How to Keep Acrylic Paints From Drying Out

Updated November 21, 2016

Acrylic paint is a forgiving painting medium with a variety of artistic effects, but its main downside is how quickly it dries. Acrylic paint is a water-based medium, which adds to the speed in which it dries out, both on your palette and in a bottle or container with no lid. Since acrylic paint can dry in a matter of minutes, you want to find ways to keep the paint wet for certain blending techniques.

Add an acrylic gel retarder to your acrylic paints. Acrylic gel retarder is a white, semi-clear gel that is added to paints on the palette to slow drying time by up to 50 per cent.

Mist your paint palette with water in a spray bottle periodically to slow down the drying time.

Spray your paint palette with a palette wetting spray periodically to slow drying time. This is especially effective when painting outdoors.

Use a stay-wet palette. These special painting palettes have a sponge layer underneath the palette that you dampen to keep the acrylic paints wet while in use.

Store your unused acrylic paints in individual airtight storage containers. Add a few drops of water before closing the lids to save the mixed acrylic colours you didn't use.


Mix your colours in individual airtight storage containers and place only a small portion of each colour on your palette. Keep the lids on the storage containers closed when not in use.

Things You'll Need

  • Acrylic gel retarder
  • Spray bottle
  • Palette wetting spray
  • Stay-wet palette
  • Airtight containers
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