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Sustainability in the Studio.

Updated: Oct 27, 2019

This week I thought I would take a look at our sustainability practices as artists.

With all the talk and action on climate change, I am feeling inspired to look at what changes I might make in the studio to be more eco friendly.

How can we as artists reduce our toxic footprints upon the planet?

Let’s begin by looking at some of the items we use in the studio and then examine how we might become more sustainable in their use.










The Palette

Let’s begin with the worst offenders. It has become a popular practice for many artists to use disposable paper palettes, especially when attending classes. Obviously they are easy to use and offer the path of least resistance in terms

Of dealing with messy paint.

However perhaps if we wish to avoid contributing to the deforestation of the planet, it could mean tolerating the slight inconvenience of using a different option. Your options are - plastic, wood or glass.

• Plastic, is a long lasting, viable option, except that the long term prognosis is not good. You could however check that the plastic being used is recyclable, in which case this might be the best option.

• Wood of course has the same problems as paper, although you might check if the trees being used are from sustainable forests. Another possibility is to recycle some old marine ply, which is perfect for palettes.

• Glass is a good option for your personal studio, although is problematic for using outside or taking to classes, as it is heavy and has the possibility of being broken.

• In my studio I use an off cut of melamine from a kitchen renovation. This works really well in my studio but not for traveling.

• I have noticed that quite a lot of acrylic artists use china or plastic plates for their palette.


This category doesn’t generally apply if you are an acrylic painter. However if you are an oil painter, you might want to take a look at the solvent you are using. Something I have become more aware of in recent years, that was not really considered when I first began painting years ago, is the health aspect of the materials we use in our studios.

If you are an oil painter, there is quite a range of solvents available on the market these days. I have used a low odour turps from Bunnings for many years, however I am thinking that it might be a good idea to make the change to a less toxic option as there are odourless solvents available these days. Even though turps comes from a tree, in a process which doesn’t kill the tree, it is still a pretty smelly substance and not that good for ones health.

In the solvents category, I am also going to talk about mediums, because some of these also have pretty strong odours. Most of the acrylic mediums don’t have much of a smell at all, but some of the ones for oils are quite strong. I am currently using Art Spectrum # 1. Which dries reasonably fast and has a good consistency, but also has a fairly strong odour. Not good for painting with in the winter with all the windows closed.

A good alternative that many painters use is Liquin, which has a slight, quite pleasant odour. At present I am trialing a Michael Harding medium, simply called PM1 which I also like and is non toxic with little odour - it is fairly expensive. What I have found though, is that as I use mainly Michael Harding paints now, I rarely need to use a medium with them as the paint already has a great consistency.

paint brushes,artists brushes
NEXT WEEK: Which brushes to use?

The top three images were kindly provided by the following photographers - Thank you.

Image by Bilge Can Gürer from Pixabay

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Image by Sofie Zbořilová from Pixabay

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