How to Become An Eco Friendly Artist

eco friendly art materials 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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You might like to read:

The Healthy Artist: Simple Steps to Stay That Way 

Water Soluble Oil Paints: Facts, Tips & Why I Use Them

Choosing Quality Art Materials and Supplies

Honoring Earth Day in My Own Private Idaho

How I Turned a TV Stand into an Artist’s Taboret

Build Your Own Art Gallery Hanging System for Around $100

Save Studio Space! Build Your Own Small Painting Racks

14 Comments

  1. Tiffany June 28, 2012 at 6:51 am

    What a great topic! I think it’s wonderful that you were able to find the best quality stretcher bars right in your own backyard. I am also dedicated to having a sustainable studio practice. There is an excellent book called The Green Guide for Artists that I would recommend to any artist looking for non-toxic alternatives. I wrote a review of it on my blog: http://tiffanygholar.blogspot.com/2012/04/saturday-solutions-book-review-earth.html

    I look forward to reading part 2 of this post!

    • Lori McNee August 28, 2012 at 11:10 am

      Hello Tiffany, thanks so much for sharing the book link. I will check it out. I hope you had a chance to read part 2.
      Cheers,
      Lori

  2. The Gift of Freedom to Create July 4, 2012 at 1:51 am

    […] he continued his craft in secrecy. Unable to buy clay or glazes, Petr humbly harvested his own clay from the riverbanks, developed his own glazes from crushed pigments, and made his own primitive […]

  3. Theresa Crawford July 7, 2012 at 7:16 am

    Hello Lorrie , I appreciation you sharing those great tips on being ego friendly, I would like to try it out so I f you have more information i would be glad you shared it with me, Brandon Crawford has a web sight ant, I am his mother I,m helping him out he,s in need of my help with all the other things that come ,He love to draw Landscape city scape people and still life, my name is Theresa Crawford I am his mother I just started a web sight theresacrawford@fine art Studio online,Thanks you.

    Sincerely,

    Brandon Crawford.

    • Lori McNee July 28, 2012 at 1:16 am

      Hello Theresa,
      Thank you for sharing your story. It is great that you are supporting your artistic son. I will check your site.

      Best,
      Lori

  4. Theresa Crawford July 7, 2012 at 7:17 am

    The writing is so small I could hardly read it.

    • Lori McNee July 28, 2012 at 1:13 am

      Thanks…I will pass this onto my webmaster. You can enlarge the view of any page via your ‘view’ on your computer.
      Lori 🙂

  5. Eco Friendly Art Brands and Materials July 13, 2012 at 1:22 am

    […] the recent post, How to Become An Eco Friendly Artist, artist Scott Denholm shared his interesting environmentally friendly studio […]

  6. […] subcommittee including topics as necessary labeling content, artist material performance, and health hazard labeling and product quality such as lightfastness. Royal Talens Cobra solvent free oil […]

  7. […] work conveys there is no better time to shake things up then now! Follow the link for full article http://www.finearttips.com/2012/06/how-to-become-an-eco-friendly-artist/ Some of the most toxic and common products found in many art studios is solvent based brush […]

  8. Jenny McGee May 6, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    Hi Lori,
    Your environmental awareness and the passion you have to share an artistic and greener approach is wonderful and I learned new places to get eco-materials from this post. Thank you! I am an eco-friendly abstract painter and passionate about creating high quality abstract fine art made from non-toxic and eco-friendly materials. Some fantastic and fun paints I use for my work are called Milk Based Paints. I purchase them at http://www.realmilkpaint.com/ and love their palette options. If you have time please check out my work at. http://www.jennymcgeeart.com
    Thank you! Jenny McGee

  9. […] Scott Denholm shares his suppliers, and more great ideas, and examples to help you create your own eco friendly studio. “Transforming your art and studio to become environmentally friendly isn’t an easy task, and many artists struggle. I’m also one artist who’s gone through the process. In order to help anyone wanting to make the same ‘tree change’ that I have, I’ll give a quick run down of some of the materials I use.” […]

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