Over the last 6 years, I have shifted my art practice from painting with conventional store bought paints- mainly acrylic and watercolour, to using eco-friendlier supplies made by small businesses and makers who have earth-connected practices themselves. In this blog post, I'm going to introduce you to some of my favourites, and some tips and tricks to get started.
The most eco friendly art supplies are the ones you already own. Use those up first before buying anything, then as you need to replace your supplies, replace them with the eco friendlier versions. Sometimes, these act different than conventional art supplies and it can take a bit of trial and error to get a hang of it! Keep trying. I promise you'll find your flow.
While you're using up your current art supplies, note that acrylic paint is plastic based (I know, I ruin this for a lot of people but I'm on a mission to reduce plastic consumption). Don’t wash acrylic paints down the sink, as it will end up in our water systems, and micro plastics are becoming more of a concern. It will also clog up your drains. Instead, wipe it off with an old cloth then wash your palette to get any tiny remaining bits off. If you use watercolour paints, be mindful that some colours may contain heavy metals. Take care not to wash these down the drain or get them on your skin. I would steer clear of these pigments.
If you are using oil paints, look up how to properly clean up/ store the paints as they behave much different than acrylic and water colour.
Non-toxic is not the same as eco friendly. Some natural materials are highly toxic. Some are irritants. Always do your research, wear an N95 or respirator mask and eye protection when working with loose pigments, and have fun!
Here are some of my favourite resources and shops for diving into eco-friendlier supplies:
I've learned a lot of what I know now from Caitlin Ffrench. She is a Vancouver-based artist who is an incredible resource for getting started. Check her out here. The watercolour paints she makes are pure magic, and she teaches classes from time to time and also has a library of resources in her Patreon.
When using pastels and charcoal, if you want your pigments to have better staying power, fixative spray is required. Here is the non-toxic one I use.
I've made water colour and tempera paints and soft pastels in the past, which is incredibly gratifying and helps me to connect deeper with the materials I use. Through this learning and connection I have identified that I can feel similar connections from supporting small businesses and makers who have mastered this craft. Unless there is a reason for me to make a material myself (like the ink I use for wave imprints, sacred black paint from smoke cleansing ash, or iron water from rusted metal I collect), I now purchase most of my materials. Learning how to make them myself has given me a deep appreciation of what I use in my art practice, and I encourage you to learn how to make what you use in creating even if you prefer to buy it, just so you can witness all the magic that goes into creating the materials you use to create your art.
I'm always looking to improve my practice, and am currently seeking small scale paper makers to support! If you know of any paper makers or make watercolour paper yourself, let's connect!
Kaitlyn Beugh's mission is to assist you in fostering a soulful connection to self and the natural world through creation and intention. She is an interdisciplinary visual artist. Her art practice plays on the ephemeral, and is intuitively channeled and created in a flow state.
She lives, works, and plays on the unceded land of the Coast Salish First Nations. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Visual Arts with a minor in Social Practice and Community Engagement from Emily Carr University of Art and Design, and has a background in social services.
Kaitlyn is a practicing artist and has some of her artwork for sale in the form of original pieces via her website here. Kaitlyn is currently studying herbalism and connecting deeper with the energies of plants and natures cycles.
Let's stay connected. Sign up for my email list here: https://www.kaitlynbeugh.com/