While I was working up the background, I rediscovered the joy of scribbling. Some people are doodlers, but I was never a doodler, I was always a scribbler. Sometimes I think I'd be perfectly happy just piling one layer of color over another, completely covering the one before, just scribbling with the brush, but I've never believed that that would actually produce anything one would call Art. Maybe I'll try it someday, but in the meantime, I did find it very satisfying to abandon all discipline and just scribble the background in.
When I started painting the flower blobs, I still couldn't stop myself from painting a big round bundle that looked heavy and solid, and had no air in it at all. So I left it to dry and came back later with the light blue background and painted out about a third of the flowers, and that improved it greatly. But I didn't like the pale yellow and peach in the background and table so I darkened them to where they are now and worked up the vase. When I stopped at that point last night, it was clearly the best floral I'd done so far, but it still looked like it had a little headache or ate too much the night before—just a little off color.
I didn't figure out what the problem was till I'd looked at it on the computer. I had used a pthalo blue in the top background, and cobalt on the flowers. I decided to try switching the pthalo to a cobalt wash, and bingo! That was the problem. I've combined those two colors in a lot of paintings and they've worked well together, but they really didn't in this mix, at least not the way I was using them. I also darkened the tone of the top blue, which popped out the flowers more.