I approach my paintings in two different ways. One way, which I call the discovery approach, is when I don't have a concrete idea of what it will be. As one artist said, "I think I am painting a picture of two women, but it may turn out to be a landscape!" With this approach, I start with color, and more color, and see what happens. after a bit, I study the painting to see what it might be, and develop it in that direction(see above photo).
In the second approach, (I call it recording) I attempt to record a specific scene or mood, with a definite end result in mind.Because I see so many beautiful scenes, usually in the natural landscape, I want to share this scene or feeling with the viewer, and proceed with a firm idea in mind.
In this way I allow myself to both experiment and be specific, but not necessarily in the same painting!