This year I am painting in a more disciplined manner to become a better painter. Hopefully, what I learn this year will add to my skill and become intuitive. Sometimes I have to trick myself into accomplishing what I want - in this case to stay focused on the background only. I put a piece of paper over the bottom 2/3 and prepared to paint only the background (top third).
After a little over an hour on this, checking values, shapes, brushwork and here is where I am now. I'm satisfied with it and will now uncover the rest of the painting and paint with abandon (ha! no I won't...I'll remember what my goal is and I'll THINK about each decision). And, in looking at this post, I already see some value adjustments needed.
1-3-2020 See the finished painting here.