@Julianna I actually don't have idea about exactly what problems you are facing. I can talk about the problems that I am facing. I guess your problem could be with the light that you have. You need to find one bright area where you live, one particular time of the day (usually sunny morning or sunny evening). Take your photo according to Mark's instruction. when you are posting photos try to understand if that is the level of brightness or darkness you want on computer's normal screen set-up.
@PaulB There is one sound collage by Beatles in their White Album. I used to listen to these modern stuff quite a lot and a lot of bands. Now the only things that I listen to are Beatles, Scorpions, Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Mahler. Just like a limited palette.
@dencal I got that. The box looks funny enough but I can tell you, my paintings won't look funny after two years...'cause I will be trained by mother nature herself...just the way Constable, Turner, Corot and Impressionists of all the countries were.