Over the last few years I've done a number of abstract watercolor pieces. For a while it was all I was doing. This is one of them.
There's a great pleasure in starting a piece without any real fear of failure. Some of them come out more interesting than others, but in the end none of them are 'representational', so there's no fear of failing to "make it look like the real thing." This was really liberating for me, and kept me painting during times when my skills didn't really allow me to successfully paint with the fluidity and expressiveness I wanted- I was only good at painting tight stuff in many glazes.
Painting abstracts also allowed me to really explore what the pigment and watercolor could do. I was less interested in "painting a picture of a thing" and far more excited in seeing how pigments bled in the water, how granulation occurred, how glazes changed the colors of an area, how different materials interacted with the pigment on the paper, etc. Essentially, I painted to get the chance to make marks, not to re-represent something.
Part of my recent push with watercolors has been to somehow marry the loose and expressive, exploratory, fear-free process of painting abstracts with the more representational process of painting a story that others can relate more directly to. I like sharing and exploring the world in front of me too, but I don't want to loose that joy and freedom that came from just "playing with paint and water"!