I had forgotten I made this post. I'm glad it hasn't gone unnoticed.
I was never happy with the structure meeting with the floor. I worked on it repeatedly to try and remove the flatness and make it interesting and never managed to correct it. Mostly, it was the underpainting that formed the shape and it became uncorrectable by the time I realized how bad the idea was while adding glaze to these areas.
Looking at it now, I probably should have angled the side portions of the platform to give its some depth and leave the flatten section in the middle while bringing it out a little further in 3d space. Something to think about if I ever attempt a painting like this again.
The chair back was intended to just fill empty space with something interesting, but not too distracting. The swirl patterns are things I had seen in Indian art, so I went with them. I think the problem with them is the flatness of the areas between the swirls. The dark brown shift into the lighter areas needed to be more subtle. The attempt was there, but did not go far enough, mostly because the underpainting was controlling the change more than the top layers. It was my third attempt at an underpainting and first time with the style I used. So, it was an experiment that could have been better.
The lettering was intentional. I wanted them to have more focus due to the meaning of the words selected. They are from two different religious traditions in India (Hindu and Sikh), but have similar fundamental concepts which I used to draw unity between the traditions.
The original idea for the wall was much flatter. It was going to be the orange as a layer under a complete fill of red. So, the lettering would have set more into the wall at that point. The fade was a happy accident I discovered as I was finger painting in the red (only way to get the strokes smooth enough without the medium eating into the orange and have an uneven clumpy coverage that makes it feel more interesting.)
The color selection of Ganesha was important for the symbolism of the painting. As a result, the contrast you mention is limited to maintain the appearance of white. To get the correct visual effect, I had to use a purple as shading to kill the colors surrounding the skin areas. The effect appears gray, but it is purple. So, adding more would kill this effect and change the tone to an incorrect symbology.
The area that drives me almost as nutty as the lower platform is the necklace. Too much yellow which should be a highlight like in the bowls and bracelets. The scale was difficult for me to keep accurate in brush strokes (that area was about 2.5mm wide) Glazing that was difficult for me to maintain. Once it was off a bit, it was going to take removing more than the necklace glazes to correct it. So, I got lazy and left it.
Oddly enough, in 3d space, the plane of the stage area meeting the floor is realistic. This is pretty much how every stage looks. Its probably why so many prefer a fabric skirting to make it interesting. In a painting, it looks odd I think because we naturally ignore it in real life, but in a painting it just feels wrong. There may be some natural curvature due to perspective we see that I missed. This is a failing I probably should work on in future paintings.
I think I got to everything you mentioned. It was very helpful to get me thinking about the painting again.
Those who crumble, cannot rebuild themselves.