Yup, those are plastics, residing there in my studio. Here I’ve been a foaming-at-the-mouth environmentalist all these years and I was blind to what was going on in my own life!
I am reading a fascinating book entitled : “Plastic”, by Susan Freinkel. The book opens with a quest to list all the things plastic she touches in a day…. that was an eye-opener. I’m getting a whole fresh look at plastic. For example, consider the toothbrush. Before plastic came along, not everyone could afford one. That gave me pause.
I haven’t actually gotten very far into the book yet, but I came across a paragraph about plastic use by artists, and I knew I’d found what I wanted to write a post about. It was noted that while designers were having a fine old time with plastics, from dishes to chairs to you-name it, attempts to use the new polymers by artists were “lame”. I would agree. In fact, those artists from the 50’s -70’s really gave art a black eye in my opinion. Say you are an artist to many people and watch their hackles rise. Think of all the ridiculous “masterpieces” hanging in contemporary museums and galleries, and the skyrocketing prices in the 70’s art world, and you know what I’m talking about. To this day a prejudice exists against acrylic paint- many is the gallery owner who won’t even look at my work if I tell them my medium before they see the work.
So, why do I persist in using acrylics? Mostly because that was the medium I was taught, but also because when I research other media, such as oils, I find I really question whether they are any better for the environment. The solvents and thinners, the fumes…
Recently I came across a manufacturer that is responding to concerns. I am so pleased by this; they have developed an extensive water filtering system which allows them to reuse their water in the production of paint, plus allows the water that does leave the plant to do so more cleanly. Also, they use recycled and recyclable plastic for their paint tubes, using locally sourced materials. No trans-ocean voyages for these paint tubes. Hooray! Now about those canvases that start in India, travel to China, ship to Peoria, then….