It’s freezing outside, but I pulled out a warm-weather photo from 2019, and painted this tropical scene. I like it for 2 reasons. First:  the background stays back. Why? Because it’s grey and because it’s hazy. These  two features suggest depth in a landscape. In contrast, the couple come into sharp focus with bright colors and hard edges and appear nearer to the viewer.

Secondly there is strong value contrast which draws the eye to the center of interest, ie the dark trees are a strong counterpoint to the saved whites on the water and the figures.

That’s it:  a variety of soft and hard edges and a variety of values.