"And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." Lk 2:33-35
I have continued to use the same, somewhat involved process of a) making a complete charcoal sketch of the final painting, b) doing a color study using a print-out of the charcoal drawing, c) tracing the drawing onto a canvas, d) painting a monochrome layer on the canvas, also known as the "umber layer" and then e) painting the final layer, in full color, on top of that. It is a technique that certainly has its advantages and disadvantages.
I decided to include 6 figures in addition to Christ, making him the 7th figure. The characters essential to the narrative are Joseph and May (left), as well as the prophetess, Anna, who is holding a birdcage - in those days, poorer families customarily sacrificed doves in the temple instead of lambs, upon the birth of a son - and Simeon who is directly opposite of Mary.
Here is a detail of the color study I did on a print-out of the charcoal drawing. The idea behind the color study is to just get a sense of the overall color scheme and try to get a feel for the light and dark tones, the warm and cool values that will allow the painting to take shape in a 3-dimensional way. The details of the painting are less important. I must say, however, that I have not really mastered the utility of this step of the process.
Working on the final painting has been relatively slow-going. Although, once all of the preliminary work has been done, it makes this last stage much quicker and smoother - which is actually a great joy. Below are some details of the final painting, still a work-in-progress.
I also have recently created an instagram account! You can follow me there to get even more regular updates on what I'm working on. @birdman.627.