Blocking in the darks and lights is so much easier when the background is already toned. I have lightened the background just a touch but I have not painted in the halftone in the shadow of the peonies. This gives the illusion of form very quickly.
It occurred to me that I have not yet done a series of paintings using the same objects. So, using these peaches and peonies, I will arrange several compositions. Stay tuned, this sounds like fun!