Tuesday, 22 April 2008

A Green Studio

Today is Earth Day. In honour of the day, I decided to see what I could do to help the environment. I already reduce, recycle and reuse what I can in the rest of my life, but am I doing the best I can with my art supplies?
I checked some websites and found that I am not doing everything that I can. Some art supplies are made of hazardous materials-lead, cobalt cadmium and mercury. Cleaning solvents are also hazardous. These materials are not only hazardous to the environment but also to us.
So how can I help the environment while I continue to paint? Here are some suggestions that I found.
1. Know what you are buying. Read the labels. Hazardous art supplies must be labelled as such. Health concerns are also on the labels. Check the Materials Safety Data Sheets (MSDS). I found this site at
The Artists Depot, which lists 141 MSDS. Another good site is http://www.ilpi.com/msds/
2. Use water based paints. They contain fewer VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and don’t need chemical solvents for cleanup. Choose paint colours made from organic pigments such as madder (red) and indigo (blue). My paints are all water based, including my oils so I’m OK with that part. I will try to choose paints made from organic pigments.
3. If using solvents to clean up, pour a small amount into a container for use. After finishing, let the residue settle and then pour it into another container straining out the residue. Let the residue dry and then toss in the garbage. You can recycle the turpentine or mineral spirits this way and reduce the amount being disposed of. It is also cost effective as the turps and/or mineral spirits will last longer. I use mineral spirits with my oil pastels and have been using this method of disposal for many years. My reasons for doing this were to save money not the environment but it seems I’m smarter than I thought I was.
4. Use rags as opposed to paper towels. The exception to this would be with oils. If using oils, clean up with paper towels. Do not wash rags in home washers or at commercial Laundromats. The waste from the rags is not contained and is washed down the drain. This one surprised me-I thought by using rags it was better. I will replace the rags I use for my oils with paper towels (made out of recycled paper).
Some interesting sites.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Inspiration – Where does it come from?

Where do you draw your inspiration? I get my inspiration from many things from the conventional sources of books, nature, and other artists; and from unconventional sources such as spills. I have a really great copy of a design of a spill on a bus shelter wall. I do NOT want to know what was spilled nor how it got there, but the design it made was great! I get drawn (pun not intended) to things with a textural quality-bark on a tree, designs carved into masks, the facets of jewels.

Learning new techniques also inspire me. One of the groups I belong to
Art Techniques has a folder of Monthly Art Techniques supplied to the group’s members. This is mainly an altered art group. I’m not real good at altered art, although I have tried, but I take some of the techniques provided and try to adapt them to my painting style and chosen subject matter.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Art Teaching Business - A Book Review

Has anyone out there thought of starting a teaching business? Start & Run an Art Teaching Business is a great book for those of you who are thinking of starting a business. It is full of great exercises to determine if you have what it takes to start a business and forms you will need. It has information on creating a business plan, goal setting and organization. The legal and tax considerations mentioned in the book are for either Canadian or American readers.

I followed some of the exercises and found that it would be better for all concerned that I not start my own art teaching business. The book talked about taking public speaking classes—my stomach won’t take it. I would need to learn time management—did I mention that I was once late for a time management class? I would have to prioritize stuff—I once bought a book on procrastination and put it away to read later!

Seriously though, the book is worth the read for anyone interested. Just following the suggestions and heeding the information provided should help you determine your chances of succeeding as an entrepreneur.

Start & Run an Art Teaching Business
Tanya Freedman, Copyright 2007
International Self-Counsel Press Ltd.
ISBN 978-1-55180-734-8
CDN $22.95 (US $18.95)

Monday, 7 April 2008

Competitions – Alberta Zone Show

My paintings are priced, framed and named and the registration form has been mailed off. I had people with me when I mailed the form so there was no dithering over the mailbox…couldn’t look silly in front of them. Maybe that’s the trick.

The paintings I entered are below.