These paintings were done for the "Emil Nolde" assignment in the watercolor course I took last fall. Some of Nolde's watercolor paintings were done on small pieces of slightly absorbent Japanese rice paper using very watery premixed paints. We looked at his paintings in the book Emil Nolde: Unpainted Pictures and then tried to create something similar.
I bought two different kinds of Japanese printmaking paper at Utrecht, also known as "rice paper" although it is not made of rice. The large sheets of paper were torn into quarters — the paper tears very nicely when it is folded and the crease is moistened with water. The bright colored paint was applied by pouring or with an eyedropper. This was done very experimentally. After I saw something I liked in the blotches of paint, I used black paint for the lines.
The top painting was based on a sunrise photo taken from my bedroom window. It was done on "Okawara Student" which was not really absorbent enough. The bottom painting was done on "Hosho" paper which is more absorbent and worked much better. For this I started with some random blotches but planned to make a face of some sort. The composition reminded me of a flower garden, so that is what it became.
When I was looking for information on Emil Nolde today, I found an interesting artist blog, Color Sweet Tooth blog, which has a post showing an example of watercolor progressions somewhat similar to what I was doing.