Nectarines: A Study

This week’s edible still life is of nectarines which I might end up regretting. I chose these particular specimens because they were pretty and I needed something to paint but it’s been five days and they’re still hard. I’d like to be able to eat them before they grow mold, but it’s starting to look unlikely.


I don’t have a ton to say about nectarines as a food so I thought I’d talk about watercolor painting instead. Unfortunately, as soon as I tried to explain how I paint I realized that the time when I was consciously learning how to paint was so long ago that my process is now “Look at the thing and paint until the painting looks good”. Which I realize isn’t exactly helpful.

But I’m going to try. It’ll be an adventure for us all!

The major pro for watercolors as far as I’m concerned is that they’re fast* and convenient compared to other types of traditional painting. They also require less setup and equipment than other kinds of painting, and while I love oils, dealing with paint that takes days to dry to the touch is very annoying.

If I want to save time or my subject is something very technical (lots of linear perspective that needs to be figured out, etc) I’ll sketch out the basic composition in watercolor pencil–water soluble colored pencils–mostly so I don’t have to think so hard about where I’m putting the paint. The nice thing about using watercolor pencils is that they get almost completely erased in the process of painting. When working with the paint the main thing that I try to keep in mind is where my brightest highlights are going to be and make sure I don’t lose them. You CAN pull up a lot of paint even after it’s dried by re-wetting the area and then blotting it with a cloth (pro tip: Watercolors + rain does not end well), but if you do this too many times you’ll destroy your paper.

The best thing about watercolor painting is that a lot of times the end results look the best when you take a relaxed attitude towards happy accidents and let the paint do what it wants. This took a while for me to learn, but it’s the main advantage traditional media still has over digital, although Programs like Photoshop or Corel Painter are catching up.

My palette is kind of a mess.
My palette is kind of a mess.

*unless the subject is something like this or this. Those paintings took a while.

Celia Yost

Celia Yost is a graphic artist and painter by both training and trade. She's also prone to ill-advised craft projects and yelling about politics.

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  1. You could upload fifty images of your palette and brushes and desk and I would love each and every one.

    Also, juicy nectarines!

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