Hug a Tree

Art Painted Sustainably

There’s no way to hide it. I love immersing myself in nature. If I’m not in it, then I’m painting it, Instagramming it or taking photos of it. But this raises the question:

 

Is my art having a detrimental impact on the very environment I love so much?

 

To find out, I questioned the products, companies and art practises I use every day to create my landscape paintings. You can rest easy as:

 

Your painting is just as good for the environment as it is for your mind and soul.
Acrylic Paint

Derivan Matisse acrylic paint is what I use 99.9% of the time.

 

They match actions to words, supported by a fabulous Sustainability Policy.

These are the points that won me over, demonstrating how forward thinking and committed they are to the environment:

Fast Response Time

They responded to my sustainability questions within half an hour of receiving them.

Australian Owned & Made

Derivan Matisse are Australian owned and manufactured, so I’m reducing transport costs when buying their products. I also buy their products from a local shop less than 15kms away.

Involved in Government Recycling Study

Being involved in a government study of recycling and waste minimisation has helped form and guide their actions and sustainability goals

Paint Ingredients Biologically Friendly

The ingredients used to manufacture the acrylic paints I use will not cause biological harm. This means I can safely dispose of the water I wash my painting equipment in, and water the garden with it.

Reuse, Return or Recycle Containers & Packaging

They redesigned their containers to make them reusable, but these are also made from PET, which is 100% recyclable.

Inward bound packaging is recycled, returned or reused wherever possible.

Environmentally Awesome Factory

The factory is impressively friendly to the environment e.g. water treatment plant, using recycled water, light sensors, eco-friendly cleaning products, staff that ride to work get $500 towards buying a bike, a worm farm and…

 

In the words of their CEO when I asked about their Sustainability Policy, “3 years ago we had 120 solar cells installed on our roof which makes us pretty well carbon neutral (certainly our manufacturing plant, we are still yet to calculate our sales staff carbon footprint etc.)

Four paint palettes of Rebecca Collett Artist
Disposal of Paint

Sometimes I’m overzealous with the amount of paint I load onto my painting palette.

 

Instead of wasting the paint, I keep small canvases on hand and create small paintings or try new techniques. These canvases are  used multiple times and occasionally sold to live out their lives in a nature loving home.

 

As Derivan paints are not harmful to the environment and as I live in Australia, I’m always mindful of water use. My tools of the trade are washed in a tub of water, which is used to water my plants.

Canvases

Discovering the sustainability of my canvases was trickier.

 

The canvases are manufactured by a third party (a white label situation), so it took a number of emails to reveal the information and I’m glad I questioned the responses.

 

Normally the timber they use is FSC Certified (Forest Stewardship Council Certified), however, due to quality issues they recently  changed suppliers. I’ve been told that within a few months it will be fully FSC Certified again.

 

To stay or switch?

 

This raised the question whether I should switch canvas providers. The wood isn’t sustainably sourced at the moment, but they are taking steps to rectify this. They’ve identified and been proactive about a problem, and I believe we need to support those striving to do the right thing. Obviously they aren’t being complacent; keeping on top of their suppliers, they aren’t taking a certification at face value.

 

So, for now, I will be sticking with the existing canvas supplier and will be checking up on their progress.

Future Plans

The majority of painting canvases are currently made from cotton. Cotton production is burdensome to the environment: large amounts of water + a chemical cocktail = low yield for the land used.

 

I’ve heard positive things about hemp canvases for painting on, and production is the opposite of cotton: low water needs + few, if any chemicals = 250% more fibre than cotton using the same amount of land.

 

This is the direction I want to move in the future, however, at the moment this requires me to make the wood frame (sustainably sourced of course!) and attach the hemp canvas. I’ll get there soon, I just need to put down the paint and pick up the saw and a moisture reader (who knew???)!