So far I'm working mostly transparently, and I'm not so sure how it's going to work painting opaquely over this base, but we'll see.
Today I finished masking the "main charaters," both animal and vegetable, and proceeded with a wash over the rest, establishing a basic values pattern and, in the process, the idea that the light source is above, to the left, and to the rear. The "scooting out of town" mouse will end up in shadow (which I'd like to figure out how to dapple), along with the other two towards the back of the painting, while the two foreground mice will be in the sun.
After the wash had dried, I finished outlining the dried leaves. It was time-consuming but also relaxing. As I worked toward the front of the painting, I realized that it would look better to have some gaps in the leafy floor. To work the spaces between the dried leaves I'm going to use Carel's technique for sand but with tiny debris shapes rather than tiny sand shapes. (Actually the wash colors make me think I'd like some moss patches on the open ground so I'll try to figure out how to begin that tomorrow.) So I masked out lots of little shapes in the spaces between the leaves then washed over them, grading the color as I went - layer one of many to come. I think that in the end - after several more layers of masked shapes and washes - this ground will be a mid tone between the lights and darks in the dried leaves.
I usually have trouble painting more than two hours at a time, but today I didn't have trouble with more than four. I'm liking this technique and feeling rejuvenated. Thanks, Carel!