Thank you everybody. Affinity Designer was 50% off and 2 days before I posted this I went ahead and purchased it since I was looking for an alternative to Illustrator. Matthew had it as a suggestion so I wanted to see what I could do with it. Without even knowing what to do I opened it up, saw there was a checkbox for artboard and set that. Then I just started throwing images and colors into the space. Exactly what I was looking for, which is a space to combine a bunch of images together to see which ones had the feel I was looking for, then to use SIP to grab colors from some of them to begin to build a palette. Then continue to use it as a simple space for images, color and text to begin roughing out a web page. Even though I really don’t know how to use it yet, it feels very intuitive and doesn’t seem to get in the way.
I have never used a wireframe approach, and wonder what the point of widgets is when designing. Wouldn’t that all just be another layer to not only learn, but get in the way- between your assets and your RW page? Curious to know how it fits into the workflow. I was looking for a tool to help me determine the asset choice (images, text, color, etc.) in the first place. Then RW becomes the way to build the structure.