You know who you are! You go outside with your paints and easel and BAM! Everywhere you look it is beautiful. Great light, great sky, glowing colors... it looks so good you just want to paint it all! But wait! You have to put it on an 8 x 10! What's a painter to do?
First, what attracts you most? What do you really want to paint? The sky? The trees? The grass? The water? The alligator? (no, really!) With your idea in mind, use a viewfinder, even cheaper, use your fingers and make a viewfinder, a keyhole, if you will and look JUST at the area you want to paint. Forget the lovely flowers on your left or the white bird- an egret?- that keeps strutting in front of you sticking his neck WAY out. Go away, distraction! The light will change in less than 2 hours and you have to get to work!
Make a sketch if you can, of just the large shapes. OK- you are going to put that on your canvas. Draw with charcoal or thinned paint. Go for the big blocks of local color. Here's your mantra for the day: SQUINT! Reduce the landscape into large masses of values and color. Get the essence, not the entirety ( I made that up!) Sure, it looks simple. The guy behind you is thinking, "I can do that". Yes, he can. That's why he is watching you and not painting himself. He "thinks" he can. He hasn't tried it.
Wow- that part took almost an hour. You still have to make it look like a landscape. Put in your lights. Put in your darkest darks. Hmmm, all you have to do now is tweek the midtones and then a few highlights- a tiny dab of sunlight here and there.
Time is growing short. The light has started creeping onto areas that were dark before. The shadows are much shorter. You are getting warm. A bee lands in your paint. Of course, he is in your most expensive imported white paint. You can paint around him. Naw, better flick him out. He looks like a ghost bee now on the ground. Maybe he can rub off the paint in the grass. Why did he want to dive in it in the first place??
You hear a rustling behind you. The looker is back. "Hmmm," he says,"I can see what you are painting now. Not bad." Thanks, you mumble, scraping off your palette. Note to self: in a little more than 2 hours, I painted "my world". Here's my world and welcome to it....