I’ve named my newest painting “Dried Fruit Medley.”

Inspiration (noun)

1. stimulation to do creative work

2. somebody or something that inspires

3. creativeness

4. good idea

5. divine influence

Synonyms: stimulus, spur, motivation, encouragement, muse

Everything about the word “inspiration” is beautiful for me. Recently, I had the revelation that in my quest to inspire – I have been inspired!

Working on my “Dried Fruit Medley” was very relaxing.
It almost felt like each piece of fruit was a painting by itself.

About two months ago, I joined a Facebook watercolor group. Since I’m a professional artist and the site had many beginners, I felt concerned that sharing my hyper-realistic artwork might discourage them. Several times I found myself writing, “I want to inspire, not intimidate.”

Because so many people viewed my illustrations as photographs, I shared attachments such as tracings and reference photos. I learned that I had to label my reference photo clearly, as sometimes it was mistakenly viewed as another painting.

The place where I currently live is small, so I have stored boxes of my old art files in a storage unit. It was quite an adventure to pull out several of those boxes that I hadn’t looked in for years. In my quest to find old attachments, I came across a folder filled with photos of dried fruit. Many years ago, I had intended to create a portfolio painting of them.

I put my boxes back in storage, but saved the folder of dried fruit on my desk. I also saved some slide pages that held other possibilities.

It was hard to decide which photo to work from. I chose an aerial view.

Those dried fruit photos were almost 30 years old, and I was still intrigued by their beauty. I probably didn’t paint them all those years ago because I was too busy with paid assignments. Back then, last thing I wanted to do when I wasn’t illustrating was to paint something for myself.

It turned out that in my quest to inspire others, I had found my own inspiration. Now I could bring those dried fruit to life!

The reflections on the dates carried subtle blue, red and yellow tones, which I loved.

It had been awhile since I’d traveled anywhere. I planned a trip in early March to visit my oldest son who lives in Las Vegas. On the day that I left my painting was almost finished. I didn’t want to rush finalizing it, so I didn’t wash off my palette.

Two weeks later, I came back with renewed joy to finish my painting. I spent an hour refining small details (even though I knew it was hardly noticeable.) Finally, I stopped. I signed and scanned my painting and looked forward to sharing it.

I have been called a perfectionist quite often. A perfect painting is not really possible or even preferable. I always hope to learn something from every painting of mine.

What did I learn from this painting? I will share it with you now. I have always been aware that there is a difference between the front and back of my hot-press watercolor paper. The front has a random pebbly surface and the back has a screen-like texture.

When I looked at close-ups of my painting, I was puzzled as to why it looked like I had worked on canvas. Then it dawned on me. I had painted on the back of my watercolor paper. With my eyesight issues, it was harder for me to notice the difference. I also didn’t think it mattered.

Well I definitely learned something important from this painting!

It was fun thinking of ideas for this post’s title. I started with “I had a lot of dates.” Another one that didn’t make the cut was: “I’m not out of date; wrinkles can be beautiful!”

But the title I chose was very satisfying. Every time I picked up my paintbrush, I had a date with inspiration!

Taking a two-week break was good for me. It was an adventure when I left my son’s house in Las Vegas and drove to Utah to visit my dear Insight Timer friend, Cathy. This was my third time visiting her and I stayed for two nights.

A few months ago I had drawn a maze of her beloved poodle, Zoey, who died last year. It was nice to see it on her wall.

I practiced my instrumentals while we were together and Cathy cooked us wonderful meals. I loved the scenery and was grateful it hadn’t rained or snowed while I was there.

Before I left, Cathy gave me such a personal and unique gift. She had made me a custom collage wall hanging that was guitar themed. Her quilting skill and the love she put into it dazzled me. I would treasure her gift forever.

Judy and Cathy

I really enjoyed my trip, especially being with my son. His home was my “home away from home.” I cooked his favorite foods and helped him organize his closets (I took loads of bags to a donation center.)

While he was at work, I ate out several times with my friend, Riva. We met thirty years ago at a bereavement group for parents who had lost a child. My time with her was very precious.

I always feel like the best part of traveling is coming home. The day after I came back, I performed guitar instrumentals live on Insight Timer. I had caught a cold unfortunately, so my guitar replaced my voice. Having dodged Covid and colds for over three years – I realized I was vulnerable after all.

I’m not sure yet what my next creative project will be. I do want to publish a book of mazes. Perhaps, I might create some new music. Whatever I end up doing, I love that I have the freedom to choose!

Coming soon – The Judy Unger Puzzle Shop!

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. Belinda O says:

    You have me intrigued with your closing comment about the Judy Unger puzzle shop! I have a friend who loves puzzles, and it would be a great honor to send her one made from one of your paintings! Anyway, I once again loved reading about your creative journey, and that painting is WOW!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Judy says:

      Thank you so much, Belinda! This site that I went on had so many possibilities. I mean – box, or no box – or a paper bag or a poly bag. Wooden, traditional – you name it! I ended up doing a smattering of choices and put a few different images there. If you want something for your friend, just pm me and we can get whatever you want for her. 🙂
      That was one fun painting!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Cathy says:

    What a wonderful article, Judy. Your paintings are so beautiful and I loved how you explained as you wrote. I thought it was so interesting that painting on the back of the watercolor paper looked like a canvas. I am honored that you included your trip here. I always love your visits and look forward to your next one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Judy says:

      Thank you so much for commenting, Cathy! You were a big part of my story. It was funny when I realized that I had painted on the backside of my watercolor paper. But luckily, the painting looked okay. I’m always learning!
      I look forward to visiting you again – perhaps the weather will be warmer so we can go to some beautiful hiking spots! But either way, I love time spent with you.
      I love the collage quilt and will share a photo when it’s up over my bed (waiting for my son to help me put it up).


  3. Ann Coleman says:

    I just love your art and am not a bit surprised that some people have a hard time realizing they aren’t photographs. If you ever do make puzzles, let me know! I’ll be buying them!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. kegarland says:

    Judy, these are always so fascinating to me. I hate to keep reiterating this, but you’re one of the most talented artists I know/haven’t met 😉

    The puzzle idea is a good one!

    Also, your time with Cathy sounded so calm. I envisioned you playing and her cooking, both a type of art, actually.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Zoe Brown says:

    I’m so glad you found inspiration in your work! I think that’s so important, especially when it can be difficult to find motivation. I’m also glad you found that your artwork was not intimidating to others and that you wanted to inspire them, not intimidate them. Thank you for sharing your story and your artwork!


  6. Every time you create another piece of artwork, I am more amazed. You’re one of the most talented artists I’ve ever met! (Even though we haven’t officially met in person!)

    I’m not a puzzle person, but I love your puzzles too! (I also love the poodle maze you created for your friend; I too am a poodle lover!) 🤍🤍


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