Toucans, Owls and Sloths!

I have been traveling to Costa Rica for over 30 years. In my travels I search out places that are off the beaten path. I am not much for conventional tourism. It would be unusual for me to be drinking a pina colada on a white sandy beach. I prefer to find places where everyday people are doing extraordinary things. The Toucan Rescue Ranch is one of those places. It has been a place I have returned to every year. This colored pencil drawing was done to help promote The Toucan Rescue Ranch in the rehabilitation of injured and abandoned animals of Costa Rica. I am leading an Artistic Adventure Tour to Costa Rica for artists and photographers in 2018. We will be visiting the Toucan Rescue Ranch to support their efforts. You will be able to see owls, toucans, sloths and more up close and personal. Want to join us? Click here for more information about the tour. 50% of the sale of this painting will go to The Toucan Rescue Ranch…… You can OWN IT TODAY!

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.

I LOVE the iPhone!

I just got back from my trip to Costa Rica. We had 10 days of pure heaven, photographing and sketching the wonders of the rainforest. One of things I enjoyed the most was taking pictures with my iPhone. I have the iPhone 5s and it does a great job in taking close up photos. For the trip I treated myself to a few accessories which really turned out to be wonderful additions to my equipment. Here is a shot I took of a Red-eyed Tree Frog with the iPhone and another photo with the Olloclip 4 in 1 Wide angle lens attachment. Can you believe the clarity????? I used the “Selfie Stick” to get into some tight places. It also helped to keep the camera steady while I was trying to focus and click the shutter.  Below are some other photos I took with the iPhone and the Olloclip lens.

IMG_3372

Taken with the iPhone 5s and Olloclip 4 in one lens; wide angle lens ©2015Mlighthipe

Iphone 5s Frog ©2015 Mlighthipe

Taken with the iPhone 5s in Costa Rica. ©2015 Mlighthipe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some more shots I took on the trip with my iPhone. To purchase these products and other useful tools for artists check out my “Amazon Favorites” below.

Hammer Head Wasp- ©2015MLighthipe

This tiny wasp looks like a Hammer Head Shark with wings! It landed on somebodies plate during breakfast!

Cacao Flower- ©2015 Mlighthipe

This very tiny Cacao flower will one day grow up to be CHOCOLATE!

Rainforest Moth- ©2015 Mlighthipe

This vibrant moth was napping under a leaf. the Selfie Sick and Olloclip made this shot from the iPhone a breeze!

©2015MLighthipe Mushrooms in the rainforest

These tiny mushrooms were taken in low light in the rainforest. ©2015MLighthipe

 

Botanical Illustration in Costa Rica

Botanical ArtThe guaria morada became Costa Rica’s national flower on June 15, 1939. It is said to reflect its nation’s people in its beauty, fragility, and abundance. The gorgeous purple (You know how I love PURPLE!) flower is an epiphytic orchid, growing on trees, sustaining itself, but attaching itself on Costa Rican trees for support.

It grows in pre-montane zones between 1,600 and 3,300 feet above sea level. Due to its near over-harvesting in the past 80 years, they may be difficult to spot in the wild. The distinctive fragile purple petals are easily spotted in local gardens where Costa Ricans proudly cultivate the bloom. ( I just got back and they are everywhere!) The flower is still popular and can be found in nearly any botanical garden or nursery in Costa Rica.

The guaria morada has a very fragile scent that is said to be filled with dreams yet to be fulfilled. The spiritual significance of the flower is quite touching – it brings fortune and luck while evoking peace and love according to local lore.

Photographs don’t do the bloom justice. Botanical illustration captures an accurate rendering of the stem, leaves, and bloom while maintaining a semblance of the spiritual importance that the flower has in Costa Rican culture.  I painted this orchid many years ago and luckily sold the painting before the age of digital archives so I will just have to paint another one!

In the meantime here is a painting that I did of a naturalized hybrid orchid. This orchid is a hybrid that occurs naturally in Costa Rica. It is called Phragmipedium Grande (Phrag. caudatum x Phrag. longifolium) It reportedly was collected in the wild in Costa Rica decades ago, and has been distributed among several orchid growers here in the US. The hybrid has also been artificially recreated by orchid breeders many times. The tendrils were so long! It was loads of fun to paint.

