Here's my general approach to painting one of my still lifes.
• Lower right: I start with a little value thumbnail, and keep it nearby, usually thrown below me on the floor, while I paint. If something changes or moves I use it as a guide for my final values.
• Next, I try my best to do an accurate pencil drawing of the subject. This is my great weakness. Lately, I need to spend as much time as I can drawing because over the years I did a lot of painting but not drawing. I try to lay in the shadows and details at this stage. My drawings are usually about 8 x 10"...I don't draw to the final size I'm after because I'm not always comfortable working at a larger scale while keeping my proportions accurate.
• Here's where technology comes in: I then enlarge my drawing (above) to the desired painting size. Way back in art school we were told to find the smallest, most detailed area and make sure you can paint that comfortably. So, I blow up my images to fit that area. In this case, it was probably to accomodate the knotted tie on the baby shoe.
• Here's my second hit at a similar pose. On this one, I took a bunch of photos and pushed the blown out lights in my painting. I like the luminosity in the shadows, and I love losing edges where light is blown out.
Will I do a third painting? Probably. But not for a while. Time for me to grow up.