10,000 Reasons to Discard Old Paint

We’ve probably all had old paint tubes sitting around for various reasons; experimenting with other mediums,  lack of time, purchased at incredible cost or for one of my students she inherited old paint. At one point I created a small “studio” in my basement, at first I love my special space and removing my art supplies from the kitchen table. After a while I became discouraged to paint because it was cold or damp and didn’t paint for a very long time. This caused some of my paint to get moldy and I tossed them out. I now have a studio on the first floor of a 3 level split house and I love it, I can look outside and have all the comforts at my fingertips. We’ve also done modifications to the basement improve ventilation and circulation.

Along the way, I  learned more about mold and it’s effect. This brings me to encourage you to carefully take a look at your supplies, where you paint and how it affects your health and your artwork. Mold reproduces by means of tiny spores; the spores are invisible to the naked eye. There are approximately 10,000 mold spores on the head of a pin. As you paint with moldy paint, you contaminate your brush, which contaminates your palette, if painting with watercolor, now it’s in your water. Let’s not forget that beautiful painting that took hours to create and is now in an air tight frame, yep, contaminated!

June opening an old tube of paint

Need special tools to open that old tube of paint? Do you know where has it been? Ok, in June’s defense these were given to her.

Watercolor on Aquabord

You owe it to your collector’s to have the best quality artwork that will last for many years to enjoy! If it’s old, hard and moldy toss it. Old and hard paints make it difficult to create a juicy mixture of paint, specifically watercolors.  If you decide not keep a color for whatever reason and it’s in good usable shape, sell it, give it away or trade with another artist.  If you decide to keep a color that you haven’t used at all or barely, give it new life! Explore with color charts and color strings, you may find a new direction in your work.

In my workshops I start with color and your paint, this is not about the color wheel. I’ve created a spreadsheet for my students to inventory their paints, learn how to use the paints in a wise manner and how to stop spending money on paint when you can create beautiful colors, create spot on color match, learn about compatible palettes and much more. This simple portion can take an artist’s skills a lot further than a painting technique, although I do teach that also.  I encourage them to build stronger painting foundation which can be applied to any medium. At my last workshop, I shared how many tubes of paint I own, how and why I started the spreadsheet. One my students had me beat, she had close to 300, but she had inherited most of them. That day she tossed 45 tubes of old paint, it was quite an eye opener for her!


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