Oil Paint Sticks Techniques: Best How To Tips For Art

Learn how to use oil paint sticks techniques, so you can create stunning pieces that showcase your creativity and skills that are much easier and faster than using oil paints. 

Oil paint sticks are like painting and drawing at the same time.

Oil Stick Painting Techniques

Ever wondered how to get the most out of your oil paint sticks? They’re a flexible medium that can be as expressive or as controlled as you’d like. Here are some techniques to experiment with:

Layering Colors

  • Overlap different hues to achieve depth and complexity in your artwork. I would start with lighter colors and layer darker ones.

Intensity Matters

  • For bolder strokes, press the stick firmly against your canvas. This will compress more of the oil paint stick into the canvas making the colors more intense.

Blend Away

Wet vs. Dry

  • For a smoother look, paint wet on wet. Want more defined edges? Let each layer dry before adding another.

Scribble and Spread

  • Have some fun by scribbling! Add a touch of turpentine and watch the magic as you spread the color around.

Glazing Magic

  • Create stunning glazes by painting over a thin layer of glazing medium applied over previous paint layers.

The beauty of oil paint sticks is that they can be used on virtually any surface, much like traditional oils. 

And once you’ve painted, you’re not limited to the oil paint stick itself. Feel free to integrate brushes, solvents, and rags to manipulate the paint further.

Remember, patience is key because oil paint sticks might take a little longer to dry, ranging from 2 to 5 days based on the thickness of your application and the environment. 

This slow drying time is a blessing in disguise, allowing you ample time to blend and achieve the perfect shade.

You’ll discover that this versatile medium can produce astonishing results as you explore various oil paint stick techniques.

Whether you’re a seasoned artist or just beginning your creative journey, oil paint sticks can unlock new artistic avenues and make your work even more engaging and visually stunning. 

So, let’s go deeper down this rabbit hole of oil paint sticks techniques.

oil paint sticks techniques

Basics of Oil Paint Sticks

Oil paint sticks, sometimes called oil bars or even stick form, are drawing tools popular among oil painters.

These solid oil paints come in various brands, such as R&F Pigment Sticks and Sennelier Oil Sticks. They can be an excellent alternative to standard oil painting materials.

The main advantage of using oil sticks lies in their stick shape, making them more convenient and less messy than traditional oil paints. 

You can handle them like regular drawing tools to create textures, lines, and shapes. Plus, the non-drying oil component allows you to blend them smoothly.

Oil Paint Sticks How To Use

To begin using oil sticks, first remove the film around the paint by wiping the tip with a clean paper towel or rag. 

Then, apply the oil stick directly onto the canvas, like any other drawing tool. 

The pressure you apply will determine the thickness of the paint layer. Light pressure will produce thin layers, while firm pressure will give you thicker lines.

Can you mix oil paint sticks?

Some artists prefer to mix oil stick colors on a palette, blending them with a brush or a palette knife before applying them to the canvas.

You can also mix oil sticks with standard oil paints, creating unique effects and color variations.

Blending oil sticks is a key feature, allowing you to create seamless transitions between colors and shades.

Depending on your desired effect, you can blend them with your fingers, a brush, or a blending tool. 

Be careful when using anything other than your fingers to ensure the paint remains evenly spread.

Do Oil Paint Sticks Dry?

Remember that oil paint sticks may take longer to dry than other forms of oil paints. Give your artwork time to settle as the drying process takes place.

Remember that each brand of oil stick and oil stick medium will differ in drying times, so always check the manufacturer’s guidelines.

By understanding and incorporating the basics of using oil paint sticks, you can make the most of this versatile medium to achieve exciting, vibrant paintings that showcase your creativity and talent.

Can You Use Oil Sticks With Other Mediums?

Oil sticks can be combined with various other mediums. Here’s a breakdown of how you can use oil sticks with other artistic mediums:

Traditional Oil Paints

  • Blend with Paints: Oil sticks are essentially oil paints in a stick form. You can easily combine them with tube oil paints for different textures and effects.
  • Underpainting: Use oil sticks for sketching or underpainting, and then apply layers of traditional oil paints on top.


