I painted a two story office building that housed a law firm. It was an old Victorian with badly peeling paint which had to be chemically stripped to raw wood before being painted. The job took weeks. When it was complete, the attorney who owned the building appeared with a pair of binoculars which he directed at the eves. He began pointing out small flaws in the finish which were invisible from the ground. He let me use his binoculars.

I hung wallpaper for a blind man; it was a mural which I hung at the end of his dining room. As I finished, the man asked me to describe the scene in the mural. I said, “We are in the shade of an oak tree on a hillside overlooking a small bay. There are a few small fishing boats at anchor in the bay. The sun is low over the ocean in the distance. There are small ripples on the water indicating a gentle breeze.” The man stood with his hands on his hips, head erect and shoulders back. “How beautiful!, ” he said.

I have a niece, Darlene O’Brien, who went blind at 33. She has raised two girls and is a grandmother of two. She works tirelessly to create understanding of disabled people by  traveling around the country and training various government agencies on the talents and qualifications of blind people. Her message is simple: blind people and disabled people in general are no different than the rest of us except for their disability. I would say that blind people are gifted with special “vision.” Darlene is smarter than she is good looking and she is very good looking; a tall attractive red head with a winning personality, she can take command of a room full of people. She remembers peoples’ names and where they are in the room and looks right at them when she speaks, giving the impression she isn’t really blind. She is the personification of respect for others.



           “I had just learned that the owner of the store was battling cancer caused by twenty years of spraying lacquer.”

Protecting the environment and living a healthy, safe life style are not values adopted by many painters.

On more than one occasion I have heard a painter say, “Hell, I clean my brushes with gasoline.” When asked how he disposed of his used thinners, another responded, “I feed it to the apple tree.”

“Responsible” often loses to “cheap and easy.” Most of us fail in this way at some time or other, placing expediency or personal gain before the interests of the community. On a recent trip to promote clean, safe, effective Dizzolve Brush Cleaner, I encountered yet another example of failure to care. At a small store in the in Southern California, the manager, Billy, said, “It’s all about price point. Your stuff is too expensive. Our contractors use kerosene and acetone.” I tried to explain that Dizzolve is reusable and a quart will clean forty brushes, ten times a quart of acetone. Then I said, “It also decreases toxic waste because it is reusable! How do your painters dispose of their used solvent?” “I don’t ask, I just sell it,” he replied.

The real shocker came when I asked whether he was concerned about the damaging effects of solvents on the painters’ health. “Not a bit,” he said: And here is the kicker: I had just learned that the owner of the store was battling cancer caused by twenty years of spraying lacquer. I had bumped into him in the parking lot before entering the store. He said his illness kept him from work; he hadn’t been in the store for nine months except to sign checks. He had just finished three months of the most extreme chemo therapy and he needed two months to recover before his operation. After telling me lacquer caused his cancer, he added, “To which, of course, stuff like yours is the answer.” Then he told me his step son, Billy, was managing his store for him, the very person who, I later learned, didn’t value Dizzolve. I wish I could say this was an isolated incident.


My start in the painting profession, in the ‘60s, involved experiences shared, I suppose, by “interns” and “entry level” employees everywhere.

I speak of those mildly uncomfortable moments when a client or employer asks you to do something that is outside of your job description, like “would you please walk my dog?” Now, I always like to lend a hand; if I see a motorist stalled in an intersection, I will abandon my car to help push his car to the curb. So, when my customer asked, “Don, would you please take Bogie for his walk?”   It was no big deal – that is until I got outside. As I walked Bogie, her miniature poodle, I was suddenly overcome by that uncomfortable feeling sometimes experienced in a dream. You know the one; you have decided that it is perfectly OK to go walking in the nude until you encounter a neighbor, and suddenly you realize your mistake.

Another time, a lady chose to feed me tri-tip by hand, that is, from her hand to my mouth. This intimate moment was prompted by the fact that my hands were covered by deck stain, I was on my knees (staining her deck) and I had skipped lunch. But, what the heck, both experiences arose from good relationships; I had come to know these women and they felt comfortable around me. That’s a good thing.

Counter that with the time a woman I had just met asked me to help her belch her water bed. I was in her master bedroom, providing a painting estimate. Her husband was downstairs sharing wine with their neighbors. Before us, a large waterbed, denuded of bed covering, spread its plastic expanse, exposing a large bubble of air. The helpful car-pusher in me joined forces with the eager salesman, and soon we were both on the bed trying to corral the pesky bubble. Facing each other, we wrapped the bubble with our arms and began squeezing it toward the vent. When it suddenly escaped to a far corner of the bed we were faced with one option – roll toward the bubble forcing it to rise to the middle again. It was at that moment that I realized the slightly ribald nature of our venture: that uncomfortable feeling returned, the dreamscape with the neighbor looking on. Our “mission accomplished” moment added to my humiliation: not a “belch” but the opposite, like a cow relieving herself.

By the way, the tri-tip was delicious, but Bogie took forever to do his business. I didn’t get the job with the waterbed lady.


