Painting In Cold Weather

Painting In Cold Weather

Can Oil & Acrylic Paint Handle The Cold Weather?

Is your studio a sauna in the summer forcing you to paint in your undies only to feel like a meat storage in the winter where your fingers seize up and icicles form on the end of your nose?  Well it’s time to dig out the fingerless gloves.  The temperature is dropping!  Not quite what I would call baltic but well on its way.

Unless you are made of sterner stuff winter can be a frustrating time of year for artists.  Painting in cold weather is not as fun as in the warmer months and the lack of daylight can make the sunniest of studios gloomy and uninspiring.

With the help of thermals and coffee we can continue painting in cold weather but how does it affect the performance of our paints?


Painting In Cold Weather With Acrylic Paint

Painting In Cold Weather With Acrylics:

Oil Paints and Acrylic Paints perform differently in lower temperatures.

Golden Paint company recommends using Acrylics “only at temperatures above 10°C (about 50°F)” and to keep the painting above this temperature for at least a week once it has dried.

Painting in lower temperatures can work to the acrylic artists advantage and slow down the drying rate of the Acrylic Paint.  However temperatures below 9°C (49°F) will result in the polymer solids being unable to form a continuous film and possible cracking.

Acrylic paints, mediums and varnishes should not be given the chance to freeze.  They will become useless and unworkable.

Here’s The Science Bit!

When Acrylic Paint dries the water evaporates making the surface feel dry.  It is the second stage of the process that causes complications when painting in cold weather.  This curing phase can vary in time depending on the thickness of the paint layers.  As the paint dries to a flexible plastic film it chemically changes from a liquid to a solid and shrinks.  If the paint cannot dry to a durable film it will be weakened and prone to cracking.

In a word Acrylic Paints don’t like sudden drops in temperature.  If you are lucky enough to have a warm cosy studio then by all means happily continue your acrylic painting.


Winsor & Newton Mayfair Oil Set
Winsor & Newton’s Mayfair Set is an ideal gift for the Oil Painter.

The Good News!

The good news is that Oil Paints cope very well in cold weather.  The lower temperatures won’t necessarily interfere with your oil painting.  Oil paints, mediums and varnishes are fairly robust and will not freeze without putting up a fight!  This makes them the ideal medium for painting in cold weather.


So wrap up this winter and put fingerless gloves, thermals and daylight bulbs on your Christmas list alongside paints, canvas and brushes that is!


Get great deals on Oil Paint and quality Art Supplies at Pullingers Art Shop.

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