Many art materials are made with animal products: you have squirrel hair being used for paintbrushes, and some art papers are coated with gelatin. Many watercolour paints use ox blood and other animal ingredients in some of the colours, and you can even find some children’s crayons made with pork. If you like to get creative, here are some sustainable and vegan-friendly alternatives.
Watercolor Life is a gorgeous book by London artist Emma Block, showing the simplicity of watercolours – a basic palette of paints, a few brushes and nice thick paper. This book has 40 lessons to help you explore techniques, build creative confidence and discover a unique style of painting. Learn how to paint people, plants and animals and create washes. Includes colour theory 101 to create your own art, and a techniques glossary.
Eco Watercolours & Vegan Brushes
Dana’s Wonder Forest Watercolour Brush Set. Designed to last years (so worth the ship from Canada), these brushes have quality synthetic tips pointed to razor precision for the finest detail. Sold in a set of 6 with premium slim comfortable wooden handles, Dana also sells a Wash Brush. The plastic cover can be recycled in supermarket bins.
Kaia Natural Watercolor Paints are what every earth-conscious artist has been looking for: a palette of beautiful watercolours that are kind to the earth and animals. Made with love in The Netherlands, these superior quality paints contain 85% to 90% pigment (compared to 10% to 40% pigments for conventional paints). So you need less to use more colour, so they don’t work out any more expensive. Most watercolours contain chemicals and some even contain carmine (from beetles), honey, animal glycerine and ox gall (from cow’s liver).
Packed in sturdy cardboard boxes, the main box has 10 cups. All colours are transparent, bar Ochre Yellow and Rust Red (semi-transparent). The paints are made from earth pigments (crushed rock) or white clay (with vegetable dyes). This means they also don’t contain plastic microbeads that end up in our waterways. Kara suggests using these paints with 300gram plus of watercolour paper. Find sustainable brands at Strathmore or Fabriano Artistico (recycled paper) or Hemp watercolour paper.
Learn to Paint Watercolour Books
Birds, Bees & Blossom is a guide to botanical and animal watercolour painting. Botanical artist Harriet shows how to paint modern watercolour arts to treasure and share. With easy instructions for various levels, the book offers 30 projects to paint beautiful butterflies, bumblebees, birds and botanicals from around the world. In the final chapter, you’ll find a guide to composing stunning patterns and scenes with your own botanical watercolour creations. Use your new skills to make art for your wall, unique cards, invites or just paint for pleasure. Projects include:
- Bengal Tiger
- Chilean Flamingo
- Prickly Pear
- Garden Tiger Moth
- White-Tailed Deer
- Polar Bear
- Arctic Poppy
Watercolor for Relaxation offers 25 beginner-friendly projects to lclear your mind and let go of stress. Includes peaceful landscapes and tranquill abstract patterns.
Children’s Vegan Sustainable Art Materials
The New Playroom is a beautiful 34-page colour guide by a kindergarten teacher who trained in the Italian method of Reggio Emilia. Learn how to design a creative space, even in a bedroom corner. Design a creative space for your child, so that when it’s chilly or raining or your child just wants some indoor time, he or she can retreat to paint and play, rather than veg out in front of computer games.
Remove small parts/batteries (stores must take all brands back). Supervise younger children and keep art materials away from pets and very young children. Coccoina is a nontoxic glue (avoid tin version, it contains boar bristles). All glue is toxic to pets.
- Natural Pavement Chalk is a Germany brand of chunky chalk to use on blackboards. Almost dust-free, it’s nontoxic and vegan and washable, in 7 colours. Age 3 plus.
- Natural Earth Paint offers powder paints made from earth, minerals and plants, ideal to paint with fingers. Mix with water to make a creamy tempera like paint, add more paint to make watercolours.