Finishing the painting, step 1
Working dark to light, I went over the background again, then onto the wine bottle. With thalo green and quinacridone red, I refined the bottle and added some reflections and highlights. Then I straightened the shape of the label and shaped the cork and red wrapper and added some highlights.
Moving onto the books, I first tightened up the drawing, especially the top areas where you can see just a smidge of the pages. The perspective must be correct. When repainting this area, I redefined the edges of the leather covers showing how the light hits just a few spots. Then I painted a base color on the dark side of the right-hand book, and with a rigger-like brush, I quickly danced the soft bristles over the area to come up with an arbitrary pattern reminiscent of the pattern on the original book.
Still working on the books, I did more detail on both spines, paying particular attention to the areas where the leather binding was torn and ratty. I really love painting details like this...it's fun to get the torn edges and textures just right.
Unfortunately, I seem unable to figure out exactly how everything is going to turn out before I start painting a still life. I spend a lot of time on a set-up, but it never seems to be the absolute final design. I'll keep tweaking it, rearranging one thing or another. That's the point where I say I let the painting tell me what it needs. It is advantageous to put the painting out of sight for a few days and then look at it again. Often little things that didn't bother me before now scream at me!