I approach my painting and collage in a very planned and thought-out way. I paint in a series, choosing subject matter and content that is personal to me. I plan out my elements, and placement of textures and subdued colors. I choose papers and move them around until they "feel" right.
Stones, large and small, are a major component of most Japanese gardens, from the very beginning. Much thought is given to the setting of stones, the selection and placement, giving the stones a reverence and spiritual component.
The spirit of the sabi natural stones: Stones used indoors and outdoors in Japan are selected for their size, shape, color, character and the "feelings" that they radiate. The stones thus form an additional link between humans, the earth, and nature. They have a calming effect on the spirit.
The Zen garden, Daisen-in, is an elegant example of karesansui or dry landscape rock garden. It was constructed in 1509 on the grounds of the Zen temple, Daitokuji. The karesansui dry 'stream' flows from a rock that represents a Mount Horai mountain, down a dry waterfall and under a stone bridge. All the rocks are placed to represent the "river of life". It plunges through the rapids of youth, into adulthood.
One enters the wall of doubt to the "treasure boat" when one reaches maturity. Next to the boat is the turtle rock (trials of life) and the crane rock (long life and happiness).
I plan out my paintings/assemblages before I even begin. But I know other artists that "go for it" right away, and then go with what comes. They see and work with what emerges. I think both ways of working are perfectly valid. It is the end result that matters. Where do you fit in?