Faux painting techniques for tree bark

Artists and decorators sometimes use faux painting to create a particular look or pattern on a wall or other surface. There are several ways to use faux painting for a tree bark effect. Whether you are designing a set for a play, painting a bedroom door to match a wood set or decorating a community room for a special event, faux bark painting is a creative addition to any presentation.

Faux Painting Materials

Some artists and painters use products like Faux Tex to make bark wall painting look more natural and lifelike. Faux Tex is a flexible material made out of foam that rolls onto walls. It creates a natural looking background. Other artists and painters use sand texture added to joint compound to add the roughness one might expect in the texture of bark.

Faux Birch Bark Technique

To make faux birch bark, use a trowel to layer some joint compound on a wall. Lay thin plastic strips across the joint compound, making horizontal pleats in random places. Use a photograph of some birch bark to give yourself a guide.

When the joint compound dries to a point where it is still damp but not sticky, gently pull the plastic away from the joint compound. Smooth out any sections that don't look like birch bark.

If you want to add some authentic-looking knots in the wood, take some rolls of cardboard and place it on the joint compound until it makes an impression. After it dries, sand down anything that does not look like birch bark, prime the area and paint.

Painting with Glazes

You can use water-based glazes to make a suitable wood bark grain. After priming the surface with a base paint or a base glaze, apply a rusty brownish eggshell base colour, then let it dry. Using a damp rag, wipe the surface with a thin coat of whiting, a type of plain chalk you can pick up at home improvement stores that is used to add opacity and body while lightening colour.

Take a 2-inch brush and apply a mid-brown glaze. Drag a mottler (a tool used to streak colour found in most home improvement or decorator stores) over the panel through the glaze using overlapping sweeps to create a bark design. Move from one corner of the surface to the other, adding tinted glaze with a 1-inch artist’s brush. Work horizontally and then vertically. Apply a darker glaze if necessary and soften the look with a soft bristle brush.

Make graining bands by dragging the mottler through the wet glaze at various angles. Apply clear gloss urethane after the glaze dries.

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About the Author

Antonette Ellertson, a freelance writer from Western New York, has a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education. She has worked as a freelance writer for more than a decade, specializing in media. She is a contributor to numerous magazines including "Maitland Primrose," "Highlights for Children" and "The Writer" and is managing editor for a large, non-profit organization.