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Being an enviromentally friendly artist

Being an enviromentally friendly artist

 

Most artists care about the environment, but what can you do to help keep things green?  You can start off by buying eco-friendly art materials and learning to dispose of paint and solvents properly.

It’s a daily hazard we artist face when coming into contact with paints that are often toxic and dangerous to your health, especially if you work in confined spaces or have had a prolonged exposure to it.  I personally got into strife with chemical poisoning when using oils; it wasn’t just from that, I was also hairdressing at the time and wasn’t particularly careful with handling chemicals, choosing to wash my brushes out with turpentine and scrubbing them with bare hands which certainly didn’t help matters!

Fortunately some art supply manufacturers are creating paints and pigments that go easy on the environment as well as your health. There are organic varieties available now as well as some chemical based ones that are not toxic. www.gordonharris.co.nz can advise you on what products they stock that are eco-friendly. http://www.fasart.com/studentacrylic.htm have a student acrylic paint range

If you use oil paint as your medium, then you can switch your linseed oil to walnut oil.  Artists have been using walnut oil since the 5th century and found it to be superior to linseed oil because it yellows and cracks less while being easier to manipulate. It gives the artist greater freedom and control over their color without the addition of solvents.

Cleaning up usually means using solvents but you can now buy stuff like mild citrus cleaners which you can find here www.citrusbasedcleaner.co.nz for cleaning brushes. While this product is not necessarily solvent-free, it is a gentle alternative to other more caustic options.

When it comes to getting rid of materials, make sure you dispose of your art supplies with the utmost care. To avoid unnecessary waste, buy only in the quantities you need and be sure to keep solvents and other toxic materials out of reach of children.

If you’re not sure what to do with things like solvents, try calling your local fire department, they will be able to advise you on where to go or what to do with them. Solvent soaked rags and papers should be put in a metal container, do not use plastic containers because many solvents will dissolve them, and whatever you do, don’t leave solvent soaked rags lying around in the hot sun, they can literally explode and cause fires. At the end of the day, hang them in a safe place outdoors to allow evaporation.

By sharing unneeded art supplies with other artists, utilising earth friendly products and recycling when possible, artists can go a long way to doing our part to do right by the earth while we bring our art to the world.

 

Posted: Wednesday 21 April 2010

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