Tiger Lilies- New Year, New Designs

Two posts in a month!! Wow! Maybe this will be a successful restart…. This week, I entered my first Spoonflower challenge of the year. The theme is “Year of the Tiger”. At first, I thought I would skip another challenge, because I don’t draw animals. A friend mentioned that Tiger Lilies might work, so I dove in.

Tiger lilies process from watercolor painting to repeating pattern by sue andrus- andrusgardens
Lilies in progress

The above photo shows a bit of my laptop screen while I was working. I started out with a photo from my gardens of a pink Lily. Being not really fond of red or orange flowers, I have very few in my gardens to get photos of. I had to pull the flower apart after removing it from the background. The pistil and stamens ended up wacky colors while changing the pink to orange, so I pulled them out to color separately. It also wasn’t a true Tiger Lily, so I needed to add the typical spots they would have. After getting a nice batch of spots ready to add, I got the wild idea of giving my Lilies tiger stripes. At first, I wasn’t sure I’d go that route, but I tried them and they worked! I even manipulated the stripes I painted digitally to give them the look of fur. I layered everything together, and voila! Tiger Striped Lily flowers.

Palm fronds process from watercolor painting to repeating pattern by sue andrus- andrusgardens
Watercolor painted Palm fronds

The next step was to add foliage. I found a photo with better looking leaves, and pulled them out to add to the flowers. Thinking a background of Palm fronds would look more “tigery”, I pulled out some fronds I Had painted last year. I updated the colors to fit with my Lilies better, and the background was done (after many, many hours of arranging and rearranging to get the repeat just right).

Tiger lilies in the garden work in progress butterflies and flowers- sue andrus- andrusgardens
Butterflies and the finished repeat.

After adding the Lilies to the Palms, I felt something was missing. Then the thought hit… Tiger Swallowtail butterflies! I had an image I had pulled from a photo I took that was in black and white. I added the color back to them, and they were ready. Almost done… The last step was to decide the color of the background. Sometimes that comes easily, but it took a bit of trial and error with this one. I ended up with three versions that worked. The version I entered into the competition is the black background. I also have versions with aqua and dark blue.

Large tiger lilies and swallowtail butterflies in the garden on blanket by sue andrus- andrusgardens
Large Tiger Lilies in the Garden on Black, mocked up as a Blanket

Of course, one main design is not enough to stop at. I needed some coordinates, so with a bit of rearranging, adding and subtracting, I ended up with two so far. I thought the Palms would look great on their own, which took longer to do than I expected, and ended up totally redoing the arrangement of the fronds. They were originally placed with the flowers on top. I also added more butterflies, and have a few color versions with them on backgrounds that I added texture to. The best thing about working in Photoshop is that if I keep everything on it’s own layers, it is easy to add, subtract, and color change things bit by bit. I have some texture layers I have made that I use in many different designs.

I’ll probably add a few more coordinates to the collection. Designs in the Garden Tigers Collection should be available for purchase on several types of fabrics, wallpaper, and home decor items by mid February, after I get the proofs ordered and back.


I am a former textile artist and new pattern designer with a degree in horticulture, wishing to share my love of nature, flowers and gardens with everyone through my photos, sunprinted fabrics, and now pattern designs. Chronic Lyme Disease has caused major changes to the direction my life. I have to limit the amount of time spent digging in my gardens, and quilting has become more difficult. I discovered pattern design as a way to get art back into my life. I now use my gardens and photos to inspire designs that can be used on fabrics and print on demand items.

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