View Full Version : How to keep Acrylics fresh?

05-03-2002, 11:21 AM
I paint in two different climate zones on the weekends. One studio is in San Francisco and the other is in the high desert in the valley east of Lake Tahoe. One is wet and humid and the desert is so dry your skin crawls.

The paint in San Francisco lasts on the pallet a few hours before drying out, the paint in Tahoe dries in minutes and makes painting acrylic interesting.

I will paint on a moments notice, between skiing, woodworking, or anything so I came up with a system to keep the paint alive. I use dramatic vivid bright colors in my work so dead, drying paint does not work and the cost of wasting paint on a dead pallet, got to be too much!

I found these clear plastic cups 2" dia X 1.25" high that come with a tight lid, they are used in our cafeteria for condiments and they work perfectly!

I fill each with a primary color and its shades, so I have six or seven ready to go. I mix on a pallet or right in the cup and the paints last for weeks.

I think they sell them a smart and final.

A big problem solved!:)

05-04-2002, 06:26 AM
Originally posted by terrygar
The paint in San Francisco lasts on the pallet a few hours before drying out, the paint in Tahoe dries in minutes and makes painting acrylic interesting.
I hear you Terry! I learned to use acrylics in Hong Kong where the humidity in the summer could regularly top 90% and until recently I had forgotten just how long paint stayed open on the palette.

Have you tried staywet palettes? I resisted one for years until I made one of my own a while ago and they really are a huge boon for keeping paint workable when open to the air for long periods. And of course sealed up the paint can keep for ages.


05-06-2002, 06:35 PM
Some good ideas! And a spritz of water combined with a touch of retarder before closing the box gives added protection in even the driest climates.


05-06-2002, 06:51 PM
I tried one of those stay wet pallets. They were really awkward for me to use. I couldn't keep the paper pallet in one place. Because it wasn't secured to anything, it kept bunching up and wrinkling on me. Anyone else find this to be a problem and if so, how did you solve it?

Kevin M
05-07-2002, 03:42 PM
I had much the same problem with paper pallettes - and the type I used would eventually shed paper fibres as well.

My solution was to change to polyester cloth. The weight and weave has to be fine enough so that it is almost waterproof. This lets a certain amount of moisture through from a foam rubber pad but retains the paint on top. The first one I used, I cut from the cover of an old umbrella. I have been using it now for about 10 years.

Re keeping the pallette smooth, I fold the surplus cloth under the pad which hold it in place.

Home (http://homepage.eircom.net/~bot/paint/titanic.htm)

05-31-2003, 11:39 AM
You say your mix on the palette

You didnt say what.?

I am assuming[ which I shouldnt it always bites me] that you are NOT putting the acrylic paint direct into the containers as you used the word MIXING.

So you must be using something to make them stay wetter longer.

What might that be.?

Sound like a great idea.

Thats the main reason why I havent tried acrylics yet. The fact that they dry up so fast. I been playing with WC so far.

Any other tips from you or others on how to keep acrylics from drying so fast and get at least a week to 3 weeks from them on a pallet or in a container Please feel free to add... ;-]

A beginner as you can tell!



05-31-2003, 12:06 PM
I use a clean Cool Whip container for my paints. Works GREAT. In fact, I recently had to wash out the paint that was in there because it was weeks old and was starting to smell - it was still useable, though.

The plastic salad containers from Wendy's work pretty well too, but you have to be careful if working with a knife. :angel:

JJ - don't avoid acrylics just because of their drying time. Now that I've figured out good ways to save paint from one day to the next, I actually appreciate the fast drying - I'm so impatient, when I mess up, I want to fix it right away, and acrylics allow me to do that. :)

05-31-2003, 07:20 PM
How did you make your stay-wet palette? I am using a tupperware flat dish with a disposable sponge, and tape the paper down. It keeps the paint for awhile, but not as long as I would like.

06-01-2003, 03:48 PM
this website is useful, http://painting.about.com/library/blpaint/blacrylicspaletteDIY.htm?terms=Acrylics+Paintings
It gives step-by-step instructions as to how to make your own stay-wet palatte. I've never used a pre-made one, but made my own yesterday, and so far it's working quite well. My paints are staying wet far longer than usual. I used a sheet of watercolour paper with a sheet of baking paper on top. Hope it works well for you.

06-01-2003, 06:58 PM
Thanks - I will check the site.

06-01-2003, 10:16 PM
The condiment cups are a good idea as they would be transparent readily showing the color. In the past I've used 35 mm film cartridges, they are probably more durable but some are opaque, needing an outside color identifier.

I use the 16x20 sealed paper pallets and at the end of the session I spray with water and cover with plastic food wrap. It's messy if you just have little dabs, but on large paintings one pallet for example may be filled with just sky mixtures and saving them for later when nearing the end of the piece they can come in real handy for touch ups, "erasures" and pulling sky colors down into the subject. The pallet, covered and all can be torn off and set aside for later use.


06-02-2003, 12:05 AM
Living in Brisbane, Australia is a big problem when you consider how dry and humid it gets here.. our summers can get up to 40 degrees celcius and even throughout winter it can be quite humid where paint is conserned. I use a small saucer (small plate) for my palette and cover the plate with a few sheets of gladwrap/ clingwrap to try and keep my paint wet. It doesn't keep the paint wet for weeks, though it works for a couple of days.

When I worked with Oils, the paint took 3 to 4 weeks to dry and that was in summer.