Ohh, can't wait to see it, Liz-!
This drawing took more hours than I care to admit--I once mentioned working on one square inch for about three hours, that was the little light brown doggie's head. Honestly I was just about sick of it by the time it was 3/4 done, but what can you do. So a rough guesstimate would be 60 hours at least.
I'm sure it's a good idea for you to push yourself to a) tackle more complexity in backgrounds, it'll make you that much more versatile of an artist; and b) to slow down a bit, just so you're working from a more relaxed place as you describe it, although your work certainly doesn't seem to be suffering for all that you're so fast.
You know too, backgrounds sort of shift the atmosphere of a drawing from portraiture to more of what I think of as telling the briefest snatch of a story. That's not necessarily appropriate for a commission piece, of course--especially since in my case it means either charge $6000 dollars or work for 50 cents an hour....
Paintsrule, thanks for the kind words, and 'Holy Goodness' is an expression I'm going to tuck away in my pocket to pull out for future use.
don't worry, spiders, I keep house casually.
~ Kobayashi Issa
(1763 - 1827)