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Nakusp artist featured in Canadian Herpetology Journal

Debra Rushfeldt’s western toad paintings are featured in the 11th edition of the quarterly journal
Pictured is “Metamorphosis,” 18” x 48” acrylic on wood by Nakusp artist Debra Rushfeldt. (Contributed)

Nakusp artist Debra Rushfeldt has been chosen to be featured in The Canadian Herpetologist Journal.

Rushfeldt’s detailed paintings of western toads are featured in the 11th edition of the quarterly journal.

For the past three years, Rushfeldt has been exploring western toads as a subject.

She loves painting them and bringing attention to the distinct resident of the area.

“My focus on toads has opened up a door to herpetology, mainly through my community of followers on my facebook page, Debra Rushfeldt Studio Gallery,” Rushfeldt explained.

“These wonderful herp enthusiasts have sent me beautiful pictures of the toads they discover, and it has been so fun and rewarding to share this connection.

“I was encouraged to submit my artwork to The Canadian Herpetologist quarterly from a member of this society, and when they chose my work to feature, I was very honoured.

“I believe that scientists and artists have much in common in regards to their observations of nature, and the exploratory and intuitive aspects of their practices, and I am excited to introduce my toad series to this community.”

She says her inspiration for the western toad series initially came from a popular local toad habitat.

“My inspiration for these paintings is the western toad, a local species that has a substantial habitat and breeding ground at Summit Lake, just outside of Nakusp,” Rushfeldt said.

“Every year in the summer, interested nature lovers come from all over to help the toadlets cross the road safely. It is a fascinating experience for both kids and adults.

“I got interested in this well-loved resident of the basin when a local photographer friend shared some of her toad photos with me, and I was very intrigued with their skin and eyes.

“I love to find subject matter for my artworks that is normally overlooked, and bring attention to what I find interesting and beautiful about it.

“I decided to paint these little creatures in the way I believe they see themselves, as wise and dignified beings, full of magic.

“Their strong bond with water and mud allows them to be close to the energy of Mother Earth, making toads a powerful symbol of rebirth, fertility, purity and flow.

“The croaking rain song of frogs and toads speak to me of cleansing, harmony and new life.”

Rushfeldt was born and raised in Calgary, and completed her art training at the Alberta College of Art and Design.

She moved to Nakusp with her family in 2002, where she opened the Prima Materia Gallery and Casa Mandala Guest House.

“I have explored a few different styles of artistic expression over the span of my career, and the last 12 years I have focused on realism based charcoal drawings, acrylic painting, and watercolour,” added Rushfeldt.

In 2020, her watercolour series inspired her to dream big, and with the help of the Columbia Basin Trust Public Art Program along with several local funding organizations, she facilitated and created 10 and 25-foot outdoor toad murals for the town of Nakusp, at 206 Broadway St., installed last summer.

Rushfeldt’s art can be found at or at Debra Rushfeldt Studio Gallery on Facebook and Instagram.

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Pictured is ‘Western Toad on the Forest Floor’ - 18” x 46” acrylic on wood, 2020, by Debra Rushfeldt.
Pictured is ‘Western Toad on the Forest Floor’ - 18” x 46” acrylic on wood, 2020, by Debra Rushfeldt.

Corey Bullock

About the Author: Corey Bullock

Corey Bullock is a multimedia journalist and writer who grew up in Burlington, Ontario.
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