Bright-Minded Home April 2016

Q+A with artist Eric Leppanen on another way to recycle paint

Thanks to the new statewide paint-recycling program operated by PaintCare, it’s now easy to recycle unused paint at locations across Maine. There’s also Belfast artist Eric Leppanen, who has pioneered what he calls the “upcycling” of old paint to create his art.

Q. How did you being using reclaimed paint?

A. When I started a business cleaning homes and properties, people would ask how to get rid of paint, and I would gladly respond, “I’ll find a home for it.” That home has become large works of art. I’m an “action painter,” letting the nature of the medium take over to add vitality and a constellation of effects. I appreciate the lucid beauty of nature and how its imagery is created by both precision and serendipity. I try to capture that in my abstract art.

Q. What have been the benefits?

A. I find that old paint has energy, history, and other unique qualities not found in new paint. When I open a can of old paint and free it, I feel it leaping out with gratitude and pent-up purpose. I also appreciate the marbling and cracking effects that old paint, stain, and varnish provide. I’ve never had problems with it drying properly, as some people think might be the case. I use paint lids in my art as well because there is a beauty to the dried paint on the underside that is never seen. We are so quick to throw away paint when there is just a third left in the can; some people even dump full cans that may not be the right color. Through word of mouth, I have all the paint I want, and when I need more, it always seems to magically appear.

Q. What do you want people to take away from your art?

A. I hope my work inspires people— especially children—to see that all materials can be transformed, that everything in life has purpose.