Painter Jerry Fresia, who moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to a wonderful castle on Italy's Lake Como, demonstrates his painting process in the YouTube video A Painting Class on Lake Como, Italy. It's a great time-lapse glimpse of how a painting is constructed.
He begins by sketching his composition in charcoal on the canvas, then rubs it out, and paints in the basic composition. Notice how the composition is clearly indicated, but that he does not need to draw specific detail. This stage is all about making a beautiful structure upon which everything else will depend.
He follows with an underpainting (he is painting in oils). Notice the gorgeous colors he is mixing, and the subtlety of shadowed areas that will influence what comes on top of it.
After painting some of the lines in again, he comes back in with color, and brings the painting to completion. This is the point at which he gets more specific about colors and smaller details – not before. As you watch the video, notice his brushwork, too, and how each brushstroke is created by the movement of his whole arm.
Be sure to listen to his explanation of his painting process as you watch the video – he teaches clearly and well.