I begin with notans, tiny sketches that help me understand the compositional possibilities. Insights about how the masses and values will relate on an abstract level are beginning.
The next step is a value painting. It needs to make me feel, even before color is there.
For me it, picking the value painting was a "no-brainer." the top one just flowed. The middle painting was a struggle and its idea may need to be saved for another painting and refined. At the bottom you can see the notans.