How to Store Watercolor Paintings

If painting is your hobby, or you’ve had experience collecting watercolor paintings, you’ve probably come to realize that they are challenging to store once the masterpiece is complete.

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Due to the nature of watercolor, the paper refuses to lie flat, and piles of these paintings often don’t sit well. This issue can make the storage of watercolor paintings or drawings a hassle as these stacks don’t compress well and feel messy.

This problem of storage may put off some people from painting using watercolors all together. But that’s where we come in.

This article will shed some light on everything you need to know about properly storing watercolor paintings and making them last longer. So let’s get started! 


How to Preserve Watercolor Paintings

There are many ways to help preserve your artwork better. These tips are considered the golden rules for preserving your paintings. Whether you’re an artist or an art collector, following these guidelines will ensure your artworks are well preserved and last longer.

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How to Store Unframed Watercolor Paintings

Start by Using Quality Materials

Before we get started on how to store unframed watercolor paintings, it’s a good thing to realize that, as with many things in life, the fruits of your labor are all the sweeter when you’ve given the task sufficient care and used the best quality materials during the process. 

For watercolor paintings using high-standard materials such as quality paints and paper will make sure your paintings last for longer. This will give you a strong foundation for storing these artworks.|

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Use Acid-free Materials

Acids can result in the yellowing of your watercolor paints. That’s why it’s important to use acid-free materials throughout the whole process, from start to finish. This means making sure the paper, portfolio, etc. are all acid-free products.


Keep Away From Sunlight

Constant exposure to sunlight can lead to cracking and color fading. Therefore it’s always best to ensure the paints and paintings are kept in a dark environment away from sunlight.

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Additionally, old fluorescent bulbs may also lead to damage to your paints due to the UV radiation they emit; consider switching to LEDs as a precaution.


Steer Clear of Extremes in Temperature or Humidity

Excessive amounts of heat and humidity directly damage the watercolor paints used in your artworks. Humidity also damages the canvas. Always make sure the environment of your storage room is not extreme.

Ensure Cleanliness

Maintaining cleanliness throughout the whole process is essential to the preservation of your artwork. Always ensure that your hands and tools used are always clean. Dust, fingerprints, smoke, oil, food particles, etc., are just some of the things to look out for.

Lastly, make sure that the brushes and other tools are also cleaned regularly after each use.


How to Preserve Watercolor Painting on Paper

There are a few specific things you keep in mind when deciding to put your watercolor artworks on paper away for a long duration of time. Some of the things you need to know are:

Always Keep the Paintings Flat and Horizontal

One of the biggest and most common mistakes people make with storing watercolor paintings is having them rolled up. Rolling up can allow room for humidity to build up, which can damage your work in the long run. Therefore, it’s always better to store paintings horizontally and flat.

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Say No to Plastic Sleeves

Another thing to remember is that you should never keep your art in plastic sleeves for prolonged durations of time. Keeping it packed like this for transport temporarily is usually not a problem, but longer durations pose a risk to the painting.

Condensation can take place inside plastic sleeves that can cause irreversible damage, and if you have to use them for storage, it’s best to at least get acid-free sleeves.


Never Touch the Surface Directly

Try to prevent your hands and fingers from getting into direct contact with the surface of your painting. Unnecessary touching of the surface can increase the chances of damaging the finished product. 

At the very least, consider using gloves when you do have to move the artwork to lower the risk of contamination.


Use Appropriate Packaging Materials

When storing a bunch of different paintings together, always remember to use acid-free packaging like glassine. You can place this material in between paintings to help avoid smudging. 

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Where Should I Store My Watercolor Paintings? 

After following the previous advice and using glassine to properly package your stack of paintings, you can now place them in a box. The box should be placed in a room that isn’t too hot, humid, or with too much sunlight. A dry environment reduces the chances of mold destroying the painting.


How to Store Watercolor Paintings on Canvas

Apart from all the general rules outlined above, It’s important to realize that for canvas paintings, it’s always better to keep them upright and not horizontally. 

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Placing them horizontally leads to the canvas loosening up, sagging and may lead to the formation of impressions of the stretcher bars on the surface of the canvas. Keeping them upright prevents this from happening.


How to Store Unframed Watercolor Painting

Perhaps the most convenient option for safely storing unframed watercolor paintings is simply placing them in a portfolio. Although keeping your paintings in a plan chest is preferable, it’s not always possible. Plan chests are big, expensive, and hard to come by. In contrast, portfolios are relatively cheap and are great for transporting all your paper paintings as well.


Do Watercolor Paintings Fade in Sunlight?

Prolonged exposure to sunlight is damaging to all kinds of paintings, and watercolors are considered to be especially delicate. Continuous exposure to direct sunlight can lead to fading of watercolors in a short span of just a few weeks.

Glass does offer some form of protection, but it still doesn’t block all of the UV rays present in sunlight entirely. UV filtering glass is a safe way of blocking almost all UV light and can protect your artwork from fading.


Buying & Collecting Watercolor Paintings 

Watercolor paintings are a great investment that can be enjoyed, displayed, and curated today. You can find watercolor paintings, and other types of paintings for sale, alongside sculptures, and photography art for sale at art galleries, Eden Gallery online, and private collections worldwide. 

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Once you’ve found your perfect painting be sure to follow the tips we’ve outlined in this article to protect it. Painting takes a considerable amount of time, dedication, and effort. Proper storage of your watercolor paintings will ensure your pieces last for longer and remain in pristine condition.

Hopefully, this article has helped you understand the dos and don’ts of storing watercolor paintings. Following these guidelines will help you keep your artwork safe from unnecessary smudges and will make sure it is perfectly preserved for the future.



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