thnks peter. so you see it is extremely doable in paint.net to get a painterly feel. At the time this one was done smudge was just out as a plug in. It may be easier now to use liquify but Pprsonally I would stick to smudge. Liquify in this type of image tends to move too quickly.
Tulip is definitely a beautiful image. I left a message for you at FANS regarding the tuts I'm looking at for the type of paintings I'm interested in. I hope you saw that, and yes, I love the smudge tool. You can get interesting effects if you put the "jitter" control at 100%. Play with that sometime if you haven't already.
thanks you I really enjoyed doing this one. took awhile to understand i needed more colors in the actual petals to make the cream work. but once I added that mauve and turquoise color it just came to life.