It really doesn't matter what medium an artist works in, it all seems to come back to layering. In this piece (actually, in all pieces), I think through the entire painting first. In other words, I needed to know how those pine needles were going to be done before any paint was mixed.
It is very difficult to create thin lines with a palette knife so I used the "sgraffito" technique to carve it out of the paint rather than painting it on. It's like an inscription. So having made that decision, I then decided to paint the entire surface with a very dark green so that when I got around to those pine needles, I could simply carve them out with the sharp point of a palette knife to reveal that dark green.
However simple that may sound, it does involve holding the palette knife at an angle and not using too much pressure. Otherwise, you will carve all of the paint off and get to the gessobord. Another layering decision I used here was to lay in the background first. It seems more "convincing" when I do it that way although others do it quite differently. I began with the sky...then the mountain...and finally the water. I was then able to carve through all of the background to create the pine branch. The other foreground foliage was painted on one stroke at a time with not much pressure and wiping the palette knife after every stroke.
Last, but not least, was the quote inscribed into the wet paint with a #.09 mechanical pencil, wiping after every stroke. The exciting thing is that these techniques are not limited to landscapes, but are easily translated to very abstract work. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.