Richard Diebenkorn, in Dan Hofstadter's profile, describes his process:
"Well, I begin with a congenial format, not an idea," said Diebenkorn. "What matters is when things actually begin to gel on the canvas -- that's when the real interest begins.
And when things gel?
The orthogonals of rooms and terraces of low California townscapes dominated many of his images. Usually, one or more sophisticated devices returned the whole composition to the picture plane. The horizon line, for example, would lie tangential to far things, hoodwinking the eye. If a part of the image started to look good without describing anything recognizable, Diebenkorn would often leave it as it was.
It was one of [Fairfield] Porter's critical rules of thumb that every realistic image must be judged as an abstract composition, and conversely, that every abstraction must be judged for what it says about the world.