The top section of this painting shows my first go-round, where I’ve painted in the tree bark in a traditional light-to-dark fashion. At this point, I feel there are too many hard edges and the bark doesn’t look as realistic as it could.
To soften the the texture of the bark, I wipe out the area using a damp elephant ear sponge (one of my favorite tools!). I leave only a faint image (see the middle section).
Once the “wiped out” area is dry, I go back in with a fine brush (typically a #0) and gently outline the bark, grass, etc. At this point, I add a little spatter to heighten the textural effect (see bottom section).