I was truly able to indulge my fascination with water droplets by painting “Camellias in the Rain.”

I had already dealt with patiently masking flower petals on my earlier painting of Camellias. However, now I found myself masking hundreds of tiny water droplets upon both the petals and leaves. Sometimes the droplets were sharply defined, and at other times they were blurry. When I finished my painting, I felt very accomplished!As with all of my recent paintings, my process began by combining many digital photos into a layout. This project was especially unique because my images came from a friend’s garden across the world. Blossom (a perfect name for her) lived in Australia and from the moment I saw her beautiful images on social media, I was inspired.

My first big layout decision was whether to use one flower or two. It was a really tough choice, but I decided to go for more. I created several layouts before settling on my favorite.

This painting required intensive masking. I painted the flowers first and once they were finished, I covered them with frisket masking film to give clean edges against the dark tones. For tiny droplets, I didn’t have the patience to cut them out. Instead, I used liquid frisket, which is like rubber cement. I share my painting as it progressed.

It’s easier for me to cut the frisket film if I outline all the areas with a pencil first. I draw directly on the film.

I painted the interior of the hanging droplets first – they looked so strange without the darker background behind them. But once they were finished, they became my favorite part of the painting.

Creating my signature with a crow-quill pen and white ink holds a lot of challenges.

I often use frisket a second time. First to mask the image, and second to keep the dark areas from bleeding into the lighter area.

My painting required many hours, but it was so satisfying to create. After it was finished, I ordered a print and had it shipped to Blossom in Australia. She was clearly delighted and appreciative. I was, too. How wonderful to appreciate the beauty of these beautiful flowers and give joy to my friend across the world!

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Clicking on the painting below opens up a window to my leaf-related stock images on Getty.


My second autumn leaf painting is named “Autumn Hope.”

It was definitely enjoyable to capture so many colors. I filled my palette with eyedroppers of dye from at least 20 bottles in order to create my painting.

Every area that I work on is masked with frisket. Below are images of my painting in progress and frisket is visible on the first image. Frisket is similar to scotch tape, but doesn’t leave residue or tear the paper. I use an exacto knife to cut out the delicate areas I’m working on.

Collecting leaves in Southern California is not comparable to other areas in the United States where autumn leaves are prized for their spectacle. But gathering them for my painting was truly fun. I had done it before and this time I tried to include some different elements. The seed pod felt like a unique addition.

Below is my unedited reference photo that became the basis for my painting:

Once I chose my main photo, I digitally improved it to create a more pleasing layout. I filled in empty areas and removed some of the more unsightly blemishes on the leaves.

My digital photo layout.

I loved the palette of colors I used for Autumn Hope. Whether it was dusky eggplant or grayish yellow, I enjoyed mixing colors for those subtle areas. I appreciated the variety of shapes and textures. An unattractive looking sprig of brown leaves felt beautiful for me; the interplay of maroon and olive green seemed to shimmer.

I share some close-ups of my painting:

In addition to creating my painting, I also composed a new guitar instrumental with the same name. It was a joy to use my painting for the cover of my song. My guitar piece can be heard by clicking the image below:

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For this post, I’m simply sharing recent fruit paintings of mine. These are all available on iStock.

My “Pomegranate Tree” painting was significantly more complicated than the other isolated fruit against a white background. For this one, I’m sharing my photo reference, close-ups, and an “in progress look.”

Pomegranate Tree 8 x 10

My photo reference

One notable change that I made for this scene was the addition of pomegranate blossoms. Normally, they wouldn’t exist once the fruit was this large.

My painting in progress

My painting “in progress” depicts how I painted the darker background areas first. The “hero” pomegranate still has plastic frisket film over it. Below are close-ups of my painting.

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I continue to take stock of my life and my art. In the summer of 2020, I began to prolifically create art for my own purposes. Since then, I have added 120 new images to my stock site: Judy Unger iStock. I explain more about this new direction on these posts:



For this post, I am sharing my latest illustrations. I have included examples of my photo reference, as well as shots of my paintings in progress. More information about my working process can be found on Part 1 and Part 2.