  • Layering: If you’re layering, always remember the rule “fat over lean.” Acrylics dry quickly and can serve as a base, but always apply oil sticks or oil paints over dried acrylics, not the other way around.

Charcoal and Pastels

  • Mixed Media Artwork: Combine oil sticks with charcoal or pastels to achieve unique textures and effects. However, it’s essential to be aware that mixing with pastels (which are powdery) might affect the overall sheen and finish.


  • Watercolor Base: Watercolors can serve as a beautiful, translucent base. Once your watercolor painting is completely dry, you can apply oil sticks over it for added texture and vibrancy. However, note that oil will resist any subsequent watercolor applications.

Mediums and Solvents

  • Turpentine & Mineral Spirits: You can use these to thin down the consistency of oil sticks or to blend them further, similar to how you’d use them with regular oil paints.
  • Cold Wax Medium: Combining cold wax with oil sticks can create a buttery, matte texture, perfect for layering and adding depth.

Collage Materials

  • Mixed Media Collage: Incorporate oil sticks into mixed media projects by using them alongside paper, fabric, or other materials. The oil stick can help unify the different components through color and texture.


  1. Always test your materials before combining them in a final artwork, as reactions and compatibilities might vary.
  2. Make sure to consider the drying time of each medium. When layering different mediums, ensure the underlying layer is dry to prevent unwanted smudging or mixing.
oil paint tubes

Comparing Oil Sticks and Traditional Oil Paint

Oil Stick Vs Tubes of Oil Paint

Oil sticks, also known as oil bars and pigment sticks, are made from pure pigment, a drying oil like linseed or safflower oil, and a small amount of wax.

This composition allows them to be molded into cylindrical bars. They dry and cure like traditional oil paint, making them compatible with regular oil painting techniques. 

On the other hand, tubes of oil paint contain paint in a creamy consistency, ready to be applied directly to the canvas.

The main difference between these two mediums lies in their application methods. Oil sticks can be used to draw directly onto the canvas, allowing you to create bold lines and rich textures. 

Meanwhile, oil paint tubes require a brush or palette knife for application.

Oil Stick Vs Acrylic Paints

Oil stick paintings and acrylic paintings have distinct properties.

Oil sticks share the rich colors and blending capabilities of traditional oil paint, while acrylic paints are water-based and dry quickly.

Acrylic paint is versatile and can be applied to a variety of surfaces including canvas and paper.

When choosing between these mediums, necessary considerations include drying time and the desired outcome.

If you prefer working at a faster pace and need quick-drying paint, acrylics will be your best choice.

But if you want to build up layers and achieve a more complex, vibrant finish, oil sticks may be your ideal medium.

Oil Stick Vs Pastel Paintings

Both oil stick paintings and oil pastel paintings can offer vibrant colors and unique textures, but they are distinct in their composition and drying properties.

Oil sticks dry and cure like traditional oil paint, integrating smoothly with oil painting techniques. 

On the other hand, oil pastels are made from a non-drying oil and wax binder, which means they retain their creamy consistency and do not dry.

When using oil sticks, an artist can easily layer and blend colors to create depth and rich hues. 

Oil pastels are better suited for achieving soft, delicate lines and blending colors gently on pastel paper. 

While oil sticks and oil pastels both offer vibrant color options, your choice of medium depends on the desired effect and your working preferences.

Understanding Materials and Composition

Composition of the Oil Stick

Oil sticks are made up of pure pigments mixed with drying oils like linseed or safflower oil and a small amount of natural waxes.

This combination helps create a easy-to-handle and moldable cylindrical bar.

The quality of oil sticks can vary, but the finest oil paints are usually made in small batches, ensuring a high concentration of pure pigments.

