Frances Stilwell: Oregon’s Botanical Landscape

Close-up of Owyhee clover (“Trifolium owyheense”) painted with pastels. OHS Museum, 2019-35.14.1,.2

January 14 – May 1, 2022

  • Family-friendly
  • Free for Members
  • Teachers
  • Researchers
  • Handicap Accessible Friendly

Location:
Oregon Historical Society
1200 SW Park Ave
Portland, Oregon 97205
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Oregon artist Frances Stilwell (1940–) left a successful career in science to devote herself to art. Working mainly in pastels, she documented Oregon’s native plants in their natural habitats. All of the artwork created for her book, Oregon’s Botanical Landscape: An Opportunity to Imagine Oregon Before 1800, is on view in this breathtaking exhibit.

Frances Stilwell was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and received a B.A. in botany and a M.S. in botany-biophysics from the University of Cincinnati. Stilwell moved to Oregon in 1969 and has worked in environmental sciences throughout her life — as an ethologist at the University of Oregon; a biologist at Oregon State University; a fisheries technician for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife; a geomorphologist for the Oregon State Department of Forestry; and a botanist for the Bureau of Land Management. In 1981 she dedicated herself to creating art full-time.

The plants in this exhibit were painted while Stilwell “stood or sat where they grow in their native habitats throughout the state [of Oregon].” The artwork is organized based on ecoregion — areas with similar environmental resources (such as geology, organisms, soil types). Nine ecoregions exist in Oregon, although Stilwell chose to combine the Snake River Plain Ecoregion with the Northern Basin and Range Ecoregion due the former’s small size.

All 81 paintings on display were created for Oregon’s Botanical Landscape, which includes scientific information along with Stilwell’s thoughts on her experiences creating the artwork. Stilwell states, “I hope the book will inspire in you and the next generation a sense of home in the natural world of Oregon.”

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Frances Stilwell (1940–) left a successful career in the sciences to devote herself to art. She resides in Corvallis, Oregon. Image courtesy of Jakob Jones Media.

Frances Stilwell (1940–) left a successful career in the sciences to devote herself to art. She resides in Corvallis, Oregon.

Image courtesy of Jakob Jones Media.

Thistle on a Sand Slide by Frances Stilwell. This pastel and watercolor painting of peregrine thistle (Cirsium cymosum) was painted at Miller Lake, Chemult, Oregon. OHS Museum, 2019-35.2.1,.2.

Thistle on a Sand Slide by Frances Stilwell. This pastel and watercolor painting of peregrine thistle (Cirsium cymosum) was painted at Miller Lake, Chemult, Oregon.

OHS Museum, 2019-35.2.1,.2.

Under the Rimrock by Frances Stilwell. This pastel painting of Blanketflower (Gaillardia aristata) and sagebrush (Artemesia tridentata) was painted in Maupin, Oregon. OHS Museum, 2019-35.6.1,.2.

Under the Rimrock by Frances Stilwell. This pastel painting of Blanketflower (Gaillardia aristata) and sagebrush (Artemesia tridentata) was painted in Maupin, Oregon.

OHS Museum, 2019-35.6.1,.2.

Goldfields on Table Rock by Frances Stilwell. This pastel painting of goldfields, Lasthenia californica, was painted in Eagle Point (Upper Table Rock), Oregon. OHS Museum, 2019-35.9.1,.2.

Goldfields on Table Rock by Frances Stilwell. This pastel painting of goldfields, Lasthenia californica, was painted in Eagle Point (Upper Table Rock), Oregon.

OHS Museum, 2019-35.9.1,.2.

Great Aunt of Modern-Day Strawberries by Frances Stilwell. This pastel painting of coastal strawberries, Fragaria chiloensis, was painted in Tillamook, Oregon. OHS Museum, 2019-35.11.1,.2.

Great Aunt of Modern-Day Strawberries by Frances Stilwell. This pastel painting of coastal strawberries, Fragaria chiloensis, was painted in Tillamook, Oregon.

OHS Museum, 2019-35.11.1,.2.

Happy Most Anywhere by Frances Stilwell. This pastel painting of fireweed, Chamerion angustifolium, was painted at Halfway, Oregon. OHS Museum, 2019-35.21.1,.2.

Happy Most Anywhere by Frances Stilwell. This pastel painting of fireweed, Chamerion angustifolium, was painted at Halfway, Oregon.

OHS Museum, 2019-35.21.1,.2.

Potentilla by the Sea by Frances Stilwell. This pastel and watercolor painting of silverweed, Argentina anserina, was painted in Bandon, Oregon. OHS Museum, 2019-35.25.1,.2.

Potentilla by the Sea by Frances Stilwell. This pastel and watercolor painting of silverweed, Argentina anserina, was painted in Bandon, Oregon.

OHS Museum, 2019-35.25.1,.2.

Ecstasy in Pink by Frances Stilwell. This pastel painting of Ground [strawberry] pink, Silene hooker, was painted in Corvallis, Oregon. OHS Museum, 2019-35.34.1,.2.

Ecstasy in Pink by Frances Stilwell. This pastel painting of Ground [strawberry] pink, Silene hooker, was painted in Corvallis, Oregon.

OHS Museum, 2019-35.34.1,.2.

Sedges Have Edges by Frances Stilwell. This oil painting of tall flatsedge, Cyperus eragrostis, was painted in Adair Village, Oregon. OHS Museum, 2019-35.44.1,.2.

Sedges Have Edges by Frances Stilwell. This oil painting of tall flatsedge, Cyperus eragrostis, was painted in Adair Village, Oregon.

OHS Museum, 2019-35.44.1,.2.

Leslie Gulch by Frances Stilwell. This pastel and watercolor painting of western juniper, Juniperus occidentalis, was painted in Jordan Valley, Oregon. OHS Museum, 2019-35.66.1,.2.

Leslie Gulch by Frances Stilwell. This pastel and watercolor painting of western juniper, Juniperus occidentalis, was painted in Jordan Valley, Oregon.

OHS Museum, 2019-35.66.1,.2.