"I begin in prayer"
I begin in prayer to the Holy Spirit, often directed to the saint or the scripture that I've been asked to incarnate. When I delve into the beauty and the history of each person or scene, the entire process I'm asking the Holy Spirit to guide my thoughts as I sketch out and my hands as I write the icon into existence.
Icons are windows into heaven, but not everyone knows where to look to find them. People often ask, "What does heaven look like?" Here's one way to find out. Look upon and ask someone who is there.
Oftentimes through study and inspiration, I will receive clarity from Our Lord and Our Lady and saints and they will tell me certain symbols that represent their particular charisms, that they retain in heaven as intercessors. There is a symbiosis connection between those saints and the people they've chosen for their patronage.
I also keep images of the person I'm writing the icon for before my eyes as I write.