Major life event

You guys!

This year I opened my very first art exhibition. It was a given to be centered around the subject of sustainability and the beauty of the living world. The name of the exhibit came from one of the poems in the artworks: “See seeds grow”.

The beautiful gallery that kindly offered to host the exhibition is way out on the Swedish country side  – which also happens to be right where I like it (as not all art, innovation and development should take place in the cities). I want to be a part of the ruralization movement and make sure all places on Earth are equally valued again.

That is why I am so excited to show my work at this “rural collective” co-working space for a coupple of weeks this summer. Welcome to Glesbygdskollektivet!

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I wanted to share with you the most important aspects of this exhibit because there is more to it than what the eye can see:

1. Eatable paint

This show is ALL about painting colours and how we can start rethinking about our working tools as artists, but also really of all trades. Where do we put ourselves at risk and what changes can we make to surround ourselfes with more non toxic, healthy, sustainable supplies?

2. Slower pace project

Another super important part of this project has been for me to keep the work slow and meaningful. Not to get caught up in the whirlwind of todays society with high speed and high goals. “Just enough” has been my motto and a pace in which I have time to think and reflect all the way through the process. I think that someones working pace can be different for different people. For me it is a little bit slower than what is considered “normal” for most people I think. It has been such a lovely time to explore what happens when a human gets to work and produce new thoughts and experiment at a slower than normal pace, without thinking about money or a perfect outcome.

3. Community supported 

From the start I knew that I wanted to fund this exhibition with the help of my Swedish community. In the beginning of the project (early spring) I thought making it happen was all about the money. At the same time I was a bit shy to ask for funding without really knowing what the end result of the exhibition would become. I didn’t want to promise too much.

So instead I asked people to help me out with small favors and things as the project went along: “who can help me find sustainable artist paper to paint on? Who can help me with transportation today? Who has some left-over picture frames laying around?” What this method resulted in was many, many small efforts from people around me that all in all has helped me to put together an entire exhibition almost entirerly without any money involved at all!

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The Unnecessary Future Project

Hi guys,

In a theoretical scenario, that I sometimes play out in my head, I have this really cool conversation with future young people. I will be an old lady by then and I am staying around to answer their seriously awesome questions that I’m sure they will have for me. The questions are actually for all of us that lived during the big shift in the world that was the era of transformation for the climate.

“Lady, what did YOU do, to make a change while it was still possible, and so very obvious what was about to happen to the planet?” , they will probably ask of me. For your knowledge, the conversation with the kids is happening AFTER the big collapse, in post apocalyptic times if you will, caused by the global climate weirding and followed by the great wars about what should be shared resources, like clean water. There will have been movements of entire populations of countries…

And this is the answer I am preparing for them. I truly hope it is an unnecessary project. I just keep making these short films from my life during the transition to a more sustainable future, in the hopes that more of us will join in a simpler lifestyle that eventually might render this whole theoretical conversation in my mind completely obsolete:

I PICKED my bilberries instead of working to BUY them

 

I slowed my life right down as an act of rebellion

 

I went looking for wildlife in the mountains, making sure it hadn’t gone extinct yet

 

We didn’t spend our ONLY lifetime on a day job, but in a cottage, making cheap breakfast for hours by the fire

 

We decided to go enjoy life and breath ocean air while it’s still unpolluted

 

We took time to hang out in the (still thriving, but biodiversily struggeling) forests

 

“I wanted to film and capture my everyday life the way I conciusly chose to live it in 2016-2018, while the world and civilisation carried on with its destructive habits. This was my contibution to the lifestyle changes necessary to slow down our consumption and exhaustion of global resources in the early 2010s.”

 

A letter to Earth

Dear Earth,

I know I have been a bit of a slow starter when it comes to understanding these things. It took me just about thirty years to grasp fully how truly magical the notion of life is, and how marvelous it is that it works in my favor almost every day.

So I want to thank you, Earth, for providing me with all of the ecosystems a human could possibly ever need to be able to thrive and live in abundance on this forest garden planet. It is truly an honor that I get to take part in this particular journey every day for my whole life.

Now that I do get it, I feel so very ready to honor it by living life to its fullest. To appreciate my body and practice self love, maybe to help others appreciate their experiences on Earth, and maybe to help explain in all ways that I can why this insight is so important, and why it is so important for all of us to honor life itself more.

We have gone a bit too far in our way of overusing natural resources. And we have done so to such extent that we don’t even seem to care what is left behind anymore. It is so sad to see that what we lose isn’t only biodiversity, good air quality, healthy food, chances for finding new medications and resilient global water systems. It seems we are leaving our own humanity behind, and with it our grasp of that what is unique is also what is important. We are losing our self respect, self love and love for our own mother. We ARE Earth, goddamnit..

So, I hereby declare to live life fully and to practice being my own unique self every day. To really honor the fact that I exist here on Earth in this lifetime out of all lifetimes in all of eternity. I am so very ready to appreciate that I live in abundance and to share the abundance. There is enough for everybody, without over usage of anything.

