1.  The complex ruffles and folds of the flowers and buds prompted me to utilize a technique quite different from my usual. I typically apply multiple layers of paint, moving throughout the painting, establishing one color over another. In this piece, I started in the upper right corner, working small areas nearly to completion before moving on.
Desert Sun - watercolor demonstration of a yellow-flowered Prickly Pear cactus.
3. Even though each piece of the puzzle appears to be complete as you progress downward, there are always areas that need to be revisited and given a boost. 

Dark values are often neglected in a painting because they seem too bold, but I tell my students, "Don't be afraid of the darks." They are essential to give 3-dimensional form to shapes, and play an important role in the folds and crevices of these buds.

Colors need to be punched up, too. Notice the yellow blossom in the upper left is more vibrant after a second glaze of bright yellow.
4.  As I reach the opposite corner from my starting point, I am very pleased with the developing scene.
2.  It was gratifying to see some "end results" right from the very start of the piece. 

Many paintings look less than lovely (OK, awful) until the piece reaches about 75% completion. This is a troubling state of affairs that takes lots of experience to learn to mentally overcome, to envision the end result even when things "don't look so good". 

To see beautiful things happening in the painting right away fills an artists heart with much joy.
5.  A very soft, blurred background has bits and pieces of all the colors in the stems and flowers. 

The Prickly Pear cactus survives and thrives in its tough natural environment. The profusion of tender buds and flowers seems at odds with the leathery plant studded with sharp spines.
Desert Sun, a yellow Prickly Pear cactus in all its glory, from tightly-packed buds resembling pinecones, to lush, bursting buds and full-blown blossoms. The metamorphosis of flowering is complete when the  blooms fade and decline into crisp, sun-dried clusters.

Watercolor Demo
Desert Sun
Desert Sun
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