"There really are PERFECT days in California. The sunlight shimmered, bouncing off the water and the wings of gulls. Even the wind cooperated.” --- SFG
On my usual toned canvas, I drew my subject, composing as I went. I worked for lines that repeated a parallel line, stopped and were continued further on, and lines that oppose one another. For example, the shape in the sky area was intended to repeat the tree outline and oppose the angle of the bluff.
I laid in the darks in the foreground and the tree on top of the bluff. Initially, I thought there should be two areas in the bluffs that were in sunlight. Later, I decided that there was an almost equal distribution of light and shadow, which is undesirable, so I put all of the nearer bluff in shadow. Such decisions are a part of the self-critique that must go on forever. If you don't see the errors in your own work, and relentlessly expunge them, you will continue in ignorance.
Next, I added color to the beach and near surf. Here, again, I later saw that the beach and the hills in the distance were too near in value and I lightened the distant area.
Now it was time to lay in the sky area. I paid close attention to the value and shape of the cloud area.