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Old 10-30-2009, 11:09 AM
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Carey Griffel Carey Griffel is offline
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Boots, WIP with Sennelier Oil Sticks

Hi everyone!

I know that there are a few people here interested in how oil sticks work, and so I thought I would share my latest project with you. First, a disclaimer, I have not had my sticks for very long and this is actually my first major project using them.

For those of you not familiar with what oil sticks are, they are a specially formulated oil *paint* in stick form...pigment, oil, wax, and probably some other things I don't know. (This is as opposed to oil pastels, which are pigment and mineral oil and wax...the mineral oil ensures that oil pastels do not oxidize, while the oil used in oil sticks is a "drying" oil.)

Here is a photo of my collection. The sticks are quite large--3/4 of an inch in diameter and about 5 inches long.


The sticks will skin over and you are to remove this skin before painting. I tested putting my sticks in the freezer to see how much this would retard the formation of the skin on the stick. In the freezer, the stick will remain fresh for several days with no skin. Over a few weeks, a skin will still form, though it seems to be slightly thinner than sticks left out for that period of time. It also helps to wrap the stick, of course, in any case. Here is a picture of my sticks from the freezer, still wrapped up.


I have not yet acquired any other oil stick brands, but it is my understanding that Sennelier is one of the firmest. (Which I would readily believe...they are pretty firm.) I would recommend using them on a firm support, as you might want to apply a good bit of pressure when applying them. (I'm not taking my own advice with this project, however, because I did not have any boards of the desired size. A block of paper with some priming is also a really nice surface to use.)

Here is an example of how the sticks look applied with varying strokes. Some are transparent and some are opaque, as in regular oil paint. (This is a 9x12 block of textured "canvas paper, so the support was slightly textured but firm and it was fairly easy to get good coverage.)


I had a small bit of gray primed hardboard, so you can see how it looks there. This one I think shows up about life-sized, I believe. You can get some thin strokes with using an edge or point of the stick, but at least I have come up with problems when trying to blend/mix small passages on my canvas because the sticks are large, but also because they are so firm and need a bit of pressure to blend. I wonder how the other brands would fare.


And so here now we come to my actual project. A still life on stretched linen, approx. 16x24. I've drawn out my composition with red ochre.


Here I have used yellow ochre to begin blocking in the background. You can see quite a bit of texture from the canvas.


The same area with some white applied, blending circularly.


The rest of the background applied in the same manner, and the shadows blocked in with mars violet.


And starting to block in one of the boots.


I am going to do as much of this as I can with the oil sticks, but I know that I'm going to end up working in regular oil paint eventually, maybe just for details, maybe for more than that, depending.

Don't worry, I won't bore you with too many intermittent images throughout my project (if only because I won't want to take so many pictures ), but I thought that some might be particularly interested in seeing the beginning stages.

I always love including a lot of personal symbolism in my still life paintings, and this one happens to be chock full of it, simple as it is.

Critique or comment more than welcome, of course! Also, if you've worked with oil sticks before, it would be great to hear about that, too.

Thanks for looking!

~!Carey
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Last edited by Carey Griffel : 10-30-2009 at 11:18 AM.
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Old 10-30-2009, 11:21 AM
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Re: Boots, WIP with Sennelier Oil Sticks

Carey thanks for all this info. Will you use reg oil paint or oil pastels on the top layers?

I'm really curious how you'd do any detail work with the oil sticks, and how you don't get too thick too quickly. Also how long does it take for a layer to dry and is it easy to work over?

You are off to a great start.

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Old 10-30-2009, 11:45 AM
Barbara WC Barbara WC is offline
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Re: Boots, WIP with Sennelier Oil Sticks

Carey-

Thanks for posting! I recently tried a WN Oilbar and Shiva Paintstick (you responded to my post earlier). As far as texture, I know the Sennelier are firm, but do you feel they are oily or on the drier side? The Oilbar to me seemed quite dry and sort of hard to blend (must use a high proportion of hard wax), the Shiva Paintstick seemed oily and like painting with what I imagine would be like oil paint thinned with linseed oil (I haven't actually worked with oil paint before!). Both of those are quite firm, perhaps like the Sennelier stick. I didn't find either of them "creamy" which is how I've heard the RF sticks described (those are quite soft)

Very nice start on your painting. One thing that might interest you is that both Winsor Newton and Kama pigments make smaller sticks (in additional to large sticks) that I think could be use for some detail (maybe not the finest detail unless working really big!).

As a suggestion, you might consider posting your experiments in the oil pastel forum. There is a lot of interest in oil sticks there, and I'm not sure if the folks over there look at the oil painting forum.

Looking forward to the continued progress.

Barbara
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Old 10-30-2009, 02:15 PM
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Re: Boots, WIP with Sennelier Oil Sticks

Thnx for sharing Carey. Few people mention them so its nice to see.
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Old 10-30-2009, 02:43 PM
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Re: Boots, WIP with Sennelier Oil Sticks

Thanks for this terrific demo Carey.

I have always wondered why I would want to work w/oil sticks considering the drawbacks? I expect they can be quite useful for the drawing, but if you have to finish with oils anyway? Just wondering?
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Old 10-30-2009, 02:54 PM
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Re: Boots, WIP with Sennelier Oil Sticks

Cathleen when I tried them (a really long time ago) I found it impossible to do detail work or even mix properly. I've also never seen good work (or any work?) done with them so I'm very curious about Carey's experience.

