In this post, I'm not speaking about copying ideas for paintings or compositions - but rather about developing your own working methods and organization so that you can spend most of your time actually painting.
I enjoy hearing about other peoples working methods. You'll develop your own working methods through time and trial and error. Take what works from others and make it your own. In my experience this is as true for art as it is in all walks of life. I don't have just one working method - for those of you who know me that comes as no surprise. However, I do spend more time now planning a painting than I used to - but its taken me 15 years to get to that point. Time wasted looking for supplies or reference sketches does get old after awhile.
Whenever possible I try to paint the subject on location. I've found that when I refer back to on location works there is so much more in my memory that I was consciously aware of at the time.
When I cannot paint on location, I try to make some quick studies or sketches on location or at least to spend some time getting the feel of a location.
The three sketches below were completed on a camping trip to Houghton Maine years ago. Most of my on location paintings are done in watercolor - due to ease of transport.