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Hemp has a long history as a versatile material. The hemp plant has been used for thousands of years, for everything and anything from textiles and building materials to food and medicine. However, one of the most interesting and unique uses of hemp is in the creation of paints and art materials!

A Brief History Of Hemp Products in Art

It’s very well-known that hemp was widely used to make paper and canvas before the cotton industry took over. However, a lesser known use of hemp is that it has been used in paints for centuries. In fact, it was one of the most popular choices for artists prior to the widespread adoption of synthetic paints in the 20th century.

There are numerous examples of artists using hemp products in their artwork. One of the most notable is Vincent van Gogh, who is one of the more renowned artists who used hemp paints and hemp canvas in his works.

Looking back at the history of hemp and all its amazing uses, it’s a wonder why we do not see it featuring more in artwork in 2023.

A Modern Look At Hemp Paints

Despite it not being so commonplace in modern times, hemp is still used to create hemp artworks. It is possible to buy hemp canvases and hemp paints in one form or another. Hemp actually features as a binding agent in some oil-based paints.

Including hemp oil produces a finish that is similar to linseed oil, but one of the advantages of using hemp oil in paints is that it dries more quickly than other oils, such as linseed oil. This can be particularly beneficial for artists who want to work quickly or who want to create multiple layers of paint without having to wait for each layer to dry. Hemp oil also has a low level of yellowing over time, which can help to preserve the vibrancy and colour of the paint.

Hemp oil can also be used to create water-miscible oil paints, which are a more environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional oil paints.

Using Hemp As A Paint Filler

Hemp fibre can also be used as a filler in acrylic paints. Adding hemp fibres to paint can introduce texture and body to paint, and reduce the amount of pigment needed in a paint. This can help to reduce the overall cost of creating a painting and also makes for a more sustainable way of creating art too.

A Look to the Future: Hemp Paint Products to Become More Popular in Art Circles

One of the major advantages of using hemp canvasses, paper and paints is that hemp is a renewable crop. Using more hemp products could really help to reduce the environmental impact of the art industry.

Eco-friendliness is becoming more important in our everyday lives. Hemp has a long and fascinating history in the art world. It continues to be used in innovative and sustainable ways in a range of industries. If we just look to our recent past we can find ways to bring hemp back into the art world to make things cheaper, more accessible and more sustainable for everyone.

Luke Hickman is a printmaker and artist with over 15 years of experience. He studied at Norwich University, graduating with a BA (Hons) Fine Art, and has worked in both the commercial printing and digital marketing industries for over 7 years. Luke's work revolves around the idea of creating art that can illustrate a story with topics covering war, politics and history.

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