Protect Our Waters- Stop the Spread of Invasive Plants

I recently had the opportunity to create this painting for IFAS- Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida. The project was designed as a new product for educators and aquatic plant management enthusiasts. Many people are unaware of the damages invasive plants can do to the environment. Back in 2012 I took a  week of Plant Camp studies through IFAS. I was blown away by how many invasive species of plants and animals are wreaking havoc in the USA and Florida in particular. The climate in Florida is the only sub-tropical ecosystem in the USA. It harbors many species that can not survive in the colder climates. The 6 plants depicted in my painting are the top 6 invaders in Florida’s waterways. They are choking the lakes, rivers, ponds and streams. Many invasive plants are available at garden centers and places like Lowe’s and HomeDepot because there is no regulation prohibiting their sale. Regardless of whether you live in Florida or any other part of the world…. when choosing plants for your landscape find out the latin name of the plants you are thinking of purchasing and research them before you purchase. It is well worth the small investment of the time it takes to research the plant than the time and energy you will spend trying to eradicate it from your garden. To find out more about invasive plants visit IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants Website.

Click here for to read the full article written and published by Aquaphytes pages 7 & 8.

INVASIVE plants 

1. Alligatorweed (Alternanthera philoxeroides) is an emersed plant native to South  America.

2. Water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) is a free-floating plant; nativity disputed.

3. Torpedograss (Panicum repens) a wetland grass native to Africa, Asia and Europe.

4. Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) is a free-floating plant native to Brazil.

5. Giant salvinia (Salvinia molesta) is a floating plant native to South America.

6. Hydrilla  (Hydrilla verticillata)  is a submersed plant native to Africa, Asia, and Europe

For more information on the above species, visit the University of Florida/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants website: plants.ifas.ufl.edu

NATIVE animals

7.  Largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides)

8. Yellow-bellied slider (Trachemys scripta scripta)

Insects

9. Alligatorweed flea beetle (Agasicles hygrophila) is used as a biological control agent introduced to control alligatorweed.

10. Dragonfly is a beneficial native insect that eats mosquitos.

11. Dragonfly nymph is a casing left behind after the adult emergence.

12. The mosquito is an insect pest that can harm humans and animals; it breeds beneath dense aquatic weed infestations.

Florida Society of Botanical Artists Exhibition

In December of 2016 I had the wonderful opportunity to teach a group of artists at the Florida Society of Botanical Artists in Sarasota Florida. The society is a local chapter of the American Society of Botanical Artists. This was the third time they invited me to teach the group. This particular workshop was about drawing birds. I teach a variety of subjects and incorporate some ornithology anatomy in my Intro to Scientific Illustration class at the University of Florida. I wondered why this group wanted to work with birds instead of botanical subjects…….. The answer is they were preparing for an exhibition at the Sarasota Audubon Society which is located at The Celery Fields.

The exhibition is titled “Backyard Beauties” and will show case beautiful paintings of native plants and birds found in the unique ecosystem of The Celery Fields. Native plants are very important to the survival of many local and migrating species.

The Celery Fields is a 360+ acre site which consists of open marshlands, deep ponds, shallow pools, and canals. It is edged with oaks, willows, and pines. In early 2001, Sarasota Audubon began conducting bird surveys at the Fields. To date, 217 species have been recorded. Wintertime offers particularly good birding, hosting sparrows, Marsh and Sedge Wrens, and several species of rails, including Sora and Virginia. The Fields also host breeding birds, including Black-necked Stilts, King Rail, Least Bittern, Limpkin, Purple Gallinule, Eastern Towhee, Barn Owl and Eastern Meadowlark. Least Terns breed on nearby buildings and use the ponds as a primary food source. Rarities show up from time to time, including Upland and White-rumped Sandpipers, Short-eared Owl and Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow.

Sarasota County, recognizing the importance of the Celery Fields as a food and habitat source to a wide variety of birds and other wildlife, worked with Sarasota Audubon to restore 100+ acres in the Southern Cells into a more traditional wetland.

If you are in the area please visit The Celery Fields, do some nature hiking and see some of the wonderful art by the Florida Society of Botanical Artists. Details about the exhibit are located on the flyer.

