I'm on my last week of uni before I graduate and I'm aspiring to be a background artist or a visual development artist. So most of these will be in my online portfolio.
I've been doing a lot of environment studies recently to try and improve my backgrounds, but I'm worried that I may be repeating the same mistakes without realising it. So far I've painted these using photo references, (and inserting pokemon and characters I like)
My main method of working is starting from a small thumbnail, stretching it bigger and painting more details as I go until I stretch it up to canvas size (usually A5)
Name:  Field.jpg
Views: 695
Size:  111.2 KB
Name:  moomin study.jpg
Views: 683
Size:  201.0 KB
Name:  Pink Street.jpg
Views: 693
Size:  128.4 KB

These were personal paintings from imagination and taking parts from other photo references.

Name:  night.jpg
Views: 686
Size:  99.5 KB
Name:  Lake.jpg
Views: 690
Size:  115.4 KB

This one was an observational painting done in one of my uni's labs. I'm not too happy with the colours.
Name:  D8QxZJJU8AEKOm-.jpg
Views: 677
Size:  191.3 KB

Currently my biggest questions are, how do you know what to take or use from studies and practises into your personal work? I struggle with incorporating more details into my backgrounds, any advice on that? What kind of thought processes would be helpful or things to keep in mind as I work?
The artists that I look at for inspiration and as benchmarks are Amei Zhao, James Gurney and Corinne Caro(amiamihan). Are there any other examples of portfolios I can look at?
Or all in all, should I just keep going with my current method and let things fall into place since it does take time and practice, haha!
I'm a little lost on how to go about from here so any advice would be welcome