Art Depicts Life on Butterfly Mural at Candlelight Ranch

Lyndon Crowson does detail work on a large mural of the monarch butterfly life cycle. He started the project a little over a year ago at Candlelight Ranch and did it in a ‘paint-by-number’ fashion so the youth could help complete it. The mural serves as a visual lesson on the monarch butterfly but also has become the go-to place for group photos. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

SMITHWICK — Coming off the pages of an everyday science textbook, a bigger-than-life mural offers a colorful, eye-opening look into the life cycle of a monarch butterfly.

Lyndon Crowson, a retired commercial artist now living in Marble Falls, recreated this wonder of nature on the side of a barn at Candlelight Ranch.

He admitted he didn’t understand how it would benefit the facility’s campers beyond adding a lot of color to the side of a boring shed.

“(Candlelight Ranch officials) asked me to specifically do the life cycle of the monarch butterfly,” he said as he added some color to a milkweed plant. “I thought it would make for a nice mural.”

Lynette Holtz, program director for Candlelight Ranch, smiled as she talked about how the mural will become a year-round teaching tool and discussion starter.

“For me to stand here and to be able to show the kids the complete life cycle of the monarch butterfly, and point to the different stages in a big, colorful mural, will really help the kids not just see it but remember it,” Holtz said. “Plus, with the mural, the kids can see the life cycle anytime of the year.”

Candlelight Ranch provides outdoor activities, adventures, and learning experiences to at-risk youth and children with disabilities. The facility offers a large, wheelchair-accessible treehouse, a zip line, a rope bridge, a garden, lake activities, educational programs, and more.

Crowson started the mural in November 2015. He spent a night or two tracing out the layout.

“We did it in a paint-by-numbers style,” he explained. “That way, the kids could come out here and help paint it.”

It’s taken longer than Crowson hoped, but the process has been rewarding. The kids have taken ownership of the mural and show it off with pride.

Candlelight Ranch also held a fundraiser during which people donated money for a chance to participate in painting the mural.

“A lot of people who did that, they turned around and gave the space back to the ranch so kids could paint it,” Crowson said.

Even though it still needs some touching up, the mural has become the go-to place for group photos.

Plus, it’s not just the kids who learn something from it. When asked how to differentiate a monarch butterfly from a queen butterfly, Holtz pointed to the wings of one of the monarchs depicted in the mural.

“The white spots are in the black,” she said. “On a queen, they’ll be in the (orange area) as well.”

“Huh, I never knew that,” Crowson said. “See, it does help teach.”

Candlelight Ranch is located at 6408 Muleshoe Bend Trail off RR 1431 between Marble Falls and Lago Vista. Go to candlelightranch.org to learn more about the facility and how to support it.

daniel@thepicayune.com

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