Here is the tulip piece I was working on last summer. I searched my blog and the last entry I could find contained this bottom photo with the brown background. I finished the piece, entered it into a national exhibit (which it was rejected from) and then it just in my studio for several months. Meanwhile, I kept looking at it and saying to myself, "something is wrong". One of the artists in my studio came by and told me the brown background was killing the piece! I was trying to choose a background that sit back quietly and let all the action happen in the foreground and I failed.
So ... I scraped the entire background off with transparent tape (middle photo). Believe me, this took hours because I had to work small sections at a time. And its something I wouldn't want to do again. Although, it looks kind of cool. I had applied so many layers of pencil on the paper that I couldn't pull the color entirely off. I almost left the drawing this way but decided to experiment more and apply another background.
The top photo shows the finished piece. After scraping off the background, I applied several layers and colors of pastel in grays, blues and greens. I rubbed each layer/color into the surface so that it wouldn't overpower the delicate tulips and glass bottles. I took the brown reflections out of the glass and added the grays reflected from the background. Thus, the entire background is pastel worked very gently around the subjects and worked into some of the tulips to make some of them fade into the background.
This drawing has been a learning experience and somewhat of an experiment. I kind of like what's going on in the piece where I removed the background but wouldn't really want to take the hours to apply all that pencil and then remove it. What did I learn? To really think before choosing a background that works with the subject and that you can remove large areas and reapply color!