Nothing quite compares to the unique characteristics and extraordinary versatility of Shiva Oilstiks; a truly perfect artistic medium.

For those unfamiliar with oil sticks, we'll outline their similarities and differences to other media

Oil Paints vs. Oil Sticks

Oil Paints

Oil paints are loved for their luxuriously smooth workability and blendability and their ability to help the artist capture depth, movement, and mood. All these reasons and more are why oil paint has been a favorite medium of artists for centuries, however, oil painting does present certain challenges that make it unappealing or impractical to many of us.

Painfully slow drying: Oil paints are made by combining dry pigment powders with an oil (often a refined linseed) and thoroughly blending them to a smooth and buttery consistency. Because of the high concentration of oil in oil paint they are very slow to dry, often requiring months to dry and cure thoroughly.

Requires physical space: Because oils take so long to dry and cure they need a space where they're not disturbed (ideally, in a dust free environment). If your creative space is tight (and you're painting in the kitchen, for example) it's very impractical to pack away your artwork-in-progress plus a palette full of wet oil paint every night. Oil painting safely really does require a dedicated space.

Not all of us can afford the time and the space to paint in oils (especially with families spending an absurd amount of time at home these days).

Oil Sticks

Oil sticks (sometimes called Pigment Sticks or Oil Bars) are a solid form of oil paint, usually fashioned like a giant crayon, complete with paper wrapper (generally around 5-7 inches long and 1/2" - 3/4" wide). There are many brands of oil stick (each formulation being unique to that brand) however the two main ingredients are always pigment and oil, often accompanied by a relatively minor amount of wax or resin for firmness. 

Very simple to use: oil sticks are extremely convenient, easy to set-up, easy to pack away, and are very portable. Paint sticks also don't require the use of a palette or solvents, eliminating a lot of tedious clean up and potential mess.

Faster drying time: The addition of waxes or resins in the oil stick formula gives the added bonus of drying somewhat faster than tubed oil paint colours.

 Oil Stick Facts

When not in use for a period of time, all oil sticks will develop a skin over any part exposed to the air - this is normal. This skin actually serves as a protective buffer and prevents the core from drying out. When you're ready to paint simply peel off the the skin and it's ready to use. 
To minimize skin thickness store oil sticks in airtight containers when not in use.

Versatility: using an oil stick feels like painting with a lipstick. If you choose to blend your colours, they are smooth and blendable on their own without the use of any other medium, but they can also be blended with the use of oil mediums, or solvents. (Note: If you do choose to blend with an oil medium, it will likely slow down the drying process)

Oil Sticks vs. Oil pastels

Oil pastels are physically much smaller than an oil stick (around 2.5" - 3" long and 1/4" - 3/8" wide). The two main ingredients are again pigment and oil, however the oils used in oil pastels are non-drying. Oil pastels will stay soft and blendable forever. Oil pastel paintings should be framed under glass.

Shiva Paintstiks vs. Everything Else

Shiva has created a truly unique paint stick that is the best value and most user-friendly oil stick possible! Like other oil sticks, Shiva sticks are made with high quality pigments, a combination of refined fast-drying oils, and waxes.

Insanely fast drying time: Shiva's special blend of fast-drying, refined oils makes Oilstiks dry in 24-48 hours! Permanent once fully dry, even on textiles

Non-Toxic colours: All colours of Shiva Oil Paintstiks have been AP certified for safety and the vast majority are fully non-toxic (At Cowan's we carry the non-toxic colours only at this point in time) Although artists are free to use traditional oil mediums or solvents to blend or clean up, Shiva sticks can also be cleaned up or blended with baby wipes alone!

Highly Lightfast colours: The majority of Shiva colours are also rated at the highest degrees of lightfastness. 

Extremely versatile: All of these unique properties make Shiva's Oilstiks ideal for a huge array of applications from fine art to fun craft. Plus they're safe for children to use!


Good to know...

Shiva is currently in the midst of re-branding this product line; going  from "Paintstiks" to "Oilstiks" so we've used both names interchangeably.


Step One: Removing the film

This video shows the de-skinning of a new Paintstik with a pretty thick film on it. (30 second video)

If you just used your oil stick in the last few days then all that's required is to give the working end a firm twist with a baby wipe or soft cloth and the skin should remove cleanly. (18 second video)

Things to Try

Traditional Painting

This is a 1 minute time-lapse demonstration of traditional painting techniques; using the paint stick like an oil pastel to quickly render some pretty pink foxgloves. (1 minute video)


As mentioned, Shiva Paintstiks can be blended with baby wipes. Here's a demo of the baby wipe blending process (1 minute videos)



An array of coloured pigmented ink pads can be an investment of both money and space. Shiva paintstiks can be a great substitute! An excellent option for stamping permanently onto on to papers or textiles, light or dark coloured! (1 minute video)


Rubbing Instructions: Anything with a deep texture can be used; such as tree bark, a large maple leaf, a brick wall, etc. For more decorative options, try purpose-built textured Rubbing Plates

  • Step 1: make sure your texture is fixed in place, (ie: tape down corners of texture plate to a table top)
  • Step 2: lay paper/textile over the texture, pull paper/textile tight and tape down corners
  • Step 3: gently glide the Oilstik over the surface, back and forth,  using very light pressure
(1 minute video)


          Stenciling is one of the easiest and most instantly gratifying things one can do with Shiva stiks! All that is required is a template/stencil and a stencil brush. (1 minute video)

          Thank you for joining us!

          Play safe, have fun, and live to paint another day!

          May 01, 2021 — Karen Bullaro