My next step is something new that I've been playing around with over the past couple of years. I'm a fairly realistic painter, but I've found that my best pieces happen when I make mistakes. I think it's easier for me to let the illustration do the talking when I give up some control (or lose some of my control.) So I've tried to find fun ways to do that without ruining the painting. One of those ways is to take a palette knife and create some texture on the surface of the board with gesso. It's been so much fun for me and I'm almost always happy with the final look. It helps me loose control just enough to start having fun with the paint and stop worrying about achieving perfection. I haven't used this method on any paid jobs... but that's why I practice, and one of these days I will.
THEN... I realized I have made a terrible mistake! I usually pride myself on checking all of the historical facts when I paint. My painting "Escape from Alcatraz" is a great example of how picky I can be with timelines and dates. Even though I'm working with fictional characters, I love to elevate the suspension of reality with accurate details and facts. After I laid down the gesso, something in my brain started nagging me to check the timeline I was creating, and that's when I realized I screwed up. Le Chateau Frontenac didn't open until 1893, and the large central tower was built even later than that. Since my story is based on a colonial mouse, and since tricorn hats were out of fashion by 1800... I had a problem. I decided to get rid of the hotel (with a layer of gesso) and am now trying to figure out what to put in it's place... if nothing else, maybe that's where the copy will go.
Here is the piece with a burnt sienna oil wash over the gesso... with only a faint glimpse of the hotel. (Gotta like that texture though.)