How To Store Oil Paintings While Drying?

Randy Charles
Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Hi, I’m Randy Charles, the creator and chief editor of this site Paintcentric. I’m a businessman now by profession, but I used to work as...Read more

Do you happen to work on many paintings at once? If yes, there are many fresh paintings vulnerable to weather elements and dust. You don’t want your effort wasted.

From a drinking spree that spins out of control to cat hairs, fresh paintings are always at risk.

So, how do you store oil painting while drying? You can store oil in safe spaces that protect them from environmental elements. This can be done by storing paintings vertically like books on a shelf.

From drying racks to climate-controlled storage units, there are several ways you can store oil paintings. Such units protect paintings from heat and humidity fluctuations. You can opt for drying racks, stack canvas to dry with separators, or build DIY drying racks.

How To Store Oil Paintings While Drying

A busy day of oil painting will leave your studio with a lot of wet oil painting. It is pretty obvious you can’t leave them just anywhere. You need these paintings stored properly to avoid damage from weather elements, pets, and people.

How To Store Oil Paintings While Drying

Drying racks

There are several ways to store oil painting as they dry. The first and easiest way is to use a drying rack. Every artist needs a drying rack in their studio. Drying racks are convenient and provide a secure place to store paintings as they dry.

paint Drying racks

Depending on the number of wet oil paintings, you can choose drying racks with multiple compartments. If you don’t have a budget for drying racks, consider DIY drying racks. Additionally, the arts should be stored in a secure room with the right temperature and humidity.

Flat file cabinets

You can also store wet oil paintings in a flat-file cabinet. However, make sure the cabinet size is enough and fits the paintings without squeezing them. If you have more than one painting, consider putting a piece of tracing paper in between the paintings to protect them.

Flat file cabinets

Wood shelves and racks

For small artists with a few pieces, you can hang them on wood shelves and racks. Make sure you use clips to keep the paintings in place.

Wood shelves and racks

Mirror boxes and wooden crates

These are also excellent places to store your oil painting while drying. Mirror boxes and wooden crates are large and practically safe.

Typically, you need the paintings drying out fast but safely. Never put the painting in a hot room to fasten the drying process.

The ideal conditions should be in a dark room with temperatures of between 65-70 degrees F and humidity of 45-55%. Make sure you don’t touch the paintings for at least 18-24 hours to avoid running them before they dry.

Change Is The Rule

Your oil painting is going to change in color in a constant manner in response to different light levels. The amount of color changes you can expect are directly related to the amount of sunshine/light getting to the painting.

In fact, the changes in color are imperceptible to the eyes. This is something Robert Gamblin learned years ago. He measured color using a spectrophotometer and tabulated the results in graphs.

While there were no meaningful color changes, he did notice slight up and down color movement. The movements were in response to the quantity of light the paintings received.

The sample charts above show white oil color changes in response to brightness. As you can see in the graphs, the Titanium white color changes over the years in response to light. The brightness value ranges from 0-100 with very little color change over the months.

There are clear dips on sunny and cloudy days. This is a clear indication that the paintings change color when stored in the dark and when brought into the light.

Change Of Color From Storage In The Dark

Oil paintings start changing color from the very moment an artist completes an oil painting. However, most of these changes are barely noticeable to the eyes. A spectrophotometer can measure the slightest of changes from when the painting is in the dark to when you bring it to light.

These changes are quite common in areas with large and thick paintings. Most paintings tend to reduce lightness when stored in the dark for years. However, this changes when they are brought to light.

For example, a dark-aged sample will change color after years in the dark. However, when brought into the light, it regains its original color when it is put into the dark.

However, any difference of color from storage in the dark would be imperceptible to the naked eye.

Where Should I Store My Oil Paintings?

The best place to store your oil paintings is in a secure storage unit in a personal facility. You need a self-storage facility that is clean and safe. This is important since how you store your paintings determines how long they stay.

Where Should I Store My Oil Paintings

For example, humidity and heat can be devastating to most oil paintings. Excessive heat and humidity can cause the canvas to loosen and expand over a period of time. Most paintings end up developing chips, cracks, and dust accumulation over the years.

You can rent a storage unit for both your short-term and long-term storage needs. This is because most rental units rarely get visits, are clean and safe. Moreover, most storage units offer 24/7 video monitoring to ensure your paintings are safe and secure.

For high-end value paintings, consider climate-controlled storage units. Such facilities maintain constant heat and temperature, protecting your precious paintings from damage.

Avoid storing oil paintings in the basement and attics. The basements suffer from humidity fluctuations and are at high risk for floods.

Attics also tend to suffer from high-temperature fluctuations.

How Do I Store Oil Paintings On Canvas?

You can store oil paintings on canvas by packaging them correctly. Canvas is a popular material for acrylic and oil paints. While canvas is durable, it is extremely sensitive to light. Make sure you keep it out of direct sunlight. I’ve already discussed how UV light can affect paint colors.

Secondly, store your canvas paintings in an upright position. Horizontally store canvas sags and becomes loose over time. The thumb rule is to NEVER lay the canvas flat. Moreover, keeping your painting flat prevents dust and debris from accumulating on them.

Make sure the canvas is stored in a cool and dry place. Moist places will lead to mold developing on your pieces. In addition, store the canvas away from heat. Heat expands and contracts the canvas making it loose over time.

You can also protect your canvas using a piece of cloth. Use an old piece of cloth to protect your art from cobwebs, dust, and grimes.

Lastly, avoid placing the canvas on the floor. You never know the kinds of crawling insects that might pass over it at night.

RelatedHow To Paint Over Peeling Paint?

How Do I Store Oil Paintings For The Long Term?

You can store oil paintings for the long term by looking for a secure storage facility with minimal contact.

First, wrap the painting in packages to avoid direct contact with elements. Packing your painting keeps it clean and safe.

How Do I Store Oil Paintings For The Long Term

Secondly, select a suitable storage facility with the right temperature and humidity settings. You can consider climate-controlled facilities where humidity and temperatures are kept constant. Get a local storage facility that is safe and secure.

Can You Revive Dried Oil Paint?

You can revive dried oil paint by applying turpentine on a rag and letting it soak on the painting for a few minutes. Make sure you wear gloves and wear protective gear since turpentine can be toxic when inhaled.

Add more turpentine as necessary until the paint softens. You can also apply turpentine to a brush and gently brush the painting until the oil softens.


Well, that’s it! How to store oil paintings while drying is easier when you know the right place and storage conditions. Never let your precious painting go to waste because of a simple storage mistake. You’ve already put in a lot of effort to let your painting go to waste.

Invest in quality drying racks and a secure storage facility in your studio. Limit access and touching of the painting for at least 24 hours for the oil paint to dry. Once the painting is dry, wrap it to protect contact with elements before storing it in a secure storage facility.

Randy Charles
Randy CharlesProfessional Painter

Hi, I’m Randy Charles, the creator and chief editor of this site Paintcentric. I’m a businessman now by profession, but I used to work as a painter earlier in my professional career. There is simply nothing about painting that I didn’t do as a painter. From painting a fridge to a multi-storied building, I left nothing. I retired from my painting job in the mid of 2018 due to back arthritis problems.

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2 thoughts on “How To Store Oil Paintings While Drying?”

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