How to be more environmentally aware and friendly in your art practice.

Ways that I endeavour to do my bit to limit my practice's impact on the environment.
As tomorrow is ‘World Environment Day’ (5th June) I wanted to write a blog entry about how I endeavour to be environmentally aware and friendly in my own art practice and how you can too. As a lover of nature and the environment, I feel that it is important to be as environmentally aware and friendly in my day to day life and art practice as I can.

As a visual artist (mainly painting and photography these days), the practice is not always synonymous with being environmentally friendly. The paints themselves are often labelled with warnings about them being harmful to the environment and using cotton canvas or paper and printing has environmental implications in its production.

With this in mind I try to do my bit to limit my practice’s impact on the environment as much as possible, by being responsible, resourceful, re-using and recycling as much as I can. So, I would like to share with you some ways that you can be more environmentally friendly in your own artistic activities:

1. Responsibility- I avoid using hazardous and harmful products looking for alternatives that are kinder to my health and the environment. I will use Linseed Oil and water- soluble products (including water soluble oil paints) that do not require thinners and I also opt for techniques and processes that do not require thinning. I always dispose of art products responsibly and if I'm unsure I will seek advice.

2. Resourcefulness - rather than seeking out new materials, can you use the resources around and available to you to solve your creative problem? Finding new and inventive ways to approach your work using found, re-used or recycled materials, will not only save you money but also reduce the impact on the environment through reduced demand for products and may open new creative doors for you. Something I do regularly is to cover paint palettes with cling-film to stop paints from drying out if I have dispensed more than is needed in that session (I absolutely hate to waste paint and artist quality paint is an expensive resource!).

3. Re-using - in my household, every possible ‘disposable’ product, such as containers, are always ‘assessed’ for re-use. We sometimes like a curry take away and love to indulge in a ‘pickle tray’, the great thing about this is that I keep all the pots that they come in, as the pots have lids they are useful to mix and store large amounts of paints and keeps the paint workable for longer (just make sure you wash them out properly before re-using!). Another thing I like to do is keep all tissue paper from gifts and use them to create texture in my work.

4. Recycling -I think this goes without saying, it is important to recycle! Just be careful and aware that if you use a once recyclable material in an artistic application that you may render it unsuitable for recycling and you should then dispose of it safely and responsibly. You could also ‘recycle’ old artworks and studies you no longer want into collage material for renewed creative possibilities.

There are many ways that you can become more environmentally aware and friendly in your art practice, if you just ask yourself a few questions when you are engaged with your artistic practice: “How will throwing this in ‘normal household waste’ or ‘recyclable waste’ effect the environment? How can I dispose of this safely?”, “How can I be more resourceful and creative in my approaches? Do I really need to buy that product?” and “Can that resource or product be re-used or recycled? Can it gain a new lease of life through renewed purpose?”.

I hope this is helpful and thank you for reading my blog,

Paint in re-used pots.