gouache how to Issues

Keeping Your Gouache Paint Fresh: Tips and Tricks

Do you want to avoid your gouache paint drying up too fast or needing help to keep it fresh during your painting sessions? Discover the secrets to keeping your gouache paint fresh so you can always create stunning artwork with vibrant colors!

Table of Contents

Understanding Gouache Paint

Oh, gouache! If you’re new to this magical medium, let me tell you, it’s a fantastic choice for creating bold, vibrant, and versatile artworks. Speaking from personal experience and countless joyful hours playing with this paint, gouache has some unique characteristics that set it apart.

Original gouache painting for sale

Water-based paint properties

First, I cannot emphasize enough how delightful gouache is as a water-based paint. It’s easy to clean and more environmentally friendly than oil-based paints. This makes it perfect for artists who want to create guilt-free and fuss-free pieces. Plus, it has the perfect blend of the best traits from watercolor and acrylic paints – offering the flexibility of watercolor while delivering the opacity you’d get from acrylics. Trust me, once you start painting with gouache, you’ll fall head over heels for its beauty!

Fast drying times

One of the quirks of gouache paint is its lightning-speed drying time. While it undoubtedly has its perks, like being able to layer your colors quickly, it can pose some challenges, especially when keeping the paint fresh on your palette. Painting with gouache can be a struggle, but here are some tips to ensure your painting sessions go smoothly.

Original gouache painting for sale

Storing Your Gouache Correctly

Let’s explore some tried-and-true methods to store your gouache properly.

Buy tubes

Thanks, Captain Obvious! Tubes are the best way to store gouache, so stay away from those tempting cups with a lot of paint inside. A large paint surface is exposed to air, so they are prone to dry like stone and crack. If you don’t use gouache too much, keeping it in the original tube is the best way to keep it fresh if stored properly.

The ideal room temperature

It might sound odd, but your room’s temperature can affect your gouache’s freshness. Aim to store your paints in a cool room to prevent them from drying out too quickly. Avoid direct sun or heat on the tubes. Trust me. I’ve seen the difference it makes!

Stay-wet palettes

Stay-wet palettes are meant for acrylic paint; you can use them for gouache. You place the paint on special paper, like freezer paper, and under it, you place a damp surface to keep the paint moisturized. But beware, depending on where you live; you can get mold pretty quickly in the palette. Read here to know how to get rid of it

Palette containers with built-in lids

A palette container with a built-in lid is another great option to help maintain your gouache’s freshness. I’ve used them, and they’re fantastic at keeping the paint sealed and protected—especially when taking a break or calling it a day. Lids equal freshness and ease of access! My favorite airtight palette, which I use daily

Favorite gouache palette

Storing in the fridge

You read that right! Storing gouache in the fridge can do wonders for preserving its freshness. I usually store my airtight palettes in my refrigerator, and they’ve always kept me from being down regarding consistency and freshness. Just make sure they don’t mingle with any foodstuff!

Extending the Working Time of Gouache

Staying fresh is a race against the clock once the paint hits the palette. But fear not! Over time, I’ve uncovered a few savvy techniques that help keep your gouache from drying out during those longer painting sessions.

Original gouache painting for sale

Spraying water mist on the palette

If there’s one thing I’ve been reaching for as much as my paintbrush, it’s the spray bottle. A light misting water over your palette can do wonders for extending your gouache’s working time. But remember, don’t go overboard! Too much water can dilute your colors, but a fine mist keeps them moist and workable. Call it a mini refreshment for your paints! My spray bottle has become an indispensable tool in my painting kit, and I highly recommend trying it out.

The use of retarder mediums

Let’s talk retarder mediums for a moment. While they might sound fancy, they’re simply substances that slow down your paint’s drying time. I like to think of them as the time-travelers of the painting world, giving you those precious extra moments to perfect every stroke. Adding a little retarder medium to your gouache can help extend its working time. So, if you often feel like you’re racing against time with your gouache, retarder mediums might be your new best friend!

Blobs sizes

In my early days of painting with gouache, I learned something fundamental – it’s not just about how you store the paint but also how you use it. Large blobs of gouache on the palette tend to dry out quickly, leaving you with an unsatisfactory paint-to-drying ratio. Now, I lean towards applying small blobs of paint, and BOOM! It was game-changing! This approach uses less paint, meaning you don’t wastefully watch those lovely blobs dry out before your eyes, and you still get the same beautiful, bold colors on your canvas.

Original gouache painting for sale

Re-wetting and Reviving Dried Gouache

We’ve all had that moment when we open our trusty paint box, only to find that our beloved gouache has dried up since our last session. I have some tricks to help you breathe life back into your dried gouache.

Best practices for rehydration

Here’s a quick tip that saved many of my painting sessions, and it can save yours too! You can rehydrate dried gouache by adding a little bit of water to it. Start by sprinkling a few drops and gently mixing the paint with a palette knife or brush. Consistency is key here. Remember, we want a creamy texture, not soup.

Precautions to take and avoid quality degradation

But as with every good thing, there’s a caveat. Rehydration does not mean you should drown your paints. Adding too much water can dilute your paints to a watercolor effect. You can still use it for backgrounds. It’s a perfectly good paint, just transparent. 

Original gouache painting for sale

Troubleshooting for consistency issues

If you find your paint’s texture is off or the color isn’t quite right after re-wetting, don’t fret! It’s not the end of your painting world. Just add a new layer of fresh paint on top, then blend. The fresh paint will help to revive your color and texture. I’ve used this trick several times, which worked like a charm!


Despite its tiny quirks, gouache is a beautiful medium that can bring joy to every artist’s life. And there’s something truly magical about creating with fresh, vibrant, and creamy gouache. From personal experience, it makes your painting session so much more satisfying.

So, fellow artists, here’s my advice:

  • Keep your gouache fresh.
  • Extend its working time.
  • Learn to revive it.

And most importantly, continue to explore and cherish the beauty of this incredible medium.

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