I love research and this subject of how to begin a painting has me combing through my art books and other resources with gusto. First and foremost, I need to put beginnings into the biggest categories of practice- alla prima (from the Italian) or premier coup (from the French) also called the direct method. The words come from a loosely translation meaning direct or spontaneous attack. The other practice is the indirect method. In its true form, colors and values of the painting are tweaked through subsequent layers. Previous layers show through by scumbling, washes, and glazing.
What does this have to do with how to begin? Everything. I fine it difficult to add pictures for the purpose of demonstration because there are several different "beginnings" within each of the major oil painting categories. What category do you fit within? Do you paint using the direct or indirect method? Why do you prefer the one method over the other? Do you think a certain process in the beginning makes a difference in the end product? Hmmm? For those of you who have responded to some of the questions, I thank you for your input. This issue has plagued me for a long time.