“….as you see I painted this lovely little platypus and used your swan picture of the water as background. Do you think the water in the back should be more out of focus? Something is not right here and I hope you can see what I mean.”
The problem is that the water is too light compared with the animal and needs to be darkened. I would not put this out of focus though just make overall water stronger. At the moment the contrast is too great between the tone of the water and the animal.
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