Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Lowe's Paint Department

I needed outdoor house paint for painting the Mennello Museum mural. I painted small one inch squares of color using each of the 11 colors I carry in my pocket sized Winsor & Newton watercolor set. The plan was to get one quart of each, which should be more than enough to paint the mural. When I got to Lowe's, the paint department was deserted. I considered leaving and going up to Home Depot up the street, but I needed to start painting immediately. I approached two store clerks who were standing near the self checkout registers. One of them, named Tyrone, said he could make the paint for me. He told me to find color swatches that matched my sample palette colors.

After searching for the proper color chips for sometime, I finally asked him to make a quart of each in outdoor house paint. As he worked, I sketched. A woman was ordering paint to touch up a room in a house she was going to rent. She became curious about the sketch and took a peek. Her father is an artist so she respected what I was doing. I gave her a card hoping to gain a new reader.

Tyrone worked quickly and deliberately. The number on the paint chip card was entered into the computer and various pigments squirted into the base paint matching the colors exactly. The cheapest paint was Olympic brand so I ordered that. Cheaper paints simply have a higher water content. I planned to thin the paint down even more to recreate a watercolor look to the mural, so the cheapest paint made sense. The cans were each hammered shut and placed in a plastic shell of a holding case which fit snugly into a paint agitator which shook the can like a mechanical bull. He would dip his finger in the paint and dab a bit on the label on top of the can. A hair dryer was used to quickly dry the sample. I checked each of the colors to be sure they matched. I proudly shot a picture sending it out on Facebook announcing that I was ready to paint. Christie Miga had offered me endless advice on what type of paint to buy. She saw the photo and made one more suggestion, "Double check and make sure it is outdoor house paint." Of course it is, I thought, that is what I asked for. I went out to the truck to check anyway. She must have ESP, because sure enough, it was indoor paint. She let me know that indoor paint would fade quickly in the intense Florida sun.

The next day I returned the 11 cans of paint I had ordered, and I reordered outdoor paint. Apparently the folks who usually staff the paint department were instructed to check inventory on the day I first ordered my paint. No harm done, the mural is now progressing at breakneck speed.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at


John Wright said...

Thor, you have been teasing us with mention of your mural. Have you got a sketch to show us?

Gillian Olson said...

A great sketch and interesting story. Hope the mural is going well.