20 years ago I made my first trip to Costa Rica. I had always wanted to see the rainforest. I went with some friends and we traveled by bicycle. Bicycling in Costa Rica was a challenge for me. To make a long story short…. I sold my bicycle there and have taken the bus and rented cars ever since. The first contact I made on that trip was Judy and Luis Arroyo. At the time they had a small business on the Estrella River giving birdwatching tours on a pontoon boat. The business name was Aviarios del Caribe; “The Aviary of the Caribbean”.  I wanted to stay longer but didn’t have the funds so I was looking for a place to volunteer. I was hoping to swap a t-shirt design for a place to stay. I wanted to spend a quiet week or so painting. I believe I was their first volunteer!

“Dulciné the 3-Fingered Sloth” Watercolor ©1992 Mindy Lighthipe. This is one of my very first paintings from my studies at the New York Botanical Gardens Illustration Program.

This is where I met my first sloth. Many of you know Buttercup. She is the 3-fingered Bradypus sloth that has become the mascot of the Sloth Sanctuary. She is the most photographed and probably the most famous sloth in the world. This was not the sloth I met. The first sloth  that came to Judy and Luis was also a 3-fingered sloth. Her name was Dulciné. She did not live very long but she paved the way for Buttercup and many other sloths to find their way to the Sanctuary. At this time there was very little known about sloths. It was uncertain what they ate, how they reproduced or communicated.The Arroyos became fascinated with these rainforest mammals and before anyone realized it, the Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica was born.

The experience of staying in Costa Rica was life changing for me. When I came home I enrolled in the NYBG botanical illustration program.  I decided to go back to school and study scientific illustration. I started my career in art and teaching in the early 1990′s. Since that trip I have been traveling to Costa Rica every year. I have been leading tours for 15 years to share with others what I have grown to love.  Each year we visit the Sloth Sanctuary and yes, Buttercup is still there!

In May of 2011 my dear friend Luis Arroyo passed away leaving Judy and her family to run and operate the Sloth Sanctuary. It has been a struggle with the world wide economic situation, the growing sloth population, habitat destruction and more, but Judy Avey-Arroyo is moving forward to continue the dream that she and Luis started years ago.

“The Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica” Watercolor & Gouache ©2012 MLighthipe #40 of #52/52 Painting Challenge

So I am following full circle. I have just finished a new painting. I worked from some of the photographs that Suzie Eszterhas  took of a 3-fingered sloth and her new born baby. I am pleased and honored to share with you the new Sloth Sanctuary Logo. I am currently working on t-shirt designs and other gift items. The new “Sloth Shop” is up and running for the holidays!

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Cedar Key, Florida

November 12, 2012

Nature’s Eden I am pleased to write about a new organization I joined here in Florida. It is called Florida’s Eden. They are a group of artists, nature lovers and business people who all care about the delicate and amazing environment here in Florida. They are the voice for positive, solution-oriented approaches to Florida’s economy, […]

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Photoshop Elements Tutorial

November 8, 2012

Clean up those White Backgrounds! I recently had one of my readers ask me how I clean up the background on my botanical paintings in Photoshop Elements. I spent about 3 weeks composing my eBook, “Scan YOUR Art” and decided this time that I would try to make a video using the Mac video capture. […]

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Sea Grapes are Native!

November 4, 2012

I hope that everyone on the eastern coast of the USA are recovering from the effects of Hurricane Sandy. I have friends and family who still do not have power and some that  have massive property damage. My heart goes out to everyone and hope that things get back to normal soon. All over Florida […]

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Sketchbook Envy?

October 29, 2012

Do you hate your sketchbook? I just spent the last 5 days teaching a workshop with my good friend and “Sketckbook Queen”, Patricia Wynne. There were 11 of us that traveled to locations in my hometown of Gainesville, Florida to draw and sketch. We went to Kanapaha Botanical Gardens, The Lubee Bat Conservancy, Carson Springs […]

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Multi-Tasking & Time Management

October 18, 2012

Football Season Means Colored Pencils! Yes folks…. that’s what the fall brings to my world. I get lots of questions about how I manage my time as an artist. People perceive me as being very organized and productive….. whew!  So glad that I come off that way. It doesn’t feel like it most of the […]

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Many Thanks!

October 8, 2012

I wanted to do a quick post to thank all of you who purchased my e-Book, "Scan YOUR Art". The response has been awesome! Since I am new at sending out the eBooks there may be a few of you that did not get your books. If this has happened to you, please e-mail me […]

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Scan YOUR Art- The New e-Book is here!

October 2, 2012

"Scan YOUR Art "- A new e-Book by Mindy Lighthipe It has taken me almost 3 weeks to get this e-book, "Scan Your Art" together. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I decided to start writing it. It might have been easier for me to do as a video. In […]

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Black & White at Salmagundi

September 23, 2012

Drawing Exhibition at the Salmagundi Club "Mark", by Artist Lea Collie Wight, graphite ©2012  Salmagundi Club There is a new juried exhibit at the Salmagundi Club in New York City. "Drawings": An Exhibition in the Lower Gallery Lower Gallery, September 17, 2012 – October 05, 2012 The Salmagundi Club was founded in 1871, and is […]

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Scan Your Art!

September 20, 2012

"T is for Tuxedo" #32 of #Paint52   "T is for Tuxedo" watercolor & ink original by Mindy Lighthipe ©2012 I had a blast painting this little piece. It took me about a week or so to figure out the colors. I spent a lot of time on the drawing and inked it with a […]

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