Judi Sunday left behind a lifetime of colorful Island-inspired art

"Cronig's Bluefish," Acrylic on Cronig's market bag. 26.5''x 18.5'' —Judi Sunday

For many years, artist Judi Sunday would set up shop in Menemsha or at the Edgartown wharf, where she would paint seaside scenes and sell her paintings to passersby. “She was a fixture in Menemsha,” says Holly Alaimo, a friend of the artist. “She had quite a little following.”

Ms. Alaimo, who sometimes showed Ms. Sunday’s work in her former space, the Dragonfly Gallery, notes that her friend’s work was collected by people from all over the world. “I once saw a piece of hers hanging above a mantel in a multimillion-dollar house in Architectural Digest,” she recalls.

Upon her passing in 2013, Ms. Sunday left a lifetime’s worth of paintings and prints — close to 800 — to her longtime friends Nick and Pat Nerney of Oak Bluffs. “We were very good friends for many years,” says Mr. Nerney. “She put us in her will apparently because she thought we could market her work better than anybody else.” Recently the Nerneys set up an online shop to sell the work, with the proceeds earmarked for Ms. Sunday’s grandchildren.

The prolific artist was perhaps best known for her paintings on brown paper Cronig’s bags, incorporating the logo into the images. She also painted on Black Dog bags. However, Ms. Sunday was a trained artist, having earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and art history from Northeastern University, and she painted on canvas and other surfaces as well. “She started painting on paper bags when she couldn’t afford canvas,” says Ms. Nerney. Ms. Sunday’s style tended toward whimsical, and her subjects were often beachgoers, boats, fish, and other appropriately ocean-themed images.

The collection on offer includes work of the artist’s going back to the 1980s, and features a variety of subjects, from flowers to boats. Throughout her 30-year career, she worked variously in oil, acrylic, collage, woodcuts, and printmaking, and all of these media and styles are represented in the online shop. The prices are very reasonable, ranging from around $50 to $300. The Nerneys have priced them at around one-half of what Ms. Sunday charged.

In her more recent work, the subjects are those familiar to Islanders and visitors — lighthouses, the Gay Head Cliffs, the Black Dog Tavern, the tiny fishing shack on Skiff Avenue in Vineyard Haven. However, Ms. Sunday’s style is unique. Her work has a charm and simplicity that make each piece very appealing. The quality varies, but is reflected in the pricing. “A lot of them have traveled in the back of her truck for 30 years,” says Ms. Nerney.

Ms. Sunday had a special relationship with the Island and a love for the ocean, which comes across very clearly in her work. She lived on the Vineyard full- or part-time for more than 50 years. Although she and Ms. Alaimo had both previously resided in Lexington, they only met after both had settled on the Island. “She was a force of nature, very independent and a real character,” says Ms. Alaimo. “She was a real character; quite sweet, but she was kind of a tough cookie.”

You can purchase Judi Sunday’s work from the online store judisundayartworks.com.