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paint (something) with a broad brush

To describe or characterize something in very general, vague, or broad terms, ignoring or neglecting to include specific details. When asked about how she would stabilize the economy, the candidate painted her plan with a broad brush, resorting to vague claims about creating jobs and getting people back to work.
See also: broad, brush, paint

paint the lily

To add embellishment to something that is already beautiful or outstanding. The phrase comes from Shakespeare's King John: "To gild refined gold, to paint the lily ... is wasteful and ridiculous excess." My wife is so gorgeous that putting her in a fancy gown would just be painting the lily. Why add a filter to your photo of the rainbow? No need to paint the lily.
See also: lily, paint

be like painting the Forth Bridge

To be such an involved or time-consuming improvement process that it never truly ends. The phrase refers to Edinburgh's Forth Bridge, which once required constant upkeep. Primarily heard in UK. Remodeling our house was like painting the Forth Bridge—once we saw how nice one room looked, we had to redo another!
See also: bridge, forth, like, painting

be no oil painting

To be physically unattractive. Jack's a nice guy, he's just no oil painting, you know?
See also: oil, painting

no oil painting

If you say that someone is no oil painting, you mean that they are not attractive. I started seeing a guy who was no oil painting but wonderfully bright and interesting.
See also: oil, painting

no oil painting

not very attractive. British informal
See also: oil, painting

be no ˈoil painting

(British English, humorous) used to say that a person is not attractive to look at: He’s no oil painting but he’s a marvellous actor.
See also: oil, painting

be like painting the Forth ˈBridge

(British English) if a job is like painting the Forth Bridge, it is so big that by the time you get to the end you have to start at the beginning again: Cleaning a house this size is a bit like painting the Forth Bridge. As soon as I’ve finished it’s time to start again!
The Forth Bridge is a very big bridge over the river Forth in Edinburgh.
See also: bridge, forth, like, painting
References in classic literature ?
Here and there, above this shelf, a head of Niobe, hanging to a nail, presented her pose of woe; a Venus smiled; a hand thrust itself forward like that of a pauper asking alms; a few "ecorches," yellowed by smoke, looked like limbs snatched over-night from a graveyard; besides these objects, pictures, drawings, lay figures, frames without paintings, and paintings without frames gave to this irregular apartment that studio physiognomy which is distinguished for its singular jumble of ornament and bareness, poverty and riches, care and neglect.
I must have a roof for these paintings, sire, and, although
But if magnificence and splendor were displayed in any one particular part of this palace more than another, - if anything could be preferred to the wonderful arrangement of the interior, to the sumptuousness of the gilding, and to the profusion of the paintings and statues, it would be the park and gardens of Vaux.
Rossetti continued all his life to produce both poetry and paintings.
Leaning against the wall were several sketches in various stages of progression, and a few finished paintings - mostly of landscapes and figures.
That fact I saw again in the Academmia at Naples, in the chambers of sculpture, and yet again when I came to Rome and to the paintings of Raphael, Angelo, Sacchi, Titian, and Leonardo da Vinci.
We had had the best instructors in drawing and painting in Germany--Ha"mmerling, Vogel, Mu"ller, Dietz, and Schumann.
During the last ten years his painting had gone off very much.
Painting that is laid on painting Maketh no display or show; Where one beauty's in possession There no other can take hold.
As I was painting the bright petals of a blue bell, it told me this tale.
We speak of the keeping of a room as we would of the keeping of a picture - for both the picture and the room are amenable to those undeviating principles which regulate all varieties of art; and very nearly the same laws by which we decide on the higher merits of a painting, suffice for decision on the adjustment of a chamber.
Reading and painting are both of them of singular use in life, and gymnastic exercises, as productive of courage.
But I will allow that the critic who has not a practical knowledge of technique is seldom able to say anything on the subject of real value, and my ignorance of painting is extreme.
He should not forget, they said, that his father and mother were gentlefolk, and painting wasn't a serious profession; it was Bohemian, disreputable, immoral.
Yes, and that your painting her was the chief outcome of her existence--the divinity passing into higher completeness and all but exhausted in the act of covering your bit of canvas.