My practice/study sizes are even smaller–5x7" and 6x8".
I’m always nervous around starting a new painting, but also pretty excited. Photography just with my phone camera is an essential tool, but from so may years of observing and painting nature (in oils, watercolour, and acrylics) I find I can work well using a series of photos (and even looped videos! --videos show more true colour/light/shadow than stills taken with a phone).
I try to tell myself that fear of failure may be there, but if I learn something (which always happens even is it is only an unconscious increase in muscle memory) then it isn’t truly a “fail”.
When I first decided to go back to oils, I too started with paint sticks. Sellenier brand. The paints were luscious, though I didn’t like their Ultramarine blue. It was closer to violet than I like. The only other problem I had with the sticks was that they were incredibly messy to use, peeling the paper off was difficult, too. Wonderful to use with a painting knife, though and made creamy mixes, and good thick single strokes.
What brand did you get?
I’m thinking of purchasing a student grade set of paints with which to lay in my underpainting. Cheaper and they tend to dry faster. Then finish off with my Rublevs. I will also be using the student grade paints for colour studies, though at the moment I’m using watercolour for those. I just have to decide on a brand that doesn’t use anything other than linseed oil for their medium. My go-to paint brand used to be Stevenson’s but the owners got too old to continue the business and no one in the family wanted to take over, so they simply closed it all down. A sad day that I didn’t find out about until a few years ago when I looked them up in order to make some purchases.
I have found for myself that staying loose is helped by using a brush twice the size I was used to (even on small paintings (8x10") a two inch brush can work wonders), and putting down a single stroke at a time then loading up the brush and putting down another stroke, leaving them alone --not correcting or fussing with the stroke.
Pretty exciting stuff @sheralmyst ! I love that you have no qualms about using a device to help with the work. I think of them as a modern, more sophisticated, “camera obscura”. If the technology of the day worked for Vermeer, then the technology of today can work for us.
I edit my photos on my phone to a certain extent, cropping, adjusting lights/darks/brilliance, etc. and I upload to my computer and play with the composition and even the colours before I commit to a studio painting. In the wild or plein aire, I take reference photos, do sketches in charcoal or inks, maybe a quick watercolour colour study if there is time before the sun moves too far.
And here I go blathering on again. Enjoy your renaissance!