Eco-friendly /environmentally conscious art

On my journey of becoming a more environmentally conscious artist, I am not only mindful of the products I use, but also how I use them. I am trying to take into account issues such a packaging, production, distribution and disposal.

There are often no easy answers, especially as I have inherited a lot of different materials from tutors, friends and family over the years - people have noticed that I tend not to throw anything away and find uses for most things!

I would not classify some of those items as eco-friendly, but now that I have got them, I believe it is better to use them up rather than bringing them to the local recycling centre for safe disposal. After all, time, labour and resources have gone into making the items.

I am currently experimenting with artist quality oil paints that I have been recently given. Many of the tubes have seen better days. The labels are not always very legible, and some paints may contain ingredients that we are advised to avoid nowadays. (One example is cadmium, which is natural but toxic, so a synthetic cadmium hue may be less damaging for the environment.)

To minimize any damage to the environment, I have decided to work with palette knives and have bought environment-friendly cleaners and mediums. I wipe any paint residues off on a cleaning rag. This way, I minimise the amount of paint that enters the water system. (Now I just need to learn how to keep my hands free of paint while working!)

I am also upcycling by working on an old canvas that I picked up from a charity shop. I am incorporating some seeds that I picked up on a local walk.

The painting is provisionally entitled “The wind blows wherever it pleases”. (A small painting with the same title appears to have “flown” into someone’s handbag at the recent exhibition in Portsmouth Cathedral, and I reckon that a 60cm x 60cm painting will be safe from a similar fate…)

While I am waiting for the first layer of oil paint to dry, I am setting up an online store for art prints. I am excited that I have found a carbon neutral printing company, which will directly send prints to customers around the world. I hope to get the store up and running for September.

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