One of the most important elements in making a painting is orchestrating the parts toward a greater effect. To quote Max Beckman, "You can only understand or get to the invisible by a thorough study of the visible."
The process of turning an observation into a painting begins to get more and more abstract as I translate what I see onto canvas. This translation, or distillation, is the "basic anatomy" of a painting. I'm attracted to nature more for what I imagine it to be.
I'm trying to get to an essential reality, an archetype. The painting will start to suggest certain things to me; there is always a building process that consists, in part, of my "notes", which have become a visual shorthand that I "read" carefully. The slightest gesture of nuance of a stroke will help me to proceed. The unreal elements become real through the painting. And that involves much more than mood, it involves an essential light, form, color... I often use parts of the landscape as an index, you could almost refer to it as a a "catalogue of events." It doesn't have to be a particular place, or a particular time. Nature can spawn an image that becomes greater than the sum of its parts.
Metaphor becomes the driving force behind the painting, making it more vivid, more alive. I want the painting to be more than just what it looks like. The abstract process of putting what I have seen onto the surface of a painting is the very thing that becomes most real to me. It is a form of "realism" that is based on, or relies on, the abstract.