Someone suggested I could write about how I choose my colors.
I thought about it a bit, because how I choose my colors is not some kind of romantic story where I sit in my studio making color theory based beautiful palettes.
It’s a lot less romantic actually. I gave myself quite some restrictions when it comes to choosing colors.
The way I choose my colors is intertwined with how I live my life. So to me it seems logical that I explain both.
A little while back someone said (or maybe I read it, I don’t recall) “Being vegan is hip, everybody seems to be into a vegan lifestyle nowadays”. The judgemental tone made my blood boil. What was this person trying to say? Was this person judging vegans, or judging hip people trying to better their lives? Who cares if it’s hip? I hope that a few of those hip people stay vegan if the hip wears off.
More of these things should be hip, like equality, reducing waste, buying clothes that are not made by children, cruelty free art supplies, etcetera.
I see that more and more people are converting to a cruelty free lifestyle. I don’t mind what their reasons are, I’m happy with the change.
Big companies see it too. Put a vegan label on products that were vegan to begin with, and raise the prices of these products.
Vegan sells, because people are learning about all the cruelty against animals.
Minks are animals you know
In the art community I see a growing awareness as well. People start to realize that minks and sables are animals, and that there are quite some dead animal parts in their paints and paper.
You don’t have to google very long to find out about the cruelty that goes hand in hand with your beautiful sable, squirrel, or whatever cute fluffy animal, brush.
Bloggers in the art community are finding out about this and write articles about how appalled they are by these affairs.
Anyway, I was going somewhere with this.
Yes, I was going to write about how I choose my colors.
I also, at one point, found out that a mink is an animal and that a squirrel brush meant there were actually hairs of a squirrel in my brush. As a long time vegetarian (vegan by now) I was amazed by my own ignorance.
Now, swapping my brushes for animal friendly variants was not a problem at all. I already had a selection of great synthetic brushes.
But my watercolors, ohh my wonderful watercolors. Not to mention my beloved black Indian ink.
I started to investigate these products and stumbled upon more animal cruelty.
I’m not writing this piece to tell you what is in your paint or ink. I think a lot of us already know.
I’m writing this because I want to share with you how difficult it was to find good animal friendly paint that didn’t contain ox gall, charred bones or other parts of dead animals.
Some companies are “not sure” what’s in their products
The thing is, a lot of brands are not really open about what is in their supplies. Sometimes they can’t even tell you what the ingredients are. Or they are “not sure”.
In my Instagram stories a little while back I wrote about a company that couldn’t or wouldn’t tell me if the watercolor paper they’re selling is coated with gelatin.
I sent them an email with the simple question “Is your paper sized with gelatin, or does it contain other animal products?”. Their answer: ”The paper is made from old clothes, and we don’t know what’s in the clothes”. I know the paper is made from old clothes, I love that! That’s the reason I want this paper so badly.
I can imagine that you don’t know what’s in those clothes, but you should be able to tell me if the paper is sized with gelatin.
So I asked again. I never heard back from them.
Luckily I found another mill that makes animal friendly paper!!
We were talking about paint …
At a certain point I was starting to think about making my own paint. How hard could it actually be? You only need pigments and a binder, right?
If I made it myself, I would exactly know what is in my paint.
While researching how to make paint, I also found out that a lot of watercolors we buy in art stores contain fillers, brighteners, plasticizers / dispersants and only a small bit of pigment.
So making my own paint would be a win / win / win / win / win situation;
– no dead animals
– no cruelty
– lots of pigment
– cheaper in the long run
– and most of all fun
When ordering my first pigments I stumbled upon the next problem; the toxicity of a lot of pigments.
You know the little red, white, black symbol with the dead fish and dead tree on it? The environmental hazard sign?
What good would I do if I made paint that could harm animals in another way??
It didn’t take me long to decide I didn’t want to buy pigments with the little dead fish symbol.
That’s the reason why , for example, you will never find cobalt, cadmium or manganese colors in my collection of watercolors.
I also like things simple and pure. That’s why I prefer single pigments to mixed pigments.
I like to mix pigments myself. Playing, experimenting and finding new colors, like my Eye of Elin.
From the few colors that are left, I pick the ones that speak to me the most. I can’t really explain how that works. You just fall in love or you don’t.
So there you have it.
That’s how I pick my colors.