Sustainable art materials
A wooden foundation
From old doors to dismantled furniture, which pieces and types of wood I use for painting depends on where I am at the time and what resources are available to me. When I am new to a place, I make it my task to find local suppliers that can provide me with wood from sustainable sources. This could be, for example, from trees that have already been cut down for maintenance, or wood that has been reclaimed. This makes each piece unique. After being cut to size and sanded, the wood is ready for its new purpose. You can be sure with every single reclaimed wood painting, no tree has been cut down particularly for it, but instead is raising awareness and money for sustainability. Creating pieces with wood makes the finished products durable so you can enjoy them for a long time. Please keep in mind that wood is a natural material, and part of the charm of using reclaimed wood in particular are the little marks and mistakes within its surface. I love to chose pieces with personality.
On my way to finding out how I could create more sustainable art, I quickly became frustrated and still am naively surprised with the options available when watercolors are not suitable. I became increasingly aware that producing eco-friendly art is challenging.
Chemical and/or toxic components in colors, such as solvents, are the norm. These are not only harmful to the person applying it, but also to our environment. This task extends to finding paintbrushes that do not contain bristles made from animal hair, and that use sustainable wood for their shafts.
For the last few years I have been using the “Gouache” colors from the company “Lascaux” to create my paintings. This company produces water soluble paint with no added solvents and are classified “poison free” by the European council for sustainability charter “CEPE“. All but one of their colors do not contain any animal derived products, and neither do their manufactured paintbrushes. I continue to research and experiment with different options, and I am currently getting to know the Gouache eco line from “Caran d´Ache”. I would love to know of any similar products you have been using or know of, that I could also try out. If you have any suggestions or names of companies that are doing their best to create sustainable products, please don’t hesitate to let me know. Prints of my original art and photography are produced without solvents, using water-based pigment, in Switzerland.
Please note: In order to protect the wood from possible infestations, I freeze or heat each piece before working on it. I choose not to use any chemicals on the wood. Soft woods (e.g. conifers) are more prone to infestation than hard wood (e.g. oak). Please keep your purchased piece away from other wood sources that may contain wood worm in order to keep the painting intact. In the event you do discover signs of wood worm, you can freeze the wood overnight however please do not heat it as this will damage the colour. These recommendations apply to solid wood only as wood worm is not a threat to plywood. For longevity, treat your piece as you would any other precious item – away from extremes such as direct sunlight or damp. Colours may fade over time.