One question I have is how to make that style of messy background "work."
While I really like how you painted the potatoes and knife, and the foreground table, the background seems a bit "amateurish." I'm not exactly sure why, and I'm sure others may disagree, but I'm interested in having a discussion on how to make that style of background be as effective as possible.
Here's an example of one that I think was done well and in a similar style.
A couple reasons why this one might be better are that the focal element (the face) draws more attention so the messy background doesn't attract enough attention to be distracting, another reason might be there's more variation in the kinds of strokes and colour, while at the same time there seems to be less contrast between individual strokes?
Do you guys agree this background is better? If so, why?
Thanks for the reply. I'm going to do some experimenting. I think it might mostly be the camera - as soon as I take the picture and look at it the greens already have that kind of plasticy fake look compared to the actual plant (so the pic I posted here isn't very useful!). Hopefully there are some good post-processing options in Photoshop to help correct this.
The DMP photography guide recommends just adjusting the exposure and temperature/tint, but it seems necessary to go beyond that.