Just a quick update on my progress. Not the best photo but the best I could do with the lighting conditions at the moment. I don't recall ever working on a painting that required so much 'coaxing' as this one. I tried to find shortcuts for the background effect I'm trying to achieve but could find none. I've worked the paint with Q-tips and a stiff bristled brush, pushing and blotting, pushing and blotting some more. The gessoed surface has definitely been beneficial for this project as I've had to scrub back areas. Uncoated w/c paper could never have withstood this and I'm not done yet. The branches look too neat, my marks/strokes should be much bolder. The background should be darker to make the birch bark look brighter....yada, yada. Also I still have to add in the berry clusters in the lower right and paint in more twiggy things.