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in butterflies is leading me far afield. I decided if
they migrate I might as well do the same. Recently I've
been following them to one of their main gathering places
in the Rio Grande Valley. A number of our butterflies
end up there, as do many strays from the tropics of
Mexico. It is a great playground for nature lovers and
critters. and I fit right in with both. This valley
inspires much of my new work.
have done several shows while in Texas including the Riod Grande Valley Birding Festival In Harlingen in November, and the Texas Butterfly Festival in Mission (now on hold). For Mission,
I designed their Tenth Anniversary Festival T-shirt
(right) around the ten favorite butterflies of the Rio
becoming an annual pilgrimage, I stop at the Lady
Bird Johnson Wildflower Center just outside Austin.
This coming year I will be showing my work there at An Artisan's
Festival in March. It's a great gathering of local musicians,
artists, volunteers from the Center and people from
all around Texas.
a place to stay in "the Valley", for both
Butterfliers and Birders, you can' beat the Alamo
Inn, in Alamo, Texas. Innkeeper Keith Hackland has
tuned everything to the needs of nature people. Keith
is a knowlegeable naturalist himself, a writer about
travel and nature, and a member of the board of the
Valley Nature Center. Each of the Inn's spacious rooms
has a colorful theme. A fully stocked fridge holds breakfast
food, snacks and drinks for each day's outing. The kitchen
is a cordial spot for meeting other guests from around
recruited a network of accomplices who make possible
the tricky business of tracking down all the stages
and host plants of each of the butterfly life cycle
I paint. While most people chase the flashy adult butterflies,
Ronda Spink (right) shows inconceivable perserverence—literally turning over every leaf and enduring the
most brutal sun and heat to find the tiniest butterfly
eggs and caterpillars. She's making an indispensible
contribution to my research.
a recent trip, I met Raye Allen, one of those bigger-than-life
personages you come across in Texas. Historian,
author, conservationist—no way to sum her up. Currently
she's working to preserve Green Oaks Farm, a family
homestead and prairie habitat to native plants and insects.
The ranch is threatened on all sides by development.
Raye and her daughter, Ginger, have put up a website and
are making the ranch available to rent for vacation
stays. Check out Greenoaksfarm.com.
butterflies is as fascinating as painting them. Here
is a Tiger Swallowtail, dining on his egg just after
emerging. There's more where that came from so you mightwant
to check out a new addition to my site,
Making of a Life Cycle.