It is one of life's truths - to avoid blandness we need to add some spice! Consider this metaphorically and you will see that so much of our life is based on this simple idea. What we eat, read, drive, wear, listen to, in our relationships and in work and play we are constantly shown ways to be more interesting. It seems that this pursuit is never ending unless we can find balance to our lives.
This concept applies to paintings too. We are often drawn to one painting of a subject while ignoring another painting of the same subject. This is common enough, but we can learn much about what attracts us to one of the paintings. Chances are it relates to the values used by the artist. The elements of contrast between light and dark is so fundamental to a painting's success that I have devoted a sizable portion of my forthcoming workshops to this aspect. Without a clear understanding of values and how to apply them to a painting we risk producing just another painting lacking in impact. When it comes to spice in art values occupy the red hot section of the spice rack! Use them with care and, but never ignore them.
A good tip is to take up squinting. Before picking up a brush artists need to be able to squint at a subject instinctively to assess the shapes and values. It is worth getting a few strange glances from strangers to learn this fundamental skill. Then using a 6b pencil rough in the dark shapes in your journal and see what interesting shapes are revealed. For many of you going on holiday this is the perfect time to have a journal and a few pencils on hand. Take a moment everyday to try out this technique.
Spice up your paintings with strong values. It will be one of those breakthrough moments that will transform your paintings.