I had been working on one small painting for ages, trying to make it work. Finally I gave up and covered over the whole canvas in parchment. That left me a textured background to begin a new painting on.
I began with cadmium orange, applying it with a brush in a free-form central shape. Then I blended Indian yellow and raw sienna around the edges. Next I added titanium white, blending it with the background and using it to highlight areas of the composition.
After that I used a mixture of pale yellow and a medium red to add interest and contrast. Then, feeling even more contrast was needed, I applied some cobalt green with a small brush.
Using the same brush, I added burnt umber, blending it with the other colors and using it to deepen the contrast and highlight shapes.
After that I added more cadmium orange, standing back periodically to see where more was needed. Using all the colors, I tinkered with the composition until I felt it flowed and breathed the way I wanted it to.
My final step was to draw a few lines in burnt umber, outlining shapes and guiding the eye's movement across the canvas.