(Photo and Model: Brooke Fiorillo, using Natural Face & Body Paint)
Earth Day arrives every year on April 22nd, and with its arrival brings hope to inspire mindfulness and gratitude for our earth. Mother Nature deserves much appreciation and there are many simple ways that you can celebrate in your own home, work space or art studio. The sunshine is starting to stay in the sky longer, the days are warmer and rows of blossoms are beginning to bloom.
As an eco-conscious artist, there are ways you can contribute to the betterment of Mother Earth, and what better way than to start in your art studio. An artist’s home away from home, the place where you create, explore and muse. After all, it is important as an artist to have a clean, healthy space to let those creative juices flow. Here is a list of the top 5 things you can change in your art studio for Earth Day.
#1 - Reduce/Re-use/Recycle
These three actions are crucially important as waste has a powerful effect on our natural environment. In the art studio you can reduce your ecological footprint by re-using surfaces, re-use solvents (Eco-solve), recycling materials and ridding your studio of toxic supplies safely. Before throwing out scraps take a step back and see what you can recreate with it, trash can be turned into treasures. By re-using fabrics as surfaces (any sturdy fabric can be primed and painted on – not just canvas) or priming and painting over old paintings, you start fresh. Reduce waste by purchasing materials conservatively, get just enough material to complete your projects. If you want to dispose of toxic paint or supplies, it’s vital to dispose of it correctly. Improperly disposed materials can poison our water supply and soil – even acrylic pants which many people wrongly assume is non-toxic. Call your local recycling center for tips on how to dispose of paints without harm. Every town has a “Hazardous Waste Collection Site” and a quick google search will find it.
#2- Removing Toxic Solvents
Breathing in excessive amounts of toxic solvents can cause every ailment under the sun including cancer and death. It is in your best interest to rid your studio of toxic supplies such as turpentine, mineral spirits and solvents. The use of turpentine in oil painting is a relatively recent practice that the Old Masters did not use at all. They in fact used oil to wash brushes, thin paint and clean skin. There are now several safe alternatives to cleaning brushes and thinning paint such as Eco-Solve, walnut oil, linseed oil, and Murphy’s Oil Soap (which can be found at your nearest hardware store). Eco-Solve is an incredible product and is a fabulous painting medium for washes, drips, under paintings, etc. as well as a fabulous brush cleaner. It is 100% non-toxic and all-natural and is now being regarded as the finest professional paint thinner on the market. It is non-irritating to skin and doesn’t emit those harmful vapors we worry about. It is soy based, vegan and is also a brush restorer for dried up oil paint brushes.
An alternative for removing oil paint from skin is Pinerite - All Natural Colorado Pine Soap. Pinerite is a heavy-duty “get the job done” kind of soap, and is the most sustainably made hand soap for removing oil paint - made from the fallen pine trees in Colorado.
#3 Reduce Energy Costs in Your Studio
As an artist, lighting is central to your creative process. Using natural lighting is the most environmentally friendly choice, painting outside is a great go to for saving energy. If you are feeling crafty, you can install an affordable solar tube skylight (installation takes about an hour). The natural lighting it produces is worth it. We also now have very energy-efficient lightbulbs such as, halogen bulbs, CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) and LEDs (light emitting diodes) and of course if you’re able to install solar panels, the credits and rebates are wonderful right now. If you are looking for eco-friendly heating and cooling comfort you can install ductless heat pumps which is the most energy efficient method out there today. Ductless technology saves energy and according to the U.S. Department of Energy, “duct losses can account for more than 30% of energy consumption for space conditioning.” There are many other energy efficient options – wood stoves, rocket stoves, radiant floor heat, solar water heaters, etc. The possibilities are endless.
#4- Toxic Supplies
Your next move in your studio should be the elimination of all supplies that have warning labels. The majority of art teachers around the world don’t know or teach the severity of these toxic supplies. The heavy metals and toxins in many paints can go immediately into your bloodstream after touching the skin. By switching to non-toxic and natural supplies, you are not only keeping yourself safe but also protecting the environment. There are many alternative art materials that are 100% safe and eco-friendly AND professional quality. Natural Earth Paint offers a full collection of truly non-toxic, professional-quality supplies. The Complete Eco-friendly Oil Paint Kit is unlike conventional tubes of paints, these paints contain no preservatives, fillers, heavy metals, additives or synthetic toxins. They are made of purely natural earth, minerals and organic walnut oil. The natural pigments mix with all binders to create many different types of paint or mixed with walnut oil and linseed oil to create oil paint. Natural Earth Paints have extraordinary UV resistance, durability, and are vibrantly radiant on canvas. Our Packaging is 100% Post-Consumer Recycled, biodegradable and recyclable. Made in Oregon, USA. There are also other companies that sell recycled paper, non-toxic fixative (Spetrafix), non-toxic adhesives, oil pastels and more.
#5- Do away with Petrochemicals
One of the main sources of pollution and environmental issues comes from the use of petrochemicals – chemicals obtained from petroleum and natural gas. Acrylic is liquid plastic (100% petroleum) and you can reduce it’s use by replacing acrylics paints, acrylic gesso and fixatives with Natural Earth Oil Paints, Eco Gesso and Spectra Fix. Natural Earth Paint offers the world’s very first eco-friendly and vegan gesso for artists of all kinds. It is professional, archival-quality and is made with French marble dust, limestone powder, titanium dioxide pigment and a plant-based binder (Methyl Cellulose). Other ways to make an eco surface is hiring a local woodworker to build stretcher bars or panels for you with recycled wood. Learn how to stretch and make your own Eco-friendly Canvas HERE using organic cotton canvas.
Our planet is an outstanding place. So as Earth Day approaches, let us be reminded of our beautiful, blue planet and what we can do to give back. Even the simplest action can make a difference. At Natural Earth Paint we are committed to providing artists with earth conscious materials. Soon to be released are a non-toxic varnish and non-toxic fast drying medium! Let’s create in harmony with our Earth, Water and Sky. Happy Earth Day!
Taylor Ann Hansen