The painting is a picture of several mandarins in a blue glass bowl, with peeled and sectioned fruit scattered in the foreground. To see the painting process in order read from the bottom up:
When the major design problems are solved I start adding more colors and refining the details. I use smaller brushes, and start to make some edges defined and more precise. I make sure the darkest darks and the lightest lights are represented, as well as clean, accurate swatches of the major colors. If I'm not careful the painting will get "muddy" as it progresses, so early on I try to establish the full range of values and accurate colors.
As I paint I'm always thinking about what I will do next, there are always problems I am not sure how I will solve. For example, the hanging cloth background has an embroidered pattern and I don't know yet how much detail and contrast to include. I'm also wondering how to show that the peel to the right of the bowl is partly obscured by the shadow. Also, I noticed that the blue bowl is not truly symmetrical and the ellipse of the rim is inaccurate. So I have my work cut out for me. Check back tomorrow and see how I do!
The reason I start with a colored background is because the initial colors and values I put down are more accurate than they would be on a stark white background.
I prefer wood artists' panels to canvas because the support is firm (there is no "give"), and the paint slides around easily on the smooth surface compared to the textured surface of a canvas.