I'm not sure when I started this painting, but I've had it on the back burner. It just wasn't feeling right and I simply did my usual bad habit of finding something else to work on.
Well, while working on After the Rain I discovered the solution add a fifth figure. The composition is now fixed and I know where I'm going with the piece again. It's silly and so elementary when I think about it. Four figures was an even number which doesn't create a successful composition. Things are supposed to go 1,3,5,7,9 and so on. Okay, it's not a hard and fast rule, but if you study old master works and perform a physical count of the number of figures you'll find that only within a few rare works will their be an even number of figures and when that does occur it is to match the biblical story the work depicts. In those instances though another large compositional element is introduced to balance the piece.
My birthday was last week and one of the gifts my wife gave me was John Singer Sargent's Italy. The book is just a wonderful book to look through. I love his subtle use of color within his Italian works. It's interesting to contrast these works against his more famous portrait works he's better known for. I'd say the paintings in Italy were who he really was.