Use your imagination
Anand Radhakrishnan on colour.
The transition of an image from a rough line drawing to a finished painted piece can be a challenge, especially if it’s not directly from reference or a live model. It can become confusing to decide which colours to use and how to get started on painting something without anything to look at.
My recommended approach is to do a bunch of thumbnails for both value and colour, and then graduate on to your final piece with a good grasp of your colour scheme. However, it can also be a great learning experience to work on an image spontaneously and pick colours on the fly. I often do this either while working on smaller commissions or when producing personal work for practice.
One way to overcome the fear of a blank sheet of paper is to use toned paper or any printed surface. This limits the colour range and helps you settle on a scheme. Another issue is that it’s hard to recreate objects, figures and landscapes from your imagination. That’s when references are useful. But it’s important that references don’t dictate your painting. I look for reference images after I’ve decided what to paint and how to paint it. That way, my artistic decisions don’t overly rely on the reference photographs.