It would be much more orthodox to plan an entire composition before beginning a complicated narrative painting.
But I planned poorly, and now I’m improvising. I'm satisfied that my latest improvisation for this painting is, at last, getting the image to coalesce. By adding this figure between the viewer and the fireplace, I think I’ve created a bridge between the central figures and the distally placed ones at left. My wife saw it and said, “Oh, now Mary’s really slacking.” It’s a busier room, and Martha’s frustration that her sister has left her “to serve alone” is exacerbated.
I’m now envisioning another guest between the tables, leaning to our right in reach of some victual, creating yet another directional line to the interaction between Mary and Jesus.