Let’s Talk Toxic Paint

This week’s initiative turns existing pollution from acid mine drainage into pigment for oil paints. It’s led by artist John Sabraw, and Ohio University Civil Engineering Professor Dr. Guy Riefler. Sabraw recounts, “As we toured southeastern Ohio, I was struck by local streams that are not only devoid of aquatic life, but are orange, red and brown, as if from a mudslide upstream…The colors were mainly from iron oxide—the same raw material used to make many paint colors…I thought it would be fantastic to use this toxic flow to make paintings.” In 2018, John started a Kickstarter that has accrued 488 backers that have pledged over $33k, which surpassed his goal of $30k. In 2019, True Pigments, LLC, a social enterprise of Rural Action, was born. The enterprise bought the largest acid mine drainage seep in Ohio and opened a full-scale production facility that extracts iron oxide from the rivers. Eventually, Gamblin Artist Colors came on board to help produce a limited run of the paints called Reclaimed Earth Colors. As
of June 2021, Gamblin says that the paints are still in production and the collaboration will continue. To get the paints, visit Gamblin’s online store or other retailers. 20% of sales go right back to the cause.