Thank you, Earth, for still providing me with fresh breathable air. For breathing is what’s moving us forward and what’s keeping us alive. Just imagine what would happen if we couldn’t breath anymore. That might be where we are going if we don’t change things from here.

This feeling of breathing through life inspires me to think: how can I use the knowing that breath moves us forward? Maybe I can take the fact into my life as a principle for living and a reminder to live fully. Where do I need to go next to take another revitalizing breath in life?

And where do we as a civilization need to go to take OUR next revitalizing breath, as a way for us to find ways to feel alive, without doing any harm?

Always a part of you,

Sincerely
Tove

 

Sustainable art supplies

I have always loved painting and drawing. From the age of six my friends and I used to dream up and manifest whole little worlds together on shared pieces of paper.

Throughout school I always found that art class was my favorite. Even though I wasn’t always the best at it, it just felt so good to be able to create something with my hands in an instant.

As I grew older and changed schools a couple of times the drawing games from childhood stuck with me. Eventually I became better at it, and even gained my classmates admiration sometimes. But still I didn’t have the courage to explore my craft further when it came to choosing an occupation as an adult. I majored in communications science and became a sustainable packaging designer. Until two years ago.

These past years, as I have begun to shift toward a more sustainable lifestyle in many ways, the subject of creating a good work life situation for myself came on the agenda. And this time I had the courage to listen to my intuition. Was I really doing what is most meaningful to me, using my potential? And most importantly was my work situation suiting my life in a more cosmic sense? As my journey toward a more sustainable life began, so did my search for sustainable art supplies.

“The meaning of life is to find your gift, the purpose of life is to give it away.”
– Pablo Picasso

Paints and colors

The first thing I did when transitioning from amateur painter to sustainability explorer was to question my art supplies. In the acrylic colors I had been using there was sure to be some plastics and chemicals. I have no idea how they are produced, or where, or by who. And without much hope to find out easily I decided to make my own artist paints out of food scraps instead. What a win-win I thought, to both reduce food waste and produce my own supplies.

Food waste I have tried to use for paint:

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Spinach
  • Strawberry juice
  • Blueberry juice
  • Black bean water
  • Black currant juice
  • Beetroot decoction

I am not counting on any of these food colours to last more then a few years as they will start to bio degrade. To me that’s the whole point and an important part of the project. To question how important it really is for me as a human to leave long term marks on this planet. However, if the great artists through out history would have thought like this in their work we would perhaps not have as many important pieces of art preserved from history. There is a balance to everything.

 

 

Paper and canvases

The next thing I was curious about was the sustainability of the paper or canvases I was using. For starters most paper comes from renewable resources, trees and such, but as with anything new you can count on a lot of energy going into the paper making process. And why chop down even more trees to create my art?

Being who I am means I somehow didn’t even consider ordering something organic from overseas or anything like that. I wanted to learn how to make my own paper myself. Mainly to find out what ingredients my supplies need to contain and also to find out if there are ways to make use of “waste materials” just like with the painting colors.

 

The comments I received during this process were usually something like “Oh, you are making paper, just like they do in kindergarten?”. My reply being “Yes, just like kindergarten or like they do in the paper mills”.

My paper is still not very easy to paint or write on, but I’m learning the craft as I go. If you have any tips for making good quality sustainable paper at home please write me a comment down below!

I still haven’t tried making my own canvas yet, but am looking forward to trying it out with some old fabrics or cardboard sheets. Also, just painting onto old book pages would be really cool to try!

 

Brushes and sponges

My next endeavour will be to try and figure out how to make pencils, brushes, sponges and ink. These are the first trials, but I’m looking into making ink with blueberries and maybe make my own brush set with some sort of fur or hair. I don’t know, tip me off in the comments down below if you have any clever ideas lined up for me to try!

More techniques

I have also tested etching on wood, making collages with pictures from reused magazines, making my own glue with flour and water, making stamps of old wine corks and erasers, making bracelets of second hand beads, and a whole bunch of other stuff all with the aim of being completely climate neutral and sometimes even climate positive.

Fun facts about sustainability in art supplies:

  1. Glitter is micro plastics instantly ready to mess with the ecosystems. Please, make sure to use the bio degradable kinds of glitter for your crafts.
  2. Many traditional techniques and hand crafts are using locally sourced and natural materials such as leather, wool, plant dyeing and so on, which is very inspiring to me.
  3. Land art is an art form in which artists venture out in nature and using nature itself to create art on location. Such a beautiful idea.

 

As you probably could tell I am not fully educated in this area yet, and it is a definitively a work in progress for me to figure out more about sustainability as an artist. I am still adding new materials and ideas to my art supply set and can’t wait to see what cool things can be created when I have gathered all the practical tools and skills an artist needs.

Please let me know if you have any further tips or thoughts about sustainable art supplies. It would be great to to hear about it and maybe explore further together!