It is said that one who fails to prepare should prepare to fail, and it certainly rings true in art.
When preparing for a major studio painting the preliminary part could take just as long as the painting itself, if not longer. From field studies to numerous sketches, building a solid foundation will pay dividends down the road.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve dove in with work in the past only to find short comings because I failed to properly analyze the whole scene. Since then I’ve almost always done a quick color study of the subject
I am doing. In this way I can see how everything works together, from different values to color temperature and composition. This is something you just can not see by just looking at a photo.
Let me show you what I mean: In figure one below I’ve painted a quick 30 minute sketch of the subject matter. Doing so I was able to determine whether the position of the model is optimal… Also if I like the color balance…And numerous other details. I have to admit that I probably should have painted the rest of the scene so I can gauge everything; however the main painting was by no means large or complex so I chose not to. As it stands I did not end up changing much in figure two except that I warmed up the model quite alot more.
So remember; take the time to research your subject. You’ll find that you make mistakes less and less.