Wet the paper.
Block in the pale major shapes (plenty of soft edges).
Prepare and apply middle value shapes. The paper is now almost dry. Most of the soft edges from the first layer get covered by mid-values and darks.
Voila! Another painting with all hard edges.
What can you do? You meant to have a mix of hard and soft, but the paper got dry.
Here are a couple of strategies;
Many images provide strong darks that give definition to very fluid first and second layers.
As is often the case, the soft edges in the sky remain visible in the finished painting, but the artist has anticipated opportunities to use strong darks to allow other areas to remain soft. Look at the white building. When he painted the sky, Brandt left part of the building shape white. The edges of the building diffused slightly into the sky, but the hard edged dark details that came after the paper dried give it enough definition to make the whole shape feel solid. The shadow side of the building is also soft edged. When do you think Brand painted that?
If we could peel back the darks in Trevor Chamberlain's cityscape we would see that they were floating in a fluid matrix of grey and gold. Chamberlain left a series of light rectangles dry to represent rooftops while he painted the overall wash warm and cool and soft edged. He had faith in the dark trees and shadows to make that complex wash meaningful.
River Arno, detail
Here are some photos that have darks strong enough to tell the story all by themselves. You can be very loose with the lights and still pull the painting together. Have faith, and take chances. Feel free to copy one of the paintings if you want to take a break from photos.
I'd like to stay on this subject a while. Next week, rewetting.