Small things, big impact!
As you read the headline of this article, you might think: That too. Now she’s also adding her mustard on this subject. Especially since sustainability is used in all sorts of sensible and nonsensical contexts and is sometimes misused to promote advertising. It’s not that I’m an environmental activist. And there are a few things I could do about myself. In fact, the best thing would be to forego creative work entirely. But that is definitely not possible. People have always felt the need to express themselves artistically. And there are definitely different forms, if I wasn’t allowed to paint, draw or be creative, I would wither. So this is not an option.
Nevertheless, my perspective has changed over the years. I’m looking for solutions how I can work creatively, but still not produce tons of unnecessary garbage. But everyone has to decide for themselves how the priorities are set. Sometimes there are small things that don’t hurt, but in the long run and in large measure they have an effect. Here are a few of those little things that I practice to reduce the junk
Disposable gloves, Zewas or paper plates
I hardly ever use such things. Washing hands, old tea towels, old T-shirts or empty plastic packaging that are already there anyway also serve the purpose and can be used several times. I don’t need a fresh plate every time, a sturdy cover made from wall paints or acrylic binders is very durable and can also be used with water-based glazes without softening. An old glass or plexiglass plate is also great. If the disposable cup is frowned upon, why not the disposable, palette, cardboard plate too?
Use existing tools or misuse them
You don’t always need the very best artist quality, you can also use existing tools for your painting. Dish brushes, rubber squeegees from the hardware store or pot sponges can withstand a long time. You can prime your pictures with remnants of white wall paint. A mixture of dish soap and sunflower oil can replace the solvent for your oil paint.
Work with surfaces that can be revised
Since I’ve been an artist for many years, I have a lot of painted canvases. A very large amount, really. And for some time now, I have rarely used a completely fresh canvas. In the majority of cases I recycle old pictures. Pictures that are outdated because I am at a different point in my development or pictures that I have never really worked out anything new and which are a repetition of earlier work. I can let such pictures go again and form the basis of a new design. Among other things, because I often over-paint the old pictures, I hardly ever varnish my work. It is difficult to get an absorbent primer back on a very smooth and sealed surface.
Keeping the paint moist for the next day of painting
I need a lot of paint for large canvases. But sometimes it’s hard to tell how much. Sometimes I put the paint directly on the canvas, then I can save myself the detour via the palette. If I have leftovers on the palette, I wrap them with the packaging film from the freshly bought canvases (mostly those of my course participants). If I can’t paint for a long time, I spray a little water over it with the spray bottle. The acrylic paint will last for a few days. Should I still have leftovers that I need to rinse off, I first remove most of the paint with an old rag or dirty paper before cleaning the palette. This means that less acrylic paint ends up in the sink.
Maintaining materials well
Unfortunately, many artist’s brushes no longer have the long service life they used to have, these are my experiences. But if you handle your material well, you will definitely benefit from it for longer. When I wash the brushes (which I usually only do at the end of the painting session, as I work wet on wet with the different shades) I then place them on an old terry towel to dry. I don’t put them in a jar, otherwise the moisture will pull into the clamp and the wood in it may swell. The brush hairs fall out quickly and the brush becomes unusable.
Now and then painting on paper
For me a playground: Working on paper. We use less material than when using stretcher frames and it takes up less space to store the finished pictures. In addition, you can let off steam on paper, because it is “only” paper. You can cut it wonderfully to change the composition or cut it into pieces to make cards, bookmarks, etc. out of it (if it doesn’t seem to work as a whole). You can also later integrate it into acrylic paintings.
Collect materials and include them in collages
Some participants bring real treasure chests with them: The collections of special papers, old documents or newspaper clippings are great to use in collages. I also enjoy self-made sketches twice: once when I draw them and a second time when they find a place in a picture. Patterned or structured fabrics can also be worked in perfectly.
You can make it yourself and only touch it if necessary.You can use natural materials with acrylic binders (or white wall paint, if the structural compound should be white) to make the structure yourself: sand, ash or colored earths are structure and first coloring at the same time. And because you only do that when you need these substrates, nothing will go bad or firm.