Art Supply Swap Meet & Hazardous Art Supply Drop Off

As part of the Healthy Art Program I am putting on an Art Supply Swap Meet and Hazardous Art Supply Drop Off.

Who: Everyone is invited to sell, shop, barter or drop off hazardous art supplies.

What:  To sell or trade – Paint, paper, studio furniture, frames, tools, fabric, craft supplies, equipment, building materials, film, if an artist can use it then it’s fair game.

Hazardous art supplies to drop off include: Paints, solvents, preservatives, markers, glazes, glue, spray cans, lacquer, resin, etc. (no house paint)

Why: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Where: KALEID Gallery – 88 South 4th Street San Jose,

When: Saturday March 31st 1:00pm-6:00pm

Open to the public admission free

It’s time for some Spring cleaning. Clean out your studio and head over to KALEID Gallery for a good old fashioned Art Supply Swap Meet! During this event you can drop off your hazardous and toxic art materials.  These items will be disposed of in an environmentally safe way as part of the Healthy Art Program.

Just $10 a space for anyone wishing to sell, and we accept donations of art supplies if you can’t make it.

Space is limited; sign up by March 28th to participate.
For more information or to participate contact Shannon Amidon at

Info for participants:
Space is limited, sign up by March 28th to participate.
You must provide your own table
You are responsible for all sales
Set up is from 12:00-1:00pm -Break Down 6:00-7:00pm

Payment can be made before the event at KALEID Gallery by stopping in the gallery or calling (408) 947-1785 with your credit card.
All fees must be paid by March 30th.

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Down to Earth Quilt

Down to Earth Quilt

This is my quilt so far.  I have the sections of it pinned to my design wall in my studio. I have done no sewing on it as of yet except for the beige squares.  Any piecing you see was already done and I am using found objects, ie, unfinished patchwork or clothing parts given to me by other people.  Tomorrow I’ll start assembling the sections while using the Kilawatt meter connected to my sewing machine. I call it the “Down to Earth Quilt” because I have to slow down a lot, get grounded and think very carefully about every step I take in the creative process and where each piece of fabric comes from and how much energy is used. The finished piece will measure about eight feet wide by twelve feet high.  It’ll be exciting to see it hanging in the window at San Jose City Hall.

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Eco Friendly Paint Making Demo

In conjunction with Kaleid Gallery’s Two Buck Tuesday Event,  and the Healthy Art Program I will demonstrate how to make non toxic, eco friendly oil and egg tempera paint.

Join me:
Tuesday February 21st
7pm – 9pm
Kaleid Gallery
88 S 4th Street
San Jose, CA 95112

Why go to the trouble of making your own paint?
(1) You can make pure paints free of toxic fillers and additives
(2) The colors are likely to be stronger and more brilliant
(3) You can customize the paint to suit your needs
(4) It can save money
(5) You can make colors that are not available from artist’s paint manufacturers
(6) It puts you in touch with your artist heritage
(8) By making paint you learn to understand more about paint and can get more out of it
(9) Natural paints are derived from organic materials and contain no synthetic
ingredients. Due to their organic nature they are compostable and some are
(10) Natural paints also contain low or no VOCs so they are healthier.

Recipe and resource lists will be available to take home.

Two Buck Tuesday is a monthly event hosted by Kaleid Gallery. Come enjoy an inspired evening of art demos, performances, live painting, scrumptious tastings, $2 art & quirky people get together!

It’s free and open to all ages!

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Eco Art?

The past few weeks I have been working on my pieces for the Healthy Art Program: An Energy Smart Exhibition. Admittedly it’s been more difficult than I anticipated. I was struggling with the content/subject. Most of my artwork is already directly inspired and influenced by nature and natural history. So why would I do anything different? I know whatever my subject is that it will relate to the environment. Does this make my work Eco art? Is this the point of this project?

From the Greenmuseum’s website, a definition of Eco Art
In a general sense, [Eco-art] is art that helps improve our relationship with the natural world. There is no definition set in stone. This living worldwide movement is growing and changing as you read this. Much environmental art is ephemeral, designed for a particular place (site-specific) and involves collaborations between artists and others such as scientists, educators and community groups.

See “A Brief Introduction” by Clive Adams of the Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World.

Some environmental art:

  • Interprets nature, creating artworks that inform us about nature and its processes, or about environmental problems we face
  • Is concerned with environmental forces and materials, creating artworks affected or powered by wind, water, lightning, even earthquakes
  • Re-envisions our relationship to nature, proposing through their work new ways for us to co-exist with our environment
  • Reclaims and remediates damaged environments, restoring ecosystems in artistic and often aesthetic ways

The more I thought about it the clearer it became that for me this should be about the materials and process. My art subject already speaks to some of the above statements and for me, this project isn’t necessarily about making eco art. What I want to explore is a more practical approach; like how to use new materials, how to reduce waste. Is this something that is cost effective, easy, and convenient? Materials are expensive already, will using earth friendly products cost more, are they harder to obtain.

