Thank you so much, Cherith, for taking the time to speak with us about your eco-friendly, health- conscious painting journey. Let’s get started, shall we?
Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself as an artist? How did you first get into painting?
Of course! I’m a Montana artist who is passionate about nature. I paint primarily local plants and mountains. Drawing and painting have been part of my life for as long as I can remember.
Where did you learn to paint? Are you self-taught, or have you had training?
My mother and my three older siblings are artists. They were my first teachers passing their skills on to me. I went on the study art in college earning a Fine Art degree in 2013.
What experiences have affected your art the most? Where do you draw inspiration for your work?
Growing up in Northwest Montana had a profound effect on my life and work today. I would spend hours each day wandering through the woods and recording the plants and landscapes in my sketchbook. I now have adventures with my husband, our two children, and our dog west of Glacier National Park. Through these experiences I have developed a love for wild places. Whether it’s the mist over a high mountain lake or the pattern on a leaf, nature is my constant source of inspiration.
You’ve spoken a bit on your social channels about your switch to more natural art supplies. Why did you first decide to replace some of your old, toxic pigments like Azurite and Malachite with natural pigments?
I started making my own pigments from rocks about a year ago. I instantly fell in love with the whole process and how it connected me with art in a new way. Unfortunately, blue rocks are far and few between and I was unable to find any myself. So, I began making my own blue copper pigment and purchased Azurite and Malachite which also contain a high level of copper. I didn’t realize at first that “all natural” does not mean non toxic, and I didn’t use gloves when mixing my pigment. After I noticed the skin irritation, I researched my pigments and decided to switch to non-toxic supplies. My children are often in my studio area and I’m glad that my paints are safer for them as well.
What art supplies do you now use in your practice? Are you planning on making any other eco- friendly changes to your practice in the near future?
I use handmade watercolor paint from foraged rocks and purchased earth pigments. I also use a mix of traditional and earth pigment oil paint for my larger pieces. I use linseed or walnut oil instead of solvents. I’m satisfied with those changes to my studio for now.
How has introducing Natural Earth Paint supplies changed your creative practice?
Using Natural Earth Paint supplies has opened up a world of non-toxic blues! Blue has always been my favorite color and now I can mix up my own handmade paint without worrying about toxic side effects. The vibrant colors they offer have really added to my work. I enjoy making oil paint with their walnut oil and I love that it dries without yellowing.
In your experience, what have the benefits of working with natural materials been?
Using natural pigments is like bringing a little piece of nature right onto your brush and then into your home. It connects me on such a deep level to my work and to the very mountains that I grew up exploring. The whole process of making my own paint is meditative and calming.
Do you have any tips for budding artists who are concerned about the environment or their health, but still want to make beautiful, high quality work like yours? How do you balance your own practice, and what made the process easier for you?
Just start with one change at a time. First, I would recommend remove the toxic solvents and paint thinners from your home! This a simple, but incredibly important choice. The transition to non-toxic paint can take some time and effort, but it is worth every minute.
Where can our audience view (or purchase!) more of your work?
You can follow me on Instagram @aspencreekart
You can purchase my work at www.aspencreekart.online
If you are interested in my free earth pigment education, you can read my blog at www.aspencreekart.com