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How Long Does Gouache Last? (Average Lifespan Explained)

Have you ever wondered how long your beloved gouache paint will last? Whether you’re a seasoned artist or just starting out, this question may be nagging at you.

Gouache, known for its vibrant colors and versatile application, has become my personal favorite go-to medium and that of other artists too.

But how long can we expect our tubes and pans of gouache to stay usable?

The shelf life of gouache depends on the storage conditions and quality of the pigment. If stored properly, gouache can last for several years if the brand is good, the gouache tubes are tightly sealed and stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Gouache may dry out or become less vibrant over time, but all it needs is to rehydrate with water to regain its original consistency or close enough.

In this article, we will explore the factors that affect gouache’s lifespan, storage tips to prolong its quality, and some handy tricks I personally use to revive dried, cracked gouache.

Grab your brushes and let’s uncover the secrets behind the shelf life of gouache!

Let’s get into the juicy details.

The Shelf Life of Gouache

So, you’ve just brought home a set of glorious gouache paints, and you can’t wait to unleash your creative skills onto the canvas.

But hold on there, Picasso!

Before you get too carried away, it’s important to understand that gouache does have a shelf life.

In general, unopened tubes can last for years and opened tubes can last for up to 5 years or more if stored properly.

And by properly, I mean in a cool, dry place away from extreme temperature fluctuations – no sauna trips for our beloved paints!

However, like any other artistic medium, time eventually takes its toll.

Once those tubes of joy are cracked open and the colors start flowing onto your palette, the clock starts ticking.

As air interacts with the paint over time, it can dry out and become less vibrant.

When stored and taken care of properly, the paint can remain vibrant and usable for years, which is honestly awesome news for any artist or beginner artist.

However, all hope is not lost, as there are ways to extend its lifespan!

With tubed paints, the answer is pretty simple and easy. Store your gouache paints in an airtight glass jar, and you’re good to go.

Good Habits for The Lifespan of Gouache

If you want your precious gouache paint to stand the test of time (or at least outlive your latest plant obsession), adopting some good habits is key.

First off, always seal those tubes tightly after using them. This helps prevent excessive drying and keeps those pigments juicy and ready for action.

gouache paint on palette

If there’s only one tip you remember from this list, make sure it’s this one!

Next up, cleanliness is queen! Keep your palette clean by regularly wiping it down during painting sessions.

Avoid letting dried paint mix back into your fresh colors, especially with sets such as HIMI gouache – no one wants muddy mixes, right?

See also: Gouache Mistakes: What Not To Do With Gouache

The Easiest Way To Revive Dry, Cracked Gouache

But what if you come across a tube of gouache that’s been neglected and left to dry into a hardened mess?

Don’t throw it away just yet! With a little bit of love and some TLC, you can revive the magic and bring those colors back to life.

One handy technique is rehydrating dried gouache by misting or spraying it with water.

Let the moisture work its magic for a few minutes, then gently mix the paint with a palette knife or toothpick until it becomes creamy once again.

Voila! Your once-forgotten and forlorn paint is ready to shine anew.

Now, if the cap of the gouache tube refuses to open and feels rock solid, here’s what I do that works every time:

  • Run the cap head under warm or hot water for a few minutes. This should loosen any dried paint that is around the cap
  • Use a towel or cloth to twist the cap open
  • If the cap still doesn’t budge, grab a palette knife to pry the lid open
  • For serious cases, you may have to cut the tube with scissors and store the paint in an airtight container instead

How to Make Gouache Last Longer: 6 Secret Gouache Storage Tips

Knowing how to properly store and care for your gouache paints will ensure that you get the most out of your supplies.

Here are the absolute best tips that actually work on how to make your gouache stay fresh, usable, and last longer:

1. Storage

Gouache paints typically come in tubes, and storing them in their original tubes is a convenient and effective way to keep them fresh.

Make sure to close the tubes tightly after each use to prevent the paint from drying out. Store in cool, dark places with low humidity, away from direct sunlight.

One specific way that works well is to invest in airtight containers

For a long-term storage solution, transferring the paints into airtight containers can help prevent them from drying out.

These containers typically come with individual compartments for each tube, allowing you to easily organize and protect your cherished colors.

Empty jars or small plastic containers with lids can also be used for this purpose.

Make sure the containers are clean and dry before transferring the paint.

2. Refrigeration

If you live in a hot and dry climate or want to extend the shelf life of your paints, you can store them in the refrigerator.

Keep the tubes or containers tightly closed to prevent any moisture from entering and affecting the paint’s consistency.

Remember to label all containers with the color name and date of the paint mix to help you keep track of their age and usability.

3. Palette

Another popular way of using gouache is to squeeze out a small amount of paint onto a palette for immediate use.

If you plan to store the mixed gouache on the palette for a short period of time, cover it with a damp paper towel or plastic wrap to keep it from drying out.

However, this method is not suitable for long-term storage.

Also, keep your palette clean to have a better painting experience.

4. Keeping A Moist Palette

A moist palette is a specially designed container with a sponge or felt pad underneath a layer of semi-permeable paper.

This helps to keep the paints moist and workable for longer periods.

Simply add water to the sponge or felt pad to maintain the humidity within the palette.

You can also mix the gouache with a few drops of glycerin before storing it to keep it wet and fresh.

Lastly, go ahead and write down these tips in a notebook or store them in your notes app. 

Don’t Fret It

Remember, gouache has the chance of lasting longer if you simply follow up with a little attention and care.

With the tips mentioned above, you can easily extend its lifespan beyond expectations.

I recently came across someone who actually managed to save their gouache paints for 12+ years.

If you’re really concerned about losing your expensive gouache paint in tubes, just store them in an airtight glass jar and keep them in a cool, dry place with the lids on.

If you have a HIMI gouache set, consider rewetting the paint with a spray bottle every so often to ensure it remains usable.

Problem solved! 

Now, go get painting, folks!

See also: 70 Easy Things To Paint As A Beginner Artist That Is Enjoyable

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