When painting up the picture on to the canvas, you may find it useful to have all your drawings ready to hand to refer to. You may also wish to have a color scheme to work from. You will get a better result if you have some idea what colors you are going to use, rather than if you muddle on with only a vague idea of what you are going to do.
The notion that inspiration will descend on you once you hold a brush in your hand is better replaced by the more practical one of knowing a little about what you are going to do. If you have spent so much care in arranging your picture, you may as well spend just that little bit longer and do a color scheme as well.
A simple scheme of color, one that can be added to later without any disastrous effects, is one that relies on two colors and white at the most. Or, if you have a natural way with colors and feel more adventurous, keep your colors in families: browns, reds and ochres; or blues, greens and lemon; or browns and yellows, with just a touch of red. You can even work out a scheme with greys and black, adding just a touch of pure blue or red. Whatever you decide to do, remember to keep it simple, keep it fresh and have some idea what you are going to do.
ON THE CANVAS
To paint directly on to a white canvas can be disconcerting, although if it can be managed without a great deal of overpainting the result can look fresh and charming. But with oil the most exciting qualities lie in its ability to cover well and to be used thickly and juicily. So that it is sometimes more useful to stain your canvas with a light wash of umber, or any other fairly quiet color you like, and stain it over your drawing. For convenience, have a number of canvases ready stained and draw on top of the stain. However, if you stain over your drawing you can select a tone or tint that will be in keeping with your color scheme and this will aid you when you start painting.
When your stain is dry, you can then start. You will find that however lost you may get when painting, if you have done your rough composition and your color scheme, you will always be able to refer back to them. You may want to enlarge and alter your original idea. This often happens. It is a good thing it does. It means the painting is growing.