Nakusp’s artist, Debra Rushfeldt, was chosen to be featured in the Canadian Herpetologist Journal.

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

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

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

“My interest in toads opened a door to herpetology, primarily through my community of followers on my Facebook page, Debra Rushfeldt Studio Gallery,” Rushfeldt explained.

“These wonderful herpes enthusiasts have sent me beautiful photos of the toads they are discovering, and it has been so fun and rewarding to share this connection.

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

“I believe that scientists and artists have much in common when it comes to their observations of nature and the exploratory and intuitive aspects of their practices, and I’m thrilled 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 substantial habitat and breeding ground at Summit Lake, just outside of Nakusp,” Rushfeldt said.

“Every summer, interested nature lovers come from all over to help the toads cross the road safely. It is a fascinating experience for children and adults.

“I became interested in this beloved basin resident when a local photographer friend shared some of her photos of the toads with me, and I was very intrigued by their skin and eyes.

“I love finding subjects for my works that are normally overlooked and drawing attention to what I find interesting and beautiful about them.

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

“Their strong connection to 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 speaks to me of purification, 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 Prima Materia Gallery and Casa Mandala Guest House.

“I have explored different styles of artistic expression over the course of my career, and over the past 12 years have focused on realism-based charcoal drawings, acrylic paint, and watercolor,” added Rushfeldt.

In 2020, her series of watercolors inspired her to dream big, and with the help of the Columbia Basin Trust’s public art program as well as several local funding bodies, she facilitated and created outdoor murals of 10 and 25 foot toads for the town of Nakusp, at 206 Broadway St., installed last summer.

Rushfeldt’s art can be found at or at the 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

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


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