Getting Ready For SEWE 2019

Getting ready for The Southeastern Wildlife Exposition!

By Rachelle Siegrist

wes siegrist miniature paintings SEWE
Trying to decide how we want to arrange paintings at SEWE

Its been a busy week for us here in the Smokies, while trying to get paintings finished, paperwork done and everything ready for the upcoming Southeastern Wildlife Exposition in Charleston, SC this next week.  We also had the new HVAC installed this past week, which took a couple of days.  Jessie, Zach and Brandon, from Underhile Heating and Cooling did the job perfectly, and since they were such a fun group, we turned the event into a party!  They enjoyed eating homemade baked ziti and muffins with us for lunch one day, and warm apple pie the other day.

Underhile heating and air
Jessie, Brandon, Wes and Zach with our new unit

Zach even brought me some fresh eggs from their pet chickens one morning and taught me how to fold an origami bird out of paper, and you can even make its wings move!  Moreover, we now have a warm house, so what’s not to love about that!  They did a great job and filled our house with wonderful stories and lots of laughter while doing so, making it a pleasure to have them do the job!

origami bird sculptures
Yes . . . that’s mine on the left with the deformed beak . . . Ha!

We enjoyed a couple of beautiful days here this past week, so we took advantage of one to go kayaking one afternoon, and of course had a ball!  Clouds parted revealing abundant sunshine, turning the water surrounding us into liquid emerald green as we paddled along.  In sections it was so crystal clear, that the bottom over ten feet below, appeared as if you could reach down and touch it, feeling the sandy bottom in-between the huge rocks.  I just couldn’t resist getting out and wading in the icy water for a couple of minutes at one point, sitting atop a large rock in the sun to warm up afterwards.

rachelle siegrist kayaking

Fresh vitamin D is always best, and I happily got a full dose that day, as well as the day it was warm enough to ride bikes, wearing shorts no less!  I recently learned how to take long exposure photos with my phone camera, by taking them in the “live” setting, and then selecting the long exposure setting, revealed upon swiping the photo up on my phone.  The more still you can hold your phone while taking the photo, the better your outcome with the long exposure.

cascades in the smokies photo

~ Fresh Off The Easel ~

I’m putting the finishing touches on my painting of a Great Blue Heron painted on silk, which will debut at the upcoming Southeastern Wildlife Exposition in Charleston, SC, this coming Thursday.  The inspiration came from a photo taken during our delightful kayaking trip along the Crystal River in Florida last October.

great blue heron painting on silk
“A Southern Fisherman”

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle


Snow, Whipped Cream & A Camper


Wes’ Birthday Snow and Our Camper Van!

By Rachelle Siegrist

snow in the smokies

Well, it happened . . . it finally snowed at our house and on Wes’ birthday no less!  Sadly it wasn’t enough to go sledding, but at least it looked much prettier than rain falling.  It was one of those wet snows too, with big fluffy flakes that cling to everything, making the world appear as if it had been dusted with powdered sugar.

snow in the smoky mountains

Since we couldn’t go sledding, we went for a walk instead, and occasionally the heavy, gray cloud cover would thin just enough in spots, to allow a wee glimpse of the sun, creating an ethereal world below indeed!

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A couple of times, the clouds parted just enough to allow a sunbeam to shine through, illuminating a white mountain top below, creating a most spectacular view!

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The rainy cold weather outside inspired me to read about warm places in my spare time and Wes to convert our faithful van into a camper, something which we’ve been talking about for sometime now.  He’s been working for a couple of weeks on our van and completed it just yesterday.   It has a platform that will serve as our bed, with shelving up front, and cubby hole cabinets to the right of the bed for storage of camping gear and clothes.

camper van conversion

The great news is that our two beloved kayaks still fit in nicely, with one being stored below the bed, and the other sitting on the top.  At times when camping, we’ll be using the inflatable kayak, which will store easily underneath the bed, along with other camping gear, allowing the bed to stay made, which will be very nice.

camper van conversion2

Underneath is a large storage area, that even has a heavy duty cardboard shipping tube, which Wes had the great idea of attaching to the bottom, and will serve as the perfect fishing pole storage compartment!  He also read online about converting an old ice chest into a redneck air conditioner, using ice, a fan and a top with a hole cut into it, which will make it cooler for sleeping in the summer.  Now we’ll be able to go camping at the drop of a hat pretty much!