Who would a thunk it. Good ‘ol paint thinner!!

      Dizzolve is the difference between safe and unsafe, between healthy and unhealthy, between earth-friendly and environmentally hazardous, and it is effective – it works.

Frankly, most painters want something that works and are less concerned about health and the earth. I’ll discuss Dizzolve’s effectiveness in a future blog for the benefit of my fellow tradesmen. What follows is addressed to you.

How do you know if a product is safe or complies with your concerns for the environment?Of course, by law, health warnings must appear on the label but they are brief and say nothing about the environment. Solution: all retailers are required to produce upon request a Safety Data Sheet (SDS), the in-store document with 15 categories of health and safety information, including hazards, chemicals, flammability, toxicology, ecological information, etc. – very telling. For example, let’s compare Dizzolve to paint thinner using SDSs. I have shamelessly abbreviated some of the entries for rhetorical clarity. Oh, and by the way, I know that effectiveness means a lot to you too; for info on that, just check out my amazing videos on DizzolveBrushCleaner.com. You can also find the Dizzolve SDS there. Here we go.


Mineral Spirits (Paint Thinners)

Hazard Class: Not a hazardous substance or mix Hazardous
Inhalation: Negligible unless heated Organ damage. Brain & nerve  damage
Ingestion: No hazards anticipated Call Poison Center immediately; may be fatal
Skin contact: Not likely to produce skin irritation May cause cancer, dermatitis
Flammability: Not flammable Flammable liquid and vapor. Explosion hazard.
Environment: Safe on rainbow trout & albino rats Not tested on rats or fish
It biodegrades quickly. Passes strictest VOC regulations (greenhouse gases). Certified SCAQMD (LA regulations, not SDS). Acute toxicity to aquatic plants. Does not meet California VOC regulations.

Who would a thunk it. Good ‘ol paint thinner!!


       “I’ll lay a hundred bucks on the table, and, if I can’t remove dried latex from a brush in four minutes, you can pick up the hundred bucks.”

I was on the road in Tennessee when I stopped at a prospective buyer. I had high hopes because this guy owned thirty-five stores and sat on the purchasing committee of a nation-wide cooperative buying group. I gave him my signature demonstration of Dizzolve removing oil base paint from a brush in thirty seconds leaving it soft and supple. I said, “It is free of solvents but takes dried paint out of a brush overnight — it works on every kind of paint imaginable – it is safe on your skin – that it has no fumes – it is not flammable –it is reusable.” My passion was clear. He said, “Leave me some and I’ll have my chemist test it.”

A week later I saw his blog (with pictures) posted at the buying group “proving” that Dizzolve doesn’t work. Instead of Dizzolve, he touted a cleaner composed of methylene chloride, xylene, acetone, methyl alcohol and petroleum distillates. This product was already sold in his buying group and, coincidentally, was manufactured a couple of miles from this guy’s main store. As a painter of forty years I was aware of these toxic solvents and how they can cause permanent brain and nervous system damage and destroy synthetic brushes. I emailed him, pushing back ever so gently; I compared Dizzolve to fine California wine and his product to Kentucky whiskey. “Sometimes,” I said, “I like a shot of whiskey, like when I’m playing guitar; but a good wine will take me gently to a great place.” He shot back, “But Dizzolve doesn’t remove dried latex.” This was so untrue it caused me to push back in what I would later realize was an unproductive way. My ire was clear. “Tell you what,” I said, “I’ll lay a hundred bucks on the table, and, if I can’t remove dried latex from a brush in four minutes, you can pick up the hundred bucks.”

A month later, I reaped the fruit of my momentary lack of decorum. I was on the phone with a chief executive of the cooperative buying group. In the middle of the conversation came the charge. “You are pushy,” he said. I prefer “passionate.”


We usually don’t know when some event will suddenly change the course of our lives.

In 2013, I had been happily retired for seven years, having turned my painting business over to my son.  Stopping by one of his job sites, I noticed a new four inch Purdy brush loaded with oil base primer drying in the sun. I learned that the brush would be discarded instead of cleaned: a $35 brush! “It takes too much labor to clean and the thinners they have today don’t get them clean. I just job-cost them,” my son explained. In my seven years of retirement the EPA and the paint industry had done away with mineral spirits in California due to concerns over greenhouse gasses, making brush cleaning difficult. By coincidence, I had been experimenting with a new solvent substitute in another context. Would it have an application here?

I let the brush dry in my driveway for a week and then cleaned it out quickly and completely with my new-found product. That was the end of my retirement. For the next three and a half years I have traveled from Boston to Miami and San Diego to Seattle and points in between. I have placed Dizzzolve Brush Cleaner & Conditioner in four hundred stores across thirty states and I have just begun.

My “golden years” have happily become active years. I have discovered that my son wasn’t the only one discarding new brushes and I have become passionate about this problem and its answer: Dizzolve Brush Cleaner & Conditioner.





(The photo I took while waiting for help.)

