One day I was contemplating a solution to this problem. I asked myself, "How can I go through all the steps that go into finishing a painting faster?". The answer at the time was by cutting the canvas size I could cut the painting time. So I grabbed a 20x24" panel and roughly gridded out several small rectangles.
At the time, I really thought my compositions were the major weakness so that was my focus. Setting a timer of 2 hours- I would set up a still life, paint it and go to the next. I didn't analyze each painting after they were completed. I just went to the next one. After a couple of days of doing this, I had this whole panel of little still lifes. I was really excited because I could see that after the repetition I was changing things up, getting more free, more creative, thinking more in visual terms.
There were 2 paintings in particular that I felt really had something. So those 2 I decided to try on a larger panel. I found that the paintings were far easier for me to complete after having done the study. And when I added up the time I would have given to all the more blah compositions, I saved a good 80 hours!
These two paintings turned out really well for my technical capabilities at the time and they both went on to be in shows and both won awards and sold. So the 12 hours I invested in the studies saved me 80 hours of frustrating and painful painting and led to profitable pieces. Now the rest of the mini studies had a charm all on there own and I wound up cutting them out of the panel and selling most of them....and some of course were Christmas gifts for friends and family. I learned other things from this approach I took, but I will share that at another time.
I hope that you will listen to that voice inside of you that says, there's got to be a better way and I hope it is as successful for you. (Or you can take this idea!) Good Luck.
Panel with some of the paintings midway through, in 2011 (looks like there were 16 in all):
There were 2 that were most interesting to me and I enlarged them to 16"x20" and 24"x20"
Tangerines and Pewter - oil on panel - 2011
Metal, Glass and Onions -oil on panel - 2011