I am thinking a lot about the background. Often this is the part of the painting put off to the end and then there is a crisis moment when you say "what do I do with the background?" I have learned the hard way that the background is just as important as the rest of the painting. I try to work foreground and background at the same time, pulling colors from the background into the foreground. This next statement is to me,extremely
important in my paintings. There needs to be both lost, soft and hard edges in your painting. If this does not happen the effect is that appear objects pasted on and this definitely gives a non-painterly look to your work.
Because pencil has such a fine tip, it is easy to get caught up in trying to make everything perfectly clear. To me this takes away from the realism instead of adding to it. It is true sometimes less is really more.