Painting action on Nested groups or components?

I often have groups or components with several nested layers. Why can I sometimes paint the object in the top most layer of the nesting structure while other times I have to go deep into the nesting to get to the original non-grouped elements?

Thank you!

Materials on faces override materials applied to group/component containers. Materials applied to component/group containers inside a nested (parent) group/component override materials applied to parent components/groups. The materials heirarchy works up through the nesting.

Sounds to me as if your main issue is not being consistent about the way you are applying materials.

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thank you!