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Making Encaustic Paint from Oil Paint? Here's the math.

Posted by Hylla Evans on

Minis - Ultimate Mixing Palette

An artist's newsletter recently posted a formula for homemade very, very transparent paint, nothing at all like commercially milled encaustic paint. Here are some facts:
1. The oil paint artist grade is in many colors at least 80% oil and less than 20% pigment.
2. You’ll never be able to drain off enough of the oil to make a difference, and when you do, pigment will also leach out.
3. If you use an entire 37ml tube of titanium white high grade oil paint you’ll get a whole lot of oil and small amount of pigment, and no matter how much oil you drain off, you’ll still have about $15 tube of paint plus cost of white beeswax (let’s say 100ml wax).
4. The end result would have 70ml wax, 28ml oil, and about 7ml of actual pigment. It cost you about $18 plus your time.
5. The paint you make will never harden as much as encaustic paint because the oil needs exposure to oxygen to cure, which it can’t get once it’s mixed into wax. This is a problem for longevity and for durability.
6. By comparison, one Evans Encaustics 17ml mini contains 80% titanium white pigment and 20% USP white beeswax. When you add 100ml wax to that, you have opaque white encaustic paint. If you want the white transparent, use one tenth of the mini in the 100ml of wax! Your cost would be about $5 for the resulting 100ml of paint.

Using oil paint to tint wax is not good art practice and is not cost effective.

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  • I thought it was interesting that the oil paint is at least 80% oil and less than 20% pigment. This was a surprise for me because I would have thought that it would be a lot of pigment with just a little bit of oil in it. I can see now how the oil would need to be dominant in the paint to give it the consistency it needs.

    Lillian Moore on
  • Thank you Hylla for such a thorough explanation – this is so helpful! Now when people ask me this question I’ve got more response ammunition other than making a grimace…

    Jaya King on

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