All content copyright 2011, 2012, and 2013 by Keith Russell.

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12 November 2011

Caution: Live Spiders...

Arriving at work this morning, I noticed that someone had left a fountain drink cup on the framing table. I picked it up, intending to toss it into the trash, when I saw the writing on the lid: "SPIDER FOR KEITH".

Here we go again, I thought, as I set the cup--gingerly--back on the table.

When I first began painting spiders during my juniour year at KCAI, I would often arrive at my studio to find that one of my fellow students had left a box, or cup, or some other type of container (each with a live spider inside) for me.

One box had a memorable label: "Spiders for you. There were two, but the little one ate the big one last night. Sorry." (The "s" at the end of "Spiders" had been crossed out...)

My studio space was situated against the outside wall of the room divided into the various studios for each of my classmates. There was a "main door" into the room, as well as a "side entrance" which went right through my studio.

After the spiders started arriving, I put up a sign that read, "Caution: Live Spiders" on the door to my studio. I thought of the sign as a bit of a joke, but the foot traffic through my studio into the main studio area was greatly reduced.

Spiders that don't spin webs usually sit in corners, under leaves, etc., folded in on themselves, rarely moving. They aren't much fun to draw, because the poses aren't interesting; in these positions, they don't really look like spiders. So, I usually let those spiders loose the morning after they were delivered.

I did keep one rather large black spider alive for nearly a week. I actually bought a bag of small crickets at a pet store for it to eat, but it still didn't survive it's captivity.

After that, I tried to spread the word that I didn't have the time (or the talent?) to keep live spiders in my studio; I could find plenty "in the wild" to photograph as references.

I left the sign up, though, and folks continued going the long-way round, through the main door, instead of through my "spider-infested" studio...