Spider in Watercolour


I have had an acute fear of spiders for as long as I can remember.  I really love all types of creatures in the world, but spiders have always just freaked me out at level below my conscious mind.  It’s like an involuntary reaction which I can’t stop.


I’ve only been bitten by a spider once and it was in adulthood long after I’d already developed the phobia.  It was a false widow bite (I found the spider that did it when it fell out of my trouser leg and got it identified.)  At first it was just two little bite marks which stung like a bee sting.  Then my leg swelled a little around the bite, making a swollen patch about 10cm across, like a huge nettle sting.  At that point I took some antihistamine and over the next day or so it all calmed down and went back to normal.


In the last few weeks, to try to reduce this phobia, I’ve been looking at Spider videos on You-Tube.  The fear hasn’t gone away but I am now more aware of which kinds of spider bother me.  It’s really only the black or dark brown ones which are medium to large, like the giant house spiders and false widows, tube web spiders and whatever other medium to large black or dark brown little eight-legged nightmares come into people’s houses.

What I did find from watching these videos is that I don’t mind  tarantulas that much and I really like jumping spiders.  So much so that I found one on my car while it was parked in the staff carpark at school the other day and was able to catch it and look at it before it jumped off to go about it’s business!

So I decided to draw a jumping spider.  I began with a sketch which I did in bed one evening.  (I draw most of my sketches in bed.  I need to go to bed early every evening because of the pain I have.  Once there though, I find keeping busy the best way to manage the pain until the pain meds kick in, hence the drawing.  Apart from the eagle and the siphonophore most of the drawing’s I’ve published have been done in bed.)



Next I added a basic wash to give my spider some base colour.



Then, with a small brush I began to add detail first as patches of colour here and there and then later in the form of tiny little hairs.



As I worked from front to back on the legs I used weaker colours and shades so that the spider would have some depth.  Here’s the final image…

I think I’ll call him ‘Spike’.


10 thoughts on “Spider in Watercolour

  1. Thanks. Because the jumping spider is an active hunter it needs the big eyes The jumping spiders in this country are really tiny though. You’d need a really passive spider and really good macro lens to get a decent photo. I used photo reference for Spike so the eye size should be relatively accurate.

    I feel for animals when things happen to them on documentaries too. It’s hard to know how, or if, they have feelings like we do, especially with invertebrates. My guess is that dogs have similar feelings to us as their limbic system is similar in structure and function to ours, but invertebrates, like spiders, probably have more simple reaction mechanisms, fight and flight responses rather than emotions.

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  2. It made me laugh when I read that you think I might be brave. If you’d ever seen the pathetic running away and screaming that goes on when a large house spider approaches me I’m sure you couldn’t hold that opinion for long! All my YouTube viewing did really was reduce the number of spider species which terrify me. I’m glad you like the picture too. Best of luck against the evils of mice!

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  3. Lovely work, Jo, hard with those massive eyes not to anthropomorphise it — I can see why you might to name him (?) Spike! Reminds me of a wolf spider I saw on a documentary for which I had some sympathy when its potential victim — a species of ant — squirted a noxious substance into its face, forcing it to rub its many eyes and abandon its hunt.

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  4. As soon as I saw the title of this piece I thought of your comment on my nightmare post. And you are SO much braver than I! I can’t even fathom taking the time to watch YouTube videos about mice and trying to understand as well as master my completely irrational fear. Instead, I tend to freak out, cringe, and curl up into myself whenever I see one of those monstrous little balls of fur, fang, and fear on screen. You are my hero! Also, I love your painting too :). I think Spike looks adorable. And the method you explored to create him? Well, that’s mind-blowingly amazing to me. Go you!

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