Thank you for the replies everybody. I finally decided on what I was going to paint, and I am taking everybody's advice and taking it slow. I am going to do a few sketches and such before hand before I actually get to work. Thanks Everybody!!!
I am not a painter, but I know how to paint and I have taken advanced courses for Life Drawing and Perspective. The thing that all the professors drill in your head (ALWAYS) is thumbnails. The pre-planning phase is extremely important to how great the composition of a piece is and to make sure that it follows all of the elements of design. That is not to say that you can't create a good image without pre-planning. However, a pre-planned image will always be overall better.
If you are just painting for fun, however, I don't see much of a reason to pre-plan if you don't really want to.
A lot of my work is based on themes so i put quite a lot of thought into each piece. I think art should be a commentry on life, it should say something. Sometimes my paintings form part of a series so i have to think carefully about what elements i will incorporate into each piece and how they will be linked together. I don't understand how some artist can start with no plan at all but then again you can usually tell who put in the effort and who didn't. Whats the point of art if it doesnt say something.
I actually put a lot of thought into what I'm gonna paint. Thumbnail sketches and doodles, rough drafts in my sketchbook, a final sketch, and then I finally sketch it onto my canvas. I really would like to (and probably should, as a learning experience)try it your way sometime.
Whenever I do a painting I usually have some idea of what it should look like in my head. Very rarely does it ever turn out that way, though. I usually just throw down colors in a way that my brain thinks makes sense and it tends to work out in the end
I always know what I draw before I start. I can see pictures in my head. I just visualize an idea in my head. When I don't, it's most of the time rubbish, or abstract. I do abstract without thinking. I can also draw characters before coming up with them (but I have to have a basic idea before starting.
I'm more into drawing...but generalizing things into image making...yeah...lots of time goes into just thinking about what I'm going to do. I like at least a general plan/or composition in mind before I start. I have started "cold" a few times...only to realize half-way in I'm stuck...not that I don't get stuck with something I was sure I'd planned out. I do a fair amount of preliminary drawings, experiment with poses etc...pretty much so I know when I begin a finished piece I can reproduce all the elements. Usually though, I realize a change in this or that might make things better- or sometimes an element of a drawing just ain't happening so you have to change your game plan...it's the work part of artwork.
I'll be honest with you. I few times I have tried to just wing it, and it almost always comes out looking like crap. That's just me though.
I've learned to put quite a bit of work and thought into my paintings before starting. First step is having a general idea of what to do, then I sketch some rough concepts of it on paper. Once I'm satisfied with how it looks I do a more detailed sketch, then transfer the sketch onto a canvas (in pencil), taking care that I have my placement/sizing/cropping/etc, correct. Only then do I start painting.
A good habit is to constantly write down little ideas, notes, sketches of concepts, that way you don't forget them (I hate it when I don't write down a good idea, because I will DEFINITELY forget). That way you'll have a nice list of concepts for when you want to start your next painting.