On my recent visit to Maryland, we made two trips to Lowe’s home improvement store. My parents are getting ready to renovate their bathroom, so we looked at fixtures, tiles, and paints. Paint swatch cards seemed like a perfect piece of ephemera to include in my travel journal and I even challenged myself to take pot luck with my paint chips.

A predictable use of paint swatches; as borders for the store logo.

At first, I planned on just pulling some colors I like. Then I noticed that there were cards out of place, paint samples that had been considered, then dumped rather than returned to their appropriate bins. So instead of choosing for myself, I let other people choose for me. I only took the paint chips that had been discarded by others. It made me feel a little better about taking them as art supplies — I at least saved some employee the hassle of re-shelving them. And I also wound up with some really interesting colors to play with, colors I wouldn’t have chosen on my own.

I tucked this folded paint swatch into a pocket and used it as a journaling card.

Using them in my travel journal was fun. Initially, I layered them to make a colorful border for the Lowe’s logo which I got off the back of one of the cards. But then I realized my first set of swatches — blue, peach, and a green so dark it looks gray — would work together for something more artistic. I cut leaves, flowers, and a bird from them and glued them down. I used a white Posca paint pen to add details.

One of the single swatches made a good journaling card, so I wrote in the white space on its back and tucked it in a pocket. I layered some of the cards I got from my second visit to the store so that one set of colors showed through the windows on another set, and then I turned them into flaps with hidden journaling space underneath them. Some of the leftovers wound up as elements in collages, or as small spots of color on random pages.

These layered paint swatches are flaps hiding journaling spots.

I’m really pleased with the color and structure the paint chips added to my journal. I also liked the limitation of sticking with colors someone else had rejected. I felt like was a honoring a color that had been insulted by someone else, and I was also challenged to use colors I wouldn’t have picked myself. I’ll definitely be using pot luck paint chips again.

Paint chip scraps are part of this collage.

Do you use paint swatch cards for art projects? How do you choose them? Use them?

4 thoughts on “Pot Luck Paint Chip Challenge for Artists”

  1. Hi Kit! I’ve used them a few times in my papercrafting. I think in greeting cards and mini albums. I’ve used playing cards, too. An ephemera / junk jounal is so much fun to make. It’s like happy play time … and you get to be as creative as you wish without rules! Great job!

    1. I love using playing cards. They make such a sturdy base. The paint chips are an usual thing for me to try. I love pattern, so solid colors are challenging for me. Which is probably why I cut them up and layer them and so on. I do love the play time aspect of junk journaling!

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