Shiva Paintstik Demo

This is a demo done by  for a tutorial on using oil sticks (also sometimes known as oil bars) , please visit the Art and Artistry forum for more useful demos, membership is free :) Also, see this thread to also see a paintstik demo done by cj Kelly.


Paintstiks are oil paints in stick form consisting of linseed oil as a pigment binder along with enough wax to make it solid. They come in a split side cardboard tube that the stick can be pushed out of.

This is my collection of Shiva Paintstiks, 56 colors, sorted by temperature, divided into rows using wooden chopsticks. No worries about them drying out since they form a skin which is easily rubbed off, along with all contaminants the next time you want to use them.

The Paintstiks can be used in many different ways, you can paint directly using it as a drawing tool, or with brushes, knives or rags and you can use any medium you would use with regular oils. The advantage is that they dry a lot quicker than  tube oils and are very good for alla prima work, you mix the colors right on your support.  You can intermix them with oils also.

For this demo I'll be painting a simple wall vase with tulips . I wanted a slightly textured yellowish background, leaning a touch green. So I took my citron yellow and dipped it in an oil medium that is higher in solvent ratio. I'm using a 9x12 sheet of watercolor paper and didn't want to soak it in solvent, the wax content in the Paintstiks allows paper to be used, unlike with straight oil paints where there's a higher ratio of linseed oil that can eat into the paper over time. Dipping it softens it just enough to flow easily and I just lightly scribbled it all over the paper, barely uses any paint, but it's enough for my purposes, since I will then take a giant size stick of titanium white and blend it wet into wet.

In less than a minute I had my background done and with the texture I wanted. If I had wanted a smoother texture I could then brush it out or for a heavier texture I could apply more and manipulate it with either a knife or big brush.

The bluish tone in the corner is due to a cast shadow, but I could gradate any color in until I have the effect I wanted. Here's a close can see the raised paint creating purplish shadows, most of the watercolor paper texture is covered, these paints apply thickly if you bear down or thinly

Usually Paintstiks dry overnight, titanium may take longer, and I'm in a dry climate, it can take two days in a very humid place perhaps. Also, they are only touch dry then, so you can paint over them without lifting any color, but if you want to drybrush vigorously give them more time to dry. It's nice to have a pre-toned surface done with the sticks, it enables you to scrape down to the original color once it's dried.

As you can see, any color can be moderated to the tone you wish by mixing it on canvas with another color or two. I like applying it this way as you get an optical mix, whereas sometimes overbrushing gives too blended a look.

My tulips will be yellow and orangish red so this base color will not affect the color too much, the vase is cobalt, but so much darker that it shouldn't lean green. The paintstiks tend to be more opaque, but can be brushed on lightly for more transparent effects. But even though they are opaque, remember that the under color will influence the colors laid on it.

Usually I don't break my sticks but this one was already broken...I don't recommend it, the cardboard tubes keep the paint from getting all over your hands. I lay in the color almost to the edges, since I'll be pushing the paint where I want it to go with brushes and perhaps a knife. The flowers are only about an inch and a half wide...a bit hard to get details in something that small, but I wanted to show what the sticks are capable of even in small areas. I could get super detailed if I let the painting dry and went back in with a tiny brush and some medium, just like in a regular oil painting.

I then use a small flat to drop in my shadow colors. I just wipe the brush across the top of the stick and lightly lay in my shapes. I can then push my yellow up to the edges and blend into the tones. I wipe my brush a lot so I'm not contaminating areas I want to stay pure. If the brush is heavily loaded I dip it into some veggie oil and then wipe dry. The brushes will clean up later with Dawn dishsoap and hot water. If you're not happy with an area you can scrape or wipe it back and you can really push the paint around until it's where you want it.

Applying the stamen wasn't too hard...I went over the green with with Purple Sage (a deep bluish purple) and then really darkened the dark areas with some Prussian blue. When the flowers were finished I used my smallest palette knife to scrape out some highlights on the edges.

I blocked in the dark shadows of the vase with prussian blue first...again, not quite to the edges.

I then scraped out the underwater stems...they are vague and not as light a value as the highlights will be, so I used a pastel shaper which would just leave a stain. I then laid in some cobalt blue and started brushing it out, being careful not to touch the Prussian until the end, then I just took the brush and ran it over the edge of both colors at the same time to blend.

 I scraped back to the background color with a palette knife for the highlights. A great way to do them, and you can soften the area around them for a cast glow when you paint up to them with a dryer brush. The vase was the quickest easiest part of the whole painting...took less than an hour.

This is an egbert's very soft, long badger hair, maybe 1 1/2 long or more. It's so soft that I have to lay my finger over the edge and push to pick up any paint with it. It's great for 'fluffing' on a soft shadow or light blending.

This is the final image, with shadows and reflective cast colors, about 6 hours total, all except the background painted in one alla prima session. 18 hours later it is touch dry. So if I were so inclined I could go back in and do more detail work already. There was no leftover paint wasted...I really didn't use much paint...these sticks last forever unless you are solidly covering a huge rough canvas.