Rescue: dried-up tubes of paint

If we don’t keep the threads of the paint tube lid free and clean, they will dry up and refuse to be unscrewed, or, having got the cap off, the upper part of the paint may have dried, which sometimes results in the paint being squeezed out from the other end.

This can be rescued by squeezing the remaining watercolour or gouache paint into an old empty paint pan, it helps to mix a little gum arabic into the paint.  If there too much for a pan, a small screw top jar is useful.

The paint will work fairly well in a pan. Even tubes that have completely dried and are rock hard can be opened up and used in this way.

Obviously, acrylic paint cannot be rescued by placing in a pan but I have put it in a jar with a bit of water fairly successfully.


I usually put a little bit of shampoo in my paint water to make the brush clean more easily, it also makes water based paint run more freely in use. I have a nice old wine bottle full of water with a drop of shampoo which I make up to refill water pots.

Using one water pot for cleaning the brush and another container for clean water to add to paint prevents colour getting muddy.

Spraying a very little clean water lightly on to a watercolour paint set  provides an easier beginning point for paint to reach the brush, overdoing it is damaging to the paint consistency.

An old syringe body, or glass medicine dropper is useful for adding clean water to paint as it is being mixed, using a brush to do this is less controllable.



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