Grocery Store Surprise

Having barely recovered from the shock of absence of Dragonfruit in the produce store, imagine my delight as I walked into the grocery store and saw this:

Watercolor Sketch - Kiwano, or Horned Melon

Kiwano – Horned Melon
5″x7″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

This is a Kiwano, or Horned Melon. (Good substitute for Dragonfruit, don’t you think, Liz and Woman Unadorned?)  It is hard to tell from the sketch, but those horns are sharp.  I love the color. It appears that the base color is orange, with tiny yellow spots that merge to give the impression of yellow lines.

The Kiwano is a product of New Zealand, as is the Kiwi. I haven’t looked it up, but if there are any New Zealanders reading this post, I have a question. What is the significance of the “Kiw” prefix, if any? Are there any other fruits or vegetables that have a begin with k-i-w ?  Perhaps you know, THGg?

Today’s experiment

I could hardly wait to see what the Kiwano looked like on the inside. The clerk at the grocery store was less than impressed. He said it looked awful.  I cut it across its equator. It looks great! Surrounding the cucumber-like seeds, is a greenish kind of gel. In fact, another name for this fruit is African horned cucumber. There are whitish dividers similar to those in oranges, but lacking the radial symmetry. Like an orange, the white connective material has a central hub in the Kiwano, but there are auxiliary hubs arising from edges.

The study below is my New Zealand still life: Kiwano and Kiwi. I cut the oddly shaped kiwi featured the other day. From the cross section, it appears as if I cut it longitudinally. If I had cut is equatorially, the seeds would surround the center. This is how I normally cut a kiwi.

Watercolor Sketch - Kiwi and Kiwano

Kiwi and Kiwano
9″x12″ 140# Hot Pressed Watercolor Block

Technical notes

In the first portrait above, I believe I captured the spiny nature of the horns on the Kiwano. I used latex resist to preserve highlights on some of them. I applied the liquid latex on top of a lemon yellow wash layer. I used a combination of lemon yellow and aureolin as washes on top of winsor red. In the shadow area, I used permanent alizarin crimson as a wash.

I did not glaze large areas in the second still life. I wash Prussian blue over lemon yellow for the cross section of the Kiwano. My underdrawing included the whitish seeds, but they were obliterated by the blue/yellow wash. I used cadmium orange for the rind of the melon on the edge of the cross section and for some of the spikes on the surface of the fruit.


This is an interesting still life to me, probably because of the exotic nature of the subject. There are no cutting edge advances in composition or dramatic lighting here. I think the only advance is the fuzzier texture of the kiwi skin, an improvement from my previous effort. Perhaps this study would benefit from applying gouache or other opaque pigment.


Could a bowl of fruit be in the future?  Perhaps.  But I have also been reading about Paul Klee and his philosophy, which I am trying my best to understand. One of the statements that I am trying to make sense of is the opening statement of Klee’s Creative Credo: “Art does not reproduce the visible, but makes visible.” (Kudielka, R.  Paul Klee: The Nature of Creativity, Works 1914 – 1940. London: Hayward Gallery Publishing, 2002 pg 79)  There are many other fascinating things to learn from Klee, which I hope to puzzle out in future posts.

2 thoughts on “Grocery Store Surprise

  1. Kiwano (which I have never eaten) is a good warm-up for dragon fruit Jack! I am impressed by the way you have captured the horny texture – it may be that df is less challenging as the horns are much broader. Thinking about colour, when df comes into season that will bring a shot of hot red after all these yellowy-oranges. Every time I read one of your posts I want to tell you about a bowl of fruit in the D’Orsay – will look it up today, Liz

    • Thanks, Liz. Looking forward to df season, but I’m still in the lookout for weird looking fruits. My interest in Paul Klee may sidetrack me but I’m going try finding interesting stuff to sketch even before the dfs are out. There’s always kale, I suppose.

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