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Okay I was going to jump in and defend layers ... but I must admit I don't use that many ...
I do completely understand the safety net aspect - that is me too. I also completely agree with you on the layers where you want high transparency/translucency - because apart form anything else you can use layer mode to change how that looks.
May I suggest some layers you could combine as a first off in this one? Your sky and clouds - If you had done this all on the background - including the reflection you would immediately have half the layers - BUT - more importantly you would benefit from blended clouds.
Mostly real clouds sort of dissolve away at the edges into the sky? In Queeky if you paint your cloud colours down directly onto your sky colour and then blend with a larger brush but on lower opacity moving in circles or lines (depends on cloud type) the white and grey of the clouds dissolves away at the edges. The nice thing about sky and clouds is if they go a bit squiffy you can easily remedy them ...
Then adding your silhouettes in stages as you have and your water surface and mist it would have looked just as now.
Whatever you do please don't target yourself to cut down immediately to 1 or 2 layers - you will get frustrated ... and by the way I really like the finished effect - great misty reflections
There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it. Edith Wharton
Interesting thing you pointed out and cool tips, I will try following your suggestion. Thank you.^^ And I'm glad you liked it.
I really like the color combo on this and the foliage is really pretty. I think you are doing well. I love using layers but sometimes it is easier to use just one or two than try to use many. I get confused when I try to use too many layers.
“Always remember, you’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think” ~Winnie The Pooh
Haha, I'll try to use less layers, but since I make too many mistakes I use the layers as a "safer" route to finish the painting. XD Perhaps that with experience I'll see myself using less and less layers until the time I end up using 1 or 2. XD
You use 1 or 2 because you are an amazing very talented artist.