Understanding the Binders

Binders play a vital role in oil sticks. They hold the pigments together and allow you to paint without the need for a brush. The most common binders used in oil sticks include:

  • Drying oils: Linseed oil and safflower oil are popular choices. They help the paint dry and cure, making it fully compatible with traditional oil painting techniques.
  • Mineral wax: This non-drying mineral oil acts as a distancing factor for the brush, helping create a smooth, buttery consistency for the paint.
  • Natural waxes: These waxes, such as beeswax, work alongside the drying oils, giving the oil stick its shape and structure.

The right balance of binders ensures that your oil stick has the proper texture and performance characteristics.

For example, a wax binder mixed with a vegetable oil medium helps to produce a more stable paint film.

When you use oil sticks, be careful to understand the composition and the binders. Knowing which materials are in your oil sticks will help you create stunning artwork and make the most of this versatile medium.

So, go ahead, try out some techniques, and have fun experimenting with oil paint sticks in your art.

More Oil Paint Sticks Techniques

Drawing with Oil Sticks

Oil sticks, such as Sennelier oil sticks, are a versatile and exciting painting tool.

You can create bold and dynamic lines by holding the stick like a drawing tool and applying it directly to your drawing paper or canvas.

Experiment with different techniques by using the edge of the sleeve for fine details or applying pressure to create broader strokes.

Remember, as with oil painting, it is key to build up layers gradually.

Creating Layers with Oil Sticks

You can create beautiful, textured layers in your artwork using oil sticks.

To start, lay down a base color using a Winsor & Newton oil stick or another similar brand.

Next, use a palette knife to gently scrape away the top layer of paint, revealing the underlying color. 

This technique allows you to create visually striking contrasts. 

Keep in mind the oil painting rules and allow each layer to dry using a cobalt drier before you apply the next. 

This approach will prevent any unwanted blending of colors.

Using Oil Sticks with Other Media

Combining oil sticks with other media can open up a whole new world of creative possibilities.

For example, you can use brushes dipped in solvent or a painting medium to blend oil stick colors directly on the canvas.

This will allow you to establish soft transitions between hues, developing depth and subtlety in your work.

Mixing oil sticks with dry media, such as charcoal or pastel, can create interesting textural effects. Just be careful with the compatibility of your chosen media to ensure a long-lasting and stable artwork.

Your creative process comes alive as you explore the versatility of oil paint sticks. Enjoy experimenting and discovering new techniques that work for you.

Tips on Cleaning and Preservation

Removing the Protective Film

When starting your artwork with oil sticks, the first step is to remove the film that forms on the paint’s surface.

To do this, insert the tip of the oil dipstick into a piece of paper towel or a clean cloth.

Hold a paper towel or rag tightly over the tip.

Twist the stick inside to remove the film. Now, you’re ready to begin creating your new artwork!

Cleaning Your Tools

After you’ve finished using your oil paint sticks, it’s necessary to clean your tools properly. Here’s a simple step-by-step guide:

Palette knives

Wipe off any excess paint using a paper towel. Then, clean the tool with baby wipes or a cloth soaked in mineral spirits. Rinse with water and dry it.

Paper towel

When cleaning your tools, you’ll need paper towels to remove excess paint. Keep in mind that dirty paper towels should be disposed of properly.

Aluminum foil

You can use aluminum foil as a disposable surface for mixing oil painting mediums. Simply place it on your palette and mix colors safely. You can easily throw it away after each use.

Mineral spirits

These are handy for removing oil paint from your brushes, palette knives, and surfaces. Always remember to use them in a well-ventilated area, and wear gloves for safety.

Baby wipes

A gentle yet effective way to clean up small spills, excess paint, or even your hands. They work best for fresh paint and can be used to remove oil paint from surfaces.

Oil painting mediums

When using mediums, it’s key to ensure they’re compatible with your oil paint sticks and your chosen surface.

And remember to clean your tools and containers after use to keep them in good condition.

