A few years ago, I made a decision to take a break from my art and re-establish myself as an eco friendly artist. The motivation was simple, but the task and how to wasn’t so clear.
The transition was much harder, and time consuming than I had originally planned. After talking with some like-minded artists, I soon found I wasn’t the only one struggling.
Fast forward a few years, and I’m now fully set up and running an eco friendly art studio. I’m now a little wiser, a little more savvy, and hopefully able to guide other artists on their search for eco art materials, and how to become eco friendly artists.
The whole process of transitioning to a fully eco friendly, non-toxic studio took me about 3 years. The first half was all research and sourcing materials, and the second half, trial-and-error. Having said that, I’m always on the lookout for more suitable materials, and I’m constantly testing new things.
Knowing what to consider when buying materials was more than just knowing what the product is made of. Interestingly, the full life cycle of the product can have just as much of an environmental impact as what it is made from. I also needed to consider the processes involved in production, by-products, energy consumption, packaging, health, transportation, and post use affects. Not everything I researched had full details, but most companies are more than happy to answer any questions about their product.
Being eco friendly also doesn’t need to limit an artist to buying materials with a small footprint, it can be as simple as reusing and recycling. In my experience, most artists are very resourceful people and already tend to recycle household items. I’m sure nearly all of you will be able to give an example of how you recycle something for your painting, whether it be part of the artwork or part of the process.
- For example, I use old clothes for rags, jars for holding brushes and old glass chopping boards for palettes.
- I also reclaim old surfboards to paint on.
Knowing where to buy from can also be a challenge. Buying local keeps shipping costs to a minimum, and also minimises the carbon footprint of transportation. But, in some cases you will only be able to find some materials in other parts of the world. As an Australian, I can very much relate to this. I encourage you to first look locally, and then if you can’t find what you’re after, look abroad. At times, I was forced to look locally when a product I needed wasn’t economically viable to source from overseas. This however worked in my favour as I have since found some of the highest quality art materials I’ve ever come across, eco friendly or otherwise.
A great example of this are my stretcher bars. After I initially struggled to find Australian suppliers using FSC certified timber, I soon found that some overseas sources couldn’t be trusted, plus shipping was extremely expensive. I then brought my search back to home, and searched more thoroughly in my local area, and found the highest quality stretcher bars. They are made of sustainable timber and are also produced right here in my home state of Queensland. It always pays to buy local.
*Join us next week for part 2, where I will share some eco friendly brands and materials and I will give more great ideas and examples for your eco friendly studio. What eco friendly art products do you use? Please let me know!
Guest author/artist: Scott Denholm is one of the worlds only eco artists, specializing in traditional landscape and seascape oil paintings using traditional Earth friendly materials.
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