Attending the SAA’s “The Animals of North America” Show

SAA exhibition at customs house art museum

After a few non-eventful weeks, this past one proved to be very busy in a myriad of ways! It began with us driving 3 ½ hours to Clarksville, TN to attend the opening of the Society of Animal Artist’sThe Animals of North America” show at the beautiful Customs House Museum and Cultural Center last Friday a week ago. We decided to tie in our visit to the museum with camping at a state park for a couple of nights afterwards, so we loaded the kayaks onto the racks and started on our journey. What had worked fine with speeds 55 mph and under, didn’t fare as good with the higher speeds on the interstate! After stopping a couple of times to make adjustments to the ropes and kayak positioning, the third time we stopped and untied the kayaks and squeezed them into the van on top of our bed, after I looked in the side mirror and saw the front of my kayak slightly up in the air . . . Yikes! That paired with the unbelievable traffic on the interstate, made us very thankful when we safely reached the restaurant where we met our dear friend Mike and his brother-n-law Bill for supper!

It was a wonderful time of conversation, laughter and delicious food, and afterwards the four of us drove to the Customs House Museum nearby and were blown away by the fabulous job they had done with displaying the show! It looked absolutely wonderful and we so enjoyed viewing the artwork created by fellow SAA members, while talking with the enthusiastic public that had braved the bad weather to attend the opening that evening. After saying our goodbyes, we headed to the state park and arrived after dark and in the rain. 

tennessee parks

Thankfully all we had to do was pull our 2 kayaks out, before crashing in bed that night. The next morning we awoke to light rain and windy conditions, so we cooked our oatmeal inside the van, which isn’t set up to cook in. Nonetheless we managed and decided to take umbrellas and go for a long walk, in hopes that the rain would end. Well, the rain didn’t end, but we enjoyed a nice walk before returning to cook some soup for lunch. After heating it up, we sat in the front seats to enjoy it in a dry comfortable spot. The rain turned to a light mist early that afternoon, so we drove to the nearby boat ramp, put on ponchos and climbed into our kayaks in hopes of paddling around a bit. However as soon as we got around a small bend, the winds were blowing like crazy, creating white caps and making us feel as if we were gonna be blown over into the icy cold water at any minute! It was a bit dangerous and not much fun, and looking at the gray skies and heavier rain now falling, we decided to just cut our trip short by a day and return home. 

kayaking center hill lake

Back at home, we enjoyed some gorgeous weather this past week, so we went kayaking nearby and were quite thankful for the relaxing outing. Whilst exploring a small stream, I came upon this bridge which was inhabited by dozens of swallows who were nesting beneath it. Their stunning jar shaped nests clinging to the edges, appeared like a village of bird condos meticulously lined up! They were flying in and out and all around me, and didn’t mind me being in their midst at all! It was like I was one of them for awhile, as I sat there in amazement watching their acrobatic maneuvers and listening to their excited chatting! Even more amazing was the fact that there was a gorgeous loon taking a bath nearby, that I was watching as well! It was certainly one of those magical moments in which I could’ve stayed all day!

swallows nesting

Leaving there we paddled up a ways and came to an area where the stream grew more shallow until we couldn’t paddle up any farther. It was so beautiful though with long sections of rock that stretched across the entire stream in places. The water was very clear too, which made it even more picturesque. A few minutes later while I was sitting out in the middle enjoying the peaceful spot, about a dozen Canada geese flew mere feet above my head, and I was ecstatic to say the least! 

rachelle siegrist kayaking

Poor Wes tried to get the phone out to capture it on video, and although he didn’t get a video, he got this nice photo of them flying over us! I guess they must love pink, as they didn’t unload on me, but splattered Wes’ blue kayak in a couple of places . . . Ha Ha!

canada geese flying

While the birds definitely stole the show that day, we thought this tree, with it’s thousands of roots, bare and clinging to several rocks in various spots, was pretty amazing to see too!

nature photography

Needing to run some errands, we decided to go kayaking early another morning. It was overcast and lightly rained on us a couple of times, but the water was as slick as glass, which makes for a paddler’s dream, and created a very peaceful setting indeed. After paddling around for while, we found a nice spot for lunch, so we climbed out onto the sandy beach and walked to a small dock nearby, where we sat on the end. With feet dangling in the water, we happily ate and of course fed bread crumbs to the enthusiastic eaters swimming below, being mostly bluegill and sunfish.

kayaking lakes

After lunch we spent a little more time exploring, and I was thrilled to find a narrow stream nestled amongst a thicket of rhododendron and mountain laurel! It felt like I was paddling through the amazon jungle somewhere with tree limbs arching above, and I paddled up as far as I could. While sitting there totally relaxed and enjoying the surrounding beauty, I started smelling a strong musky scent filling the air. All of a sudden this big reddish-brown furry thing tore out from the thicket just a few feet away and came charging in my general direction, where it dove into the water! I almost came unglued, having been so relaxed and not expecting that at all, and when I noticed the bubble trail coming towards me, I though it best I quickly maneuver out of that tight spot and give whatever it was some space! Upon doing a little research online, I’ve realized what I saw was a large muskrat. It was sure an exciting encounter and the first time I’ve ever seen one in the wild!

