On the watercolors, I seem to prefer working wet into wet, since I love the little irregularities in how the paint spreads. I've done some where I just put drops of paint down, let colors mix, and tried to see animals in the swirls. The idea is that then I could flesh it out with pen and ink and shading. Up until recently I haven't been totally successful at seeing much of anything, since that requires a "letting go" that I am still trying to develop... But I'll get there.
My little critters are inspired using Carla Sonheim's method of looking at cracks in cement and trying to pick out the animals--I have some pictures of sidewalk cracks from when I went with the tennis team to camp at UC San Diego a couple of years ago. I'd just read her book, and was all excited, and then the whole thing sat on the back burner until right now.
I kinda think there's a life lesson there--We can learn something without knowing how or when or why we will use it--just trusting that each and every thing that we learn will, at some point, connect back in and make sense.