Crab Apple Still Life

Note to Readers

Before I begin today’s post, I’d like to say a word about the original mission of this blog. Those of you who have visited my blog recently, expecting to see autism-related posts must have been disappointed. My early posts were mainly about my early life as a sibling of an autistic person: recollections, feelings and attempts to connect with an unreachable person. This person is my older brother Michael, who is autistic, very low functioning and nonverbal. In November of last year (2013) my mother, younger brother and I visited him at his group home. He seemed content, but also showed no signs of recognition of any of us. I should have expected this because I never thought he ever knew who I was. At any rate, it was a big disappointment, but it enabled me to shift my focus away from obsessively seeking answers from neuroscience and philosophy about my  brother’s condition.

I am satisfied knowing that my brother is well taken care of and seems happy with his life, if I may presume to guess what he feels.

My posts changed emphasis right after that visit, and I started to explore how I could express my own feelings visually, in a way that could be understood by others. Artists who drew my attention were Jean Miró, Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky and abstract expressionists (Miró did not wish to be known as an abstract artist).


All of my posts are in a way related to autism, or rather, stem from my experience as a sibling of an autistic person. I spent countless hours observing my brother, looking for any signs of his inner life. The act of observation spilled over into other aspects of my life. I am primarily a visual person, so the powers of observation I developed as a sibling served me in good stead in the visual arts. In my current phase of visual expression, I am trying to capture visually, what I see. Ultimately, my goal is a kind of observation in reverse: to create images that, when observed by others, give them a good idea of the feeling I wish to communicate.


Autism awareness month is coming up. Those of us who have had first hand experience with autistic people are indeed very aware of autistic behavior. I would venture to say that we, as a group have heightened senses of observation of behavior, specifically, and are more observant in general.

Today’s experiment

My watercolor study today, although a visual pun, was good practice. For now, I abandoned the paper-towel background, which has been a problem that I need to address by specific practice exercises. Painting crumpled paper or rumpled fabric would be a good watercolor experiment for a future post.

Today’s study enabled me to work on my fruit – today, the apple. This is where powers of observation are tested. It seems, the closer I look at the shiny surface of the apple, the more I see. In fact, the significance of reflections is amazing. At first glance, I only see shades of red and white highlights. Only after ignoring the surface, do I see the reflections.

The foreground objects are crab parts. For the most part, they are straightforward. As they don’t reflect much light, their complexity is in their shape and surface detail.

Crab Parts plus an Apple

Crab Apple Still Life
12″x9″ 140# Hot Pressed Watercolor Block

Techniques practiced

During the sketching phase of this study, I tried to pencil in the areas of similar shading. I used latex resist to keep the highlights white.  I tried my hand a glazing, which seemed to work pretty well on the apple. Perhaps the glazing on the crab shell is a little overwhelming (quinacridone nickel), but at least it is a transparent color. I could apply more detail on top of the glaze, I suppose.

I would like to try more glazing techniques, which is the strength of watercolor painting. I’m looking forward to that.

6 thoughts on “Crab Apple Still Life

  1. Pingback: experiment in Empathy | The Hunt FOR Truth

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