I think I have the background in order now and I’ve learned some lessons here.
If the plan was to finish this painting in one session then the start of this painting would have worked fine. But, because this painting was multiple sessions long the drying of the paint made it really hard to get the edges of the figure correct with the background.
Next time I start a long term painting like this I’m going to draw the figure, then establish the background correctly all in one session over the entire canvas.
In session 4 I did a light block-in of the background thinking that I could easily glaze over it and up to the edge of the figure with no issues later on. This was not the case, not only did the edges become too sharp but it forced me to re-paint parts of the figure in places.
Also, waiting to do parts of the background in separate sessions lead to very inconsistent color in the background and a lot of texture that became distracting.
I could have use a slow dry medium like clove oil in all my mixtures but I really dislike the viscosity of the paint when I add any medium to it. I’d rather work more with a dry brush then a very fluid one.
So, next long term figure painting the order is. Drawing, background, then figure and foreground. I’m sure even with this pattern I will need to repaint some of the background and figure together but I feel it will establish a better separation between the two.