10 Tips on Going Green as an Artistic Painter

paint-brushesMany painters have rarely taken the effect of paint on their health as well as their surroundings seriously. High toxicity of airborne as well as trans-dermal lead and other heavy metal poisoning is one of the most prominent dangers when using various paints. These metals (normally used in paint production) are invariably washed into our water systems through manual and human waste disposal. Just a few years ago, as reported in UK’s The Guardian, the bones of classic painter Carvaggio were studied and found to still hold high amounts of lead determining his controversial death. In addition, art historians believe Goya, Van Gogh and many others suffered from heavy metal, particularly lead, poisoning leading to a variety of symptoms including organ failure, depression, chronic physical pain and personality changes. If you are an artist, know an artist or just plain curious, here are 10 tips on going green as an artistic painter for health as well as environmental healing.

Solvent Recycling

There is no need to quickly dispose of and replenish highly toxic brush cleaning solvents when they are very simple to recycle. Pour used solvent into a glass jar, let pigment settle overnight and carefully pour the recycled solvent into another glass jar. Dispose pigment residue at your local hazardous waste center.

Check Your Source

Many paint companies are offering a variety of green choices such as soy dyes and non-VOC (volatile organic compounds). Make sure your paints are non-toxic and/or come from a green source.

Re-Do Canvas

The best way to recycle canvases is to paint over old or failed work.

Re-Use Packing

Save as much cardboard and bubble wrap as possible to re-use when shipping your work.

Reduce Off-Gassing

Many artistic paints are inert and, even after they dry, can off-gas various toxins. If working with toxic oils or acrylics it is recommended to wear a face mask. Although this may be uncomfortable it can significantly reduce the potential for lung, liver and kidney disease.

Let There Be Air

Adequate ventilation will also help you avoid dangerous fumes from paints and solvents as well as reduce flammable buildup.

Avoid the Drain

Some painters will simply use soap and water to clean their brushes. This can cause an accumulated toxicity in municipal pipes and water filtration systems eventually finding its way into washing and drinking water. Use solvent and then rinse brushes afterward.

Save Your Hue

More paint saved is less paint put back into our water and soil. Squeeze tubes from the bottom and use until empty. Then, slice the tube open with a razor blade and brush out the rest. Also, cover your palette with plastic wrap to preserve paints.

Try Mixed Media

Switching up your style by incorporating mixed media offers the ability to recycle and re-use items that would ordinarily end up in a local landfill.

Light Up

Natural light is often the best painting light. If your studio has many windows shut the electric and use Mother Nature. If not, switch your bulbs to CFL or LED choices.

Keep the art of green in your art and heed your potential creative footprint.


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