One of the most important parts of painting is the attention to detail and achieving detail. I think this is one of the reasons why I prefer landscape and scenery painting. I am a real "bugger" on depth and hate flat. As I think back even as a child I would press harder with my crayon to get darker..... I am sure the"shading" which I now know is what I was achieving; was not in the right place but at least I had the concept to carry over into what I do now.
Some people have a hard time with shading and highlighting and don't use the toe color in the right place...which I always found strange and I wonder if it has anything to do with dyslexia????
You must learn to "see" before you paint. Look at color and try to define it by your paint colors from the brand you use....Sap Green, Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Umber, etc. And clouds...they are different everywhere so it is hard to make a mistake with them but some that I have seen are a far cry from realistic. I have lived on the East Coast, the West Coast, Texas, high and low in the US and have always paid attention to color and shapes..... I use my camera to take picture of things like this so I can refer back to them. My camera and computer are pretty color compatible so colors are pretty close to what I remember......close enough to use as a reference that is for sure.
If shading and highlighting are hard for you I would HIGHLY recommend one of Sharon Binaman's books....she is a real expert when it comes to this and after a few of her designs and her techniques you will hate shading and highlighting in a different "manner" but will have learned a LOT. I haven't seen her put out a book in quite a while which is a real shame. She has books in Southwest which are soft, and just awesome, seashells, flowers etc. She is quite a wonderful "teacher" with her books.
Depth is almost totally achieved with color....and details well you almost need to take notes on this aspect of painting....as there are so many. Which way does the grain run on trees? What is the shape of a leaf on a peony bush.
I LOVE the new Glamour Dust paints for achieving detail and atmosphere and have been using it a LOT with some of my designs. I have a Dandelion painting that I am going to be working up into a packet which I have used the Glamour Dust paints on and it takes the painting from hum drum to really special. I have also finished a neat Halloween painting on canvas that is painted in dark colors, totally different from anything I have ever seen and these paints really made it come alive.... It will be published in an online magazine in September.
So pay attention to size, shape, and color. Take pictures and notes. Write down ideas. Keep a sketch book of ideas to go with a photo or photos.....colors to use....changes to make, etc. I have two or three
sketch books I work in and from.