I often delivered Dizzolve to stores myself travelling around the country and on one of those trips…

My new Ford van, loaded with Dizzolve, overheated in the middle of the Nevada desert. When it had been serviced, the radiator cap wasn’t properly secured. But I was in luck I thought; I reached Triple A on my cell.  If I could just get to a parts store maybe Salt Lake City was still reachable. It was Friday afternoon. The desert was silent.

Me: Hi. I’m broken down on I-80 in Nevada in the desert.

Triple A Lady: “Sir, can you give me your nearest cross street?”

Me: “I’m in the desert. There are no cross streets. I’m in the middle of the desert. I’m in the desert in Nevada.”

Lady: “I’m sorry Sir; I can’t help you without a cross street.”

And so it went. I was incredulous and she was persistent. The exchange became heated.

Lady: “What is the nearest town?”

Me: “I have no idea.”

Lady: “I’m afraid I can’t help you, Sir.”

Me: “My GPS says I’m 180 miles west of Salt Lake. I’m in Nevada. I’m on I-80. 180 miles west of …”

Lady: “I’m very sorry, Sir. Without a cross street, I can’t help you.”

That’s when I started to give her a lesson in cartography and how a map legend spells out distances as in one inch equals twenty miles and how she could use two fingers to measure an inch to locate my position, and how I paid for her services and how it was her job to get me out of the trouble I was in, and it was then that I noticed the line had gone dead.

The sun was setting when I was towed into Elko where I had to spend the weekend until the Ford dealer opened on Monday: not a great town, but not that bad either.


Few painters I have known aspired to be painters when they grew up. 

Many turn to painting because they didn’t do well in school, others because their career plans just didn’t work out. I wanted to be a teacher but when I finished my B.A in English Literature and credential program, I discovered that controlling a class of children, let alone educating them, was a skill set I did not possess; so, I got a job for one year selling draperies door to door. When that didn’t work out I was on the street again with a family to support. Yard work was a temporary fix and paid the bills. I was pruning roses one day when my client asked, “Can you paint too?” “Sure,” I said, never having touched a paint brush. Forty years later I was still painting. Be careful of the lies you tell.

Actually, I thrived as a painter. Largely self-taught, I became an acknowledged color consultant, and won first place in the nation twice in decorating contests sponsored by the Painting and Decorating Contractors of America (PDCA) called “Picture It Painted Professionally.” I was president of my local chapter of the PDCA and I also taught apprenticeship classes for six years. It was a three-year course I wrote myself. As such, I certified journeyman painters in a three county area.

I actually made it back into the public school system; after receiving an M.A. in humanities, I taught in the communications department at the  College of Marin for a short time. But it was my years as a painter and contractor that I liked the most. The ability to stand back at the end of the day and see your accomplishment is something not offered in a lot of professions; and helping people decorate their home, usually their most important asset and source of pride, is a very special experience. 

Some of the buildings I worked on in Petaluma, CA:


         I was demonstrating Dizzolve Brush Cleaner at a Mallory store on 4th Avenue in Seattle when a painter approached my table with a slightly sheepish smile.  “I can’t get this paint off my hands; I’ve been trying for three days with lacquer thinner even.”  It turns out the paint was Benjamin Moore’s Aura, known for its revolutionary chemistry. I offered Dizzolve, known for being safe on the skin because it has no caustic chemicals or solvents. As he began working Dizzolve into the paint on his hands, the paint store staff gathered around to watch. A moment passed. Slowly a smile spread across the face of the painter. “It’s taking it off,” He said, showing his hands to the crowd.” Wow, I’m going to buy this stuff.” He left a few minutes later with a gallon of Dizzolve.

Paints have improved in adhesion and durability over the last decade which makes for better paint performance but at the same time makes clean up more difficult. Painters sometimes throw a brush away after one use because it is too had to clean and solvents are messy and had to dispose of. Dizzolve can reverse this trend with its safe but powerful, plant-based technology.


Take some dirty paint brushes, a bucket of Dizzolve Brush Cleaner and a painter with forty years of experience as a commercial painter and you have Don the “demo-man.“

Because Dizzolve is a “see it to believe it,” miracle, I knew early on that there was only one way to sell it – demonstrate it. Tens of thousands of miles of travel later I am still placing a six-foot table in paint stores to clean brushes, demonstrating the safety and power of Dizzolve. All this to rediscover what I already knew; painters are a skeptical lot and with good reason. So many new products called “environmentally friendly” simply don’t work as well as the old “stinky” ones. Who can blame them? Time is money and redoing failed paint jobs can drive you out of business. Stick with products you know. Yet there is a rare breed of painters with an eye for innovation who are fed up with damaging solvents. For them, as for me, Dizzolve is a no-brainer: a plant based, healthy alternative to toxic solvents that works faster, better and cheaper than traditional thinners. Thanks to this group of forward-looking painters I have remained undaunted and have placed Dizzolve on shelves in over thirty states.  I am a guy with a table and a message: abandon solvents for the power of plants. Dizzolve works.

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