The first thing was to change the color photo to a high contrast black and white to get better see the big shapes.
Next I added on to the left side to make a better composition. A general guide is to have the center of interest be at the junction of the painting's thirds. I've drawn lines here so you can see that the lines cross near the boy's faces. In the original shot their faces were close to center. The re-do has more drama, don't you think? The red spots were an idea about having them gathering fruit or something, but I abandoned that idea for metaphor about brothers which came a little later.
This brought me to the point of a rough in on the 24" x 24" canvas. I projected the image and made a quick charcoal sketch of the main elements. (There is lots of controversy about weather it is "OK" to do this, which I don't care much about. I think the main issue is that people use images that are taken by others, project them as is and then put paint on it. The composition, color and subject were all done by someone else so the result is hardly "original". Not the case here so I am guilt-free.)
I sprayed the sketch with fixative and let it dry overnight, then I did a quick color wash with ochre acrylic.
A few days later I came back to the Brothers and did another color blocking with acrylic. I chose the violets and blues because I thought they would give and interesting under tone to the greens, and yellows and pinks I planned to use. By this time I was hot to get going and the thin acrylic allowed me to do that because it dries so fast. If I'd used oils, even thinned with turp, I would have had to wait a day rather than an hour. Oils can go over thin acrylic, but acrylic over oils will peel off.
Here's how it went:
I'm including my reference photos in these shots so you can see if I'm sticking to the plan as I go along. Having them on the wall behind the easel helped me just look at the the shapes and values, not any detail.
These are the brushes I'm using. No need for any details at this stage! The sketchy marks are the bow the smaller boy will carry and the arrow his brother is holding. The angle of the arrow should stop the eye from following the arm right our of the picture.
Do you get the metaphor?
A check with this black and white at the end of the day shows me I'm losing the strong light diagonal, from bottom left to upper right. I'll have to keep an eye on that as I proceed.