Usually when we take on an art project, or any kind of project actually, we want to get into the nitty gritty of it as soon as possible. And that’s a great attitude to have! Some artists can get right into it and get the composition just the way they want it, but it doesn’t usually work that way for most painters. In most cases, it’s helpful to do some prep work beforehand to make it easier on yourself in the long run.
Once you have your subject matter picked out, whether it’s from a photograph or observation, it’s good to sketch out a bunch of practice studies. They do not have to be perfect, and you don’t have to spend an intense amount of time on each one. Gesture drawings are great for getting a quick idea of the movement of the composition, and giving you an idea of how the subject will take up space on your final support. Again, these sketches shouldn’t be heavily detailed, they really just help you get familiar with your composition, which actually helps more than you would think.
Sketches are also great for when you find yourself stuck in the painting process, or you hit a bit of artist’s block. Put down the paints, pick up a sketchbook and just draw it out. It doesn’t matter if your drawings are messy. Practice sketching kind of gives your brain a break from whatever you were stuck on, and it can usually be worked out by going back to the basics.
Good luck sketching and painting!