This is where I am right now. Following are the steps to get there.
I finished sketching with black and white this morning and started adding color. I thinned down shape of the body of the Phoenix with the black and got rid of the scroll work at the bottom which I decided I didn't like.
For color I started with a wash of ultramarine blue watercolor with a spritz of water from a squirt bottle. I also started painting the yellow base colors for the flames on the wings.
I added a little red and purple to the background to warm it up in some places and add visual interest. I also created a circle in the background for a ring of fire. I continued with the squirt bottle to get the runs in the paint. I think that forms a nice contrast to the flames.
I also added some detail to the tail feathers.
I started painting the base for the flames using acrylic paint and a smaller brush.
I am using the paint thinned out much less now.
More detail added to the flames with orange and red and I punched up the blue in the background to get a little complementary contrast and draw the eye the the bird.
Continuing the same process, refining what I like and painting over what I don't like.
I will stare at it for a while now and decide where to go next.