R&F Pigment Sticks

A couple of years ago I was looking to try new oils and after a lot of research I found out about these R&F pigment sticks. I also found out that they manufacture them in Kingston NY, only a 2-hour drive from me. It was a Friday; my husband came home that day and I had our bags packed! A little R&R and discovery I booked us a room at the Church Des Artistes Guest House (Fab place!)

We drove straight to the factory and I was totally in awe. They have open studios, workshops and tons of these sticks. Well, they had these little brown bags for sale that were filled with the bits and ends of sticks leftover from the workshop. It was all new to me, so I just purchased several surprise bags! I put them on top of the air conditioner at the guest house because I was so afraid they would melt. We had a blast in Kingston, but I just couldn’t wait to get home to play with these babies. On the way home, the next day in about 100 degree weather the car air conditioner broke. It was fine for me, but I was so afraid my oil sticks would melt and be like a pile of melted crayons that I opened the windows and had my husband hold the bags out the window to catch the breeze. Seriously, I wasn’t having it.

Well the rest is history!! Since then these, sticks have sat in my 85-degree studio and they never melt like that. And they definitely don’t melt like crayons, all waxy. They are creamy and luscious like expensive lipstick.

These oil sticks are the bomb as far as painting mediums go! Unlike other oil pigment sticks, this brand only has a very little bit of wax, just enough to hold them together. When they hit the surface, they start to get creamy with the friction of the canvas. I love painting directly on the surface with the raw sticks, but I also use a palette knife to scrape the oil and put directly on the canvas. The result is totally different than using regular store-bought oils, there is a grittiness to it that is important to me when playing with textures on the canvas. Yes, I tried mixing oils with marble dust and all kinds of things, but something is special about these sticks.

You can also mix them with any medium you would mix with regular oils.

Okay so you know I hate doing videos, but I just did a short one to show you if you are not familiar with them. I did this on cardboard which is really different from canvas, but you get the idea. Have you ever used these? Let me know!

PS - :) You will see me doing several scrapes off the stick with the palette knife when watching this video, it is for a reason. If I just dig out a chunk it only creams up the top layer, if I scrape bits at a time and then apply it to the surface, its luscious! And…there is a skin that forms over the stick, you have to scrape it off, or if it’s on the top you can use a paper towel to gently twist the outside of the top off.

Susan Washington