Fiddler Crab

The Story Behind the Painting

Last year I went for a walk on Melaleuca Track, Woodgate in Queensland. As I was walking to my right specks of colour caught my eye between the mangroves. I clambered down off the track and on to the mudflats to get a closer look at the fascinating little fiddler crabs.

As expected the crabs shot lighting fast into the closest hole as I knelt down with my knees in the wet mud to observe them. After about 30sec crabs started appearing all over the place and continued going about their business, whether it was eating, fighting or a mating dance.

What I didn’t realise until I got home and studied my photographs was each male crab had a large claw and this could be either be the right or left one.

It was fun to watch the little crabs the size of two large coins challenge each other, most of this was bluff and little contact at all. Other times they would grapple with each other and drag there opponent across the sand.

It was also interesting just to see them stick their large claw in the air and wave or signal another crab with a little jump at the same time, see my video below.

Fiddler Crab

My Fiddler Crab YouTube Clip

This is the little clip I filmed while observing the fiddler crabs at Woodgate.

My Painting Process

I’d just started camping again and I was halfway through painting my gang gang cockatoo but wasn’t confident about painting outside. So I thought the safest option was to start another painting and something a little smaller.

The wind was horrendous even with my car awning set up and it was difficult to keep my artwork from flying away.

I managed to get a lift in with another camper and purchase a clipboard to hold my artwork down. This seemed to work, but I was still inundated with various bugs and flying dust.

After out lining the two crabs I started wetting the paper and then painted the sand with a light wash.

Next I added some bits of texture in the sand then had another attempt at using my stippling brush. This time I covered my iPad up so I wouldn’t get any paint on it.

Painting out doors has its advantages and disadvantages but what I found was people loved to stop by and see what I was doing.
This usually ended up with people purchasing some of my gift cards which will enable me to print more of my latest works in the future.

The crabs legs were relatively easy to paint but the body and mouth was a little harder as my photos were a little blurred.

Having finished the first crab I moved onto the second, I knew once I started on his claw things would start to take shape.

Word got around the campsite that I was an artist and I seemed to have a steady flow of people coming to watch me paint and have a good long chat.
This also had its advantages, as I would often get invited for dinner, snacks, drinks any time of the day. Beth even brought me fresh baked scones, cream and Jam one morning for morning tea.

My favourite part of the crab was his big red claw and all the little speckles on it.

To finish off I painted the crabs legs and then added the crabs shadow cast on the sand.
I was going to add some mangrove roots but in the end I thought they would distract from the crabs.

Gouache Colour Palette

I use Winsor & Newton Gouache on Arches France Watercolour Paper, 300g Cold Pressed.

My painting come from my own experiences that I have lived and photographed while traveling. By reading this blog, you as a viewer can now hear The Story Behind the Painting. Where, when, what was happening while I was photographing the wildlife.
If you want more details about my adventures checkout my travel blog website

Enjoy, Chris Osborne

7 Comments on “Fiddler Crab

  1. Excellent post Chris…I love the insight you give on how the process works …not easy to work with water colours …


  2. It’s great seeing your work come too life, not just a painting but a full story behind each one

    Liked by 1 person

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