So while I am making my artwork I am also doing a lot of research. I think it is worthwhile for artists to use earth friendly materials even if they are not “eco artists.” I have been experimenting with making my own paints, oil and tempera, as well as finding non toxic solvents, earth friendly paper and other goods. I have also been measuring my energy use. Although I am not quite sure aside from the basics (CFL or led lights, etc) of how to change that.

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Project is under way!

I began painting the base images for my project this week. Using the paints that the Art Inspector gave me, this was a challenge. I’m not used to painting in the first place, I typically do collage, and these paints needed to be mixed with a solution to become usable. The colors are limited, and are very muted. I’m used to working with bright colors! Painting on wood is also a new thing for me. But, in the end, it’s been a fun challenge and I think now that I have gotten used to the paints, I will enjoy the rest of the process. I have some ideas brewing for the other two panels…one of them will be a collage using words from magazine cut outs, and the other will be a person riding a bike. Remember, these are works in progress and the final images will look very different than these preliminary “under paintings”.  I figured I would = give you a peek inside my process…More to come!

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Inching my way towards my project design

Now that the holidays have come and gone, I finally have the time to focus on my Healthy Art Project. Mulling over the materials I have available, I became frustrated because all the ideas I had were based on using the normal collage materials I an used to. But, I persevered. Let’s being with the surface material. The Art Inspector gave me a large panel of wood made from a renewable forest, so the first thing I did was cut that baby into four manageable squares. Now, I can think in terms of telling a story in four segments, instead of one large one, which feels more manageable to me.
I sanded and primed the wood, and set out to complete some sketches of the ideas I had brewing in my head. At first, I thought I would make four collages depicting a scene when the earth was young, all healthy and green. Then, man comes along and builds factories, clogging up the air. The next scene was to be a barren landscape, devoid of anything living. The final panel was to be a seedling, popping up through the muck..showing that there is still hope. But, as I sketched, my mind went elsewhere, and I ended up with four panels showing alternative energy options, with inspirational words interspersed amongst the images. I felt more inspired by these final sketches, so I will go with it. Next step…transferring the sketches onto the large wooden panels, then I get to start experimenting with the paints and papers given to me by The Art Inspector. Things are finally moving along….the funny thing is, I recently got hired to do some training work with PG&E!!

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New Materials!

The Art Inspector came to my studio recently to give me my new eco-friendly materials! This was a much anticipated day, and for me, the most intriquing part of the process. I was given a set of Grumbacher water soluble oil paints, powder pigments, linseed oil, Biosheild Citrus Thinner, and AFM Safecoat Base paint. For a surface, she provided locally milled wood and canvas.

The wood presented a bit of a challenge, which I adore. The sheet of plywood was far too heavy to work on, so I set about making a stretcher for the canvas. The bars were a bit narrow, and thus difficult to get the needed leverage to stretch the canvas, but I prevailed. The canvas was a long, narrow piece, a bit bigger than 2 x 5′. I made a stretched canvas as large as I could.
Gesso was not provided, but by mixing the white powder pigment with the eco-friendly base paint, I was able to make a nice surface on which to work. It didn’t seem to size as nicely as gesso does, nor did it have the same sort of firmness when dried. But, it received my first layer of paint quite nicely! The first coat is a wash, but much of this is left visible in the finished painting, and I was able to get the effects that I normally do using paint thinned with Turpenoid, using the citrus thinner the AI provided. That was a significant step for me towards making friends with these new mediums. The dry time for the water-based oils seemed comparable to my typical oils. I let the first layer sit over night, and went in the next day to add some thicker layers. The water-based paints have slightly different properties and don’t “do” thick quite as effectively as my usual paints.

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Pros, Cons, and Usage of My New Materials

For the Healthy Art Program Eco Exhibit my goal is to use as many of the products as possible that the art inspector gave me.  I will have to use more products than I was given but I am going to try and be as eco and energy conscious as possible when obtaining and using my own products.

Below is a few of the materials I was given, the pros and cons and how I plan on using them. I will list the other materials as I use them.

FSC plywood  – 5 24×24 and 5 12×12 pieces. FSC is The Forest Stewardship Council it is an international not-for-profit, multi-stakeholder organization established in 1993 to promote responsible management of the world’s forests. You can read more about the FSC her

Pros –  Its FSC, the quality seems to be good, no major damage or surface issues.
Cons –  It is very heavy, I think it is because it is plywood. I would like to use another type of FSC wood like a birch panel that is a lot lighter. It’s difficult to transport and hang heavy work.
Use  – I am using the panels as my canvas. I have glued and tacked the small panel to the middle of the large panel. I added hanging hardware to the back of the large panels.

