I am a self-taught painter, given my first set of acrylics at the age of eleven.
Generally when I paint, I work from reference photographs and sketches. There are several abstract works on the "Earlier Works" page that were, in large part, painted spur of the moment with minimal layout sketching before I started going at the canvas with brushes. Most of my current work is mapped out much more in advance, although I do love to give into random and out-of-the-blue ideas whenever possible. Misplaced brushstrokes have had a habit of growing into my favorite details.
Bright colors and strong lighting, balanced with shadow, run throughout my catalog of work. If the eye isn't entertained while looking at it, or the mind doesn't drift somewhere different or new from where you were before seeing it, then I'm not satisfied.