Beware of the blob!

Last fall, I tried my hand at plein air painting just as the trees in our yard became brilliant with color.  The time painting was fun, although the result was a bright orange-ish blob on a darker background.

My second try of this painting, done from a photograph in the studio, was equally blob-ish, and apparently proving that I forgot everything I ever learned about depth and painting with its dark background.

So I began my usual bookworming.  I've read Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting, Payne's Composition of Outdoor Painting, scoured Plein Air magazine as each issue arrived, and even watched a webinar by Phil Starke about painting trees.  All of it helped, but I still found I need to beware of the blob.  

 While I like the overall composition and the tree trunk and branches, the magnolia flowers started well and turned into larger and larger blobs as I stepped further and further out of my comfort zone. If I had meant to paint in a blob-ish manner, I wouldn't mind so much.  But that's not what I'm going for, so I'm scraping off the flowers and going, literally, back to the drawing board to learn how to paint foliage.  In the meantime, this canvas can rest until I'm ready for the next try.