Like oil paint in a convenient, easy-to-hold form, Oil Sticks consist of a mixture of pigmented drying oil and wax. These large tools are softer than oil pastels, so using them is more like painting than drawing. And, unlike oil pastels, oil sticks completely dry out over time. Oil sticks are great to try if oil painting seems an intimidating medium. Easier to mix and control, they can be used to create similar effects to traditional oils and require the same drying and curing processes. Since the sticks are made up of pigments and wax, they can also be used in encaustic painting and are also suitable for monoprinting. Suffice it to say, oil pigment sticks open up a world of possibilities. Because this support can be very expensive, it is important to buy a good quality set that is comfortable and satisfactory. Here are some oil paint sticks that we like the most.
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1. Jack Richeson Oil Paintstik Professional Set
These oil sticks, sold in packs of 12, have a nice firmness, making them easy to control when adding lines and detail to paintings. While not as creamy as some of our other picks, they are pro-level tools that blend well; the Shiva line also offers a Paintstik colorless mixer to make the process easier. They are self-sealing sticks, developing a skin over time to keep the inside fresh. Artists may also be attracted to their relatively quick drying times: in most cases, the paint is dry to the touch within a day.
Buy: Jack Richeson Oil Paintstik Professional Set
2. R&F Oil Pigment Stick Set
R&F oil sticks are often likened to lipstick. Indeed, like the best lip moisturizer, these have a creamy consistency that provides a soothing glide – they’re even softer than the Senneliers product below. This pleasant suppleness comes from R&F ingredients: pure pigment, natural wax (beeswax and vegetable wax) and linseed oil come together in carefully ground and molded sticks in small quantities. Each stick lays down rich colors that blend easily and can be manipulated with a brush or palette knife. Because these pastels are made without additives, they have a longer dry time than our other options, and dry times vary by color, but R&F provides a handy chart you can consult to plan ahead.
Buy: R&F Oil Pigment Stick Set
3. Jack Richeson Oil Paintstik Student Set
If you’re new to oil sticks, consider Jack Richeson’s student-grade set, which offers a range of 12 standard colors. Like the professional product, these are firm, quick-drying sticks that can help you learn the basics of oil painting without having to use a lot of tools (and the mess that comes with it). Although they contain less pigment than their professional counterparts, the colors are still very vivid and opaque. They are easy to blend when used alone and also integrate well with oil paints.
Buy: Jack Richeson Oil Paintstik Student Set
4. Van Gogh Oil Pastels
If you’re not quite ready to commit to oil sticks, oil pastels are a great alternative. Made with a much lower oil content than oil sticks, they won’t dry out and are particularly useful tools for sketching. This Van Gogh product is a high quality, student quality set with pastels that feel firm and work beautifully, blend easily and flow smoothly without flaking. They have a high pigment to binder ratio, resulting in deep, intense colors whether applied alone, over acrylics or mixed with oils. With 12 to 60 sticks in a set, you also get a great range of shades to work with.
Buy: Van Gogh Oil Pastels
5. Sennelier Artist Oil Sticks
Sennelier, which developed artist-grade oil pastels for Pablo Picasso in 1949, has long been known for its high-end, professional-grade products. The brand’s oil sticks are some of the best in the business. With a smooth feel and saturated colors, they are a worthwhile investment that will last a long time. The sticks are made of pure pigment, safflower oil and high quality mineral wax, and although they spread smoothly, they have just the right amount of drag and aren’t so soft that they smudge. crumble under the pressure. This set of six will get you started with red, yellow, and blue, as well as green, black, and white, and if you like them, you can purchase other colors individually as needed.
Buy: Sennelier Artist Oil Sticks
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