Southern Oregon Butterflies

A painting to raise awareness is now raising funds.


Deb Van Poolen is auctioning off the original, four- by eight-foot painting of forty-two butterflies to raise money for the defense of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument and other public lands of the Klamath-Siskiyou bioregion!


A Story of Biodiversity

The acrylic painting features local butterflies found within the Cascade-Siskiyou region, which is where the Cascade mountain range meets the Siskiyou mountain range in southern Oregon and northern California.

The paintings of the butterflies are based on photographs taken by local field biologist John Villella.  John suggested this project because one hundred thirty butterfly species have been documented in the Cascade-Siskiyous; in fact, this region is ranked as one or two in North America for butterfly diversity (tied with the Appalachian region which officially has first place by two butterflies).

The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument is the only public land nationwide that has been designated based on its biodiversity.  

Following the designation of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in 2000, dozens of scientists contributed to reports about the need for the boundaries of the 2000 designation to be greatly expanded to be more in accordance with the area’s geography.  Shortly before Obama left office the boundaries were expanded from 65.000 acres to 112.000 acres.

How you can participate in supporting the Monument's preservation:

1. Bid on the original butterfly painting on ebay when the auction begins on October 4.  The auction will end on the evening of October 14 during KS Wild's Annual Dinner held in Ashland, Oregon. Please send Deb an email if you would like to be notified of the auction's beginning:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

2. Buy one or more butterfly posters to learn your butterflies and spread awareness of the Cascade-Siskiyous' incredible biodiversity: poster

The Ashland Outdoor Store hosted an evening with the original painting and a discussion of the Cascade-Siskiyous' butterflies.

The Story of How it Started:  

Southern Oregon Butterflies Poster smDuring the summer of 2016 while I was hiking in the mountains of Southern Oregon (near Ashland) with field biologist John Villella I told John I want to make some art promoting the protection of the natural environment.  Immediately John shared what he’d been dreaming for years:  someone uses his butterfly photographs to make a poster for education about the local biodiversity of butterflies which points to the fact that the Cascade-Siskiyou region is a biodiversity hotspot.

Through consultations with John and other lepidopterists (butterfly experts) the final 41 butterflies were chosen for the painting.  John suggested I also include fifteen host plants of the butterflies in the painting in order to depict the symbiotic relationships between plants and butterflies.

The pre-painting design process included several steps.  In order to include all forty-one butterflies in the artwork, I chose a large format of four feet by eight feet for the original acrylic painting.  I chose images of butterflies and plants available via John’s flicker page and the creative commons on the internet.  After enlarging the images I then traced them onto a four-foot by eight-foot paper sheet and drew the original landscape composition around the butterflies and plants.  As I worked through the issues with that composition I did some cutting and pasting to move the butterflies and plants around the piece until everything worked together just right.  

In order to get the composition onto the gator board, I used a “carbon copy” method.  The carbon copy method includes two steps:  first, I trace the whole composition onto the backside of the paper the composition is on, adhering the paper to a light board (in this case a sliding glass door) and using a soft pencil so the tracing is made up of dark, thick lines; second, I transfer the drawing onto the primed gator board surface by laying the composition down onto the gator board surface. The large drawn composition was in four chunks of paper that were two-foot by four-foot each.  I traced all of the images onto the front side of the composition using a hard pencil.

Once the composition was drawn onto the primed gator board, I experimented with color schemes for the landscape that would complement the butterflies. When I determined the landscape color scheme I then began the dance of painting landscape and butterflies together.  Painting the individual butterflies in all of their detail was painstaking and fun at the same time.  Each day I marveled at the wonder of the natural world, the existence of such variety and exquisite design.

I worked full-time to create the artwork for the butterfly poster throughout the first three months of 2017.  I averaged eight to ten hours per day of work on the piece.  My sanity was preserved by some welcome ski breaks at Mt. Ashland!  

After the painting was complete I asked a local photographer, Rob Jaffe, to make a digital file of the finished work  I then used that file to work with a local graphic designer, John Hutton, to make the design for the poster.  John Villella provided all the Latin and common names of all the butterfly and host plant species.   

Part of the way into the painting process Jeanine Moy, Communications Director of KS Wild (local conservation group) enthusiastically publicized the project’s progress to other area conservation groups.  John Villella and I followed up on Jeanine’s cue by writing a letter to a dozen conservation groups requesting their sponsorship of the project with a $300 donation which grants the sponsors access to the posters at wholesale prices.  Jeanine, John and I were happy with the news that nine groups decided to sponsor the work!  Those sponsorships covered the costs of painting supplies and printing the poster. Each of those groups’ logos appear at the bottom of the poster.

RAM printing in White City printed the posters.

Southern Oregon Butterflies Poster 800The original artwork pictured is a 4' x 8' acrylic painting created by Deb Van Poolen on gator board.

Beautiful 24" x 32" Posters are available for online purchase for $30 USD here.