I think one of the most important things to do is keeping receptive to ideas. Open your mind so you visualize compositions. I see something and think how can I paint this? If you only copy from a photo eventually that's all you will be able to do. I carry a note book and write down any ideas I get. Any colors I want to try and work into a painting. If I'm reading a book and a particular passage stirs my imagination I write down what I feel. Thoughts go away too quickly and any way to preserve them for later use should be used. Painting is my way of communicating my thoughts.
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