When starting a new painting, I like to gaze around at my canvas to determine the approach I would take. Because I sometimes paint with a pallet knife and at other times with the brush as I am currently doing, there are two different approach. However I will share with you the brush approach.
I prepare a sketch on my canvas with a pencil or charcoal; after reviewing what I have done, I like to lay my colors in with a light wash which helps me as I progress along in determining the placement of my values. This seems to help because I do not have to wonder where my color placement will be in terms of light and dark or any other values. This works for me but it might not be your approach. In any case I would love to hear just how you approach your painting and your most effective way of getting your painting completed.
As you can see I have enclosed a sample of a painting that I have just started and I will continue to give updates until this piece is completed.