Here the attention is on the pattern of highlights. Not a watercolor layout exactly, but more of a loose contour / gesture drawing trying to get a general feeling for the splash and play of the lighter tones on the largest shapes of the layout. So right away I am thinking in abstract terms and creating a flat notation map of the areas I want to reserve and protect.
This is a spontaneous doodle yet I still think in terms of light tone shapes - How many? How big? How are they attached to the large shapes? Is the pattern and rhythm interesting? At this point, I usually have strong feelings for whether or not it has possibilities. if the drawing does not stir my imagination, I move on. However, I always save my work and revisit a few months later. On a different day, in a different mood, suddenly the scribble that held no promise jumps out at me screaming with all the potential in the world.
Here is a group of bottles and jars. The highlights are completely disconnected from any suggestion of the larger shapes that they are part of. Highlights all by themselves do not necessarily define the direction of light. Very often it is the absence of light that informs us where light is coming from.
In roughing in some surrounding ambient mid tones, the highlight notes that I reserved suggest leaves in the wind and a fluttering butterfly or two. Without core shading and cast shadows, the forms remain invisible.
The lightest tones are dramatic and add a great deal of interest in a drawing. It is a good place to begin. I want to get started by thinking in visual terms. I want to define figure/ground at the end, not in the beginning.