A question I often receive is: how do you stop the oil paints (on your palette) from drying out between painting sessions? Knowing how to store oil paints between painting sessions can benefit any level of painter. Especially if you’re in a season, where you’re not able to paint as often.
Now, if you are able to paint consistently. Then, you probably don’t need to worry too much about storing your paints between sessions.
**QUICK TIP if any of your oil paints do get just a little dried out – simply remove the small remnant of dry paint from the portion that is still good.
However, no matter how often you paint. We all experience moments when life gets in the way and we are not able to make use of the fresh paint we squeezed out of our tubes. So, for this reason – it is good to know (a few ways) how to keep your paint from drying out!
Contents of this Article
Place cling wrap over your palette
When looking at the best ways, for how to store oil paint, often times the simpler the better. So, one the quickest and most simple way to keep the paint on your palette from drying out – is to cover it with cling film or seran wrap. This will slow down the oxidation process and keep your paint from drying too quickly. It is best to seal the cling wrap around the palette to keep any air from getting in.
One thing to be aware of is that the paint might stick onto the surface of the cling film when lifting it off. You can use your palette knife to place it back onto your palette.
Apply a drop of oil on your paint
If you wish to take take it a step further, before you wrap your palette in seran wrap, you can also place a drop of linseed oil on each pile of paint. However, be careful to not put too much oil on your paint as it will then become too thin.
If you wish to skip the seran wrap altogether, you can just place a drop of linseed oil on your paint without covering it. This is a good way if you’re looking for how to store oil paint (for a shorter period) super quickly. It will of course help your paint to dry slower if you do both the linseed oil and plastic wrap covering.
How to store oil paint in a jar
Another option to consider, is storing your paint in a small jar or storage containers. This will keep your oil paint fresh for a longer period of time.
This is a great option, if you have to step away for a bit longer period of time. As it could become a little time consuming to transfer your paint in and out of jars on a consistent basis. You will also need to clean your jars from any remnant paint, otherwise it will dry and affect any fresh paint you place in it.
Use a palette garage
Arguably one of the best ways for how to store oil paint for a longer period of time, is to use a palette garage. A palette garage, is a convenient device that will help to keep your paint fresh for weeks. It is a more appealing and functional option compared to storage jars. You place your paint on a tray and then insert it into a sealable plastic tube. However, before sealing your paint in the tube you place a drop of clove oil onto each paint pile.
This device is also a convenient way to transport your paint when plein air painting or traveling.
Consolidate colors at end of session
When it comes to saving not just the colors you squeezed from paint tubes but also the paint you mixed on your palette, it is best to consolidate all the similar colors together. Larger amounts of paint dry much slower than small amounts of paint. So, the more paint you can join together the better.
For example, in the palette above – you could join together all of the greenish and bluish color mixtures together in one pile. In a separate pile you could join all the warm reddish and yellowish color mixtures. This way they will dry out far less quickly and your colors won’t be too muddy to reuse for your next painting session.
What about you?
Do you make an effort to save your paint from drying out? Or do you paint often enough that it doesn’t matter too much? Let me know in the comment section below. If you have any other special tips for how to keep your paint from drying out (on your palette). I would love to hear about your storage methods in the comments below as well!
34 thoughts on “How to (Store Oil Paint on Your Palette) Keep Your Paints from Drying out”
Great article. I find putting the palette in a freezer stops the paint from ‘going off’ for a while. You do have to thaw it out before painting again though
Yes, the freezer method seems very popular. But the drawback would be waiting for it to thaw out
Thanks Elisabeth for the helpful article!
You are very welcome!
Hi Lis i keep mine in the freaser.
I use wax paper, it’s easier to handle. And I tuck it down on each color.
Wax paper – thats a good idea
I use a plastic disposable plates, and cover with water all paint. This way at the day after the paint is fresh.
Thanks for the tip!
Good Morning Elisabeth,
I try to learn how to use acrylic or oil. Sometimes I want the painting to dry quickly to paint over the trees or other details. I also use acrylic to make the canvas background (foggy trees etc.) that dries quickly and I continue with oil afterwards for the beautiful colors of a forest for example. Finally I start with acrylic and if the result does not please me I use oil on acrylic.
I keep the rest of my oils in the little boxes used for the soy sauce that come with sushi meals. They are cheap and they are often offered to me.
Great methods Paul! And nice idea with using the little boxes used for soy sauce. It is good to use the things that are on hand
Nice tips on getting longer life from the paint on the palette! I use a glass palette when painting away from home. I have been covering the left-over paint with waxed paper and painter’s tape to seal out air. BUT I really like your Seran Wrap idea better! It eliminates the tape and that’s a savings right there! Thanks Elizabeth!
I use the “leftovers” during my painting sessions once home. Oil paint is expensive so any stretching of my paint is welcomed!
You are so welcome Sandy! Am glad this was helpful 🙂
I’ll cover my pallet with a cookie sheet and put it in the freezer.
Very interesting! Good way to use a cookie sheet as a cover
Todos tus artículos son muy prof esionales y de mucha utilidad. En lo personal, para evitar que se sequen rapido las pinturas obtenidas del tubo, trato de no poner grandes cantidades como es costumbre.
This is a great simple method – to lay out only the amounts of paint that you would need. Thank you for sharing!
I put piles of paint on waxed paper in a small stay-wet palette box, put the lid on, then place in the freezer.
Very nice – the palette box would be a useful item for this method.
When i have finished painting for the day i have a small palette that i put in my freezer. the next day i take them out and in a few minutes the paint is ready to use.
Oh wow! As have never tried the freezer method, I am surprised at how quickly it is ready to use after taking it out.
I put a drop of oil on my oil paint palette and put it in a small refrigerator, until my next painting session. I have kept them for almost a week.
Ah very nice! The fridge/ freezer seems to be a popular option!
Very simply, put your palette in the freezer! Works great!
It’s nice if you have a separate small freezer in which to store your palette.
Thanks for the other tips!
I use a combination of methods:
As you suggest, I combine the left over mixes into colour related groups. Then place them on a “Stay Wet Pallet” and put it into the freezer.
The stay wet pallet I use is made by “Masterson” (comes in two sizes). These pallets are used primarily by acrylic painters but suit this purpose nicely as they seal tightly.
I find that paint will keep for a VERY long time with this method. The paint, being oil based never freezes and takes only a few minutes out of the freezer to regain its working consistency.
Many thanks for your articles. I look forward to them and am pleased to be able to contribute this little ditty!
P.S. When using this method for acrylic, I put a damp sponge onto the pallet and store it in the bottom of the fridge instead of the freezer compartment. It will keep for many days as opposed to weeks like the oil paint in the freezer.
Thanks so much for sharing this! I was curious about the stay wet palettes and oil paint. Good to hear your experience and how it works for you.
So glad that you enjoy my articles and information – thank you for sharing that 🙂
I have a small palette and it fits inside of a plastic lidded box that I put in the freezer
Thats perfect! And a bonus that it doesn’t take up too much freezer space 🙂
I simply put my palette in a plastic box and freeze it – no need for oil on top. Keeps for weeks!
Yes, the freezer method is one I hear quite often. It sounds like it works quite well for many.
I drip a few drops of painting medium on each small pile of color and then at the beginning of each painting session, mix up each color with my palette knife.
Thats a great idea
I’ve never heard of a palette garage before. Thanks for the tip!
You are very welcome!