The leaves are now blocked in, and I've also done a fair amount of modeling on them. As I say, I prefer to work wet-into-wet because of the nifty blending possibilities. That is, I think, a large part of the reason I fell in love with oils to begin with, way back in my freshman year of college.
I've also developed the area where the two planes of the tabletop meet. All the major players are in place, now, and so it is a matter of maximizing the extent to which all to relate to one another and to the space... letting them sing together. This is, to me, a more free and poetic stage.
In painting any real object there comes some point where you stop looking at the object and begin more to look at the painting, at the expressive potential of it's internal rhythms and harmonies, balance and relationships. This is where you leave off recording the physical description of a peach and begin to get across a little how you feel about it. This is, however - from where I sit - a largely unconscious shift, and it should remain that way as much as possible. Even talking about it here begins to sound like art school bullcrap to me. This shift happens naturally and probably happens hundreds of times during the process of a painting.
The thing is, good art has never been about "expressing yourself". Maybe a little Chesterton will help here;
Art has always involved expression to some extent, but the great artists - the memorable ones, the ones that will last - have always been about expressing some concept other than and greater than themselves, some ideal or obsession that drove them. In this process, these artists also expressed themselves, because IT IS IMPOSSIBLE NOT TO.
Self expression in art is an unavoidable organic by-product, and the more it is consciously considered and weighed, probed and analyzed, the more it is written out in manifestos, the more dull and pretentious it becomes. If you want to express yourself, just paint whatever most naturally comes to mind to paint, whatever interests you most, and try to forget yourself. My gosh, forgetting oneself - losing oneself - in artistic labor is one of the chief joys of the whole thing.
Look at icon writing. The whole battle there is to try and take the artist's personality and natural preferences out of the process, to make the image transcend his or her merely personal or cultural idiosyncrasies... and yet, these stylistic tendencies can creep in over time, in spite of everything.
If one paints or draws or sculpts (or dances or plays music, etc...) in any significant amount over a period of time, one will express oneself and will develop some kind of personal style. It can't be avoided. Not that conscious choices and intentional thought don't play any role at all... especially when one begins to feel stuck, or senses a breakthrough of some sort coming on, it can be helpful to ask questions and spend some time looking for answers. Often, some outside input (critique) can be of great help.
But on the whole, the point of art has never been the artist. The first caveman that painted a wild horse on the wall of his cave was -for the moment, anyway - not obsessed with himself, but with the challenge of depicting a wild horse in all its wild horsey-ness.