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R&F Pigment Sticks and Encaustic

R&F Pigment Sticks in Encaustic

Disclosure: R&F Handmade Paints sent me free sample size pigment sticks to review for this post.

What are R&F Pigment Sticks?

From the R&F site:

R&F Pigment Sticks® are oil paint manufactured with enough wax for the paint to be molded into stick form.  They allow the painter to draw or paint directly onto a surface without brushes, palettes, paint tubes or solvents.  We use only the basic traditional materials: natural wax (beeswax & plant wax), linseed oil, and pigment, and we use them with absolute purity. The result is an oil stick with a lipstick soft consistency.

How to use R&F Pigment Sticks & Encaustic

I approached using R&F Pigment sticks with a bunch of questions. I found many of my answers on the R&F Website.  Maybe you have some of the same questions?

[clickToTweet tweet=”Questions about how to best use R&F Pigment Sticks with #Encaustic — what I learned pic.twitter.com/XVdca922cM” quote=”Questions about how to best use R&F Pigment Sticks with #Encaustic — what I learned “]

Do I need to be concerned about using too much oil stick with encaustic?

Yes, when using oil sticks with encaustic it is important to understand oil and wax relations and the Wax/Oil Ratio (see the diagram from R&F). There is a danger, archivally, in making a mixture where the amount of oil and the amount of wax are equal.

wax/oil ratio encaustic pigment sticks

What about drying times?  Do I need to let the oil stick dry before I continue to work on the painting?

Encaustic gives to the oil immediate “drying” time. So you can fuse and continue to work without waiting for the oil paint to dry.

Can I put a layer of encaustic on top of the R&F Pigment Stick?

Yes, you can work encaustic over wet oil paint, the wax will encapsulate the oil paint. When adding encaustic over oil, the oil film should still be wet. A dried oil film is not absorbent enough to hold the wax well.

Should I fuse when using R&F Pigment Sticks?

Yes, fusing is important.

  • when working wax over oil the wax should be fused in order to encapsulate the oil. If the oil is not encapsulated it will remain a separate layer, cut off from air, and will never dry. If the oil is too thick you can leave soft spots in the painting. 
  • when working oil paint over wax some fusing should take place. An oil film that is not fused into the wax will dry and adhere, to a certain extent, to the wax. But the greasiness of the wax may cause a separation between the layers over time.

Watch this video demo to see this in action!

4 Ways to use R&F Pigment Sticks with Encaustic

1. to colour wax medium

You can use an oil stick as a colouring agent. Cut the end off of an oil stick and blend it directly into hot, melted wax medium just as you do with tube oils.

 2. to draw

  • You can use R&F pigment sticks to draw gesturally on the surface of an encaustic painting
  • the oil should be kept to a thin layer (remember the wax/oil ratio)
  • fuse the oil into the wax layer underneath. Remember that fusing plays an important part in the adhesion of the oil paint to the wax.
  • even after fusing the top layer of oil stick will take time to dry. Humidity plays a role here.

3.  to fill lines

  • Etch lines into the surface of your encaustic painting.
  • Apply oil stick (or tube oil) to the incised line
  • With a gloved finger rub the oil into the line
  • Take a paper towel and wipe the excess oil from the surface of the painting
  • Gently fuse the surface

If you wish, you can continue to build up additional layers on top of the incised line.

To create an inlay effect, a stencil can be used to carve out a shape that is then filled in with oil stick color.  You can also mask off an area, fill it with oil stick and remove the painter’s tape.

4.  as a glaze over texture

  • Create a textured area on the surface of your painting
  • Apply oil stick (or tube oil) to the fused textured area
  • With a gloved finger (or a brush) rub the oil into the light areas of the board
  • Take a paper towel and wipe the excess oil from the surface of the painting
  • Gently fuse the surface

Nancy Crawford demonstrates this technique in this video.

Over to you…

How have you used R&F Pigment sticks for encaustic painting? Do you have other questions about using R&F Pigment sticks with encaustic?

About Ruth Maude

I enjoy experimenting with a variety of encaustic materials, techniques and tools. Everything I learn pushes my creative journey in new directions. I share what I've learned with other artists through my blog All Things Encaustic.

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9 thoughts on “R&F Pigment Sticks in Encaustic”

  1. sarah williamson

    Thank you for all this information, could you please clarify something for me.
    What I want to do is use R and F pigment sticks on top of encaustic and then put another layer of encaustic on top of the pigment sticks. Is this achievable ? Should I fuse the pigment sticks lightly and then once the encaustic layer is on top fuse again?
    Many Thanks
    Sarah Williamson NZ

  2. Hi Joshua, I’m curious about that too..
    I made a mix of 1 part dammar infused orange essential oil (basically filled the oil with dammar and let it dissolve) /1 part sun thickened linseed oil /1 part beeswax…
    Then I mixed one part that w one part oil paint
    It’s a silky paint that takes forever to dry but has a satiny finish..
    maybe next time I’d try a little less linseed since already linseed in the oil paint..

  3. Hey!!
    Thanks so much for this helpful information! I’ve been looking everywhere for this info! I think R&F recently removed their forum page 🙁 Can you please give me some advice..

    Originally I was making oil sticks with linseed oil and it would dry totally fine. They were soft, similar in consistency to lipstick. But I recently switched to a new recipe because I wanted to get a much harder consistency, similar to small oil pastels used for drawing (but I want them to dry). In order to achieve this I started using a recipe with much less oil:

    2 Parts Oil Paint (Whatever Color)
    4 Parts Wax
    1 Part Linseed Oil

    I figured I could just replace the non-drying oil of the small oil pastels with drying oil. It’s been working great but taking a while to dry and I’m not sure it will ever completely dry. I’ve been painting on wood panels but I wonder if this technique/formula will have technical/archival problems. Can you please give me your thoughts? Should I be using damar crystals?

  4. My issue is that when i use it to fill in a line, for example, and then wipe with a cloth, and lightly fuse, I still get smearing when I cover with a layer of wax. Or a hole opens up in the line when i fuse after adding a layer. Any tips to deal with the smearing in particular?

      1. Bonjour,
        Je souhaite acheter des bâtonnets de cire . Pouvez vous me donner une adresse où me les procurer ? Je cherche depuis longtemps sans trouver… merci beaucoup d’avance !

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