every now and then, a stranger writes to ask if i am related to wallace hughes.

wallace oscar hughes is a renowned wildlife painter. he is an illustrator and a long-time art director for Florida Wildlife magazine. and yes, he is also my grandpa.

his home on mayo street in tallahassee is, to me, a snapshot of the seventies. it sports the required shag carpeting, green glass lamps, and questionable couches. the beds are made with quilts and vellux blankets. better than that though, there is art everywhere. besides my grandfather's celebrated paintings of birds (quails and cardinals are the first that come to mind), my grandmother's seascapes are also displayed. next to the kitchen is a beautifully rendered indian that my dad drew when he was younger. there are wooden birds on the living room table. they were hand-carved and hand-painted by my grandma and grandpa. my favorite is an owl.

the sculpture itself is very simple. if you squint, it looks like a russian nesting doll balancing on a stump. the painted surface brings the owl to life though and, what always amazes me, are the glass eyes. they follow you. i sometimes imagined that the carving was watching me in 360 degrees. like a real owl.

this is not one of my favorite drawings but it is my first wildlife illustration. while i drew it, i couldn't help thinking of my grandparents and my grandfather's EXCEPTIONAL skill at drawing birds (and snakes and panthers and prong-horned antelopes). i am still learning.

© 2005 rama hughes