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Crafting with Oil Paint Sticks: A Colorful, Versatile and Fun Craft Medium

oil paint sticks are familiar to many fine artists, but have recently gained popularity among crafters as well. Once you try these jumbo crayon look-alikes, you’ll know why. They are similar to oil pastels in consistency, but come in a wide range of gorgeous colors, blend like a dream, and are incredibly versatile. They can be applied to paper, cardstock, fabric, wood, metal and a variety of other surfaces and they dry on their own. These art supplies are fun to work with!

When the sticks arrive, you’ll find that they are covered in a “skin” preventing you from painting. This skin forms on the exposed stick in about 24 hours and will protect your paint stick (and furniture) in storage. To get started, you simply scrape off the outer layer using a paper towel, craft knife or even a fingernail. To prevent waste, remove only enough skin for you to comfortably draw with the stick.

This is where the fun begins because the options for these little wonders are many. Use the sticks to stencil your walls. Create your own fabric. Write messages in your mixed media. Paint a picture. If you’re looking for a stunning background image for a card, collage, or scrapbook page, try this simple technique (it’s my personal favorite!):

Choose 2 or 3 complimentary colors and begin to scribble in patches on your painting surface. Then, using a blending tool, soft cloth, or your finger, gently rub the design until the colors begin to blend together. You can layer colors to create different shades. The effect is wonderful on transparent and translucent media such as acetate, vellum and glass.

Allow the oils to dry overnight, longer if you have built up a thick layer of the paints or are working on a non-porous surface. Most work will be dry within 24 hours. Although the paint will dry on fabric, you will want to heat set it to fully protect your work.

There are a few additional things you should know about working with oil paint sticks:

• You may experience mild oil paint fumes, despite manufacturer claims to the contrary
• Clean-up is recommended with turpentine, but a good scrub with soap and water should remove it from your skin
• They have a wax base and will melt under hot temperatures
• Some colors may not be appropriate for skin contact, so always read the safety information on the packaging
Oil-based paint sticks are available from a few manufacturers, and each will have their own attributes. Shop around at your favorite art supply store until you find the sticks that work best for your art with the color palette that appeals to you most. To get you started, you might try Shiva Artist’s Paintstik® Oil Colors or R&F Pigment Sticks. Make sure to come back and share what you’ve done!