The Ventana Wilderness Alliance (VWA) is an organization that strives to protect and restore the native biodiversity of the public lands along the Big Sur coast. Living in Monterey, I am lucky to be able to hike and camp in the vast Ventana Wilderness, thanks to the efforts of this organization. When they asked me to paint the cover for the spring newsletter, I thought this would be a nice way to say thanks for all that the VWA does.
Much of the work that VWA volunteers do involves restoring native seacliff buckwheat (Eriogonum parvifolium). This plant is an essential part of the critically endangered Smith's blue butterfly's life history. A strict mutualism exists between the butterfly (Euphilotes enoptes smithi) and buckwheat. The butterfly larvae feed exclusively on the buckwheat and adult butterflies return to pollinate the buckwheat. VWA volunteers preserve buckwheat populations on the Big Sur coast in order to provide the necessary habitat to sustain and hopefully increase populations of the Smith's blue butterfly.
Here you can find a link to the VWA Spring Newsletter. For volunteer opportunities and information about the Ventana Wilderness, check out their website http://www.ventanawild.org/.
Below are progress photos from painting this image. I included the female (bottom), male (top), and underside (middle) of the butterfly.