I have been fighting watercolors for over three years. After trying all different methods and techniques (pencil, pastel, watercolor, oils, guache, acrylic, marker, digital, etc), I found that I really enjoyed and did best at oils. They are, however, impractical for freelance illustration on the whole b/c of the slow drying time (unless you want a reverse image left on your scanner). I know, I could photo the work (photo degree and all...), but watercolors have just been easier. The problem is watercolors don't work like oils. You work the opposite way (light to dark vs dark to light), and it takes layers and layer and layer and layers of watercolor with blending mediums to get the look that I want. Which is, in all honesty, a little on the tedious side.
I got a bunk batch of mat board that didn't work for wc painting. it was super spongy and absorbent. The paint made the mat fibers swell up and the color clump in weird ways. So, I primed them thinking that I'd make some acrylics on them or something.
For giggles last night, I tried the bamboo pic w/ watercolor over the gesso'd boards, and I FLIPPIN LOVE IT! It's so much brighter than wc on absorbent boards, you can lift the paint back up if you want, and it'll only take a couple layers before turning into muck and not working at all. So, I've been experimenting, and used the normal graphite transfer that I do for the bamboo, drew with graphite straight on to the board for kitty, and drew with charcoal for the rock one. (all took just a little over an hour each- another serious advantage). The charcoal comes up into the paint, which could have its uses, but not for what I do usually. The other two are promising. I need to experiment more, before a eureka is in order, but I almost feel that my fight with the medium could be coming to an end...(or this is just a fun new thing to play with)