Painting Sketchbook Pages Still Life Watercolor

Figs: the Oysters of the Fruit Family

Figs, Watercolor, 8x6"
Figs, Watercolor, 8x6"

When I was a young mother with a newborn babe, the house where we lived had a huge, old fig tree in the backyard. I didn’t know I liked figs then, butI loved the fig tree and so did all the birds and squirrels in the neighborhood.

My infant son and I spent many days that first summer after his birth resting, playing or crying (yes both of us) on the grass beside the tree. The tree’s sheltering, quiet grace and the broad reach of it’s branches lent me strength and helped me feel grounded during those very difficult sleepless weeks and months.

A few weeks ago I ate my first figs and fell in love with them. I was always a little scared to try them; something about their soft squishiness bothered me. But once I took that first delicious bite I realized what I’d been missing.

Now I think of figs as the oysters of the fruit family, just as I think of oysters as the peaches of the fish family. When I slide a succulent raw oyster into my mouth and bite into it, I’m immediately brought back to the happy days spent in the warm salty sea growing up in Southern California.

And now that I’ve painted these little beauties, I’m gonna go eat ’em!

10 replies on “Figs: the Oysters of the Fruit Family”

Hi Jana, Fantastic Figs! I am looking forward to the next Sketchcrawl #20. There has not been many responses on the forums…but I intend to take a sneak peek into the Academy of Science that opens this Saturday 9/27. It’ll be great to meet ya at the SF crawl! Have a wonderful weekend.


I love the way you switch between mediums and are still proficient in each. I want to do this myself but have long held onto the notion that at some point I would have to commit to one in order to achieve excellence. Would you mind sharing any thoughts you have on this? I love your work and your subject matter, in particular the animals, lanscapes and botanicals.

This is such a great question Sandi! I’ve always needed variety in whatever I do, but for a long time thought that in watercolor I’d finally found the one medium that would challenge me enough to keep me monogamous without straying. But the siren song of oils called to me and now I guess I’m bi-medial. I love both.

On the other hand, I spent over 20 years working only in watercolor, so I feel like I did reach a level of expertise with it before exploring oils. My guess is that it takes as long as it takes to get good at each, so, for example, if you could get good at watercolor in 5 years and good at oils in 5 years and you tried to learn them both at the same time, it might take 10 years to be good at both. But if you started with one and stuck to it until you were good at it, then you’d at least have one licked before moving on to the next. Or maybe learning both at the same time might shorten the time and provide cross-pollination.

I can only say that for me, my art life has been a sort of serial monogamy of media: I was a batik/fiber artist, a weaver, a potter, a caligrapher; then experimented with pastels, monoprinting, digital art, illustration, gouache and acrylic. But in the end, stuck to watercolor for over 25 years. Although very little of my watercolor experience seems to really help with oils, I’m sure all of the experience over the years is helping in various ways. ~Jana


I haven’t seen one of those plastic green baskets in ages!

The year we lived in Greece the backyard was a bit of a shambles but there was a fig tree, a real novelty for us Canadians, and we ate the fruit right off the tree with great delight!


What a wonderful memory connected to these gorgeous fruits, I have to admit I have never tried a fresh fig – now I Must! Beautiful rich deep color!


Jana – Have I found some figs for you! I like that secondary color scheme, and especially that lovely lavender-green part in the lower right corner!

Thanks Christine, I enjoyed visiting your blog and seeing your fig story. And thanks for the nod to mine!


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