Thanks to Chris for her suggestion to create texture and interest in the background using the old saran-wrap trick: Put down your color, nice and rich and dark - then put crumpled plastic wrap over it and cover that with paper towels and books to weigh it down. When that dries or you can't wait another minute to see what it looks like, take the books, paper towels and wrap off and there you are! Interesting broken bits of color blocks that may need nothing else done to them (except to carry over into some little areas I didn't paint the first time.
So - this is the third try on this. We'll see what happens...
I'm also working on finishing the Sweetpeas painting - I, apparently, don't know how to integrate my backgrounds into the painting well enough for it not to look painted on in a rush without much thought. So - 2009 goal = work on integrating the whole painting smoothly? I won't show the stage it's in - it would scare you too much!
My sister asked for her portrait the other night - and she got it. I'm glad she wanted it even though she doesn't like her looks, she said it did look just like her. I'll have to call and see what her husband thought about it.