It might be interesting to know that I originally planned to illustration this bowl of soup as a down shot. I made two pots of soup and took over a hundred photos that way. Even though I found the composition below interesting, it just didn’t seem appetizing enough. Finally, I realized my illustration would be more appealing by adding a spoon and having only one matzo ball in the soup.

The most difficult thing for me to illustrate is anything non-organic. I wanted to be sure my bowl had a perfect ellipse and the spoon was technically accurate. It had been years since I used my plastic ellipse guides and I pulled them out to help me cut the frisket more perfectly.

My painting in progress.

Colored pencil was great for final touches.

My favorite part of this painting was the lovely transparency of the soup puddled on the spoon. (The carrot on the spoon and its reflection was also very cool).

This was my reference photo.


Illustrating blossoms was in the forefront of my mind this past spring. I photographed blossoms from many fruits and started painting apples and blossoms first. Currently, I am working on a painting of pomegranates and blossoms.

Constructing my composition involved considerable Photoshop editing. I even created a digital clipboard of blossoms taken from different photos.

My digital clipboard of blossoms.

I was able to create 5 digital images from my original watercolor painting. Deciding whether to have shadows is always a dilemma for me, so I had some versions with and some without a shadow.

After painting my apples, I moved on to illustrating peach blossoms. I was so captivated by one of the photos on a branch, that I decided the blossoms could stand alone without any fruit in the picture.

My photo for the peach blossom branch needed some improvements.

As usual, a lot of Photoshop was required to improve my original photo. I decided water puddles would detract from the flowers, so I didn’t include them.

The most difficult part for this painting was using liquid masking fluid and a toothpick to keep the stamens light. Once the area around them was finished, I removed the rubbery mask and refined them. I was very pleased with the luminous water droplets on this painting.

Later on, I did include a peach and the blossom was a lot pinker for that painting.

Photo reference for a single peach blossom.

I’ve wondered if it’s valuable for me to do repeat versions of fruit. But for my latest white peach, clearly this variety was quite different from one I had done the year before.

A stock image taken from the painting above.

This was painted a year earlier. I’m amazed at how different these white peaches are.


My Atlas Moth photo reference. It was resting upon a screen.

I was very pleased to have my own photo reference for this beautiful moth. My photo was taken at a butterfly reserve in Victoria, Canada while on a vacation 4 years ago. The only changes/improvements I made were more feathery antennae and rounding the bottom wing contours slightly. My original painting was against white, however, later on I painted a green and purple background to use behind it.

I lightly splattered paint with a toothbrush for these textured areas.

My painting in progress.


I was so entranced by Rainier Cherries this past summer that I painted them twice. I enjoy sharing my photo reference, which really depicts “flaw removal.” Even with bruises, those cherries were very tasty.

My digital re-creation was taken from both paintings.


During the pandemic, I did a lot cooking and my kebob recipe was one of my favorites. I kept looking at the colorful skewers on my barbecue and decided they would be a fun subject for a painting.

It was definitely interesting to capture globules of oil versus water droplets – even though they were similar in many ways. To capture the charred areas, I was careful painting black spots. I didn’t want those areas to bleed and using a dark colored pencil underlay was helpful to prevent that.

The preliminary digital work for my painting was challenging. Although I was initially tempted to paint the kebob against the grill, I went with a white background. Composing the best kebob took considerable time. My favorite photo had interesting bluish reflections on the meat and was packed with kebobs. I roughly isolated a bunch of kebobs on a digital clipboard, and my final photo layout is at the bottom.

My kebob painting was so long, that I broke it apart to create another two kebob illustrations that were a bit shorter.

My kebob painting in progress.


Last, but not least, I found figs to be an attractive painting subject again this past summer. I had painted the same variety of black figs the year before and didn’t look at that painting until I finished my newer one. I did like the shiny quality of the cut section on my older painting. But it was still fun to capture the bluish powdery skin on the whole fruit.

This is another digital version taken from my painting.

My older fig painting.

My painting in progress. I do like to have real fruit near me when I paint them.

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