However, I felt the male figure got a little lost in the shadow of her presence. Even for myself, I found this to be increasingly the case. My wife hung the painting in our living room, so I've also had the opportunity of living with it most of the last year--you can see it hanging in the background at the beginning of a YouTube video I posted a few months back.
Additionally, late last year I discovered and began using Gamvar, a final varnish for use on paintings. Prior to this, I had been coating paintings with Galkyd, alone or mixed with Galkyd Lite. This creates a nice shiny finish, and a good isolation layer that cleans well. Technically, however, it's not a varnish per se. Which means, of course, that you can rework such a painting. So....
Recently, I finally began reworking it. Basically, I wanted his headpiece to have a more interesting shape, and for the patterning to be more refined. I also wanted to touch up the portrait a bit. I began by doing some very quick digital shape studies. Once I found one I liked, I overlaid tracing paper on a print, so I had a to-scale head. From there, I reworked the headpiece. I refined the patterning of the small stones that made up the mosaic. Then I scanned it back in, printed it at actual size, pulled the painting off the wall, transferred it down, and began painting.
While working, I also decided to darken the area of the distant wall behind the woman's arm. I also re-painted large portions of the face. It ended up being more work than I thought, but it'll soon go back on the wall and I'm much happier.
Before / After
Further, I finished with a couple layers of Gamvar, so I won't be tempted to touch it again. Ok, Gamvar can be removed with mineral spirits, but I've never tried doing that and have little interest in it. Leave that to a conservator generations from now!
The new version replaces the old elsewhere on my site, where you can see a detailed version of it as well.