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How to Reduce Waste while Making Art with Elaine Wendt

Jon BarlowComment
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How to Reduce Waste while Making Art with Elaine Wendt

Are you an artist or someone who loves creating but has put it on the back burner in lieu of living with less waste? We have been working with Elaine to redesign the walls here at Refill and one of our top reasons we love her is how open about her low waste art making she is. We sat down and dived a little deeper into her process and hope you all feel inspired to get out there and start creating with what you can find. 

Elaine loves to pull from things that already exist in the world. She will often explore what the local thrift stores have, it could be plain canvases or canvases that already have been painted on. When she begins to start creating on what she has found she may use the current art with her new piece, other times she will completely paint over it. 

 Different items Elaine has collected while traveling.

Different items Elaine has collected while traveling.

Approaching art in this way is an art in itself. The hunt is part of the process and working with what you already have. Elaine uses this also as a mental exercise and looking at our waste and reevaluating how it can be given new life. When she isn’t using canvas she approaches her creative process in an exploratory way. 

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Elaine’s favorite ways to use “waste” 

1. I use junk mail for various different things: colleagues, using as a tarp to avoid paint drippings but my favorite is finding ways to use it in my art. 

2. I always save my water if I know I will be painting again the next day or within the next couple days. I’ve been using the same mason jar for my water for ten years!

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3. I use supplies forever. For example: old paintbrushes, sponges and toothbrushes I can no longer paint with or use, I can use it to give my art texture. 

 Elaine still uses her great-grandmother’s oil pastels from the 1950s.

Elaine still uses her great-grandmother’s oil pastels from the 1950s.

4. Receipt papers I have laying around I add to my paintings in some way, like giving my work a 3D element. 

 This is a canvas Elaine bought secondhand before she painted it.

This is a canvas Elaine bought secondhand before she painted it.

 This is the piece after Elaine painted it.

This is the piece after Elaine painted it.

When items do need to be disposed of or new items purchased, sustainability is always at the forefront. Elaine uses Boulder’s local hazardous waste facility to dispose and always chooses eco-friendly paint.

“In general, it's pretty hard to produce even minimal waste as an artist, but it's a really great step to start considering the impact of your materials. Buying secondhand and reusing weird and old and funny things is a great way to reduce the impact and save money along the way!”

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Follow along with Elaine on instagram here: @agathisms

Find her Etsy shop here: Etsy.com/shop/agathisms