A while back I was looking for a way to mix things up, to just have some pixel fun and find something fresh. I had this block/pattern-scape brush-set that I've been using for a while now to abstractify my landscape studies. So I thought I'd have fun and not try to do anything with it, just put down marks.
For each study I started with a Kuler palette swatch from their website and limited myself to just those colors. Pretty quickly I realized I'd need to use the gradients to get a separation of forms and to reduce the noise. But I still wasn't coming up on anything with punch. It finally dawned on me to use the layer styles, as long I was still restricting myself to the original palette, the layer style was still fair game to get more variation out of it. And then things started to click and get interesting!