At the moment, I am awaiting word about a large, illustration assignment consisting of nine illustrations. That would definitely impact my blogging, however, it would be a relief financially. I’ll be able to justify recording even more of my music. I might even plan a family vacation. My husband has been looking a little irritated lately. His job exhausts him.

I’ve started my art blog, which now has eight posts. I have at least fifteen more posts in the works. That involves a lot of “media preparation.” I have many existing scans of artwork, but not of old paintings from college. I have been digging through some of my old portfolios and it’s been a blast. I’ve actually enjoyed seeing the box of my old, seashell collection.

I’ve decided to share a post from my art blog about my seashell painting experiences. For more images and technical information, check out the link below on my illustration blog:


Besides doing an art blog, I am actively involved with my music. I have been debating about whether I am ready to share what I’ve been working on. It has been extremely inspiring after thirty years to improve musically again. I would love to share this journey also.

If there were any message I could impart from my total turn around since February, it would be that there’s no time limit for following dreams!


In 1981, I had just graduated from college. I began my career with a portfolio of watercolor paintings.

My food paintings were my strongest. I began to create “portfolio pieces” that were of food images. Those portfolio images were created in order to sell my style. I joked that art directors would save my image of a Nestlé’s Crunch bar because it made them hungry!

I obtained a list of advertising agencies and began to contact artist representatives in other cities to see if they were interested in my work.

I made appointments to see art directors. That part was quite difficult. Most of them were too busy to make time to speak to a new artist on the phone, let alone see them. I did a lot of “envelope stuffing!” I would follow-up to see if the art directors received my postcard and promotional material.

I also decided to show my watercolors to publishers of fine art prints and posters. I went to see a publisher in Los Angeles. He seemed very interested in one of my paintings. It was a watercolor painting of a medley of seashells.


He said, “I could see this as a series of prints. You would need about eight paintings. These paintings should be done in pairs. Use different approaches – incorporate driftwood on two, and do a pair of large, solo shells. Do some as a medley, and a pair with variations of shell sizes. When you’re finished, bring them in for me to see.”

My foray into the world of publishing began.

I began my search for reference.

I found a warehouse that sold seashells. I walked down the aisles of seashells and marveled at the exquisite colors and shapes to choose from. I purchased the ones I felt were best suited for my paintings.

I found a “driftwood” furniture maker who had some small pieces of wood I could buy. I brought home my reference and began to take photographs. I set up a sandbox in my backyard, and this was before I had children!


I began my paintings. I worked fairly large on the driftwood paintings.

I experimented to find a way to create the effect of sand. I practiced splattering with a toothbrush, so that it resembled sand. I loved the effect! My fingers became stained with dark brown.


It took me about six months to finish all the paintings.

All of that work didn’t translate into money, for sure. However, as a novice artist I wanted to be published. I asked a friend of mine who graduated with a business major if he could “help me negotiate.” He went to speak with the publisher. The most the publisher was willing to pay me was $125 per painting. He crossed out the $100 he had initially started with.


I believe the publisher became annoyed by the fact that I asked my friend to negotiate for me. After that, he required me to sign another contract with his company in order to be published. This was called a “Right of First Refusal.” He didn’t want me to go elsewhere and cause any kind of competition for the seashell prints. I was able to get him to agree to a time limit on it.


There was more to my story.

I remember when the prints were all finished. In order to get paid, I was required to hand-sign the editions of prints. The edition for each print was 1,200.

There was a certain smell to a new print. It was intoxicating. I was nervous when I came to see those stacks of prints. I was not that confident about my handwriting, and wanted to have a nice signature.

It took me many hours to earn $125. After many hours of signing my name on 1,200 prints, my hand was very tired.

There were eight seashell subjects I had to do this with!

© Judy Unger and 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

About Judy

I'm an illustrator by profession. At this juncture in my life, I am pursuing my dream of writing and composing music. Every day of my life is precious!
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  1. Julie Jankowski says:

    Hi! I have had the brown sea shell watercolor painting hanging in my bathroom for the whole time I have lived in my house since 2012. I did not know that you painted it Judy. I have number 1175 of 1500 of 115 brown shell medley. but the picture i have seems to be a mirror image or something and the Unger name is painted on and also signed on the bottom. I had started listening to your song “music to set you free from grief” on the meditation app called “insight timer” and I just put 2 and 2 together today when I did a little research on the painting! So cool and I know my higher power is trying to send me a sign. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Judy says:

      Julie, this is such an amazing story. Wow! I am really touched to imagine my artwork in your home and the fact that you were listening to my music, too. Thank you so much for sharing this with me. I’m smiling and I know you’re right about your higher power sending a message. Glad to share my music with you on IT! All the best to you.


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