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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
I 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!
I am thrilled to announce that after at least 2+ years I have finally developed and designed an online drawing class. I did a lot of research and took several online art classes to see what worked, and what didn’t. To my surprise I found I really liked distance learning. I was able to work at my leisure, go back and review key points, and share my experience with other artists from around the world via Facebook.
In designing my class I wanted to fill a void in the online art video world. After researching what was available on the internet and evaluating my own strengths and weaknesses, I came up with DRAWING as a FOUNDATION. I have taught for over 20 years, teaching drawing, pen & ink, colored pencil, gouache, watercolor, pastel, and scratchboard. With the exception of drawing, all of these subjects are techniques. Drawing is the one thing that all these techniques have in common. It is where they all start. You can’t learn these techniques with out having some kind of drawing to work with.
All too often I see artists give up or be frustrated with their work. They rush in too fast to do the painting part, often working from photographs and do not understand what to do. There are drawing errors right from the beginning which were overlooked until color, form or black & white techniques were introduced. After investing countless hours on a piece, the frustrated artist gives up and declares the piece a “failure”.
When I was the Program Coordinator at the New York Botanical Garden, the first thing I did was to make Drawing 1 mandatory for all students. The program consists of 200+ hours for a certification in Botanical Illustration and every student who wanted to take any of the classes had to start with Drawing 1. Sometimes potential students were disheartened to hear Drawing 1 was a pre-requisite, but after going through it, the beginner as well as the experienced artist was grateful for the education.
I have taken what I taught in that beginning Drawing 1 class and expanded it, improved it, and tailored it to artists looking for a good, step by step, in depth Drawing Foundation Class.
The class begins February 18 and runs until April 22, 2015. The videos are available until June 22 during this class to give students plenty of time to do the assignments and review the course material.
Click here for more information or
Sign me UP! $149
Top 10 Reasons to go to Costa Rica!
1. 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
Botanical Art is rich in tradition, especially when it comes to technique and composition.
I promised to share with you the class I took last month with Anna Mason at the Selby Gardens in Sarasota, Fl. She has a very wonderful style of painting that is not a “typical” botanical portrait. Her subjects are all larger than life. They give a blast of color as you enter a room or gallery. The images “pop” and as her website is called, Watercolors With WOW, this describes Anna’s work perfectly.
I really didn’t know that much about Anna or the way she painted but I wanted to take a class to see how someone else approaches watercolor. To my surprise these huge paintings are done with mostly very small brushes and are done in a dry brush technique. This is completely the opposite way that I work so it was definitely a challenge for me. I struggled in class but managed to do 2 almost identical paintings in the class. The first painting was done more in the technique I use with my color selection and the second painting was done using a dry brush and Anna’s color palette.
Anna works mostly from her own photographs and it is very interesting to me that if the detail is not present in the photo, it does not appear in the painting. She does not add detail where it is not seen in the photo. This is very different from the way that I was trained and my tendency was to want to add things that I see on the living orchid but were not in focus on the photo. When I questioned Anna about not putting in the missing parts, her reply was, “The difference between my work and other painters of botanical subjects is that my paintings have a high sense of realism, while other botanical painters focus on all of the details which makes their paintings, illustrations.” I thought about this for a while and she is absolutely correct in her thinking. A botanical purest would have to agree that Anna’s paintings are so lifelike that they almost seem like photographs. Traditional botanical works usually have less contrast and depth. Botanical painters often use a formulaic scientific lighting usually leaving out shadows and cast shadows. Often the paintings show cross sections and dissections of plant parts. The typical botanical style clearly is an illustration.
After I got home from the workshop I decided to do a metallic beetle and blow it up 400%. I worked from several photographs and this is my result. I still haven’t reached a comfort zone with her technique and used some of my own techniques thrown in along the way. I do my painting for myself and I like a good challenge along the way. I strive to grow, learn, and incorporate new techniques into my own style and vision.
What is your take on realistic painting versus illustration? I would love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment and share your views.
