Artists do their part in recycling materials

Paula Farrar, owner of Piney Hollow Arts Studio, teaches Isabelle McCloud how to paint with non-toxic paints. (THG / Kristin Guglietti. To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940.)

HAMMONTON — Artists reduce, reuse and recycle materials, so there is less waste going down the drain or landfill.

Some fine art materials like oil paints can be harmful to the environment because they are difficult to clean and contain corrosive chemicals, which can pollute waterways if not disposed of properly.

Robin D’Adamo, a member of the Hammonton Arts Center located at 10 S. Second St., said water soluble oil is an alternative for people who “love oil paintings but can’t stand them. vapors and chemicals ”.

“They work like oils. They dry like oils. You can use the impasto to make it thicker or you can make it thinner depending on your oil preferences, but it’s healthier for the environment, ”D’Adamo said.

Turpentine, turpentine and mineral spirits, which are used to clean paintbrushes, should be disposed of in the landfill.

“It must be brought to ACUA on the day of its hazardous waste. Where with these [water-soluble oil paints], they don’t have to be. Everything can be cleaned with water, and you are good to go next time, ”D’Adamo said.

There are different brands of water soluble paints. Winsor & Newton Artisan water-dilutable oil is used by beginners and students, D’Adamo said. For more experienced artists, there are brands like Cobra, Holbein Aqua Duo and Lukas Berlin.

“The Craftsman doesn’t mix so well. The Cobra, [Holbein] Aqua Duo and the [Lukas] Berlins are much creamier, so they’ll blend in and you’ll find they’re smoother where the Artisan doesn’t seem to blend as much with other colors, ”D’Adamo said.

Winsor & Newton Artisan Oil can be found at Michaels and Hobby Lobby. For high-end branded paints, they can be found in art stores or online at and

“I never had a problem with them [water-soluble oil]. They don’t cause any of my asthma attacks, which I used to have in school while working with oils. I love them, ”D’Adamo said.

Water soluble oil dries permanently like regular oils.

“Whenever I hear people talk about wanting to make oils, I recommend this over regular oils because one thing with these that we found out is that you can heat them up and they’ll dry faster if you have thinner layers, which makes it easier. for an artist to work, ”D’Adamo said.

The water soluble oil can also be left on its own and will be dry enough to be matte within two weeks.

“You can’t tell the difference between an oil and a water soluble oil, except for the price. These are much cheaper than buying oil paintings and they seem to last longer. Because people I know who have oils complain that their oils are dry after two years. I had them for three or four years and they never dried out, ”D’Adamo said.

For artists like D’Adamo, they use the entire paint tube before they throw it away.

“When I’m done with a hit, there’s not much in it. I tend to think that if I really like a color and can’t get it, I open it and empty the paint, ”D’Adamo said.

At Piney Hollow Arts Studio, located at 19B Central Ave., owner Paula Farrar said everything they use is “water soluble, non-toxic in today’s market.”

“There is nothing I put in my sink that is not safe for drinking water,” Farrar said.

Throughout history, natural materials have been used for paints, but some of these materials like lead have been considered toxic and replaced with non-toxic materials.

“The only thing I would say that wouldn’t be organic here would be the acrylic paint… They’re pretty cheap. They dry quickly, but they are 100 percent man-made materials. Acrylic is basically a plastic, but they’re water soluble, ”Farrar said.

Farrar teaches his students how to install and clean themselves as well as reuse materials.

For canvases that cannot be used due to damage, Piney Hollow Arts reuses damaged canvases to show paint samples. The studio also reuses leftover paper for test strips.

“I keep pretty much everything. I really do, ”Farrar said.

Farrar even reuses old brushes, including a brush she had had from high school.

“This brush is over 40 years old and so worn out. You can feel how corroded it is in there. It’s paint in there, but I never throw it away because I know I can get a good texture out of it, ”Farrar said.

Meagan Rieder, art teacher at Warren E. Sooy Jr. Elementary School (WES) for grades 2-5, wrote in an email to The Gazette that “there are many ways that artists can be environmentally friendly”.

“There are many ways that artists can be eco-friendly, a great way is to simply follow the three Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle. Besides following the three Rs, raising awareness through art is definitely the best way, ”Rieder wrote.

For the past few years, Sooy Elementary students have participated in a school-community project to raise environmental awareness and celebrate Earth Day on April 22.

“For this project, students created illustrations on ShopRite paper grocery bags in hopes of encouraging shoppers to ‘be green’ and use paper on plastic bags for their groceries that day. the. It was so inspiring for the kids and the bags came out wonderfully! Rieder wrote.

Rieder noted that there are art supplies that are not environmentally friendly.

“Things like acrylics, oils, adhesives, resins and chemicals can damage the environment if they are not properly recycled or disposed of. As art educators, we are aware of the correct way to dispose of and clean materials so that they do not harm our environment. As students mature through their education in the visual arts, they will eventually learn these responsibilities of managing these various mediums, ”Rieder wrote.

At Sooy Elementary, toxic art materials are not used.

“We’ve come a long way since the days of lead or even raw eggs in classroom paint. There are laws that protect students from these hazardous materials. Classrooms and supplies are inspected by the state annually. For example, there are ceramic glazes that are rated in different ways. There are glazes for elementary school students that are only approved to be food safe, and there are glazes that are rated for high school that can be labeled as food safe or not. An art teacher would never allow a student to use a toxic glaze on a container that could be used for eating or drinking, ”Rieder wrote.

In her class, students are reducing by using less water by turning the water on low and turning it off quickly when not in use. They also use less electricity by turning off lights and opening windows to let in natural light. Students also use less paper towels to dry their hands after washing.

Regarding the reuse of materials, Rieder said students “use the back side of a piece of paper before throwing it away, reuse placemats as additions to the collage, reuse found objects to create art, and reuse plastic containers for storing supplies “.

For the final “R” recycling, the class has a recycling box of markers when the makers dry up and they are sent to a recycling station.

“We never throw away crayons because we can melt them to make new ones or even reuse them to create a collage,” Rieder wrote.

Artists can also use natural materials found in their home or garden.

“Artists can paint with highly pigmented fruits and vegetables, coffee and tea, and other natural materials. I bought a beautiful scarf from a local artist in downtown Hammonton that was painted with natural dyes such as rusty metals, flowers, leaves and berries, ”Rieder wrote.

This story was produced in collaboration with and the NJ Sustainability Reporting

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