Next, I did a watercolor painting of a Hooded Merganser preening (from my own photo, taken at the Union Bay Natural Area):
I also started reading Hawthorne on Painting, a collection of notes to students by artist Charles Hawthorne, collected between 1900-1935 or thereabouts. He has a rather different approach than I learned, focused on color first -- here is a quote:
"You are not here to make pictures--do not worry about the drawing, make the thing as ugly as you like, but put down the colors, matching one against another. I don't say much about drawing because I think drawing the form and painting are better separated. Realize that you haven't yet the painting point of view--after you have got the spots of color true and in their proper relations you have something to draw with and you can then consider it. Remember no amount of good drawing will pull you out if your colors are not true. Get them true and you will be surprised how little else you will need."