The Benefits of Developing a New Hobby

Tips For Using And Prolonging The Life Of Your Paint Supplies

by Lewis Rhodes

Paint supplies are expensive, have a limited shelf life, and require special care to extend their usefulness. Paints can become contaminated with bacteria if not properly stored and can lose their vibrancy over time. Additionally, brushes and canvas can become misshapen if not properly cleaned or stored. To prolong the longevity of your paints, brushes, and canvases, keep these tips in mind.

Paints and Mediums

  • Store paints in their original containers in a cool, dry place. Oil paints have great shelf stability and can be stored in a wide range of temperatures, as long as they are well sealed. Acrylics should never be allowed to freeze.
  • Date newly-purchased paints, mediums, and gesso. Follow the FIFO (first in, first out) rule and always use the oldest products first.
  • Paints and mediums can separate when not in use, so remember to shake products in bottles or jars before use.
  • Never return unused paint to the original container. Store extra paint in a separate container or dispose of it. Otherwise, you risk introducing bacteria into the original container, thereby shortening the lifespan of your paint and mediums.
  • Always dispense the desired amount of paint to a paint palette and never work directly from the container. Avoid dipping brushes or hands in the storage container as well, which can introduce bacteria into the container.
  • Never dilute oil or acrylic paints in their storage jars. Water dilutes the preservatives in the paint, which contributes to the destabilization of the paint and can result in the formation of mold. You can dilute paint with various mediums, such as water or mineral spirits in a separate container.


  • Thoroughly clean brushes and tools after mixing paints or using them to paint.
  • Use water to remove water-based paints from brushes and mineral spirits or paint thinner to remove oil-based paints.
  • Store clean brushes with the brush-side up in a jar or open storage container. Never store them with the brush-side down. This can cause the bristles to bend and lose their shape.

Stretched Canvas

  • Never store stretched canvas in a non-temperature-controlled space, such as a garage or shed.
  • Store canvas vertically and not at an angle or stacked horizontally, which will cause it to sag.
  • Store canvas face-to-face or back-to-back, otherwise stretcher bars may leave indentations or marks on the front of the canvas.
  • Store completed paintings in a low-humidity environment to avoid mold growth.

Following these tips will ensure your paint supplies are available and in good condition when you need them, so you can spend more time getting creative and less time hunting around for usable supplies in your collection.