To learn more about Costa Rica’s flora and botanical illustration, please search through my blog posts at botanicalartpainting.com. Perhaps you would like to join me as I offer art tours and workshops to help you capture the elegance of your own natural endeavors. With the spirit of guaria morada, I would bid you good luck and fortune in all of your future botanical pursuits!




 

Green Ibis

Green Ibis ©2014 MIndy LighthipeI don’t consider myself much of a bird watcher. I don’t really have the patience to wander or deliberately walk around with a pair of binoculars around my neck waiting to see a glimpse of something in the distance. I don’t have a bird list that I check off. I don’t even know what I am looking at half the time. With that being said…. I do love birds. I love seeing them and painting them. I just don’t have the patience to be a diehard bird watcher. Instead of going on bird watching trips I go on nature oriented trips and birds are always part of what I see.

On my latest trip to Costa Rica we stayed in the Sarapiqui region of the country at the Selva Verde Lodge. I have been traveling to Costa Rica to draw and paint for 20 years and still see something new and inspiring every time. This year I saw the Green Ibis on a river boat trip down the Sarapiqui River. Here in Florida there are Ibis and they are white with an orange/salmon colored beak. They are common and I don’t think twice about seeing them. On the boat trip I noticed something moving on the banks of the river and it was a small group of Green Ibis. They almost completely blended into the landscape. I was able to quickly take a bunch of  shots with my digital camera, using the super zoom mode. As I am not into wearing binoculars, I am also not into carrying heavy camera equipment or lots of different lenses. I have a Lumix point and shoot 24 x zoom digital camera. I find that I am able to get the shots  I need in order to draw and paint from. Any information I did not record with my camera, I can research on the internet when I get back to the studio. This is what I did with the Green Ibis.  I had to shoot with a very high ISO- 1600 and zoomed all the way in. The boat was moving and I only had a few moments to get the information I needed.

Green Ibis Photo ©2014 MLighthipeHere is the shot that was the inspiration for my painting above. The one thing that I did not get, was a good shot of  the feet. When I got home researched my subject to find what kind of feet it had and how to position it. I decided that I did not have really enough information to do a full blown painting so I decided to keep it simple and have one foot stepping forward into the picture plane. I used colored pencil and had a great time playing with the background putting in colors that would help make the iridescent green feathers shimmer.

I hope that you like it. It is currently available as a fine art print in my Etsy Shop.

If you are interested in going to Costa Rica with me in 2015 please consider joining my mailing list or sending me an email to keep you updated.

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Butterfly Art & Visit to the FMNH

Mosiac Butterfly on Heliconia ©2013 MLighthipe WatercolorI just got back from my trip to Costa Rica and we had a fabulous time. I never grow tired of visiting the country and am already planning the itinerary for next year. I got to see lots of beautiful butterflies this trip and here is a painting that I did from a previous trip. This is the sort of painting that I do at home after a trip using my field sketches and back up photographs.

As soon as I got home I had to jump right back into teaching at UFL with my Introduction to Scientific Illustration. We had a great class as we visited the Florida Museum of Natural History, The Butterfly Rainforest and the McGuire Center. We first met with Andy Warren who is the Collections Manager at the Center for Lepidoptera. The collection consists of 3 floors which are climate controlled, containing massive collections of butterflies and moths grouped by taxonomy. McGuire Center for Lepidoptera The collection is overwhelmingly rich with specimens from all over the world. Most of the specimens have been donated to the McGuire Center which opened its’ door to the public in 2006. There are laboratories focusing on molecular genetics, scanning electron microscopy, image analysis, conservation and captive propagation of endangered species, optical microscopy and specimen preparation; and classrooms and offices for students, curators, collection managers and other staff. Andy is also the creator of a very valuable website for Lepidoptera enthusiasts and natural science illustrators. His website is Butterflies of America and here you will find over 160,500 images and a list over 8,300 species of butterflies including specimens, host plants, caterpillars, habitats and more.

After our visit with Andy we met with Jacqueline Miller who is a curator and adjunct professor at the McGuire Center. She graciously showed the class a collection of rare and vintage lepidoptera engravings that were hand colored back in 1798. The color plates were  The natural history of the rarer lepidopterous insects of Georgiaexquisitely preserved and the artists’ colors and details were breathtaking. It was great to see these illustrations as it also showed the lifecycle of the butterflies as well as many of them on their host plant Here is a sample of what we got to see up close and personal from Abbot & Smith’s 1798 , The Natural History of the Lepidopterous Insects of Georgia.” It was a great day and I am glad that I could share a bit of it with you.