Distance Learning with Mindy Lighthipe

I am really excited with the wonderful responses I have been getting about my online classes. I started 2 years ago ad to date have had the privilege of teaching over 400 artists worldwide. I have students from England, Germany, Tasmania, Turkey, Australia, Japan, Russia, Spain, Canada, Italy and of course the USA. The internet has allowed me to work with so many interesting people and it really is inspiring to see them posting their assignments on Facebook and sharing their knowledge. I wasn’t sure I would like this style of teaching because I am used to teaching people fact to face. The more I do it, the more I enjoy…….The internet has allowed the world to be a classroom! I am continuing to offer 3 classes starting  March 22, 2017. CLICK HERE for a listing of the classes and information about what you can expect if you decide to join us….. We would love to have you!

Tortoise Beetles and Solar Etchings

tortoisebeetlesInsects have always been peaked my curiosity. I collected bugs as a kid. I never really had the science brain to become an entomologist. I wanted to know about their lifecycle but most of all I wanted to draw and paint them. I think it is the diversity of color, texture and pattern that really intrigues me. Of all the insects, I love beetles the most! There are between 250,000 and 350,000 different species of beetles on planet earth. I know I will never get to draw all of them but I have started with a group of beetles called Tortoise Beetles and a new process called Solar Etching.

While I was in college I took several printmaking classes and enjoyed them. I recently learned a new technique of solar printing that allows me to do my drawings on paper, create a negative scan of the drawing and then burn the images onto a plate that is exposed to light. The result is similar to traditional intaglio printing but I don’t have to work in reverse or worry about making a mistake on the copper plate. Once the plate is exposed to light, the image is burned into the plate. I then ink the plate, wipe it clean and the ink that remains is left in the “burned” recessed areas of the plate. The plate is hand pulled through a traditional press. I haven’t pulled an edition of the images yet as I am still learning.

A month ago there was a Call for Entries for a show entitled “Meet the Beetles” at the Art Science Gallery in  Austin, Texas and I knew I had to enter! My 2 Tortoise Beetles got into the show and you can see them in person if you are in the Austin Texas area until October 22, 2016.

They are also available for purchase in my online art store. You can click here to see a section of prints for sale.

 

Drawing Butterflies

Charaxes lucretius © Tammy Mcentee colored pencil 4.5″ x 6″ Contact Tammy at: tsm3252@aol.com

I recently had the opportunity to go back to the New York Botanical Gardens to teach a 3 day workshop on drawing butterflies. I taught at NYBG for almost 20 years after completing the Botanical Illustration Certification Program. It takes 2 years to complete this disciplined program and I was fortunate enough to live within driving distance to take the courses and eventually teach and direct the program. It opened up a new world for me and helped to build the foundation of my drawing and scientific illustration practices. I moved 5 years ago from New Jersey to Florida, so going back to NYBG was a blast. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

I certainly don’t miss the traffic or congestion of the NorthEast, NY Metropolitan area but I can honestly say I didn’t realize how much I missed teaching there. The students are really fabulous. My dad taught 8th grade English and always thought I should be a school teacher. Dealing with English and kids going through puberty would have made me stark raving mad! I chose to supplement my income as an artist, teaching art to people who really want to learn and that means ADULTS! These students/artists came with all the enthusiasm a teacher could ask for. They were eager to learn and in the 3 days I tried to cover as much information as possible. I love to teach because it forces me to communicate on different levels. I am a visual learner myself and found that not all people learn the same way. I did visual presentations, created handouts, did a lecture or two and did lots of demos. We worked from real specimens as I encourage this. Working  from photographs has its limitations. Insect anatomy is crucial in depicting these tiny critters in nature paintings or in scientific illustrations. We also worked with microscopes to give the student the advantage of seeing many underlying structures that are not visible without magnification. My motto is…. ” The more you see, the more you understand which means more you can portray in your art.”  Here I am including some of the drawings/paintings that were done in the class with the artists’ names and contact information. Feel free to contact them if you are interested in buying or commissioning a work of art. They were all super!