If oil paint and oil pastels had a kid, it would be oil sticks. I was never able to control oil sticks well though, not like paint or pastels.
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Old 10-30-2009, 03:13 PM
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Re: Boots, WIP with Sennelier Oil Sticks

Carey, as I have mentioned, I love shoe art!! This project will be so fun to follow on many levels. The aspect of the medium and the aspect of the art. Thanks for sharing it all.
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Old 10-30-2009, 05:34 PM
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Re: Boots, WIP with Sennelier Oil Sticks

Great Demo Carey, thanks for sharing, your painting is comming along lovely, would like to how are you are finding the texture of them they look more creamier than oil pastel, as i know what oilpastel is like but would like to give these a go some day.

Sandra.
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Old 10-30-2009, 07:34 PM
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Re: Boots, WIP with Sennelier Oil Sticks

Thanks everyone and you are all welcome!

Jessica, I think I will end up using regular oil paint, though I did consider oil pastel...I just don't want to have to end up framing it under glass and all that. I think maybe building up layers it will be easier to get more detailed as I go along, but we'll see. I do know for sure that if I wanted to, if nothing else, I could "cheat" and use a knife, the sticks would be great for that. And it also depends on how large you work, I suppose, for detail. As for getting thick, the layer I have down so far is very thin...of course, the more colors you mix, the thicker it would tend to get, but being rather firm and having to use pressure, it really is pretty thin at this point. From previous experiments, when the surface tacks up/dries, it is a really great surface to work onto.

I will definitely note the drying times.

Barbara, thanks for joining in here, and for the ideas. I would definitely say that the Sennelier sticks are not oily. They aren't necessarily difficult to blend, though--not, for instance, like the harder oil pastels. I really might have to place an order again just to test some other brands because I'm so curious. Maybe in a week or two I'll have conclusive information.

wetbob, there *is* rather little information on them, so I'm glad to provide my experiences.

Cathleen, good question. For one thing, if you'd ever tried oil pastels, you'd probably know the answer. A lot of people really do want the best of both worlds and I guess this is the closest they get at the moment. They are more direct, more hands-on, obviously. I love oil pastels, but it is a shame that they do not oxidize like oil paint. However, the oil sticks really don't handle the same as oil pastels, either, really.

To answer your question really, I see several benefits. For one, if you like to work without solvents, they are a terrific resource. They will spread fairly easily, covering the canvas with little work...without having to scrub with brushes or rags or use any type of thinner to get your first layer down. If that was the only benefit, then that itself is very useful! (That was basically the use I put them to in the experiment previous to this.) They also encourage you to work large-to-small...you don't get caught up in fiddly details, you are able to block in shape and mass quickly. I also expect you can achieve some unique results layering with these that you would not be able to achieve as easily with a brush.

I've seen at least one good example of work that actually has a good bit of detail in it, though I can't locate it now, I'll see if I can find it later.

Sandra, thanks. They are creamier than most oil pastels, that is for sure. I'm really trying to decide how, exactly, they compare with Sennelier oil pastels, which are the softest oil pastels hands down, of course. It's hard to compare the two as they do handle slightly different from one another, but they're probably...roughly equivalent, without having any other better comparison, at least. Once applied on the canvas, a layer from the oil stick will actually be more malleable than a layer of Sennelier oil pastel, I think. As well as I can say, I guess.

~!Carey
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Old 10-31-2009, 01:03 AM
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Re: Boots, WIP with Sennelier Oil Sticks

useful thread carey. i had used sticks for a very short time before i tired of the color choices and their reluctance to blend. then after experimenting with oil and brushing them around a bit i found their potential. i mostly use them in the drawing and layout of my paintings. also, i use them exclusively for figure drawing. i have a squirt bottle of safflower oil, a couple brushes, and a board. the drawings rub out with a squirt of oil, great for sketching, great for covering a lot of ground quickly.

heres a sample of a fifteen minute pose from this week.


didnt mean to hijack your wip, just wanted to share a technique i really like for drawing with sticks.
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Old 10-31-2009, 04:49 AM
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Re: Boots, WIP with Sennelier Oil Sticks

Steve, that is so great, thank you so much for sharing! That is a really terrific example, very inspirational. What size is that?

~!Carey
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Old 10-31-2009, 07:46 AM
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Re: Boots, WIP with Sennelier Oil Sticks

I began painting this just under 24 hours ago. I left the heat on in my studio overnight. And I checked it a little while ago and it is totally dry to the touch!

~!Carey
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Old 10-31-2009, 08:15 AM
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Re: Boots, WIP with Sennelier Oil Sticks

i am liking it
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Old 10-31-2009, 12:26 PM
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Re: Boots, WIP with Sennelier Oil Sticks

Thanks so much for taking the time to clarify this Carey, I can see how that would work now. I did try oil pastels & really liked the directness of them but found it a waste since they don't dry & I don't care to frame with glass. Look forward to seeing how you finish this!
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Old 10-31-2009, 12:41 PM
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Re: Boots, WIP with Sennelier Oil Sticks

Hi,

Although there's no law that phorbids the use of oil pastels and oil paint, that should not be done, especially oil paint over oil pastel.
Oil pastels never get dry.
As for oil sticks, if I'm not mistaken, they should be used over oil paint or as an adjacent, not as a former layer, because it seems to me that they don't get as dry as paint.
I guess that on might dilute them with turps and sometimes use a brush, but for that there's paint.
We'll see what others say.

Best regards,

José

P.S. on a side note : there's varnish for oil pastels
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