Oil Study for bigger painting

Little StudyToday I worked on this small (8" x 14") compositional oil study for a larger painting.  Its design incorporates still life and landscape elements which I wanted to work out, at least loosely, before tackling the final project.  The landscape behind the figures is made up, but is based on sketches and memories I have of Rome and Paris.  My husband posed for the two men (I changed him up for the gentleman on the left; Toby-as-Toby is the man on the right with his hand outstretched) and that's me in the middle.  It was really fun painting this small little study, without too many props and without worrying too much about being slavishly faithful to a model.  I didn't need Toby to sit for the actual painting part because I know his colors for memory, having studied his face over the years, and I've now painted enough Brooklyn hipsters to know what a beard is generally going to do.  In the past I've made many an unsuccessful still life, so I didn't need to set up a baguette, fish or wine glasses in order to paint those things believably (though, you tell me:)).  I probably will set these things up for the finished painting, not to mention copy a beard from one of my head studies, because the final painting will be a bit bigger and, oh dear, actual details will be necessary; but for today's work, it was genuinely liberating and FUN to reach into my own head and memories for the *basis* of many of the objects/people/landscape and think of those things as source materials from which to digress.  If I had time I would do another oil study and probably work on the landscape a bit more since the sky can really help establish a mood, but I'm on a deadline, and it's time to get cracking. As for what the painting is to be about, or what it says, perhaps it's no deeper than the starting point for many ideas: the genesis of an idea occurs deeply inside of oneself, no matter where one happens to be.  Outdoor, on a terrace, after dinner, one pulls away from a conversation taking place, withdraws into oneself, and in that moment the only landscape that matters is the landscape of the mind.  So in that sense, this painting is really just a big self-portrait: of me, being introspective.  That being said, I'll definitely have to work on my expression for the final painting.  It's got to sell the whole piece.