The Yahoo Colorful Watercolor group is studying NOTAN's which are black and white studies of the subject. Using one of my reference photo and according to Rhonda's instructions, I went to Photoshop Elements, desaturated the photo and put the contrast to its highest limit, which can be seen in the photo above.
Next, I gessoed a piece of used watercolor paper, let it dry, then using Payne's Gray, applied the darks, which can be seen in the photo below. I had to apply the darks a couple of times, letting the paper dry between layers. This was very much like negative painting.
After that NOTAN study was posted at the group site, I then went back in with a wet brush and more paint and established mid-values and corrected shapes, while trying very hard to leave white space. The photo below shows a collage of different crops of the value painting. Which one do you like the best. I know they are quite similar but sometimes just a smidge cropped can make all the difference.
I thoroughly enjoyed using the gessoed paper for this exercise as it was pretty easy to lift lights and correct a few shapes. It is a pretty fast way to subject the subject, becoming familiar not only with the values but with the shapes and the structuring the composition.