Above is a quick study from a reference photo of State Beach, San Clemente at sunset. I want to focus on water studies, so I took canvas board, 16 x 20 (below) and divided it into quarters. I then went ahead and drew in the basic contour of the 4 studies I plan to do. With 4 paintings basically started, I have a set up to step into which will quickly carry me into the practice.
I heard something the other day about the difference between learning processes in Japan and the US. In the US, teachers call the best students to the front of the room to share their work on the board. In Japan, the teachers call on the students struggling with a problem to share. It is expected that failure will happen and is an important part of learning. When learning how to play the game "Go" in Japan, the novice is told by the experienced opponent, hurry up and lose your 50 games so we can play. And so with my water studies, I'm trying to hurry up and 'lose' 50 paintings (or 500 - who knows?). Failure is learning.