A friend of mine used to gesso all her quarter sheets of watercolor paper when we were traveling in various workshops throughout Europe. When you make a mistake, just lift it off and redo it. This is particularly helpful in plein air painting when you normally have groups of locals passing by, asking questions and giving unsolicited critiques.
I later did a series of small paintings on paper this way and several on canvas, always using watercolors. If you don’t use the staining pigments, you can lift right back down to white. In this painting the green is a stainer so the lifted areas retain a pale hue of cool green.
The painting featured is titled “The Bird Man.” From a photograph taken while traveling in Europe, I developed the painting by making three major diagonal areas across the surface in orange, green and orange again, spattering a little of both colors into the other. I then drew with paint to make my subject matter and lifted out the light areas within the bands of color. Only occasionally did I add more paint in specific areas, either to correct the drawing or add some darker values.
It’s a deductive method that allows the artist to relax and have fun, knowing that anything can be changed, not usually the case with watercolor paintings.
You’ll lose the luminosity of watercolor with this method, but can produce a beautiful work in its own right.
Try it, you’ll like it!