Greening Your Art Practice: Clean-Up Tips


Monica Gewurz

Environmental concerns have come to the forefront in recent decades. For many artists, art is a way of conveying the importance of these concerns. Local artist Monica Gewurz, whose works take inspiration from nature and the fragility of it, believes that art “can and must play an important role in conveying the environmental action narrative.” 


But final works aren’t the only way to incorporate environmental thinking into artistic practice. Focusing on our impact while creating can be equally important. 


In painting, the waste water or solvents we discard at the end of a creative session can have more lasting impacts than we may realize. Paint particles can clog our drains and pollute our waterways, often breaking down to become microplastics. Many solvents are toxic and can build up in our environment. But luckily, there are some easy ways to soften our impact on the beautiful world we draw our inspiration from. 


One of the easiest ways to keep paint out of the drain is to let your waste water or solvent sit for a few days and allow the pigments to settle. Once they’ve fallen to the bottom of your jar or bucket, pour the remaining liquid out into a fresh one. You can now remove the pigment with a paper towel and safely dispose of it in your household garbage. Not only are you giving yourself the opportunity to reuse your water or solvent, you’re giving yourself permission to procrastinate on the clean-up.


Some acrylic artists go further with this technique and recommend letting the water fully evaporate before scraping the dried paint off the bottom to reuse. You can attach it to your canvas to create texture or turn to a different medium altogether and incorporate the pieces into a sculpture. 


Another easy tip to keep in mind is to make sure you’re wiping off your brushes or tools as much as possible before heading over to the sink to wash up. And while we’re talking about wiping, forget the paper towels and try opting for old or discarded clothing to make paint rags instead. Those lonely, single socks at the back of your drawer will work great. 







By Jana Rolland