By following these tips, you can maintain the quality of your artwork and extend the life of your tools.

Popular Brands and Their Unique Characteristics

R&F Pigment Sticks

Known for their high-quality ingredients, R&F Pigment Sticks offer a smooth and buttery texture that’s perfect for blending and layering.

They’re made with pure, intense pigments, giving your artwork stunning color and depth.

Sennelier Oil Sticks

Sennelier is a respected brand with a rich history in the art world.

Their oil sticks contain pure pigment, fine safflower oil, and mineral wax, which makes them glide smoothly onto your canvas.

These artist-grade sticks are well-loved for their vivid colors and glossy paint finish.

Winsor & Newton

Another top choice for artists, Winsor & Newton’s oil sticks provide a creamy texture that’s easy to apply and blend.

The brand is recognized for its commitment to quality, so you can trust your work will have a professional look and feel.

Jake Richeson Shiva Artist’s Paintstiks

Shiva Artist’s Paintstiks are very versatile and can be used for a variety of techniques.

They dry quickly, allowing you to create layers without waiting too long.

Richeson Shiva Paintstiks offer similar features and are a great option for canvases, paper, and wood surfaces.

Van Gogh

Named after the famous artist, Van Gogh oil sticks offer rich and intense colors.

They’re also made from quality ingredients that ensure your artwork will last.

Choosing Van Gogh oil sticks is a good idea if you’re looking for a reliable brand with a solid reputation.

To summarize, some of the best brands for oil paint sticks are:

  • R&F Pigment Sticks
  • Sennelier Oil Sticks
  • Winsor & Newton
  • Richeson Shiva Paintstiks
  • Van Gogh

Each of these brands offers unique characteristics, so find the one that suits your artistic style and needs the best.

If you purchase cheaper and less known brands, you may find that the oil sticks may have a more oily consistency where they leave an oily residue on your surface. They may also crumble more as you apply additional pressure. They may also have an aged oil smell to them.

They will be ok to use, but they will not be of the highest quality. Use them only for learning purposes or if you wish to experiment with your new found oil paint sticks techniques.

Keep experimenting with different brands and techniques to find the perfect combination for your artwork. You will also find that among the top brands that you will not notice much of a difference, so do not get worked up trying to find the best oil sticks for painting.

Tips for Mastering and Experimenting with Oil Paint Sticks

Oil paint sticks allow you to explore your creativity beyond standard oil painting materials. These unique sticks resemble oil pastels but possess the characteristics of traditional oil paints.

They’re easy to use, making them perfect for both beginners and professional artists. Here are some tips to help you make the most of this versatile medium.

Choosing the right surface

Oil paint sticks adhere well to various surfaces like canvas, drawing paper, and even acrylic painting backgrounds. Experiment with different surfaces to see which one suits your painting style best.

Preparing your oil stick

New oil sticks are often covered with a thin film. Remove this film by wiping the tip with a paper towel or clean rag. This will expose the vibrant paint underneath.

Drying time

Unlike acrylics, oil paint sticks take longer to dry. Be patient and give your artwork adequate drying time.

If you’re in a hurry, you can add a small amount of cobalt drier to hasten the process.

Blending and layering

Use a palette knife or your fingers to blend colors and create unique textures on your artwork.

Oil paint sticks blend well, allowing you to experiment with various painting techniques.

Combining with other mediums

Feel free to mix oil paint sticks with other mediums like traditional oil paints, watercolors, or inks. This will add depth and diversity to your artwork.

Creating textures

Take advantage of the oil stick medium’s unique characteristics by scraping, scratching, or stippling the paint on your surface.

This will give your artwork an interesting, textured appearance.

Using open stock (loose, unpackaged items)

Start with open-stock oil paint sticks to try different colors before committing to a set. This will help you pick colors that best suit your artistic vision.

Open stock means that individual items are sold separately or loosely rather than as part of a set or package. This allows artists to purchase individual colors or items without committing to a full set.

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