So, 'what if' was what lead me to wetting down just the background with water applied with a foam brush and then adding more of the dark blue textile paint, dark at the outline of his head, and then lighter and I brushed out toward the border.
The neat thing was that when the piece finally dried, it became a lot puffier where the batting and quilting had become wet, so there was also a textural change. I'm so glad that I gave it a try. "nothing ventured, nothing gained".
YES WE CAN!!!