Here's a step by step look at a recent southern landscape painting titled "Hidden Cove".
I began painting by placing in the sky using acrylics. Often I put the sky in after putting in dark areas of trees and such but in this case I placed the sky first. On the occasions where I paint the sky later it's usually because I want to play with the negative areas more but I really didn't have much of an idea as to where this painting was going although I knew this warm sky feeling would be a major part of the piece so that's what I began with.
Here the clouds and grey areas of the sky were placed in the piece. I knew I wanted water in this scene so I extended the grey towards the bottom of the painting which would later become the water.
With a combination of Ultramarine Blue, Alizarin Crimson, and Indian Yellow, I made a dark color which because the foliage and carefully began to build up the composition.
A few cabbage palms were added using a light touch of the brush and simply dragging the paint from the middle of the palm outward creating the feathery edges to the palm.
A few more palms were added and birds in the foreground. Some distant palms were placed near the horizon in a blue color but the composition just seemed too bottom heavy.
In order to resolve this problem, I took out those small palms (in the previous photo) and brought the horizon up to a higher level in the picture plane. This took care of that area in the painting were nothing of interest was happening. More trees were added on the left to fill up the space more appropriately. Then another layer of foreground was placed in the lower right with the darks. The shape of the trees on the top left and the ones on the bottom right echoed each other and almost gave a framed look to the painting helping to hold it together.
To finish the piece, some dull green was added to give the foliage more form. I also added more variety to the sky as the palm trees and the clouds seemed to follow the same downward sloping line. This change made the sky more natural looking and filled the solid blue area of the sky with more interest.