Powered Pigments – 9 – 1 oz bags of Ochres & Oxides pigments in various Mediterranean earth tone colors.

Pros – Natural or inorganic pigment of natural origin
No heavy metals or toxic materials either in the end result or through
Good saturated colors
Mixes well with oil
Cons – None that I have found so far with the actual product.
Use – I am using the pigments in two ways. First to tint my encaustic wax, this way is pretty strait forward mixing the dry pigment directly in the hot clear wax.

The other way I am using it is as an oil paint to paint over my cooled wax. The art inspector took away all of my oil paints. I wasn’t given anything else to really replace them so I had to do some research on alternatives. I found that there are oil paints that are made using walnut oil without toxic solvents.  Another option is to create my own oil paints. This option really appealed to me. I was able to find instructions and recipes online. I had to get a mortar and pestle, and some kind of oil to mix.  After some more research I found that linseed and walnut oil are both non toxic. I have tried the linseed oil and am waiting for it to dry to properly asses the outcome, the walnut oil is ordered and on its way.  I will post a comparison as soon as I receive and use the walnut oil.

Eco-Bond Heavy Duty Adhesive – 1 large tube of adhesive

Pros – Bonds quickly
Can be used to create texture (see picture)
Has the lowest VOC’s on the market, is non-toxic, meets or exceeds all
California Proposition 65  standards (strictest governmental environmental
standards to date), contains no carcinogens, is not petroleum based, and has
low odor.
Cons – It’s a very large tube and you need a caulking gun to be able to use it.
There is no cap or anything to cover the opening cut or prevent it from
drying out.
Use – I used this to adhere the small and large boards. It dried quickly and has a very strong adhesion. One thing I would refer is a smaller tube/bottle. This product is mainly used in construction and other large projects, not really for everyday use and it definitely would not work on smaller more delicate items. I would like to find a consumer household brand of adhesive that I can use for smaller projects.

I have a few other supplies and I will write about as I use them.

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Getting Started on My Healthy Art Quilt

The Art Inspector gave me this Killawatt meter.

With this meter, I can measure the amount of energy used in constructing the “Healthy Art Quilt” I’m making for the Art Inspector.  The Quilt will be shown with the work of four other artists at San Jose City Hall for several months beginning early in 2012.

Fabric Made in USA given me by the Art Inspector

The original idea was for me to make an art quilt all from materials made in the US.  This turned out to be a very tall order! The Art Inspector did find one website that sells all American made fabric! In the picture above you can see the three colors provided.

Batting Made in the USA

Here you can see the American made batting provided by the Art Inspector.  I’ll be working with it carefully while quilting the three layers of my quilt together.  The batting I’m used to comes in easy to handle sheets, while this beautiful and soft material is very fragile and falls apart making the process challenging. I’m looking forward to reporting how this goes!

Fabmo Fabric--Designer Samples rescued from the Landfill

Very little of this fabric is made in the US, but I decided to use some of it in my quilt anyway, since it is already here; it’s beautiful and using it responsibly makes sense. If you’re interested in this concept, go to

"Work in Progress" --This is the very beginning of my quilt.

The very top of the piece is made from fabric printed here in the US on cotton from another country.  I had it printed from some of my own images uploaded to The beige squares in the bottom section of the piece were all made in America and given to me by the Art Inspector. I must confess that I was so excited to get started on my piece that I forgot to use the Kilowatt meter! I promise to integrate measuring energy while working on the rest of the process.


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New art materials

The Art Inspector came to my studio a few days ago and gave me some new materials and took away a lot of my current ones.
I was given Red River GreenPix Photo Matte paper, FSC wood panels, raw pigments, eco glue and sealer. I will be receiving bees wax and watercolor paper soon. She took away quite a few materials including my sealer, oil paint, adhesives, and paint thinner.
One thing we talked about that really peaked my interest was about the amount of waste that is created from art making and how that impacts the environment. I am a materials based artist, my materials and processes are very important part of art making for me. Although I try and reuse and recycle a lot of objects for my art, at times I have a lot of left over materials/garbage. I am really interested in creating without wasting.
An example of a process that creates a lot of waste is my photographic encaustic work. I use a large amount of paper towels, rubber gloves and electricity. Digging down even deeper I have a lot of my materials shipped to me. The boxes and packaging that they come in are waste. If I print my own photos there are the paper trimmings, empty ink cartridges and the packaging they come in.
It’s all very interesting to me and something I really want to explore further. I am an artist whose primary inspiration and subject matter is nature. It bothers me that I have not really thought about how my art making process impacts the environment.

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