“Colour is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.” -Monet

 

Painting green has become a very important to me because I paint for four to six hours almost every day. By the time I’m done, I’m usually covered in paint. If I used conventional paints and art supplies, I’d be spending over half of my life swimming in a toxic chemical soup of my own making.

I’ve painted all of my life. When I started taking classes in school, I realized how toxic art supplies can be. Almost all of the art products used daily in schools have serious health warnings on the label, and all of the work we did was in a small room with very little ventilation. I remember the teacher cracking the door a couple of inches open during class and acting like that should be enough to dissipate the thick cloud of highly toxic fixative that each student was simultaneously spraying all over their work. It reminded me of the way chain-smokers barely crack the window in their car and seem to think that should make it comfortable for the other passengers. And she did this the whole time she was pregnant! When her baby was born with some serious health problems, I could help wondering if it was related to all of the dangerous chemicals she breathed and touched every day in the Art room.

My mother taught me to always read the ingredients in everything and research questionable products before I used them. It has become second nature. I used to stand in the supply closet and read the back of everything, my eyes wide with horror! Sometimes I asked to sit in the hall during class when the fumes were especially overpowering. My mother often complained that a strong chemical smell clung to my clothes when she picked me up from school.

Eventually, I gave up painting because I couldn’t justify the daily use of all of those strong chemicals when I was otherwise such a health and environmentally conscious person. Also, I had developed a habit of painting mostly with my hands instead of brushes. Having chemicals that have the word cancer on the label constantly under your nails can’t be a good thing!

When I couldn’t stand painting any longer, I began to search for purer versions of the art supplies I loved to use. I have since done a lot of research and experimenting. It is still pretty difficult to find really safe art supplies, even with everything going green these days.