Deteriorating watercolour paints
Will watercolours deteriorate over time if I don’t use them?
Ask Jacksons: Will watercolours deteriorate over time if I don’t use them?
There is no definitive answer for the shelf-life of watercolours. Some artists say they are still using watercolour paints that are decades old and most watercolours produced today contain preservatives that protect the paint against mould. In order to keep watercolour tubes in their best condition, ensure that the cap is replaced tightly after use and that the thread at the neck of the tube is free from paint. Watercolour pans may become cracked and crumbly over time. Certain pigments and binder formulations are more susceptible to this than others. However, the quality of the paint will be the same and the only effect would be that it may need some more “working” with water to bring it back to life. Glycerin can be added to cracked pans to aid re-wetting.
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