I think most of us have ideas for paintings floating around in our heads but because we're used to painting from a photograph or having the subject in front of us all the time we don't feel confident enough to pull off a painting from memory or ideas for a painting that we think will work. Doing small color studies can help work through those ideas and can even generate new ones. I generally work out an idea with thumbnail sketches in graphite, 3 x 5 inches or whatever shape best fits the idea. After doing 5 to 8 of these I pick the best one and do small color studies in the shape that works best, generally under 8 x 10 inch size. This process can spark more ideas but the big benefit is the growth and confidence from working through the problems in your head. Coming up with compositions, lighting, color schemes & technique. The image here is a small color sketch for a night scene; the landscape is a real place. I worked out the value and color change to fit the lighting and found photos of chuck wagons to give me the detail I needed. To see more of these types of sketches visit my Phil Starke Small Works Gallery.