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Introduction to Pigment Sticks and Oil Bars

I generally use oil and pigment sticks when I'm starting a painting to get some initial marks down on the paper but they can also be used to work into a painting. They basically enable you to draw with oil paint.

I'm a big fan of oil and pigment sticks especially the R&F ones which glide beautifully onto your surface.  They refer to them as "lipstick soft" on their website which is a pretty good description of them.

They are very different to the oil sticks I've used before such as Winsor and Newton or Sennelier ones which are "stiffer".  The differences in these sticks can be explained by their composition. With the Sennelier and Winsor and Newton oil sticks a proportion of the oil is substituted for mineral wax. The pigment stick however, uses beeswax and plant wax which reduces the amount of wax needed and results in softer consistency.

Both sticks can form a skin on them, like traditional oil paint does when it starts to dry, which you need to peel off to get to the soft oil.


How to use:

  • If applying with the oil / pigment stick directly to your painting then the painting does need to be somewhat dry in order to transfer your marks and ensure you are not just moving paint about.
  • Alternatively take a piece of greaseproof paper or waxy tissue and rub on the pigment stick. Place the paper onto your painting, pigment side down, and draw into your painting. This is a great way to incorporate different types of marks and lines into your painting.