Australian artist and surfer Scott Denholm is passionate about using reclaimed materials like old surfboards and canvases, as painting surfaces for his ocean themed art. He also goes to great lengths in his efforts to work with environmentally friendly materials in all aspects of his creative work process.
As far as he is aware, Denholm is the world’s only artist creating surf scenes using these materials. “Unlike traditional oil painting studios, I use no toxic solvents, heavy metals or bleach. All wood used in brushes and canvas stretchers are FSC certified, everything else is recycled, a byproduct or cruelty free.”
Denholm started painting when he was 10 years old (1993) when he lived in the Australian outback. There, members of the local CSA (Country Women’s Association) taught him the fundamentals of how to paint landscapes in the typical traditional manner. It was when he moved to Caloundra, on the beautiful Australian Sunshine Coast in 1996, that he took up surfing and started to focus on painting surf scenes.” He says, “I began what is now a deep respect and love for the ocean.”
While he was working at Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo in his 20’s Denholm developed an awareness about environmental and conservation issues threatening our planet. After witnessing the damaging of the ocean waters by plastic pollution and acidification, it dawned on him that even the boards he used while surfing, and materials employed while painting, contributed to toxicity in and destruction of the environment. He then decided to change his ways and inspire other artists and surfers to be more responsible about the products they use in making art.
He notes that “within the surfing business, crude oil-byproducts make up most of the surfing equipment people used—surfboards, wetsuits, rash vests, board wax, sunscreen… In addition, the art industry’s production of and use of cotton canvas, toxic solvents, and unsustainably sourced timber wreak havoc on the environment.”
When he’s not painting or surfing you can find Denholm rummaging through thrift shops, called Op Shops in Australia, and tips (rubbish dump landfills) to find old surfboards and canvases. Albeit the old canvases are not usually of high quality so he does experimental work on them. This saves these materials from going into the landfill and adding more pollution to the environment.
Currently, Denholm is writing an eBook as a guide for artists who want to make the transition to becoming environmentally friendly creators. It took him two years of research, sourcing and testing different products to put a list together.
Denholm is a member of the Ocean Artists Society that was founded by the well-known environmental artist Wyland. As Denholm explains “the organization uses ocean art to inspire people around the world to a greater awareness of our need to preserve our natural world.”
It is Denholm’s desire to inspire a shift in thinking among surfers and artists to pursue their passion with an eco-friendly outlook. He is striving to educate anyone stoked on his surf art and surfing to think about the environmental issues facing our oceans, beaches and surf breaks. In addition, he hopes also to inspire major surf manufacturers to move away from using toxic materials in constructing their boards.
Scott Denholm’ is also a digital media consultant. His website provides those services in addition to displaying a portfolio of his artwork. Visit: www.scottdenholm.com