I am very excited to share this painting with you. It was done by one of my students Rayma Peterson. Rayma was with us this past February on the Artistic Adventure tour of Costa Rica. One of the highlights for many of us in the group was the opportunity to photograph and sketch tropical poison dart and tree frogs. On every tour we have a naturalist guide that finds the most fabulous things for us. Part of the itinerary is staying at Selva Verde Lodge. It is in the heart of the Saripiqui region and has an abundance of wildlife. Our guide this year was Jimmy and he did an awesome job of “frog catching”. He set up tables to recreate the forest floor. He then released several species of frogs onto the leaf litter.
The focus of our artist/photographer tour is to teach people to gather enough reference material through photographs, onsite sketching, color notes and personal experience to go back home to their studios and paint! This is exactly what Rayma did. It is now 6 months later. She lives in Toronto where the summers are short and the winters are long. I really love the detail and color she got in her leaf litter. The painting is rich in color and texture. It was so awesome to see her painting and interpretation of our “frog day”.
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If you would like to join us in Costa Rica in 2014 click here.
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Do you LOVE chocolate?
My good friends at Sibú Chocolate are making the BEST handmade organic chocolate in Costa Rica!
I met George Soriano in Costa Rica almost 18 years ago when he was working for an Eco-tour Company. In 2007 George and his partner Julio Fernandez embarked on making handmade chocolates from organic cacao farms in Costa Rica. The studied in Paris to learn how fine chocolates were made by hand. They experimented with creating recipes of flavors that are found in Costa Rica. Sibú Chocolate works with a Rainforest Alliance certified farm, which means that farmers follow sound agricultural practices that protect forest, rivers, soils and wildlife, while being good community neighbors. It also ensures that workers have just wages, dignified living conditions and access to education and health care. They only use the best ingredients available, sourced from local producers and organic farms. To read more about Sibú Chocolate please visit their website.
I am thrilled to make this my 5th year taking my Artistic Adventure Tour to visit Sibú Chocolate in February 2014. We get to taste all the different recipes and learn about sustainable organic agriculture in a gorgeous cloud forest setting. The history of chocolate is covered in detail. Later on in the trip we will go to the Tirimbina Rainforest and see how chocolate was made by the Mayan and Inca Indians. There will be lots of tasting and time to sketch and photograph in the rainforest!
Join Us! Do you have questions about the tour? Leave a comment or email Mindy at: Mlighthipe@mac.com
Drawing from Other People’s Photographs- Is it Taboo?
I am currently taking an online course with Val Webb on drawing Dogs & Cats. For this assignment we were given several photographs to work from. I am uneasy drawing from photographs that are strictly “copying”other people’s photographs. I understand that for the simplicity of teaching a class, especially an online class, these “stock” photographs are necessary.
When I teach a class I make sure that my students respect, understand and adhere to copyright laws when they are drawing from photographs. This should only be for personal use or for a class assignment. The finished work of art should never be sold or exhibited without written permission from the photographer.
One of my goals in the Drawing Dog and Cat Class is to capture expressions on the faces of my cat drawings. I have 9 cats and used to do cat rescue. I never met 2 cats a like. They are full of personality and I want to try to capture this in my cat drawings. Since the assignment was in black & white charcoal I decided to look for a Tuxedo Cat but I also wanted to do some long silky fur as well as have the cat have a powerful but interesting look of annoyance. I searched the web and found these 3 photographs.
In the first photograph I loved the tufts on the end of the ears. In the second photograph I found the wonderful Tuxedo markings and lastly the third photograph had the best expression. I combined the things that I liked from all 3 photographs to create this finished charcoal drawing, while respecting the photographers copyright.
I really enjoy taking classes. No matter how advanced or professional an artist is, I believe it is important to keep growing and learning new things. For this particular assignment we were instructed to use grey tinted pastel paper and black and white charcoal pencils. I recently bought a pad of Strathmore Toned Paper in a medium and grey and tan. For this assignment I used the grey paper. The paper was awesome to work on and I really enjoyed creating the drawing working with the 3 values.
Do you think that working from other people’s photographs are taboo? I would love to hear from you. Leave your comments or questions below.