Nature on Display: Meet Fine Artist & Printmaker Mindy Lighthipe

Written by Artie The Panda

From the colorful detail of her paintings to the haunting beauty of her solar etchings, Mindy Lighthipe is a force of nature — for nature.

The call of the wild.

When an artist can find beauty in a Round Tortoise Beetle, it’s hard to ignore. Especially when the artist imparts loveliness to an insect most of us would avoid. That’s why the work of Mindy Lighthipe intrigued me—and all of us here at Frame Destination. Mindy started her artistic career making handwoven clothing. Later, she heard the call of the wild and moved to botanical illustration. Her love for nature has inspired journeys to Costa Rica’s rainforests, where she leads art tours and supports The Toucan Rescue Ranch.

Patience is a virtue.

Mindy’s commitment to meticulous, authentic detail extends to the butterflies, insects and botanicals she paints. She often grows the plants herself and raises the insects, which can take up to a year to get the looks she’s going for.

Quality that’s customized.

We’re honored our quality products are helping Mindy showcase her work. One frame she uses a lot is our Wood Frame Profile 503 (seen in her tree frog artwork above). “I really like that I can customize my order to get the acrylic and frame together,” Mindy says. “The frame quality is great and doesn’t chip, which is important since I sometimes swap out different works of art to ship to different shows.”

See more of her work.

If you’d like to see more work by Mindy – including everything from owls to iguanas, llamas to toucans, macaws to boat-tailed grackles—visit her website. If you’re in New York this month (October 2019), be sure to check out Mindy’s bird paintings and solar etchings at the Salmagundi Club.

Now for Artie’s Eight Q&A with Mindy Lighthipe …

1. What is your background; how did you get started?
I have always been an artist. I studied textile design in college and worked as hand weaver for the first 15 years of my art career. I created women's handwoven clothing and sold through the craft markets across the country. I decided to shift my creative endeavors to fine art. I started in the field of Botanical and Natural Science Illustration in 1989 when I went back to school and completed a 200-hour certification program at the New York Botanical Garden. I have always been a nature enthusiast and am passionate about conservation. I depict birds, insects and plants in my work and how they interact with one another. It is important to me to convey how all things in nature are connected and why it must be protected.

2. What role do you think the artist plays in society?
Depicting lifecycles in my work allows the viewer to see a story played out in one image that is not possible in a single photograph. I carefully study and research my paintings to show the relationship of how a specific plant is important to a specific insect, bird or animal. It sometimes takes months or even years to get all the right components into my paintings to tell the full story. It is my hope that viewers find the same beauty I find in these relationships. Preserving these relationships in nature is important for future generations.

3. What has been a formative experience or the best advice you’ve received within your career?
I have been traveling to the rainforests of Costa Rica for 30 years. I am awe-inspired by the diversity I have seen. I have learned that it is important to keep learning, traveling, getting out in nature. Nature is the best inspiration and teacher!!!!

4. What ways does your work reflect your personality?
I LOVE color and I find that I am able to express the joy I find in nature by using color. I feel that my work shows the appreciation I have for nature by using color to express this feeling of wonder.

5. Creative blocks, do you get them? If so, how do you overcome them?
At times I find that I am feeling stagnant. When this happens I usually get out of the house and get into nature. It can be planting in my garden, going out in my kayak or traveling to a favorite destination. I am also inspired by learning from other artists and continue to take workshops and classes.

6. What is your most indispensable tool? (Not counting the obvious, like paints, brushes, canvas, camera, etc.)
Abundance of choice. I am a color junky and I find that I probably have too many watercolors, watercolor pencils, colored pencils, gouache, pastels etc. I am not a purist and often combine different mediums in my art. I am not sure I could live without all of it!

7. Do you have a new project you are working on, or a new passionate idea?
I am currently working on a dual show with another artist, Patricia Wynne. It is an exhibition of Solar Etchings of Birds of the World. I was introduced to printmaking in college. I would have liked to pursue it but the chemicals turned me off. Solar Etching is a non-toxic form of printmaking that I am super excited about. The process is safe. I am able to create a limited edition of hand-pulled prints the old-fashioned way. Once printed in a black ink I am able to custom hand tint with watercolor to add color.

8. What is your favorite paint color name?
Super tough for me. I would have to say that PURPLE is my favorite color. Carbazole purple by Daniel Smith but then there are specialty colors like Hematite, Moonglow and other paints that separate and do magical, spontaneous things on the paper.


All artwork and/or photographs used in this post are subject to copyright held by the featured artist.

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