Storing My Montana Acrylic Markers

April 11, 2018
I have a small clearer’s caddy—the type of handled, open-topped case that people who clean efficiently (professionals and other efficient folks) use to carry their cleaning products and tools from one room to the next. These are available in hardware and home stores, as well as online. This one cost about US$ 8. 

I am frequently asked how I store my Montana Acrylic Markers.

As you can see from the photo I use a cleaner’s caddy. 

I cut stiff cardboard dividers to insert into the two main wells. These dividers are held in place with tape on both sides so that they don’t move. (See the side of the white pen area.)

By keeping similar colors of pens together I can reach quickly for a new pen as needed.

Because the caddy is a caddy it has a handle (center piece as you look down is open for grabbing). I can pick the caddy up and move from room to room with my markers. I can use them anywhere I want. (We have no paint-free zones in our house.)

The center partition on the topside (as you look down in this photo) contains masking and washi tapes for a project I was working on when I took this photo.

When I use Montana Markers in the field I carry them upright in a vertical pencil case so that they sit upright in my fanny pack. I typically only have one or two with me when I’m out and about running errands.

If I am sketching for the day and want to carry several I have a large pocket that I made which hangs from my fanny pack belt loop. It can hold about 10 of these markers. I sewed the pocket one morning before going to the Minnesota State Fair, when I realized I didn’t want to reach in and out of my pack all the time for the markers. The pocket has an open top and the back end of the pocket continues upward and over to the back, to create the loop for the belt.

I’m sure a more talented seamstress who wasn’t pushing a time crunch could have come up with a better design. The one I made has lasted for 4 years of hard use (it’s upholstery fabric I happened to have on hand). I’m really pleased with myself that it has the pleated bottom so it’s boxy! You can make a lot of things very fast that are more than good enough, and get on with sketching!




    • Paul
    • April 11, 2018

    Thanks for the tip Roz. So markers don’t need to be stored horizontally?

    1. Reply

      I don’t think you can make a blanket statement about any pen. I have friends who use some odd pens that I can’t use because of odor and they have all sorts of labels from the manufacturer stating how to store them.

      I’ve got 5 year old (or older) Montana markers, most have their original nibs. All work great when stored upright. I don’t store them face down because they had a habit of dripping off the nib (I use the 15 mm thick nibs which are large and hold a lot of paint) into the cap, and when you shake them or take off the cap the loose, splashed paint will come off on you.

      I carry them upright in my purse because I do that with all my pens to avoid leakage issues (though these have never leaked in my pack/purse).

      If Montana has storage recommendations I haven’t seen them.

      I can only speak to what’s worked for me over the years. Obviously I’m really into the portability but this mode of storage also allows me to see everything at a glance.

        • Paul
        • April 12, 2018

        Good to know, thanks Roz.

    • Carrie Arnold
    • April 13, 2018

    Hi Roz,
    I’ve been storing my Monatana (and Liquitex and —more recently acquired Ironlak) markers in a ArtBin box that can be set on it’s side. The markers lay horizontally. The print on the side of the Liqutex markers indicate storing them that way; the Ironlak don’t say anything about storage. Based on your post above, I guess it may not really matter!
    Incidentally, the Montana’s are my definite favorite over the Liquitex; I like the Montana’s softer, “feltier” tips and matte finish. The Liquitex fiber nibs are harder and don’t “break in” the same way the Montana’s do. The Liquitex, though, have more, and more subtle, color options to choose from, so I’ve ended up with quite a few of them as I’ve been exploring painting with them. They do have a solvent-y smell. Slight, but it’s there. It doesn’t bother me, really.
    I’m intrigued by Golden’s new line of high flow paints that are designed to fill empty markers. The color range is unlimited, since you can mix your own colors before filling up the markers. I’ve never used their products, though. I may try out a few of their colors one of these days.
    Thanks for an entertaining, thoughtful & informative blog, Roz!

    1. Reply

      Carrie, I’ve had all sorts of markers over my life time and some manufacturers state a way to store and others don’t. I know for instance that people used to go on and on about Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Brush pens being stored horizontally. I store mine upright in my various “pencil” cups and they last forever.

