This series was done about 2 years ago, but the techniques and tips are still very much helpful.
My first idea was to do a piece where I could paint the foreground subjects from life. So I made a list of tabletop situations with something in the foreground and a model in the background. The ones I chose were chess, computer and coffee, and baking. The next step was composition so I did a rough sketch of a woman and a chess set utilizing the pyramid design concept (a pyramid works well when doing a series). Since I was going to paint the model from a photo I set up a photo shoot with random objects in position for chess pieces. Next I did a small color study. I added the square element in the background to further unify the series. Next I painted the finished piece - the model from a photo and the chess set from life.
I have various color schemes that I have worked with over the years. But as a general rule complimentary colors work well (green & red, purple & yellow, blue & orange), also it is better, in my opinion, to go grayer rather than rich bright color. In other words add a little black and white to the colors you choose.
The finished pieces: