I think I finally figured out how to work with water as a colored texture. I like the idea of textures, but I wanted the water color. The key was to select just the subject from the photo you want to paste onto the texture. For the pinecone I did this with freehand select using my digital pad and pen. For the bush I used select by color, copy, paste, as many times as I could stand. I was okay with a little bit of an abstract bush. It’s not all filled in, but that allows more water to come through.
The pine cone was very small! I put it on a post to photograph it. I should have changed off my telephoto lens, but I managed to clean up the slight blur on the cone afterwards by using sharpen. The bush is from the East side of the Sierra, growing at around 5,500 feet above sea level. (Lake Tahoe is 6,000.)