Woolastookia Sketch

5 June finds me at the microscope on the table in our tiny Boler trailer near Seagrave, Ontario, painting tiny mites less than a milimetre in size.  My landscape paintings have gone on hold while I work hard and fast to finish a large watercolour of four views of a male fresh water mite for the frontispiece of a book about the biodiversity of Atlantic Canada. The deadline is Monday, 7 June.

This job is a re-painting of the illustration that I finished in February from preserved specimens, but which was declared by Ian Smith, the mite expert at Agriculture Canada, to be lacking in brightness of colour.  So this spring he collected a fresh sample of these engaging, exceedingly tiny creatures from a creek near Almonte, Ontario, and their brightness made my earlier watercolour look like an old sepia print!

Now I have two of the four positions finished on my large piece of stretched watercolour paper - but yesterday I quickly did a set of small watercolour sketches to record the fresh colours of a specimen I had previously frozen, just in case I had trouble with the colour of the few remaining individuals.  These sketches are of a female.  There are no colour photos or paintings of Woolastookia pillositarsa.  The only existing illustrations are line drawings of particular features comparing it with other kinds of mites in a taxonomic publication.

My finished painting will be four views of a male, which has a slightly longer shape, higher contrast in pattern, and more distinct edges to the dark marking on the abdomen. It also has heavier hind legs, for clasping the females.

This little watercolour sketch is one of my "daily paintings", for sale with the rest of the series.  Now that I'm back from my trip to the prairies, and once this commission is finished on Monday, I'll be returning to regular daily paintings.

See you next week!


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