The start of my paintings is what I call a value block in. Some artists draw in their shapes with lines and then begin adding color, addressing value as they go. I need to establish my darkest darks out of the gate or I tend to lose them, so I developed a way to block in the shapes without lines while simultaneously addressing the value. It is solid value structure that pulls you from across a room to get a closer look at a painting.
Here is an example:
Notice the darks that are prevalent and the shapes addressed. It appears as an abstract but solid painting as is, which lets me get more expressive with brushwork and color because the “academics” of shape and composition are in place.