Do you paint butterflies? Do you have resources that you would like to share? Please leave a comment. I would love to hear from you.

If you would like to purchase my original painting please visit my gallery at Daily Paintworks

You can also find me on Facebook and Pinterest!

Make 2014 the year of Botanical & Nature Paintings

2014 is here and with it, the excitement of new beginnings. We all mutter to ourselves, “This year will be better than the previous one.”

It is a simple resolution, but one we hold near and dear to our hearts. How many of us actually keep those New Year’s resolutions? One way to make this resolution a reality is to embrace a new mindset. Easier said than done, I know, but it’s doable, very doable. One way to achieve this is to immerse yourself in nature through botanical art. It’s what I do. It’s what you can do as well.  As I offer online classes and tutorials for studies you can join me in a responsive environment to explore and hone your art skills. Why wouldn’t you? After all, art has the power to keep us grounded and yet at the same time lift us up to the highest peaks.

Costa Rica botanical art

Biriba Fruit with Hairstreak Butterfly ©2013 Mindy Lighthipe Watercolor

 

Botanical art, or botanical illustration as it is also known, is the art of depicting the form, color and details of plant species. It’s also about using creativity and learning about the natural world that is all around us. My art, as well as yours, does not have to be limited to just plant species.  I have done paintings of fruit bats, great green macaws, hummingbirds, butterflies, sandhill cranes and much, much more. I have created illustrated butterfly storybooks and symbolic Oracle Cards. I am planning on more of this in 2014!

In each of my paintings and illustrations I convey a vibrancy of life. These pieces of art are just a glimpse into of our vibrant planet. This is really the essence of botanical and nature paintings – a combination of human curiosity and a passion to capture the details on paper. We should do our best to live life in this fashion, which is why you should make 2014 the year of botanical and nature paintings.

Costa Rica botanical art

Red- Eyed Tree Frog- Photograph by Mindy Lighthipe ©2013

Luckily for us, the world is our classroom and we can look to it for guidance and advice. Thankfully, this winter, we can depend on Costa Rica for that. I host an art and photography workshop in Costa Rica. On this 10-day tour, you will bear witness to the riches of the Costa Rican landscape, including its rainforest and its seemingly endless parade of beauty.  One night, you will stay at Hotel Bougainvillea and the next, at Selva Verde Lodge; all while honing your artistic and photography skills. This year, people will be enjoying bugs, beasts and botanicals from February 4 to 13. We’re already planning next year’s trip, for 2015, so if you’re interested in booking a trip of a lifetime, contact me today (mailto:mlighthipe@gmail.com)!

You can purchase this painting here or if you’re interested in purchasing any of my original botanical and wildlife watercolor paintings check out my Daily Paintworks Gallery or for my archival prints, check out my Etsy shop!




 

Costa Rica Art & Photography Tour!

Top 10 Reasons to go to Costa Rica!

Click here for itinerary!

Iphone 5s Frog ©2015 Mlighthipe1. No SNOWY, DREARY, DANK, ICEY weather in Costa Rica
2. No down jackets, polar fleece or thermal gloves allowed.
3. Mindy shows you awesome ways to draw and photograph the amazing flora and fauna of Costa Rica.
4. Your very own Nature Guide will take you on daily hikes for birdwatching, frog hunting and more!
5. Watch chocolate grow on the trees.
6. Stay in a place where orchids are dripping off the trees.
7. See frogs that are electric blue, raspberry red and lime green.
8. Help conservation efforts to rehabilitate toucans, sloths and owls…. of MY!
9. Take a boat ride through the jungle and pretend you are in a Humprey Bogart movie.

and the best reason……
Where can you go in February, drink a fruity cocktail in a rocking chair with one toe dipped into the pool, a pair of binoculars around your neck, your camera in your lap, your drawing pad on the table next to the rocker, watch a caterpillar pupate into a chrysalis at the same time you watch the sunset, listening to the chirp of a grasshopper, in hopes of seeing a quetzal fly past you?

If you would like more information about the tour please click here

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