A Feast of Fruit for the Eyes

Mamey Sapote Seed

Seed of the Mamey Sapote - 2010

Each summer, the local botanical garden hosts “Mango Melee”, a festival focused on mangoes and other tropical fruit. Many of these fruits are unusual in their texture and flavor, and unfamiliar to those of us used to the apples, grapes, peaches and pears more common in the temperate regions.

Some tropical fruits are a bit sour, others cloyingly sweet, some firm and crunchy, some soft and pudding-like, and others almost liquid inside. And each is unique in flavor and appearance, unlike anything else.

These two images suggest the feast of fruit for the eyes. Unfortunately as I took the photos, I didn’t do a very good job of taking notes, so the names are my best attempt at post-facto fruit ID!

star apple

Star Apple - 2010

Bottled Sunlight Mixed with a Gentle Rain

Grapefruit - 2009

Grapefruit - 2009

Every July the local botanical garden sponsors the “Mango Melee” — a county fair-like event featuring dozens of varieties of local mangoes and other locally grown tropical fruit. This little pile of grapefruit was accented with one pink and one yellow fruit cut open to display the richly colored and textured interiors. If you could bottle sunlight mixed with a gentle rain, it might look like this.

Black Pineapple

Black pineapple - 2009

Black pineapple - 2009

Narrow and tall with a dark green skin, the black pineapple is a Caribbean favorite. Topped with rust-tinged leaves, this one seems to glow with sweetness.

Chocolate Fruit, the Black Sapote

Black Sapote - 2009

Black Sapote - 2009

A ripe black sapote turns a dark geenish brown, and feels soft underneath the thin leathery skin. Sometimes called the “chocolate fruit”, it doesn’t look appetizing, even when cut open exposing the black-brown custard like interior. But taste it. Looks can be deceiving, and expanding one’s concept of what is edible is rewarding.

In fact, after witnessing the making of a sausage or a bag of Cheetos, I bet you’d much rather eat a black sapote.

Carambola Ice

Carambola Ice - 2009

Carambola Ice - 2009


Here is a final image from the carambola still life series. It feels like ice to me.

It is interesting how such different interpretations can emerge from a series of quite similar photographs of the same subject. Work on the final images was started on different days and the result was determined in part by the strengths of each individual photograph — but also in part on the day’s mood and the path chosen for each at the beginning of my process.

Carambola Dream

Carambola Dream (2009)

Carambola Dream (2009)

Believe it or not, this too started out as a picture of a carambola — a single fruit on a marble slab.

But it is still there — its gentle curves and angular shapes, ripeness, tartness, splinters of color reflected and from within, and the smooth leathery feel of its skin.

Carambola Still Life

Carambola - 2009

Carambola - 2009

The carambola, better known as “starfruit” in the continental US (and sometimes called “five-fingers” in Trinidad and other southern Caribbbean islands), is tart and juicy, and ranges in color from a greenish yellow to bright orange. You can pick them fresh from the tree here in St. Croix, and we have a beach resort and a golf course named for the carambola.

The color, distinctive shapes and shiny, almost leathery texture of three ripe orange fruits sitting on a dark marble slab caught my eye.

The Irresistible Egg Fruit

There was this pile of bright yellow-orange egg fruit on a red table at St. Croix’s St. George Village Botanical Garden last summer. The jumble of shapes lit with an intense swath of sunlight across the front was irresistible. So I took it home with me.

Occasionally I will go to work immediately on a photograph to produce a final image. However, just as common is the months-long gestation that this one required. Several times I worked on it, was dissatisfied and put it away — only to bring it out later, delete a layer or two (a little like scraping the paint off?) and move forward. That start and stop process sometimes produces an image that is over-worked. But in other cases, it is the only way.

Egg fruit - 2009

Egg fruit - 2009


The painting-a-day discipline of carrying a painting forward to completion each day is different from the luxury of allowing an idea to gestate, going back days later, and reconsidering the strokes of the brush (or in my case, the stylus). Not better or worse, but different. So does that different process lead to different results?

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