I think you did a great job too. I really loved the shading.
I always practice on a scrap of the same paper type I am using for my project until I get the right color formula. I have found that paper reacts differently every time you color even if it's the same brand, same type. Weather conditions are the biggest culprit to paper behavior.
I do use aquapainters but not for watercoloring. I prefer traditional brushes. I feel like I have better control. I have friends who prefer the aquapainters for better control. I think it's one of those tools that feels right to the artist. If that makes any sense.
Have you tried brushes?
Blender pens- I don't really use them for traditional watercoloring.
There is a great thread that several of us watercolorists have posted at- Water color chatter
. Lots of tips and tricks.
Dini is amazing with her aquapainter. She has posted on the above thread too. Hope that helps.