In this week’s blog I want to talk to you about how we can be an environmentally conscious artist. There are many ways we can do this and we have a wonderful article from Jennifer Mazur that was featured in our Magazine, so I wanted to share it with you. 

I have also spoken about this in my live this week, which you can watch below.

Being eco-friendly

When we think about being eco-friendly we often think of the things we do in our everyday lives. We recycle. We reduce meat consumption. We minimize plastic. We compost. We try to repurpose and reuse. We might even drive earth friendly cars. But how many of us have taken these habits into our art studios?

There are many ways we can start to make a difference. We’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks which we hope will make it easy to start small or go big!

Materials

One of the easiest ways to get started is by thinking about where you get your substrates.

Rather than running to the art shop, or ordering online (think emissions), we could reuse older materials. Second hand stores are an excellent source of canvases, for example. And gesso is magical.

You can switch to synthetic brushes and use old jars to store them. We all have unmatched socks and towels with holes in them; use these to clean up messes, dab your brush, move around paint on the canvas. Old dinner plates or even the lids from take away containers make  fantastic palettes. Add water to dried out watercolor paints to reactivate. Cover your palette with plastic wrap to prevent colors from drying out. Be mindful about how much paint you are squeezing out of the tube. 

Look into buying used mediums and materials on FaceBook Marketplace, ebay, Craigslist or other local sales forums in your area. There might even be a FaceBook group for trading and buying materials close to home. Not to mention lucky finds at boot sales and flea markets. And some people, we’ve heard, are lucky enough to actually have stores that only sell used art supplies!

Cleaning up

This is one area that can take a bit more thought and preparation. Not only are acrylic inks bad for the environment, they also can wreak havoc on plumbing systems. Luckily there are ways to mitigate the damage. One way is by combining all of your paint water into a large bucket. Once it is full, allow it to evaporate and you will find all of the dried acrylic has been left to dispose of. 

If that isn’t an option, you can always filter a large amount of the paint out by pouring the dirty water into a bucket which has a pair of panty hose fashioned into a filter. And with oil paints it is best to use brush cleaner rather than solvents. There are even some eco-friendly alternatives on the market.

Another way, perhaps even a great creative experiment, is to wipe off your brushes on an empty canvas until the brushes are dry. And watch your abstract appear!

Packaging and Shipping

Everyone loves a pretty package. But they come with an environmental price. Instead, consider reusing old packaging. Boxes, plastic wrap, styrofoam peanuts, and filling paper are things that most of us have at home or can easily get a hold of.

There are other options as well. Several companies have started to sell biodegradable materials ranging from recycled boxes to filling paper, tape and plastic bags. And these still look pretty!

We should also question our shipping policies. Do we ship worldwide? Can we, and our collectors, consider a slower shipping method?

Giving back

Perhaps the easiest way of all is to consider giving back. There are several websites that will help you to calculate your carbon footprint. To help offset it you can make a donation or consider having trees planted for every sale and shipment.

One last thing to consider

Many local small businesses are popping up which sell environmentally friendly mediums. Check into your local options, you might be surprised! And lastly, although the terminology isn’t regulated, many of the larger companies offer alternatives. Dick Blick, Daniel Smith and Liquitex to name a few. Others, such as Golden, make a huge effort to give back through other efforts. 

There are so many small changes we can make in our creative lives. Small changes that make a big impact.

Written by Jennifer Mazuer.

Key points

So I hope you find this useful and it has given you some food for thought. Here are the key points to take away and think about whilst creating: 

  • What materials are you using? Can you change any of these or where you source them from?
  • Cleaning up. Could you be using eco-friendly alternatives?
  • How are you packing and shipping your pieces? Are the materials you are using biodegradable?
  • What is your carbon footprint, do you know? 
  • Small, local businesses. Check them out to see if they can source more eco-friendly options for you. 

Good luck and let us know how you get on if you are going to make some changes. We’d love to hear how you’ve found it. 

Much love,

Michelle x