This year I've been working on improving at rendering, colour mixing and observation of values/areas. However I know that I need to work on drawing skills, reduction of shapes and values by eye alone rather than with the help of a computer.
I'm going to do a little exercise many times to help with some of that. I'm sure this is not a new idea, but I had the idea myself one night and thought it would help.
Basically I got a nice magazine with a lot of good photos in it. I took a laminating pouch and pulled the two sheets apart so I could work on just one of the sides.
I overlaid the sheet over a good photo and draw brackets around the corners with a felt tip pen. Then I moved the sheet onto a white surface next to the magazine and tried by eye (no measuring) to draw lines around the shapes. Just trying to block in the rough shapes.
Once I was done I overlaid the sheet on the photo to see how close I was.
This is my second attempt, the first I didn't do properly. I was surprised at how accurate some bits where and how inaccurate others were. I expected everything to be wrong..!
I'll try to do a lot of these quick exercises as I think it will help me improve.
Finally got time to write more. I'm very happy with how the finished painting looks, but even more happy with your progress. You have shown patience, determination and skill when trying a very different technique to what you have done before.
I am glad you took the opportunity to try one more time and not give up and you now have a very good painting completed. I feel you have developed your observational, color mixing and painting skills. Also, perhaps most importantly patience and as Paul said learned the importance of an accurate drawing.
You will have these skills and way of working to build on as you discover your own artistic path.