I have a few (lots of) unfinished paintings as well, at least in my mind. Hey, it takes time and lots of study to learn to paint well. I bet I painted hundreds of leafy trees before I finally had them looking like leafy trees. Glad you have a helper.
One of my students was struggling to get something 'right' on her duck stamp, the one where she placed first for the state of Texas a few years ago. I think it was waves. Ha! And here I am all the way back up in Canada. So I simplified it over the phone real quick for her. "Most everything, including waves, has a highlight, a mid-tone and a shadow. If your wave highlights are already white and you're piling on more white to make them stand out whiter, the wave just isn't going to develop, it ain't going to work. Lower the value of the midtones and shadows and the highlights will stand out again. So she gets back at it, submits it and wins. I looked at those waves the next year while visiting down there again. She pulled them off just fine.