Idea leuconoe- Rice paper butterfly © Leslie Day Colored pencil on mylar Contact Leslie at: www.leslieday.nyc

Idea leuconoe- Rice paper butterfly © Leslie Day Colored pencil on mylar Contact Leslie at: www.leslieday.nyc

Butterfly © Ellen Matusiak, colored pencil on mylar with decorative paper underlay. Contact Ellen at: ellenmatusartist@hotmail.com

Butterfly © Ellen Matusiak, colored pencil on mylar with decorative paper underlay. Contact Ellen at: ellenmatusartist@hotmail.com

Peacock Butterfly ©Lydia Irwin Colored pencil on paper.

Peacock Butterfly ©Lydia Irwin Colored pencil on paper.

If you are interested in learning more about Drawing the Beauty of Nature please visit my section of online drawing and painting classes. If you have an art group or organization that would like to have me come teach please contact me at Mlighthipe@mac.com.

New Online Watercolor Class starting September 21!

I am happy to announce my new online Wonderful World of Watercolor Class will start this fall on September 21, 2016. I want to thank all my fellow artists for the overwhelming success of  my Foundation Drawing and Drawing Plants classes. For the past year I have had requests from all corners of the world asking me to do more online classes. I spent May, June and July designing, painting, shooting and editing this new 12 week class in response to YOUR REQUESTS! It takes me a long time to do this because….. I do it all!

Wonderful Watercolor with Mindy LighthipeI  designed the class to take you through all the tough issues that make people think watercolor is difficult to do! I call it de-mystifying watercolor. I used to think watercolor was fussy, difficult and unforgiving….. sounds like a bad relationship! After experimenting, working hard and taking classes, I learned watercolor can be easy, fun and correctable!!!!! It all has to do with understanding the properties of how the paint works with the amount of water you use for a given desired effect. In this class I cover all the ins and outs to help you gain control while still being spontaneous! Color mixing is an integral part of the lessons which will give you confidence in understanding and getting the results you want each time you paint. Learn to create color recipes that will work successfully everytime. No more mud or guessing!

I hope you will join me in this new class.  To learn more about my online classes please click here.

Do you know someone who loves nature and would enjoy learning to draw or paint in watercolor? If so………  Please share this post. Spread the word to appreciate…….. Drawing the Beauty of Nature!

The Ants Go Marching!

Red Peonies, Ants & Red Admiral ©2010  Mlighthipe

Red Peonies, Ants & Red Admiral ©2010Mindy Lighthipe 20 x 24 watercolor

I love Peonies! Years ago I planted about a dozen or so of them in the fall in my garden. When spring came the following year I couldn’t wait for the flowers to bloom. To my dismay I saw all the beautiful flower buds covered in ants. Drat! I thought they were going to eat the flowers and I would end up with just stems. I did some research to find out what kind of insecticide I should spray on the plants only to find that the flowers would not bloom without the ants! Really? Yes, really! The flower buds are covered in a sticky sugar which attracts the ants to the flower. The ants collect and “clean” off the sticky substance allowing the flower to bloom in all its’ glory.  How cool is that! This is how this painting was born. The Ants go Marching!!!! I decided also to add a couple of Red Admiral butterflies into the painting.

Toucan Rescue Ranch- Another success story!

Emma the River Otter- Toucan Rescue RanchI have been traveling and leading art and photography tours to Costa Rica for over 30 years. It always warms my heart when something wonderful happens to help save the animals of this country.

We have been visiting Toucan Rescue Ranch for 8 years to expose our artists and photographers to a rare behind the scenes opportunity to draw and photograph the animals they care for. It is an opportunity to learn about the conservation and rehabilitation efforts by this organization. The Toucan Rescue Ranch was established in 2004 by Leslie Howle and Jorge Murillo as a rescue center for toucans and other birds. Nonetheless, the rescue center quickly expanded to owls and other wildlife. In 2007, a baby sloth, Millie, arrived and was solely in Leslie and Jorge’s care. Millie is initially what transformed the Toucan Rescue Ranch into to a wildlife rescue. Leslie and Jorge work as a team alongside a small staff, caring for resident rescues and new arrivals. It is a dedicated rescue for Costa Rican wildlife. The organization continues to see opportunities for expansion and betterment. TRR is eager to continue to grow to save more wildlife and implement breeding programs for endangered birds native to Costa Rica’s rainforests.

