My granddaughter, an artist in her own right, took pictures with my camera one day and when I downloaded the pictures there were all these photos of her Heehos.* I decided to do a mini series of Heehos. This is a preliminary painting to test colors. This was done is 3 colors: Quinacridone Gold, Prussian Blue and Perylene Violet and a touch of Permanent rose.
Planning you colors ahead of time can really save a painting from becoming ruined when a wrong color is introduced. It also allows you to see if the colors are capturing the mood that you envision correctly.
It also helps to plan the values ahead of the final painting–especially with watercolors. The whites are saved, rather than put in afterwards and this takes careful planning.
I used to just jump in and start painting, and I still do sometimes. But I'm learning that planning helps to avoid disaters. Also, with so much planning, you become more and more familiar with the subject. In watercolor, this helps you to keep the painting fresh.
The final painting may only take minutes to finish, but the simplicity and spontaneity would be next to impossible to capture without the preliminary work. (unless you're just lucky-but then again, luck is when preparedness meets opportunity, right?)
*Heehos are imaginary creatures she invented that are kind creatures that eat candy and hate vegetables. She currently is writing a book about the Heeho adventures.