Hum.... when I was involved in photography I used to think: "what is your subject?". I think that applies to this case, what is you focus point? Where do you want to lead viewer attention? You second attempt leads my attention to foreground but nothing happens. It's frustrating.
The first one is on a right track to some very nice landscape painting but quite similar to the previous picture you submitted here IMO.
nice work so far. I understand why you feel it confusing. Imo, the problem is the sky. If you get some references on mountain morning you see that the sky in your paint isnt proparly rapresented. Those clouds confuse compositions and take attention away from cliffs.
Than generally there are strange choice in it. You choose to focus on cliffs, but the paint's center is unfocused and not very explained, and naturally the compisition lead the eyes there.
About which one chose to continue: it depends on HOW you want to go further. First one has a natural split in darkforeground, and light background, with a midtone in the midzone. The second is confusing because light is on the foreground as much as on the back, BUT if you turn the middle much darker, with deep blue, could work better and my choice with this plan could be the second. But it's up to you what effect you are looking for if a total baroquism or something natural and fresh. Hope to being useful.
Here is my paint-over and beginner friendly rule of thirds introduction! I think that the main issue with your original composition was with the central focal point and no other reads that fell on the rule of thirds guidelines. I made a mention of that on the first image.
I walked you through where my eye was taken through your painting. Obviously everyone sees different things, but this was my read. Actually, the number one read wasn't your waterfall, but I made it number one because I think that's your intention!
On the second I did a value check B & W. The boxed number one is what people were complaining about making your foreground over-saturated and this carried over to the foreground tree. Personally, I liked what the saturation did. I think it made it seem like there was a notch in the mountains and gave the piece a bigger feeling than what was on the page. That's always a good thing! However, there are some issues when you have something that pulls so hard away from the main read and it was pulling viewers right out of the painting. The rest is for a value check between fore, mid, and background. Also, the value should get lighter as the mountain or cliff ascends (as mentioned in your other painting). I didn't make notes on your value because I am not on my Photoshop calibrated monitor, so my notes would be incorrect, so that's for you to do!
I moved your image over so that the main and secondary reads were placed on the divisions for the rule of thirds, and I think that really helped it out compositionally! Now, there is an accurate and circular read that flowed a lot better to my eye. I had to copy and regenerate the right side of your image and didn't spend much time on it, so please ignore that!
Here are my corrections.
WARNING: Again, I didn't have my good monitor on this, and I didn't spend more than 5 minutes on the corrections!
I addressed the issue of the saturation pulling the viewer out of the painting by adding a foreground rock. Its framing/curved shape should allow the eye to come back into the painting while keeping the benefit of the larger feeling that the saturation allows. I added a small horse and character because I think a well rendered one would do well there. It serves as scale and you can put a path beneath them! That's preference, but I think it would work! I adjusted the values the best I could and darkened the foreground shadows to counter the saturation.
I like it! I think that the light should fall closer to the left side of the valley like there is a path or something there to trick the eye into thinking the painting extends beyond the canvas, but that's just opinion. Looks good!!! Render it out and refine your lighting, it will be great!