I start most of my work (except the goddess series) with a sketch on paper or canvas, and sometimes preliminary thumbnail sketches for composition details. Thumbnails are literally very small drawings, often several on one piece of paper. I work mostly from my own original photographs, but when that is not possible I refer to several resources to get a feeling for the subject.
Initial washes of color begin to flesh out the painting, with layer building upon layer to create a three-dimensional quality. Often very electric colors in the early washes are toned down with progressive layers of paint, but they still shine from the depths of the piece upon completion.
Some artists will work from one corner of the piece and down and across, creating a finished work as they go. I have always preferred to let the composition build slowly, and this allows for some left-turns and creative epiphanies in the process.
Tones and highlights are adjusted as the painting nears completion, and sometimes washes of gold or silver burnish the completed painting.