In our subtropical climate, most flowers grow better in the fall than during our oppressively hot summer months. An example? Petunias! I have several growing at the corners of the winter garden, blooming abundantly next to the broccoli and shallots. (Watch a step-by-step video of how to draw a petunia here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYcIPi501es.) Here’s a quick little lesson in capturing this distant relative of the tomato, potato and tobacco…

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Start with a simple sketch in pencil…

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Using transparent watercolor, cover the leaves, stems and sepals with a layer of the palest color you see on these structures. (Often this will be the yellowish color of the midvein, the large central vein down the center of each leaf.)

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Now add a layer of deeper green, being careful not to cover up the pale veins or highlights. Put a first layer of color on the flower itself, leaving the lightest areas uncovered for now.

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Wait again for everything to dry, then paint the darker areas of the leaves and stems. Add a deeper layer of color to the flower. Spend some time really looking closely at the landscape of your flower surface. Paint a pale layer of color on the flower’s lightest areas.

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For a more graphic effect, you may want to add more pencil as a final touch. Crosshatching with lines (below) adds some drama, but simply shading darker areas with a soft lead pencil works well, too.

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