nina colors

It’s easy to be “Green” with acrylic paint

Posted on: February 3, 2010

Since acrylic is just another form of plastic, pouring it down your drains is a no-no; yet many painters do it.  Here are two easy things to do that will make a difference.

First, use a few plates (disposable or not is up to you) as palettes, rotating them when you need a cleaner surface.  But the real trick is to paint white over them at the end of a painting session, so that you can keep using them again and again.

You can also use freezer paper from the grocery store (or the art store freezer paper palettes if you’re flush), and after a few layers of paint have built up, the acrylic will just peel off.  You can either throw this in the garbage or cut it up and use it as collage elements in another painting.

By far the worst problem is pouring our brush-cleaning jars of water + acrylic down the drain.  Bad for the plumbing; bad for the environment.  I leave the jars overnight so the paint solids settle to the bottom, then drain off the water in the morning, and pour the solids plus a bit of the water that’s left into a 5-gallon bucket (I use a huge kitty litter bucket w a handle but many building supplies come in these buckets) and when it’s full, I put it near the heat vent so the water will evaporate off.. In the summer, I put it out in the sun (altho you have to keep an eye out for rain).  When the water is gone, the paint will peel right out if it’s a plastic bucket.

Of course you need a second bucket to use while the first one is evaporating:-)  But these little effort are really worth it to keep our painting passion more earth-friendly.

I’d be interested in any other ideas you acrylic painters out there have for “green” painting. Please share!

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4 Responses to "It’s easy to be “Green” with acrylic paint"

I’ve kept acrylic paint wet on the palette by covering with cling film – although cling film in itself isn’t exactly greeen. This was more of a money saving idea. I hadn’t even considered the environmental aspects, although I never discard household paint down the drain.

You can get clingfilm which is cellulose based so will biodegrade.

If you use and plastic box, like a lunchbox and put the lid on that will do the same job as the cling film.

I use a wet pallette to keep my acyrlic paint wet between sessions and whilst I paint. I use baking paper, or greaseproof paper for the pallette, a damp sheet of kitchen roll/paper under that and it sits in the lid of a plastic box. Between sessions I put the lid on and it keeps it wet.

I actually use an old plastic container that some cherries came in from the supermarket which is clear and has gaps round the lid. With an airtight container and the damp sheet under the pallette sometimes things can get a bit runny!

I throw my unused paint in the bin but had never considered the paint in the brush water. Thanks Nina I will take your advice on this 🙂

and I didn’t know there was cellulose cling film. Terrific! Thanks — I’ll look for it next shopping day.

Acrylic paint isn’t so different from household paint. I know those palettes; they work well if you paint often. If not, you come back to SLIME:-)

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