God this is a hard post to write, but I can’t put this off any more. Like so many people, I’m waking up to the vital task of being as rigorously plastic free as I can. I’ve been changing as many habits as I could at home – rejecting all the packaging possible, and reading all recycling information on packaging I can’t yet avoid. I’m gradually decommissioning all the more toxic household products we’ve sometimes resorted to, and I’m swapping over to ecological alternatives.
Bad habits had crept in. When the kids were small I was a purist, and hyper vigilant about plastics, and using organic products where I could. But packaging got ridiculous over the years without me noticing, and slowly but surely my confidence in organic produce was eroded by campaigns which said it wasn’t better, just more costly for no good reason. Well, it is expensive. Today I’m cross that being ecologically friendly is often significantly more costly than the alternatives – it shouldn’t be harder (or a privilege) to do the right thing.
It’s a process of unlearning bad habits, and also of beginning to think about my practice too. It’s dawned on me gradually, because been away from my brushes, that my chosen painting medium is basically plastic, and that latterly I’ve even been experimenting with latex to make small installation pieces.
Project management and the multiform nature of my practice have taken me away from painting recently. I’m also caring part time for my mum, which cuts studio time quite significantly. But I still have a largish stash of acrylic paints, and I’ve been painting with acrylics for at least 30 years. I use all manner of not so eco-friendly artist mediums too. I’m painting less, but am I facing painting extinction? God, I hope not.
Even as I write this I’m surprised at how painful that would feel. I’ve taken my painting practice for granted I think. I often neglect it, and I even play favourites with other forms (photography is tops at the moment). Yet, painting is where I began – and I remember clearly first finding, and then falling in love with acrylics. Painting is where I return when I need inspiration, when I need to reconnect to my creative core.
In a parallel journey of thought, I realise that if I’m serious about being as plastic free as possible, I must stop buying acrylic paints in their current form (even though this sentence makes me howl inside). That I must only use the ones I have now, and definitely cease washing out my brushes into the water system. This is toxic and appallingly harmful to the planet.
It had never occurred to me that I could isolate the plastic by cleaning my brushes in other ways. I now feel foolish and I’m glad I did the research.
It sounds dramatic but I wonder if these will be my last paintings (until my paints run out) in this medium, and how I will adapt to ecologically friendly alternatives such as a range by Colourcraft, I happened on in my reseach.
Golden Paints are my favourite paints, and thank goodness they have a socially responsible company ethic, using a Reverse Osmosis (RO) filtering system. Seymour Wallace are another company I use a lot, but beyond using quality natural materials (info on their website) I haven’t found out more.
For me to paint in the same way, whatever takes the place of my beloved acrylics must perform in equally forgiving and exciting ways. My painterly process is quite experimental (at it’s best) and I need flexible paints I can push round and which dry quickly so I can add to the multiple layers which so often make up one of my finished works.
Meanwhile, it’s up to me in the studio to be responsible in my use of the paints I have. If anyone has already done the thinking on this can you let me know?
Gracias in advance, and thank you for reading xx