the green studio
I aim to demonstrate sustainable practices in my work, using environmentally responsible materials where possible. As an artist interested in ecopsychology, I hope to encourage the relationship and connection between ourselves and nature, but at the same time to raise awareness of the sensitivity of natural ecosystems and minimise disturbance by human interaction, promoting the conservation of threatened habitats and reserves. Environmental stewardship takes into account the impact of work practices in these places and beyond to the general environment, considering the suitability of materials, processes and approach.
'Green' studio practice
Oil paint contains environmentally sensitive pigments which should not be wasted. It is an expensive medium which hardens if left exposed and quickly becomes unusable. My system for minimum waste and environmental impact is as follows:
I use a glass palette laid over a white sheet of paper. This makes a strong, non-absorbent base with a large surface for mixing which is easy to clean by wiping and any hard residue can be easily scraped off with a blade.
Oil paint doesn’t dry through evaporation, but hardens through oxidisation. It can be kept open for longer by covering to reduce air contact. Between painting sessions I cover the paints with a shallow baking tray (the thinner the better to reduce the airspace).
If I am not painting for a couple of days, I put a few drops of clove oil onto a small bottle lid and put it with the paint under the tray. Clove oil contains eugenol, and the fumes alone will retard the oxidation of the paint, stopping it from drying so quickly, thereby reducing waste. This system makes a significant difference and means even small amounts of paint are workable for much longer.
Sustainable materials & suppliers
Looking for environmentally ethical products can be a difficult process as often there is no straightforward winning choice. I continue to research various solutions particularly in packaging. I try to source products from companies with environmental concerns for their products, manufacturing processes and carbon footprint and those with reducing and recycling policies, the following are some of the products that I currently use.
I work with Gamblin oil paints, odourless mineral spirits and solvent free medium – modern alternatives to turps and resins, for their low toxicity and lessened impact on the environment. Gamblin try to operate their company sustainably, their factory is run by wind-power; they consider their transportation carbon footprint; their employees are encouraged to walk or cycle to work and they avoid waste in their processes. They recycle pigment dust from their air-filtration system and use it to make a paint colour ‘Torrit Grey’ which they give to customers each year to promote Earth Day. Gamblin has also collaborated with a research project which cleans rivers contaminated with acid mine drainage pollution by extracting iron oxide to produce pigments which can be used to make paint in various earth colours such as ‘Reclaimed Earth Violet’. (See ‘Turning pollution in to paint’ video below).
Getting the Balance Right: Five Guidelines for Sustainable Practice by Carl Alviani and Nels Gabbert.
Feature about Gamblin.
VIDEO – M Graham environmental commitment (via mgraham.com)
Company information about FSC® (Forestry Stewardship Council®) certification.
Art supplies are going green by Daniel Grant
Feature about Gamblin.
VIDEO – Authentic Color. Naturally. from Gamblin Artists Colors (Vimeo).