camper van conversion1

This past week Wes turned 53, and guess what he got for his birthday?  A new heat pump unit!  That’s right, our faithful, old heat pump decided to conk out on us during the coldest week of winter thus far!  Thankfully the EM heat still works, but the sound of the spinning dial on the electric meter outside is louder than the heater itself, so needless to say, we will be glad to have the new unit installed tomorrow!  Friends Fred and Barb also treated us to a fun supper at a Mexican restaurant, to celebrate Wes’ birthday one evening this past week.

wes and rachelle siegrist
Barb, Frank, Wes, me, Cathy, Pat and Fred

It surprised us both when a group of employees came merrily singing, placing a huge sombrero on Wes’ head, followed by a surprise . . . a BIG spoonful of whip cream in the face!  Laughs filled the air as poor Wes cleaned up his face, and the remainder of the evening was spent playing Mexican Train dominoes at friend’s house and enjoying Wes’ real birthday dessert in a normal manner, eating it one bite at a time.

wes siegrist birthday
UH OH . . . Wes got “creamed!”

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I was delighted to learn that my painting “Baryard Cottonballs” was juried into the Looking West: An Exhibition Highlighting Works by American Women ArtistsMay 24th through September 14th, 2019 at the Steamboat Art Museum, Steamboat Springs, CO!  Our Exquisite Miniatures exhibition was at this beautiful museum from December 5th, 2014 through April 15th, 2015, and I’m excited about having my work there once again!

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle

Hiking Amongst Icicles

Hiking The Chestnut Tops Trail In The Smokies!

By Rachelle Siegrist

hike the smokies with rachelle siegrist2

Last Friday was a beautiful day, albeit a cold one, so Wes and I decided to spend a couple of hours outdoors hiking in the nearby Smokies.  Arriving at the trailhead for Chestnut Tops, we suited it up, grabbed our hiking sticks and were off.  We plodded up hill, climbing the narrow winding path that leads up and up, to where it eventually twists around the mountain.  I must admit we were both quite happy when the path twisted its way around to the south side of the mountain where the sun was streaming down!

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The moss was obviously very happy to be feeling the warmth of the sun too, and was growing everywhere!  It was as lush and soft as I’ve ever seen and felt it, and I couldn’t resist stopping all along the way, as each bend in the trail brought bigger and fluffier clumps!  We soon caught glimpses of distant mountains, which looked as if a huge sifter had been used to gently sprinkle powdered sugar across the tops!

hike the smokies with rachelle siegrist3

As we continued to climb in elevation, scant amounts of powdery snow lay in the shadows, so I decided to stop and build a miniature snowball, which was almost impossible with the wee amounts of snow, but fun to try nonetheless!

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Later on we passed through one section where a little more snow still lay atop the leaves.

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We continued hiking for quite sometime, whilst enjoying the solitude and amazing peace and quiet found only in the woods!  Occasionally a bird would sing and at one point we could hear the rushing water of the river in the distance.  Growing later in the day, the sun started sinking behind surrounding mountains and we knew the temperature was going to start dropping, so we thought it best to head back.  We choose wisely, as it grew even colder quite fast, and what were baby icicles, had grown immensely since we had past them on the way up!

hike the smokies with rachelle siegrist6

I think this may have been the first time I had ever seen icicles forming from a downed tree stump!  It was definitely getting colder, and with the wind picking up, we certainly didn’t sweat as we hiked back down the trail!  It was a beautiful afternoon and wonderful hike, leaving me feeling very refreshed and with my batteries recharged!

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~ Fresh Off The Easel ~

I recently finished my painting of a frog which I saw and photographed while walking one of the boardwalk trails near St. Petersburg, FL last October.  He was great fun to paint and helped me feel warm, while thinking of being in the swamps in Florida!  Wes came up with the wonderfully clever title of “Somebody’s Prince“!

“Somebody’s Prince”

I also finished my miniature painting of a beautiful Bobwhite Quail, which I painted on silk, and will debut at the upcoming Southeastern Wildlife Exposition in Charleston, SC in a couple of weeks.

portrait-of-a-bobwhite-quail_painting by_rachelle_siegrist1
 “Portrait Of A Bobwhite Quail”

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle