I love the versatility of encaustic paint. The way one can build up textures, make collage, and maintain organic-looking translucencies are all excellent qualities in my book.
But lately, I've been playing around with Golden Acrylic Tar Gel and Golden Matt Gel (no, not with wax!) but attempting to achieve the "look" of encaustics but with acrylic paint. But first I made mud pies.
I began mixing the gels with some Walnut Ink crystals I've been using for drawings. The ink crystals dissolve in the gel and create an amber glaze. If you puddle the gel on the surface of the substrate and sprinkle a bit of the ink crystals on top and rub with your fingers you make a sort of mud pie but you get some really nice textures. The acrylic medium seals the undissolved ink keeping it from reconstituting if the surface gets wet.
Like all acrylic mediums, tar gel is an excellent gluing agent...as is Encaustic, and both are translucent when dry. The gels and all acrylic mediums are great for collage. So you can really do many of the same things in both media. Acrylic paintings are less fragile in their finished state however.
You can't really dig into the acrylic surface after it has dried like you can with encaustic but you can accommodate that by adding another layer of the paint and dig or scratch back into it exposing the under layer.
In the the two images below you can see where the ink crystals mix with the gels to create amber glazes and also the "mud pie" in the dark crusty areas. These are both 12 inches square on birch plywood substrates. I may go back with a satin glaze to keep the surface from being so shiny. (I feel very unfaithful to my encaustics!)