I like to have two to four hours of UNINTERUPTED time to start a new painting. Working from several reference photos, I use a large brush to quickly lay out the flow- maybe the sweep of hillsides on a large, expansive landscape; strong trunks in a grove of trees; or the angle of grasses on a detailed subject. During this time, I paint quickly and boldly, adding paint directly onto the canvas, trying different angles and moving the canvas from side to side. The easel is something to rest an edge of the canvas on, not to calmly hold the canvas still. Don’t talk to me now!
Once I get the underlying flow and layout, I slow down for the details, and this takes time. Sometimes I get 80% of the painting (the layout) done in 25% of the time it takes to complete. I try to really think about the items I’m working on- “Is this rock smooth or rough-does it look that way on the canvas?” “Is that tree root reaching out enough?” NOW you can talk to me!