The journey that led to "Jokanaan's Prophecy"

On a trip to Oklahoma to visit my father, I browsed at a second hand store. They have a small selection of used books and I always check for art related titles. I found "Salome" by Oscar Wilde with illustrations by Aubrey Beardsley. It was unusual and foreign to me but I liked the plates so I bought it. It's an easy read. There was a passage that struck me. In the play, the prophet, Jokanaan, is imprisoned in a well by King Herod. He calls out to the king's step-daughter Salome, "The son of man hath come. The centaurs have hidden themselves in the rivers, and the sirens have left the rivers, and are lying beneath the leaves of the forest." I could envision this strange scene with sirens and centaurs and I liked the idea of a large painting that was mostly landscape but included these mythical figures. It was a long way from conception to realization. I spent weeks doing research, making sketches and taking photos of trees, people and landscapes. It was fun and very educational. I made the stretcher bars and stretched the canvas using proportions from a detailed sketch that I liked. The finished piece is 28 by 32 inches. I ended up doing the whole painting in black and white acrylics and editing the composition and tones extensively. When applying the oils I was able to focus on brushstrokes and color. My thanks to Chick Curtis and Paul Simon who both provided valuable suggestions along the way.