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Painting in the Cold

17 thoughts on “Painting in the Cold”

    • Hello Kathleen, we do make water colors. They are called QOR (see https://www.qorcolors.com/). It should be possible to thin down Fluid or High Flow Acrylics to a watercolor consistency. Storing such dilutions is tricky since the mixtures are less stable, might attract bacterial growth, and pigments can settle. We would recommend only diluting as much paint as you would need for one painting session. Try to use up diluted paint within a week. Using distilled water and adding a little houshold ammonia can hep preserve diluted paint a little better.

      Greetings,
      Mirjam

      Reply
  1. terrific, but not my ticket. am 86 and dont take chances. maybe that is 1 of the reasons why am still here.
    thanks anyway. but some may find your advice of great use.
    keep up the good work.

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  2. It is too cold to paint in my Brooklyn studio, in winter, with acrylic paints. I like to paint with liquid and fluid colors on paper, and have found a couple of helpful workarounds. I bought several rubber coated electric heater mats to place on my worktable. Made to keep seedlings warm, they are available through gardener supply and seed companies, or Amazon. I also use a heater gun to help speed drying. And I use hot water from the tap to mix with acrylic paint. I do have problems with paint in jars and buckets surviving the winter and there is a high winter count by springtime.

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    • Hello Jeffrey, thank you for sharing your tipp with the heated mat. That seems like a good idea, especially because it provide warmth from behind the painting, so that water can still evaporate up and out of the acrylic paint film. The risk of using or over-using hair dryers or heat guns is that the acrylic skins over and crazes. Although, the thinner the paint film the less of a risk. I can imagine that water-paint mixtures would overwhelm the paints ability to withstand freez-thaw cycles and go bad. You could test, wether adding some OPEN Medium to your mixtures helps with that. We have not tested this, but it might be worth trying. Let us know how it goes.

      Best,
      Mirjam

      Reply
  3. Brilliant timing — my studio space is an outdoor covered patio in SF Bay area. Canvasses are not drying for me, and I’m shifting to smaller sizes for the winter so I can bring them inside to dry and/or actually work inside. The 5 freeze cycles for acrylics gives me peace of mind! Thank you ~carol

    Reply
    • Hello Carol, thank you for your comment. Working indoors on smaller paintings seems like a good solution for the winter. If you store your paintings outside, then you could consider using polyester canvas, aluminum, dibond or some other painting support that is insensetive to environmental changes, so that your paintings hold up as well as possible over the long term.

      Best, Mirjam

      Reply
  4. I am working on watercolors in a small room of the house I am staying in. I don’t want to work on acrylics in the house as I cannot open the windows in the cold. Thinking about working on acrylics in the basement where the ventilation is better but the temperature is around 52 degrees. This article has me considering oils instead. When you write “it’s better to allow oil paintings to cure at a room temperature…Cold temperatures slow the oil’s rate of oxidation and crosslinking, thus preserving the paint” what would be the minimum “room temperature” for oils to properly cure? Thank you very much, this article is really timely for me!

    Reply
    • Hello Linda,

      Apologies for my late reply. Your comment unfortunately got overlooked. Both oils and acrylics dry better at room temperatures. So, taking either your oil or acrylic painting into your heated living space would be ideal. Oil paint also needs light in order to cure. Thus, if your basement has no windows, you would need to take it into a room with daylight anyway. We have an article here on Cleaning Brushes Without Solvents and you could certainly paint without the use of solvents as well, which might allow you to paint in your living spaces. We hope you will find a good solution. Let us know if you have more questions or comments.

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  5. Twice my paintings have frozen on me. A glorious early morning, of a creek on a friends ranch near Wilson, Wyoming. So absorbed I did not realise the water colour had frozen til my brush “skated” over the iced paper.I laughed so hard I awoke my college age daughter! The resulting finished painting was the first to sell at my next show!!
    In august with a fellow painter in front of the Sawtooth Mountains ,Idaho in early morning as we tried to catch the early light,,the sun hit my canvas. The acrylic (Golden) ran down the 20×24 painting, as we dove into the car to warm our hands laughing hysterically. It was 24degrees! I did finish the painting a few days later when it wasn’t quite as cold and in the studio.
    As I have had numerous trips via pack horse and raft into the mountains over the last 20 years I take pastels for the mornings and watercolours later when it have warmed up!. However with the pandemic I decided to tackle oil paint, while quarantining in the open mountains- why not at 78 to keep the juices going. With a vaccination and an oil plein air workshop, I now plan some snow painting. Back to acrylics next summer.

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    • Susan, thank you for sharing your beautiful anecdotes! Painting during a horseback trip sounds just fabulous. I hope you’ll have fun exploring oil painting. It’s never too late to start something new.

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  6. I just received a box of swag from attending an online Golden education session. It was cold and I wasn’t sure if the acrylics in all formats or mediums would be OK. You article reassures me that they are OK.

    An it’s good to know that Open acrylics are best for colder weather. In central Canada, I could easily be out wanting to paint at -5 C.

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    • Thank you for your comment, Connie. Enjoy painting and keep warm when you’re painting outdoors in winter time!

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  7. Are you sure about the 21C. for acrylics? That’s quite hot already and I have used Golden Acrylics in much lower temperatures just fine. You also mention that Golden Acrylics have no shelf life? I have some Golden Fluid Acrylics that are almost 20 years old and all but one of the blues are perfectly fine. I consider that fabulous shelf life. I do close the tops well though 🙂 It’s going to be Winter soon here in New Zealand so I had better get on with pre-prepping a number of gold leaf covered boards. I didn’t know it has a 21C MMFT. Thank you for all this useful information.

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    • Hello Clementine,

      It’s only the GAC 200 product that has such a high MFFT with 21°C. It is perfectly fine to paint with acrylics at lower temperatures, up to 9°C or even below that, if the paintings are then allowed to cure through at room temperatures. Thank you for your comment on shelf life. What we mean with that is that GOLDEN products don’t have an expiration date. Enjoy painting!

      Reply

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