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Even though I feel a sense of accomplishment, I am actually behind on my birth flowers. Nevertheless, I am happy to post this painting of a single marigold from our garden.

Hub planted orange and red marigolds early in the spring and I took some photos of them knowing I would be painting them in the fall. I had decided to paint the red one because October is my daughter's birth month and red and yellow are among her favorite colors.

I enjoy showing my process, so here are some photos and comments on what I did and why.

I always start with research. I went to Pinterest and Google and searched for photos of marigolds; the actual fresh ones. Eventually, I search for vintage watercolor paintings. I don't know why, but I love the old time paintings of flowers. Once I get a feel for what I think I can accomplish with a paint brush and a pencil drawing, I begin sorting out my thoughts. I knew I would be up against a mass of leaves, with a focus on the flower heads.

For this painting, I started mixing the paint first. Green is easy, but I was wondering how I would mix a red that would show shading and where I would start. What would the highlights look like and how would I show shadows. I almost always mix paints and take a brush and just start painting the subject in free form. I decided to start with the center and then work out from petal to petal. How many petals, back to front? These test strips, which are painted on left over pieces of watercolor paper, often end up to be book marks or gifts with a person's name on them.

Then came the drawing. This drawing was a contour drawing, again staring in the center and moving out. It was first done in pencil and then in micron pen. The rest of the painting came quickly after I got started. I drew out an entire outline of the flower and the branches of leaves, a bud and a stem. The end result was a painting where I did not like the head of the flower but was satisfied with the leaves. So, the painting was scanned, brought into Photoshop, and the head was amended to my satisfaction on the computer. The main thing there was to keep the integrity of the finished drawing and painting. That is, to keep it fresh looking, not overworked. I wanted the inked outlines to remain. As you can see, the head still has the center outlined with ink and the petals were "painted" in photoshop. The tools used for that intricate work are, paint brush, smudge, and eraser, back and forth until I'm satisfied.

Here is how it looked once it was taken into Adobe Illustrator for layout and printing. You can see the petals on the flower are quite different than the leaves. Once the entire image was "image traced" it looked like any of my paintings where the work is done in watercolor. Is that cheating? Nope. It's all original and comes from my heart and head. I can't even say how I do it. I just do.

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