I decided to make a tutorial for those of you that are interested. I hope someone finds this helpful or at least interesting.
Quick line drawing to establish composition. I try to not get too caught up in this stage and stick to the big basic shapes. It can be temping to put in small details and very precise drawing but you lose a lot of that in later stages. Think very general placement here!
I like to start by blocking in the the larger dark areas first. I thin down my oil paint with a little bit of odorless mineral spirits so that it is about the consistency of watercolor. This makes it get a bit tacky by the time I am ready to paint in the lights and therefor keeps the paint from mixing together too much and making a mess. Pay attention to variety in shape… I find that if you are able to get an interesting design with lots of variety in these darkest shadow shapes the over all design of the piece in the end is much more pleasant.
Once most of the darks are layed in I move on to the over all value/color of the light areas. I also thin this down a bit so that I can put another layer on with thicker paint within the hour. I find if I cover the surface as quick as possible with a thin layer I am not fighting the white of the canvas and trying to fill in on those little tiny white spots. I can always go over the top of this with thicker paint where there is variety in color and/or value.
After the light areas are filled in I work on variety of value and color within those lights as well as jump around the darks adding variety in value and color. It is a good idea to keep at least 2 brushes in hand; one for the lights and one for the darks. This keeps from having to clean your brush a ton between strokes. I also focus on edge control at this stage. I find that edges are easiest to manipulate when you have a lot of paint on your surface. You can create interesting edges with your finger, a dry paint brush, pushing one color into another, etc etc. Don’t be afraid to try something new here!!
I hope this was entertaining or helpful for someone out there on the ol’ interweb!