I drew a blue and green graphite circle and then applied clear gesso on the page to see what would happen. As you can see the clear gesso is truly clear as you can see the graphite circle. Once the gesso dried, I applied different colored watercolor ground in circles. Watercolor ground creates a surface that allows for more water absorption. It also creates more "teeth" or texture to the paper. Then after these circles dried, I applies Winsor & Newton Artist Mask, which allows you to mask out areas of the page, so you can do washes over them. I masked out the shape of the tree.
Here is the opposite page with circles with buff, white, and black waterground on transparent gesso.
So I did a watercolor wash for the sky, the greenery of the tree, and for the top of the ground. Then I added brown charcoal and chalk pastel for additional browns for the ground. Then for the rocks, I used black, grey, and white gouache. For the water I used blue watercolors and chalk pastels. Once everything dried I removed with an eraser the artist mask.
The tree was washed with sepia watercolor and then I took a fountain pen with red ink and wrote things about trees. In some places I put a wash over the ink and some under the ink, and sometimes over and under the ink for different effect. I outlined the tree with a woodless charcoal pencil and blended with a smudge stick. I really like this effect. Then I took various green gouache paints and painted the leaves on.
On the facing page I decided to keep it simple. I painted a combination of watercolors, pastels, and charcoal to see the difference between different surfaces watercolor ground or gesso. I could tell that there was significantly more bleeding on the areas with watercolor ground. This would be explained by the fact that watercolor ground makes surfaces more absorbent.
The exception is that this circle with watercolor ground had massive bleeding, so I wonder if I did not apply this evenly.
Iridescent watercolors look crazy good on black watercolor ground or black gesso.
This was an interesting experiment and exercise for me. It was also just fun to play like this.