First off, I flipped the image so that the flag was flying towards the right. I wanted to have some contrast in the sky, so I added a layer & mask to get a sky with some clouds and different tones of blue. I then used liquify to add the swirls to the sky...sort of like a Van Gogh painting. Finally I used the Oil Painting effect in Pixel Bender. I absolutely love the finished project and I had so much fun learning how to do it! What do you think?
Here is the original photo: