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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

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

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

It is not wise to put encaustic on top of a layer of wet Pigment Stick (or oil paint). The oil paint can leave soft spots in the painting. It is best practice to only use pigment sticks on the final layer of your painting. If you do need to add further wax on top of the pigment stick, pat the surface with a paper towel to remove excess and absorb as much of the linseed oil as possible.

Should I fuse when using R&F Pigment Sticks?

Yes, fusing is important. An oil film that is not fused into the wax will dry and adhere, to a certain extent, to the wax but a separation between the layers may occur over time.

4 Ways to use R&F Pigment Sticks with Encaustic

 1. to draw

  • You can use R&F pigment sticks to draw gesturally on the final 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.

2.  to fill lines

  • Etch lines into the surface of your encaustic painting.
  • Apply oil stick 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 – you may wish to use R&F Blending Medium for this
  • Gently fuse the surface

3.  with stencils

  • Lay a stencil on your painting and fill the stencil design with pigment stick using a brayer
  • Flip the stencil over and use a brayer to repeat the inverse design elsewhere on the painting surface

4.  as a glaze

  • Apply pigment stick to the painting surface
  • With a gloved finger 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 – you may wish to use R&F Blending Medium for this
  • Gently fuse the surface

In this video, the late Nancy Crawford demonstrates how pigment stick can be used to enhance texture

Over to you…

How have you used R&F Pigment sticks?

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

  1. Hi Ruth,
    I am new to encaustic and have been using R and F pigment sticks to paint with on top of an encaustic ground. My main question is about adherence. 1. Will the pigment stick adhere long term to the encaustic base? 2. Do I need to fuse after painting? 3. Can I do a layer of encaustic on top of the pigment stick painting?
    THANK YOU for any information you can give me!!
    Mary Lynn Kellogg

    1. Hi Mary, yes the pigment stick will dry and adhere to the encaustic. Yes, fuse the pigment stick. It is best to use pigment sticks as the final layer. Hope this helps.

  2. 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

    1. Hi Sarah,
      After applying the pigment stick, cover it with some paper to absorb the linseed oil and remove any excess paint. If you can lift the paper and not pick up any pigment stick, then you can fuse it. At this point if you wish to apply more encaustic medium, it should be fine.

  3. 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..

  4. 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?

  5. 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. Hi Jennell, After removing the excess pigment stick, I suggest rubbing some tissue paper over the area until the paper comes away clean. Then, if you add a layer of encaustic medium, you shouldn’t experience any smearing.

      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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