Sometimes you mix a great color using your palette but then you have to put your work aside for the evening or even longer. So, how can you preserve the colors on your palette until you're ready to use them again?

7 Answers 7


Light, Air, AND Temperature. After restricting the air flow like by putting the palette into a container you can put it in the fridge or even the freezer for a longer period.

Some painters immerse the working palette into a recipient of water in the fridge for the best air restriction, because it is oil based the paint is not altered and is workable within an hour of removing from water.

read http://painting.about.com/od/oilpaintingfaq/f/freezing-oils.htm

It's fine to store your oils in the freezer if you're taking a break. The cold temperature will slow the rate of oxidation and evaporation, preserving the paint.(...) "...by early Renaissance times professional supplies of pigments existed ... Prepared oil paints were kept in the studio under water to prevent them from drying out."

Using left over paint within " the evening or even longer" should not require any special method. Otherwise, if you add oil to the paint before setting the palette aside it will be work able for days longer, and even longer with a slow dry medium.

The best way is still to use paint little by little so not to have too much left over.

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    I expect that temperature being a factor is contingent on the other factors present primarily. Commented Apr 20, 2017 at 0:46

Oil paint dries because of air and light (UV), so if you want to slow down the drying process, put it in a dark place without ventilation. You probably want to cover it with something too, just to expose it even less to air.


If you're working with oil paint? Nothing is needed! Paints on a palette will remain workable without any further interaction for a couple of days. Longer than this, consider putting some cling film carefully over the top. If the paints have gone a bit stiff when you come back to them, simply work them carefully with a bit of white spirit or turpentine to loosen them again.

  • I don't understand how "Nothing" is a response to "How can you preserve [...]?". Do you mean "Not at all"?
    – Earthliŋ
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 17:46
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    I haven't done it, but I think if you put some of those thick round foam stickers on your palette, they will help support the cling wrap and keep it from touching the paint.
    – user24
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 18:58
  • It is always drying even if slowly, dryers and the amount of solvent in the mix affect the drying speed too, so its good to put the pallet away or cover it if you want to be sure the paint isn't compromised.
    – rebusB
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 21:56

For longer storage, you can seal the paint inside of an empty paint tube if the amount is fairly large. These can be purchased at better art stores for a couple of dollars and basically lets you work with it like it was any other paint in a tube.

For smaller amounts, you can go your own with aluminum foil. Basically, create a small pouch, doubling up to give it strength, fill it with your paint, then seal it off from the air.


I put a little clove oil on a cotton ball and throw it in my covered palette. The clove oil slows down the oxidation process.


My mother has been painting professionally for over 70 years, using oil paints. She keeps a fridge in her studio and puts the palette in the fridge overnight at the end of each session, when she has colours mixed that are not used up. Being in the fridge keeps them in the dark as well as keeping them cool (she has spent most of her career in warm countries). If she knows that it may be a few days before she can paint again, she uses clingfilm or similar as well - for longer storage, she puts the palette under a cover as well as using film.


Clove oil slows the curing, or cross linking, of linseed based oil paint. I use a small sponge in a bottle cap and put a few drops of clove oil on it. Then I place the clove cap on my palette (which is a glass sheet inside a covered rectangular Tupperware) and cover it. Oil paint will stay fresh for a week or more.

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    Welcome to Arts & Crafts. This idea was suggested in another answer several years ago. Just a heads up that answers are intended to contribute something that hasn't already been covered. If you stick around, and I hope you do, and acquire just a minimal amount of reputation points, the way to indicate that an existing answer is useful is to upvote it. That avoids duplication of information, and helps useful information stand out. Thanks.
    – fixer1234
    Commented Apr 29, 2022 at 21:34

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