Hey everybody! This is Will Eskridge, animal/artist (not necessarily in that order)
You might know me from #willpaintslive on Facebook. I do live painting sessions every week on there and you can tune in to watch me paint. We usually have a good time cracking jokes, discussing facts about the animal that I’m painting, and things of that nature.
I’d like to start stepping out of the studio environment for a moment to riff on things that matter to me outside of art and why I do what I do in my art.
So today I want to talk about utility poles and trees.
Epiphany in Estero
Basically I just had a thought last year. I was showing at an art market back in 2016 down to Florida to Coconut Grove I think is what they called it or coconut point down near Estero. I had just arrived into town and taking a break at the hotel. I’d already set up my tent and all that stuff and It was like a nine-hour drive and so I just want to take a break. I was laying out there in the courtyard area, looking up at the palm trees. The trees are super tall and I saw a utility pole stuck in the ground in the middle of all these beautiful palm trees and honestly something just went off in my head. Why do we have utility poles? And I don’t mean why as in, why do we need power.
Living in the modern world we use power that require resources (to be discussed at a later time) to live a modern life so I don’t mean like that, but I mean: Why can’t we use existing trees as utility poles?
We cut trees down from one location and then put them back up in another location. It reminds of a meme I saw a while back. It said something to the effect “That moment when you realize you cut down a bird’s house to build a birdhouse” I always like that one and it can be a conundrum and I proposed these questions not as a perfectionist or as a misanthrope even. Nobody’s perfect, but I hope we are striving to be more in harmony and unity with other animals and this one world that we have without completely decimating our natural resources. I am sure there is some reason and I would love to hear it.
But you create paintings which uses resources…
Look, I get it. I’m an artist and I use supplies. I make things that use resources from other places. I’ve tried to do my best. I try to be extremely aware of the materials that I’m using and choose materials that are the least harmful in manufacturing and producing in regards to the environment. I use hemp canvas when I can get it over cotton canvas. You can yield much more material from hemp than cotton with the same amount of resources used (land, water, etc.) when growing. Hemp is much more sustainable and easier on the environment.
When building my stretchers for my canvas and wood panels, I use FSC certified wood. The FSC or Forest Stewardship Council is a non-profit organization who’s mission is to “promote environmentally sound, socially beneficial and economically prosperous management of the world’s forests. Our vision is that we can meet our current needs for forest products without compromising the health of the world’s forests for future generations.”
In short, they basically make sure that companies don’t just come in and mow down or level a forest without replenishing. It’s the best we can do at this point, you know, shy of not being born. Because we (humans) are here too. The question is how can we live comfortable lives in the modern world while taking care of our earth?
The Proof is in the Paint
Most of you know that I primarily use oil paints. Years ago I stop using mineral spirits and those types of solvents. I moved to water mixable oil paint. It’s pretty amazing. A couple of artist’s paint companies have figured out the chemistry to make oil paint that was you can use water as a medium and as a have the cleaning solution. By using this type of paint, I have been trying to do my part. If we’re all aware and continue doing things along these lines, we can make the world a much better place for us now and for the future. Everything ebbs and flows. Things are removed and reborn. We’ll discuss this and go into depth about it more and more as these sessions go on.
That’s my thought for this week. Think about it.
oil on canvas board