One of the difficulties in creating a credible simulation of encaustic with acrylic is the lack of thickness. Acrylic medium shrinks a lot upon drying so that even if a thick layer, or even multiple layers of faux encaustic medium is applied, it is difficult to obtain a substantial thickness close to the one of a single layer of encaustic.

To accurately determine the number of layers of faux encaustic medium needed to create an effect of thickness having the appearance of wax, I did a test.

Faux encaustic with acrylic. Overview of the thickness test. February 2016. © 2016, Louise Lamirande.

Faux encaustic with acrylic. Overview of the thickness test.
February 2016.
© 2016, Louise Lamirande.

I began by creating strips of color in acrylic ink (Golden High Flow) which I then covered with one to seven thin layers of faux encaustic medium with a palette knife. The left column shows the result with a 50/50 mixture (50% matte gel Liquitex / 50% gloss medium-varnish Liquitex). The right column shows the effect with a 40%/60% ratio (more of the glossy medium-varnish).

With one to three layers, the result is disappointing. February 2016. © 2016, Louise Lamirande.

With one to three layers, the result is disappointing.
February 2016.
© 2016, Louise Lamirande.

The results with 4 to 7 layers of faux encaustic medium. February 2016. © 2016, Louise Lamirande.

The results with 4 to 7 layers of faux encaustic medium.
February 2016.
© 2016, Louise Lamirande.

Closeup of the results with six and seven layers. February 2016. © 2016, Louise Lamirande.

Closeup of the results with six and seven layers.
February 2016.
© 2016, Louise Lamirande.

What I have learned

I learned from these tests the following:

  • The minimal number of layers required to get a suitable thickness effect using the faux encaustic recipe mentioned above is at least six and more is better!! Considering the drying time between each layer, we are far from the speed of real encaustic.
  • The 50/50 blend gives a result that pleases me more than the more transparent 40/60 mix.
The same results but in a slightly different light. February 2016. © 2016, Louise Lamirande.

The same results but in a slightly different light.
February 2016.
© 2016, Louise Lamirande.

New faux encaustic medium recipe

Carrying out more tests, I realized how important is the consistency of the acrylic mediums used as part of the faux encaustic medium recipe. The thicker they are, the best result I get.  I would have known that!

So, here is my new recipe of faux encaustic medium:

  • 50% gel (matte) from Liquitex (I would prefer to use a heavy or high solid gel, but that is what I currently have on hand)
  • 50% high solid gel (gloss) Golden

Two to three layers of this mixture applied with a palette knife gives a similar result to 6-7 layers of another recipe! I imagine that replacing matte gel from Liquitex gel by one with a higher level of consistency like the high solid gel from would be even better … To try when it would be possible…

Thanks for your visit and see you soon,

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