It wasn't until I started drawing and painting models that I actually understood how to render weight, tension and movement in my animal motifs. Even my rocks and trees improved greatly. And so did the humans, of course. This is a five-minutes study of a lying woman.
The Swedish watercolor guru Arne Isacsson (1917-2010) said: "Don't follow recipes!", and many of his learners like to quote him. In my opinion this advice might actually discourage some inexperienced students. You can learn a lot from following a painting recipe (as long as it's not the only thing you do), because it gives you the tools you need to eventually go your own way. That might be part of why the most innovatve watercolor painting is developing in China, where copying is an important part of learning. Here is a two-step illustration of how to use shadows for shapes.
Skylarks are usually seen singing above fields and meadows, so my first attempts with one in the snow looked totally out of place. After a few sketches I decided to darken the bird and blur some of the snow flakes, which made the snow much more convincing.