Here's an email I answered recently - thought it might help some other folks out if I showed you my reply to John's questions....
"Hi Richard, attached is a painting that is the view out my bedroom window. I mixed the colors to match what is really seen. Much better than from a photo. also, for the first time, i used atmospheric perspective on the hill in the back. it really makes it look 3d! i know i could exaggerate it, but it did it with what i saw.
i watched 2 of your dvds. I think they are great. you should make a dvd on just brush techniques. example what kind of brush to use and how to use it to make all the stuff in paintings. bushes, leaves grasses, rocks, etc.i really have a lot of trouble making branches and stuff beacause i don't know what kind of brush works best for what and how to use it. I cant seem to make them do what i want!
"Hi John, good work on that painting - some very subtle use of the atmospheric perspective idea in quite a tricky area with those detailed trees in the foreground. Your brushwork is coming along nicely I think - if you're trying to achieve a looser look my advice would be to force yourself to do some smaller test paintings with much larger brushes and brush strokes than you would normally - with just a few details thrown in here and there - NOT everywhere!
Focusing on that single idea, have a look at other artist's work that you like to see how they have dealt with that single idea - even try to find just one subject like a tree and see how they have done it, then try to copy that brush technique a few times, then choose a different subject and do a few of those - breaking it down to basic exercises will make you really leap forward much faster - just have to force yourself to do it and stay focused. Maybe give yourself a goal like, 'paint a tree with only 15 brushstrokes' - whatever gets you going.
Hope that helps,
All the best,