      The Graphik Liners or Paint Pens by Derwent I recall have a storage recommendation on them—but no matter what I did with them they leaked everywhere just resting.

      The method I’ve written about here has been no problem in five years of heavy use.

      All brands have little quirks and Liquitex might tell people to lay them horizontally because their mechanism is different from their competitors or that their paint is. I have about 4 of the Liquitex paint pens filled with MONTANA paint and they are all stored upright and have been for the past two years without any problems. So it may be the Liquitex paint. I CANNOT use the Liquitex paint because of the smell. I categorize that more than a slight smell. I’m glad you can tolerate it.

      But I bought the Liquitex pens, emptied them of paint before getting any on the nib, and then refilled with Montana. I wanted the calligraphy tips that Liquitex came out with early.

      You can make ANY COLOR YOU WANT with the Montana paint. Just buy the refill bottles and mix your own colors. I do that all the time. Empty pens are available too.

      I’ve used Golden’s high flow line in their markers I wish they would sell the empty markers (maybe they are now? It was annoying to have to buy a new set of paints to get a couple markers.) The paint is more translucent and not as opaque as the Montana or the Molotow.

      Have fun experimenting. And start mixing your own colors with Montana. Life’s too short to sketch within a cloud of chemical smell!

    • Carrie Arnold
    • April 20, 2018

    Thanks for the good tips, Roz. I think I will get some refills so I can mix colors in the future. I have several empty markers that I’ve cleaned out, figuring I’d get around to refilling someday., so I’m already good to go in that regard. I’m glad to hear that the Montana colors mix well. And that none of us needs to be so worried about how we store them. I do find that I’ve had to replace tips/nibs on the 2mm smaller markers from time to time. Those are much more susceptible to getting crusty, and a good overnight soak doesn’t always clean them out.
    On a side note, I know you’re wrapped up with so many projects and ongoing current classes, but I’ll be the first to line up if you decide to present a painting class in the future; either watercolor or gouache.

    • angela
    • September 8, 2018

    Hi. Great Post! I just started using montana markers and i love them. But i have noticed the tips dry out quickly (live in a hot dry area) even though I keep the caps on tight. Do you wash your nibs after each use? Any suggestions for keeping the nibs ready to use from day to day? Thanks!

    1. Reply

      I don’t have my markers dry out unless they are empty and I’ve been through lots of cycles of filing with one nib. So I’m not sure what is happening for you. Do you shake them enough before you start using them so that the paint is fully mixed? If you don’t I suppose you might be clogging the nib or alternately you might be using the moisture from the paint up and leaving only more solid stuff behind that won’t flow?

      I really don’t know what’s happening for you because it doesn’t happen in my practice. I put the lids on after using them and that’s it. I store them upright just for ease because the of the carrier I have—this keeps the paint out of the nibs, but and paint is in the nibs from the last use but when I shake them, pump them, and start to draw they always work, even if it has been awhile since I’ve used one. (A while would be a couple months because there are sometimes I don’t use them often.)

      I NEVER wash the nibs. EVER. That would be too labor intensive and I wouldn’t want to use them.

      I hope you can find out what’s happening.

      Be sure you are really closing the caps though, because sometimes they don’t close easily.

    2. Reply

      Angela I am having the same problem – the tip stops flowing and a skin forms on the nib while I am trying to use them. Am I using them for too long before putting the cap back on? Did you find a solution? I’m wondering if I should pull the nibs out and soak them in hot water or just plunk the whole pen in hot water…? It is disappointing to have them only work for a half a day even with me putting the lid back on everytime i stop using it… I have tried looking up video how to’s and this drying up tip problem doesn’t seem to be addressed…except by saying to replace it with a new one…

      1. Reply

        Jan, I use mine for some time without putting the cap back on. I’ve never had this happen to any of mine. Are you sure you are closing the cap each time you use it? I only have a few thin nibs and mostly use the 15mm or 30mm nib sizes so maybe they are so large they keep hydrated.

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