Today’s success story is about Emma! Emma is a neo-tropical river otter;  (Lontra longicaudis).

As a baby she was separated from her mother when a group of children were found throwing rocks at her by the rivers edge. Emma, who was too young to swim through the current to her mom, was left chirping on the riverbank. Luckily, a courageous woman stepped in and took action against such cruelty. She quickly scolded the children who were throwing rocks and snatched the orphaned otter and brought her to the police. The police in turn brought her to the Toucan Rescue Ranch.

Typically, at the Ranch they encourage minimal human interaction with wildlife to ensure natural behaviors and overall health. However, Emma is different. Because she was orphaned at such a young age she is not capable of returning to the wild. She does not have the proper skills to survive on her own. This is why TRR did a marvelous campaign to build Emma a permanent enclosure. She thrives off interaction and any chance she can to play under the water hose. Emma can make anyone smile with her energy, spirit and overwhelming character.

Watch Emma in this video and see how she can live out her life in her permanent home. Her new home gives her ample area to swim, run and play.

We are so happy to support the efforts of this small organization. Want to meet Emma in person? We will be visiting the Toucan Rescue Ranch on our Artistic Adventure to Costa Rica in March 2017.

Costa Rica is full of FROGS!

Hi Everyone!

WE just got back from an amazing trip to Costa Rica this year. I am still in awe of the diversity of this tiny country. We visited so many beautiful places and saw an amazing array of birds, plants, animals and yes FROGS! We are already planing the trip for 2017.  Here is a little colored pencil painting I did as a demo while I was on the trip. I used baby oil……. Yes!!!! baby oil to get the smooth blending of the tonal values as well as the dark background.

"Froggie" in colored pencil 4.5" x 4.5" ©2016 Mlighthipe

“Froggie” in colored pencil 4.5″ x 4.5″ ©2016 Mlighthipe


If you are inserted in having this little guy in your home He is for sale…. $90 unframed with FREE Shipping!

 

ASBA- NY Horticultural Society 18th Annual International Botanical Art Exhibit

This year My Biriba Fruit with Hairstreak Butterfly; Annona mucosa, Atlides polybe painting was accepted into the ASBA- NY Horticultural Society 18th Annual International Botanical Art Exhibit. The exhibit will be up until December 30, 2015. Here is the story behind the painting.

Biriba Fruit- ©2014 Mindy Lighthipe

For the past 25 years I have traveled to Costa Rica and Central America to lead botanical and natural science artists into the rainforest. The diversity of species within the Neo-Tropics is astounding. The rainforest has become my classroom, where I learn and teach. Last year we visited the Tiskita region on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. While hiking on a trail near the ocean I looked up and saw the Biriba Fruit hanging from the trees. The unusual shape and color was something I was immediately fascinated with. These fruits look like ancient flails. They hang at the end of a long stem that is reminiscent of a ball and chain. Fortunately the spikes are rounded and soft and are considered by many to be an edible delicacy. I was able to draw the fruit, the leaf and stem in my sketchbook as well as create watercolor notes for the painting once I returned home.

On the same trip I met a woman who was in the last stages of terminal cancer. One of her wishes was to visit the rainforest and see as many different butterfly species as she could. As we walked along together she spoke of her love of butterflies. We immediately bonded as kindred spirits. The hairstreak butterfly in this painting was one that we spotted on our brief encounter together. The area was just down the ocean path from where I found the Biriba Tree. I sat with her and we quietly took pictures of the butterfly. I never saw the woman again but our chance meeting had an impact on me. Upon my return I painted the Biriba fruit and decided to put the butterfly into the composition. I felt it was a way to tell the story of my encounter with her; a small, fearless butterfly resting peacefully on a terrain of many peaks and valleys.
As a botanical and natural science artist I paint things depicting the interconnectedness of plants and insects in the natural world. Many of my works depict the lifecycle of butterflies with their host plants. This particular painting is more about the chance meeting of these two species and my chance meeting with another nature enthusiast.
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