Do you worry about how your art-making may be impacting the planet? Many commonly used art supplies actually contain harmful chemicals that can pollute the environment, such as traditional oil paints. But never fear! There are ways for you to make art without having to worry about the impact of your supplies on Mother Earth.
Read warning labels!
Do your best to avoid buying art supplies that are pigmented with harmful substances, but if you have to buy something that is toxic, the best thing that you can do is follow the included safety tips and be aware of how you are disposing of leftover materials. Minimizing your waste is crucial for an eco-based art practice.
Choose safe pigments from companies that care.
naturalearthpaint.com sells a range of environmentally friendly paints, including a set of artist’s oil paints. They even have recipes for homemade “Earth Pastels” and gouache! www.earthpigments.com also sells eco-friendly pigments for mixing your own paint.
Take some time to have a fun paint-making session.
Making your own paint ensures the minimization of toxic substances in your materials, and is a fun way to save money and make your art even more original. A simple example of homemade paint is egg tempera. It’s a natural, relatively long-lasting alternative that you can make right at home! There are also recipes online for making homemade dyes out of natural substances such as plants.
Wipe down your paint brushes, palette knives, etc. with a paper towel before rinsing them in the sink.
Ridding the tools of excess paint in this way will prevent it from getting into your water supply, and will make cleanup easier and faster.
Dispose of leftover paint in its solid form instead of dumping liquid paint.
This is true even for water-based paints, and it will prevent contamination of the environment!
Buy sketch pads with recycled paper!
These are sold everywhere, they’re better for the environment, and sometimes they’re toned pretty colors! When you’re browsing the aisles of your favorite art supply store, do your best to opt for recycled paper.
Reuse mineral spirits when working with oil paints.
If you leave your used container of mineral spirits alone for a while, the oil paints will separate out and settle to the bottom, leaving you with reusable fluid! Not only will this keep the solvents out of the environment, but it will also save you money.
Get a “toxic box” to dispose of harmful waste.
You can get one online, and use it to move your chemicals to a disposal center. These boxes keep dangerous substances contained, along with their harmful fumes and gases. Toxic boxes are a safer and more responsible way to dispose of harmful substances, and would be especially good for artists working with toxic oil paints.
Don’t buy more than you need.
To minimize waste, only buy what you know you will be able to use. You can squeeze paint out of the tube, but you can’t put it back in! Being aware of your material consumption will help you to purchase proper amounts for projects in the future. But if you do happen to buy more than you can use, see tip #10 below!
Donate materials to nonprofit organizations that have arts and crafts programs!
Be sure that the materials are clearly labeled and nontoxic before donating. This is a great way to avoid wasting materials that you know you won’t be using, while also supporting art education in your area!
For more information, check out these webpages:
Happy eco-friendly art-making everyone! Share your work with us by tagging @studiogallerydc on Instagram!
From staff contributor Halley Stubis.