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Don’t throw away your dried up watercolour tubes

March 8, 2013

Grouped by colour

Grouped by colour

An artist friend whose blog I follow was interested in other’s methods of reconstituting dried up watercolours. (Do check out Richard’s blog, he paints wonderful watercolours and writes intelligently and inspiringly.)

Years ago I went through my watercolour supply and separated out perhaps a hundred dollars worth of tubes of dried paint. I then cut apart each tube and with a knife or wooden stick, scooped the sometimes sticky pigment out into the stackable plastic pots pictured, I added a bit of water, then I labelled each one. It was  very messy and took a long time but it was a worthwhile and profitable job.

I use them just  like I use my travelling watercolour box with the little squares of colour, just moisten the brush apply it to the dried watercolour and brush the paint on to the paper normally.

I had a good time with the labels. I wanted the pots to look like they were found in some old drugstore or antique shop. I took some paper I’d treated with coffee to age it, then drew the red lines and lettered the names of the colours with a very small (Mitchell 5 Italic) calligraphy pen.

Stackable containers

Stackable containers

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16 Responses to “Don’t throw away your dried up watercolour tubes”


  1. Thank’s for the tips Sarah!!!

    • Sarah Zoutewelle Says:

      Oh, I’m glad you found the post, Richard, I meant to send you the link. You are very welcome.


    • Thanks for letting me know, and for the reblog.:-) Hope it helps people to conserve their resources and go easy on their pocketbooks. Watercolour tubes can be surprisingly expensive for such little amounts!

  2. 2Spools Says:

    You are so really at one with your work and materials. Very much admired. I think it’s great.


    • Thanks, I appreciate your comment.
      I liked your blog. There is some resonance there as I will be returning to my old hometown of Pittsburgh PA for a visit after an absence of 10 years, and having not lived there for 36 years. Your blog has made more clear to me that a camera can be an important tool for recording both impressions and new memories.
      I also love London, my mother came from there and it is a second ‘hometown’ for me.


  3. Sarah, I will remember your advice when I take up watercolors! Thank you!


  4. I love your use of the plastic jars. I’m inspired to save my pigments! 🙂

  5. annet Says:

    Wat een aandachtig werkje, restanten uit bijna lege tubes verf halen en ze opslaan in zulke mooie potjes. En die labels! Dit project past helemaal bij jou. Veel liefs!

    • Sarah Zoutewelle Says:

      And I was thinking about you today! toevallig. Dank je wel. Leuk dat je af en toe eens langs mijn blog kom, veel liefs, Sarah

  6. spiritcloth Says:

    what a great idea. wonderful, nice to find your blog….


  7. […] Don’t throw away your dried up watercolour tubes (artcalling.wordpress.com) […]


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