8 Sustainable Art Materials to Incorporate Into Your Next Project

Tropical collage created digitally. Cover to: Sustainable Art Materials to Incorporate Into Your Next Project cover image

As artists, we all strive to create beautiful works of art that inspire and evoke emotion in those who view them. But, have you ever considered the impact that your art materials have on the environment? Many traditional art materials, such as oil paints and acrylics, are made from non-renewable resources and can have harmful effects on the planet.

Fortunately, there are many sustainable art materials available that allow artists to create while also reducing their environmental impact. There are of course many materials you can buy that have a smaller carbon footprintOpens in a new tab., but you can also consider what you have around you, and if you can use it.

Recycled Paper

Using recycled paper for sketching and drawing is a great way to reduce waste and minimize the impact on forests. Many companies now offer sketchbooks and drawing pads made from recycled paperOpens in a new tab.. Additionally, you can use old newspapers and magazines to create collages and mixed media pieces.

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Natural Pigments

Natural pigments, such as those made from plants and minerals, have been used for centuries by artists. Not only are they beautiful, but they are also sustainable and non-toxic. Some great examples of natural pigmentsOpens in a new tab. include indigo, ochre, and charcoal.

Water-Based Inks

Traditional oil-based inks can have harmful effects on the environment and require the use of harsh solvents for clean-up. Water-based inks, on the other hand, are much more sustainable and can be easily cleaned up with soap and water. They also offer a wider range of colors and are easier to work with than oil-based inks.

Eco-Friendly Paints

Traditional paints often contain toxic chemicals that can be harmful to both the environment and the artist. Eco-friendly paints, on the other hand, are made from natural ingredients and are much safer for both the artist and the planet. Look for paints made from plant-based ingredients, such as soy, or those that are free from volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Upcycled Materials

Upcycling, or repurposing old materials, is a great way to reduce waste and create something new and beautiful. Consider incorporating upcycled materials into your next project, such as using old clothing to create a textile piece or repurposing old metal into a sculpture.

Bamboo Brushes

Traditional paintbrushes are often made from non-renewable materials, such as plastic and animal hair. Bamboo brushes, on the other hand, are a sustainable alternative that are durable and long-lasting. They are also lightweight and comfortable to hold, making them a great option for artists who spend hours painting.

Natural Beeswax

BeeswaxOpens in a new tab. is a natural and sustainable material that can be used in many different art projects. It can be melted down and used as a binder for pigments, or molded into sculptures and other forms. Beeswax is also non-toxic and has a lovely, sweet scent.

Recycled Glass

Recycled glass is a versatile material that can be used in a variety of art projects, such as mosaics and sculptures. It can be sourced from old windows, bottles, and other glassware and can be cut and shaped to fit a specific design. Using recycled glass not only reduces waste but also adds a unique and beautiful element to your artOpens in a new tab..

Final Words

Many artists have incorporated sustainable art materials into their work over the years. For example, American sculptor, Maya LinOpens in a new tab., used recycled materials in her large-scale environmental artworks. French artist, JR, creates massive outdoor murals using biodegradable materials such as wheat paste. And Indian environmental artist, Nek Chand, created his famous Rock GardenOpens in a new tab. entirely from upcycled materials such as broken tiles and crockery.

By incorporating these additional sustainable art materials into your next project, you can further reduce your environmental impact while adding new dimensions to your artwork. We believe that the principle of sustainability is to first use the materials we have around us and, as a last resource we buy new materials and tools. Smarter buys when needed is what we advocate for.

School of Visual ArtsOpens in a new tab.
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Caraca's self-taught artist based in the UK, Ines explores unconventional materials and sustainability.

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