You are finally ready to take a little break from painting, what do you do with your extra paints, how can you store them for later? Here are some tips to keep your paints lasting as long as possible.
Storing in a jar
If you have used some paints from your paint jar and are planning on storing it for some time you may want to take these extra steps to ensure that your paint is usable when you come back to them:
- Before applying the lid to the jar, wipe the thread on both the lid and the jar so that acrylics will not build up and potentially seal the jar accidentally.
- With the lid secured to the jar, tap the jar on your table surface. This will level the paints so that there will be a smooth surface without deep crevices from use. This will reduce the surface area of the paint to the air in the headroom of the jar which will decrease the chance that your paint will dry out.
- If storing paints for a long time, after tapping the jar, try adding a layer of saran-wrap directly to the smooth surface of the paint. Again this will decrease exposure of the acrylics to the air in the headroom of the jar and increase the lifespan of your acrylics.
- If you are using thick texture gels, or gels with large particle sizes like a nepheline gel, you will definitely want to ensure you use these two tips before storing your paints for a length of time. The large particle sizes of these gritty texture gels expose a much larger amount of surface area to the air in the headroom of the jar.
Storing in a tube
Tube acrylics will already have some built in safety measure to prevent headroom space from developing and to reduce exposure of the acrylics to air. This is because tubes are self-collapsible, and there is only one entrance point for air to be exposed to your acrylic paints - the small opening that dispenses the paint. This small opening is where some measures can be taken to improve the shelf life:
- Before applying the cap to the tube, wipe the thread on both the cape and the tube so that acrylics will not build up and potentially seal the tube accidentally.
- Tri-Art tube products have a convenient flip cap, again ensure that the opening and cap are clean before sealing so that a proper seal can be achieved.
- Use a tube squeezer or a hard object to squeeze the paint from the very back of the tube like you would with toothpaste.
- Apply a layer of saran wrap to the opening of the tube and then seal with a cap if leaving the acrylics for a long period of time. Again this improves the longevity of the tube acrylics by reducing the surface area to the air.
Storing on a palette
You have mixed some beautiful colour on a palette and want to save it for later. Some artists might advise spraying a thin mist of water, or adding a wet cloth inside of a close-able palette, we generally don't recommend this, nor do we recommend palettes that encourage a moist environment. This is because while it will keep the acrylics wet for a long period of time, incorporating too much moisture without the right storage methods could encourage bacteria and mold growth within the paints, and then render them unusable. Here is what we recommend:
- The mixing process will have exposed your acrylics to a significant amount of air, you may want to incorporate a small amount of water into your colour mixture to insure that there has not been too much water-loss before storing.
- Transfer the paint mixture to a seal-able container, and follow our recommendations for storage within a jar. This would work best for long-term storage.
- "Bulk" together your colour mixture as much as possible so that there is not a thin layer exposed anywhere on the palette then apply a thin sheet of saran-wrap to the surface of your colour mixture. This is a better temporary solution if you will be returning to your paints in the next couple of days or so but will likely not last as a long-term storage solution.
You paints have dried or thickened, can you rescue them?
Maybe your paints weren't stored well, maybe they are just old and now your liquid acrylics are thicker than you expected. You can fix this problem, add a little bit of water next time you use them to your paints to re-hydrate them and they should be good to use again. You may want to check on your paints as well if you have not used them for a long period of time, it is very difficult to guarantee how long paints will last as there are so many different factors with regards to paint longevity. If they have dried completely there will be no saving them unfortunately.