The painting styles are different because of humidity and weather changes and everything, but it’s still something I enjoy doing.
TC: What drew you to Colorado from New Jersey?
DC: Right after high school, I started moving a lot: Georgia, Virginia, just trying new places. I wanted a slower-paced community to live in. Jersey wasn’t for me; it was beautiful and fantastic, but I wanted a slower, calmer pace. Then I had relatives that moved out here [to Colorado], and they needed help with the kids and the house, so I thought it was a good opportunity to try it here. So I got here in like 2001. And I’m not leaving.
TC: What do you think is necessary to live a good life?
DC: Perspective: there’s good and bad in everything. Sometimes you think the worst thing or horrible thing at one point in time, but if you give it enough time, you’ll find the silver lining — what you’ve learned from it, or the ups and downs of what happened then. I have an example. So, I was cutting tree branches at a house I was renting. One was close to the power line, but I thought, “I could make this one happen.” I cut it; it hits a power line, severs from the house so I have no power. Sunday mid-afternoon, I call a friend. They come rushing over. They tell me what to do and everything, then I call the city. They come rushing over and do all that stuff. I felt horrible that I was stupid enough to do that. I’m not supposed to be doing that, whatever. Like a month later, we had a super heavy, wet snowstorm and branches were coming down all over town. The silver lining to me with feeling so bad about doing that was, that branch probably would have come down in the storm, and the possibility of me getting help during the storm was probably zero because everyone needed help in town. So on accident, I did it at a convenient time. So that’s the kind of thing, the perspective of such things.
TC: Who’s your best friend at CC?
DC: That’s hard to say … Jeff Carlson. OK, a little back story: we both come from metropolitan areas — him Chicago, me New Jersey. We have similar humor and sarcasm, so we kind of blend well. We both like to dance. I think that actually helps, somehow. You know, we don’t dance too often. We have [gone out dancing], but not too often, not as often as I would like. We both respect what we do for a living: painting. We’ve both been doing this pretty much our whole lives. General ethics of life in general, we connect with. We both worked at a major painting company before coming to Colorado College. Again, we have that past of working on construction sites and the ups and downs of that. That’s a whole other world of pressure and discomfort — a lot of angry people under a lot of pressure on these kind of job sites. Jeff was hired here some time ago, and then he suggested when they were hiring, that maybe give Doug a shot. And I tried out for it, and it’s been working ever since.
TC: If you had one afternoon completely free, with no commitments, what would you do?
DC: Oh! Frisbee golf. Normally I would say work on my house — I do enjoy that — but frisbee golf is a new hobby. Big fun.
TC: Any current projects you are excited about or projects you hope to start soon?
DC: I’ll be going up to Baca for the first time. I have some work up there. I do enjoy a lot of the projects on campus. I find it very gratifying throughout the summertime; my student co-workers and I, we painted pretty much the entire physics department: all the labs and everything. Slightly repetitious, but on such a large scale, it made such a big difference. So that was pretty exciting to get that completed and have it actually all come out really well. But I would say I’m pretty excited about Baca.
TC: What advice would you give to a student helper in the paint shop?
DC: That silver lining thing I was talking about. I’m big into that one. One of the things that even got me into that was a book, which I got off of one of the free tables in the hallways: “7 Life Lessons of Chaos.” The way I took the book was, yeah there’s always differences that just because it’s upsetting or it’s not going well or something, you can back up and actually make it better with a different point of view of it. Otherwise, the students that I’ve worked with and everything are really wise. I get a lot more out of them than usually they get out of me.
TC: If you could paint every wall at CC one color, not off-white, what color would that be?
DC: Thyme. Yeah, it’s like a minty green.