Sunday, 8 February 2009

The art of recycling – Recycling for art

  • Rags: Don’t throw away this worn out shirt. Old cotton clothes make perfect rag for painting.
  • Bubble wrap: I always keep the one I get. Very handy to protect works in transit. Bubble wrap can be re-used several times.
  • Re-using turpentine: For oil painting, turpentine is used both as a thinner and to clean your brushes. The first way to make the most of your turpentine is to have two different containers: one to clean your brushes and one for the turpentine you use as thinner. The second one should remain clean for longer, as you clean your brush in a separate container. When the turpentine you use as thinner gets dirty, don’t throw it away; just dip it into your cleaning jar. Even this one can be made to last for longer. When the thinner is cloudy, leave it to rest in a jar. After some time, particles of paint sink at the bottom and you can re-use the cleaner thinner at the top of the container. Some paintbrush cleaner jar have a part at the bottom to collect the falling pigment (check the link below to an article explaining you how to make one).

  • Containers: Jam jars are good to store turpentine and some small plastic bottles (like the ones for drinking yoghurt with a screw cap) work wonder as water container for your watercolour when you travel. They are very light and won’t brake.
  • Watercolour pan: when empty, watercolour pans can be filed-in with paints from your tubes.

  • Canvas: Artists have always reused canvasses, covering paintings they did not like. However, you need to assess whether the brushwork of the first painting will interfere with the new painting. Having texture can be a bonus, unless you can guess from it what was painted underneath. Another thing you need to take into account is the fact that some colours (like Prussian blue) have very strong pigments and may bleed through. The best way to deal with this is to cover the initial painting with a coat of white paint (don’t put acrylic gesso on top of the existing oil painting, it would not stick – remember that it is all right to paint with oil over acrylic, but not the other way around).
  • Panels: Panels (wood or hardboard) are easier to reuse as you can sand the surface before applying a new layer of gesso.
  • Toning your canvas: When you finish working on a painting, it is likely that you will have some paint left on your palette. You may be too exhausted to start another painting, but you can tone a canvas with the paint left.
  • Making your own pastel sticks. Soft pastel break or at the end, you are left with a piece of pastel stick too small to handle comfortably. Here are some good articles on recycling these pastel leftovers: How to make your own neutral tone pastel sticks with leftovers. “What Can I Do With the Leftovers?” by Richard McKinley . Also check How To Fix Broken Pastels .
  • Another use for pipe insulation tubes: Richard McKinley from Pastel Pointer explains in his article Pushing around pastel that he uses pieces of pipe insulation tubes to push pastel around. Other materials he is recycling for his art include grocery store plastic bags and foam packing peanuts.
From WetCanvas:
  • How to Make a Paintbrush Cleaner Jar
  • How to Rebind a Moleskine Notebook: Make a Custom DIY Sketchbook!
  • How to build a palette table
  • How to build a pochade box using a cigar box

Make sure you also check my previous article on Art DIY and week-end projects that contains links to good articles.

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