and onto the arrows and background. because of the angle of the red arrow, I'm doing my best to paint the end very loosely, so (hopefully) I can get it to look a little out of focus...since its so much in the foreground. like the left hand, mushing the edges into the background should help.
Once the figure was down, I decided the background needed to be stark without much going on. something about the pose and lighting...looks solitary, and will hopefully be more powerful without distraction from her surroundings. If the paint on the figure is dry (like is was here), I'll paint the background with a very hard edge between the bkgd and figure, then go back with a dry brush and soften the edges. super hard edges rarely work for me, so I generally soften all edges at least a little.
you can't see much in this horrible picture, but the background is almost solid black, with a slight fade to a dark grey behind her head. I usually try and do the background before I paint the hair, so that I don't have to worry about covering up any hair detail with the background. the hair is the only element of the reference photo that I paint with some flexibility, so it's not intended to be exact...I find I get better results just following the general movement and flow.
At this point I left a space for a halo, but have no idea how I want to paint it. will figure that out later.