The 5 Most Important Eco-Friendly Art Studio Swaps

The 5 Most Important Eco-Friendly Art Studio Swaps

Many artists feel overwhelmed when they learn about the harmful toxicity in their art supplies and either can't afford to buy all new supplies or don't know where to start! The task of swapping out harmful supplies for natural and non-toxic can feel daunting, but don't worry, we've narrowed it down! Here are the 5 most important supplies that you should swap out for your health, longevity and the health of the planet.

1. The MOST important swap for all oil painters - that could potentially save your life!

Swap out: “Odorless Mineral Spirits” (OMS) and all paint thinners / Bring In: Eco-Solve.

Why? For any solvent or mineral spirit that you see that says “Odorless”, that does not mean that it’s less toxic at all, it only means it’s odorless. I have interviewed countless professional artists over the past 12 years who have had severe health problems ranging from respiratory issues to near-death experiences because of OMS. Here's one interview with acclaimed artist, Roberto Parada, whose use of OMS almost ended his life.

What does OMS do to your body exactly?

All paint thinners evaporate into the air and you then inhale and absorb the off-gassing chemicals, including benzene. Benzene is an odorless carcinogen (commonly in petroleum products). Benzene can do huge amounts of damage including causing cancer. You absorb the benzene through your nose, skin, and eyes, which most people don’t realize, and it goes directly into your bloodstream. Wearing a mask will not protect you. When benzene gets into your bloodstream and bone marrow (where you make your blood) then your white count lowers and that’s where the serious problems start.

2. Swap Out: Conventional, heavy metal-based oil paints / Bring In: Natural Oil Paints

This can be done gradually if cost is an issue as you use up your existing oil paints and start adding in natural oil paints – the 2 mix perfectly together.

Why? Most commercial oil paint brands contain fillers (to bulk up the paint and make more of it), preservatives, stabilizers, solvents, and heavy metals. The biggest enemy here is the heavy metal pigments – Cadmium red, Orange, and Yellow, Cobalt Blue and Green, Lead White, Antimony, Barium, Manganese, and Strontium are the main culprits.

By switching to natural, heavy-metal-free pigments and mixing your own paints, you avoid all heavy metals, fillers, solvents, preservatives, toxic driers, and additives while ending up with pure, archival, and radiant paint. To learn about my experience trying to detox heavy metals from my body 20 years after art school (plus daily detox tips for artists) read here.

3. Swap Out: Acrylic Paint / Bring in: Natural Acrylik Paint.

Why? Acrylic Paints are the most commonly used paints on the planet and most people don’t realize that they are the most toxic and most harmful to the environment.

Conventional acrylic paints are not only petroleum-based but contain a host of carcinogenic additives that give the paint different qualities and shelf stability. The additives off-gas and are breathed into the lungs as the paint dries and also enter the bloodstream if gotten on the skin. They poison our water supply when washed down the drain and create microplastics in our environment. 

For more details on what is in acrylic paint, read our blog post: Is Acrylic Paint Really Toxic?

Introducing natural acrylik paints into your current collection of acrylic paints can also be done gradually as you can add specific colors as you run out – the two mix perfectly.


4. Swap Out: Varnish / Bring In: Natural Varnish.

Why? All artist varnishes currently on the market contain either solvents or petrochemicals that off-gas toxins as they dry. Our Natural Varnish is 100% plant-based and solvent-free and seals all types of paintings. 

It is professional quality and archival while bringing an unsurpassed radiance and richness to paintings. Check out internationally acclaimed artist, Ricky Lee Gordon, who uses the Natural Varnish exclusively on all of his large-scale paintings as well as how artist Melissa Jenkins uses Natural Varnish on her miniature paintings.

5. Finally, the fifth swap would be to start your own collection of  Earth & Mineral Pigments, to add fun, alchemy and pure creativity. 

There’s nothing more inspiring and beautiful than a row of colorful pigments in glass jars ready to be scooped and transformed into dozens of different types of paint or supplies.

Check out our FREE recipes here to create Natural Oil PaintCasein PaintTempera PaintGlair PaintPottery GlazesPrintmaking InksHouse PaintWatercolor PaintPastels and so much more! Each recipe starts with scooping out a spoonful of beautiful pigment! 

Note: We also have a printed Paint Recipe Booklet available!

If you have questions about switching out your supplies please don't hesitate to reach out to us via email at: or on our social media! Happy swapping!