I experimented, just lightly sketching one or more egrets or other wading birds in various spots in the scene, but they seemed "too much" somehow. I liked the simplicity and relative emptiness of the piece and wanted just a hint of something more. But what? Walking past the pond in our neighborhood just as a frog, turtle (or some critter) put a nose up gave me an interesting idea. Perhaps I could suggest the rich underwater life in this swamp without showing any particular creature by painting in some ripples to suggest that a frog, fish, or maybe even a gator had broken the surface of the otherwise still water. So, here is a start in that direction, which I hope will add a subtle hint of life.
I will continue to texture the nearest cypress trunk to the ripples (right foreground). Now that a subtle center of interest will be there, I will reinforce that with more contrast and texture and will tone down the trunk in the left foreground just a bit to avoid competing. There is also more work to do (as you can see) in developing and filling in the background and in completing the water and reflections. This one is developing slowly, given its relatively small size, but I am completely enjoying the process and am in no hurry. Given that I may paint the scene in a larger format later, I believe that taking care with composition and values now will be well worth it. Even if this is the only version ever, it is providing a pleasant creative journey.
Question of the day: Do you suppose that the tranquility of the cypress swamp I am representing has influenced my mood and pace in this work? The process has not caused any frustration--unlike some other slow-to-fruition works. Thank you, Florida Wilderness.