kayaking streams

Wile we’re talking about exciting encounters, Wes was peering out the window one morning, whilst on the phone with an SAA artist, and lo and behold he spotted a big bobcat in our backyard, not too far behind our garden fence! He called out to me to come and see it, so I grabbed the camera on the way and managed to get this fairly decent shot out of our studio window! He thanked the artist for her call, since it was the reason he made this awesome discovery! Even though we have seen their footprints in the snow several times this past winter, this was the first time we actually got to see one. Who knows what we’ll see next . . . maybe Bigfoot 🙂

bobcat photo

IN THE STUDIO

I’m making more progress on my commission painting of a loon, which I’ll probably be finishing up this next week. I’ll be making another painting video of the progress and will share it with you once it’s uploaded to our YouTube channel 

custom painting of a loon

SEE OUR PAINTINGS IN PERSON

exquisite miniatures

EXQUISITE MINIATURES now on display at The Art & Heritage Center,

Windsor (Fort Collins), CO, May 15 – August 15, 2022 

5th Birds of America Show

 Francesca Anderson Fine Art, MA: April 20 – June 12, 2022

The Art of Miniature XXX
Snow Goose Gallery, Bethlehem, PA: May 1 – June 12, 2022

31st International Miniature Show
Seaside Art Gallery, Nags Head, NC: April 30 – May 28, 2022

17th Masterpieces in Miniature
Picture This Gallery, Alberta, Canada: May 2022

To see our available miniature paintings as well as some upcoming shows, please

visit our WEBSITE  artofwildlife.com     Email us

Until Next Time ~ Rachelle

Warts, Birdsong and Falling water

fowlers toad photo

Every night this past week whilst in the living room watching TV, we’ve been serenaded by a toad. His slow “Brrrroooaak” fills the air, and I love it! We were pretty sure it was a Fowler’s toad, but now we know for certain since it visited the front porch during the day recently, and we got an up close look at him. He’s such a handsome little fellow, which of course I told him, as well as how much I enjoy hearing him sing at night. I think he’s so handsome in fact, that I may just have to paint him in miniature! The peaceful toad symphony isn’t the only sign that spring is finally here to stay, as the lush fields and pastures in our vicinity are bright green now and filled with yellow flowers! This farm is one of my favorites, especially when the sheep are all out in the fields.

landscape photo2

We took advantage of the beautiful spring weather whilst enjoying a hike one morning this past week. It was a lovely trail lined with wild pink azaleas blooming and mountain laurels that will be blooming soon, so I anticipate seeing the trail when they’re in full blossom! We followed alongside water much of the way, and it was so clear and inviting looking. If only it wasn’t still icy to the touch!

landscape photography

We’re amazed with all of the big rocks at various locations nearby, and I thought these rocks with the huge tree atop them were quite amazing, and I loved that the trail led right through the middle of them!

rachelle siegrist

Below shows the view when I turned around and went the other way and I thought the gigantic rocks were so pretty covered in the bright green moss and bathed in the morning light.

hiking in tennessee

We’ve seen numerous waterfalls and cascades over the years which we thought were quite spectacular, but we had never seen one like this before. Long, thin, moss covered rocks were neatly stacked on top of each other, and hundreds of tiny miniature waterfalls streamed down the entire front of it before reaching the stream below. I can’t express how amazingly peaceful and tranquil the sound of it was, instantly mesmerizing anyone willing to take the time to stop and listen, which we did for quite some time. Obviously we decided instantly that we’d love to have that natural water feature in our backyard!

waterfall

We’re continually impressed with how many birds are in our surrounding area, and during the hike that morning, we were constantly serenaded by the most beautiful symphony of bird song! We were delighted to spot several of these performers as well, and always try to get photos whenever possible to share with you. Well, we tried several times with this gorgeous American redstart, but alas this was as good as it got, for it was constantly on the move and usually behind multiple sticks, and when it finally got out in the open, it looked the other way . . . Ha Ha!

bird photography

This beautiful wood thrush was much more willing to pose for a nice photo.

wood thrush photo

There were several huge trees scattered throughout the woods and this photo shows just how truly big they are with me standing in the midst of them for scale!

rachelle siegrist hiking

We also saw lots and lots of adorable chipmunks and squirrels scampering about and doing what they love best, eating acorns and nuts! It was truly a wonderful and very relaxing morning, as is any time spent in nature for me! 

adorable chipmunk photo

IN THE STUDIO

Wes and I both recently finished miniature paintings. Mine features two beautiful mourning doves and measures 3 ½ x 5 ½ inches. The inspiration for this painting came when I looked out early one December morning and saw them sitting all fluffed up atop the ice and snow encrusted fence. The backlighting from the sun made it even more magical!

 

mourning dove painting by rachelle siegristMy miniature “An Icy Mourning”

Wes’ painting features a beautiful little golden-crowned kinglet and measures 3 ½ x 3 ½ inches. We saw this little beauty whilst hiking one day and so enjoyed watching it. It’s always such a treat to see these tiny gems of the feathered world. This miniature is now available for your own collection, and you can email us or visit our website artofwildlife.com for more info.

Understory Surprise

SEE OUR PAINTINGS IN PERSON

5th Birds of America Show

 Francesca Anderson Fine Art, MA: April 20 – June 12, 2022

The Art of Miniature XXX
Snow Goose Gallery, Bethlehem, PA: May 1 – June 12, 2022

31st International Miniature Show
Seaside Art Gallery, Nags Head, NC: April 30 – May 28, 2022

17th Masterpieces in Miniature
Picture This Gallery, Alberta, Canada: May 2022

To see our available miniature paintings as well as some upcoming shows, please

visit our WEBSITE  artofwildlife.com     Email us

Thanks for following me 🙂

Until Next Time ~ Rachelle

Invaded by Birds and Surrounded by Pink

 

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

WOW . . . it has been an exciting week here with our feathered visitors! We started the week off with numerous ruby-throated hummingbirds zooming all about the yard and through the woods. I went ahead and put up all 3 feeders, to try and maintain some order of peace, allowing for plenty of feeding stations spaced apart. We even had 3 birds eating at the same feeder at once with a fourth hovering nearby, which is a first for us! I can hear them wizzing above my head when I walk through the woods, and they zip across the front porch above us, barely clearing the top of our heads! Several times we’ve been able to see courtship dance rituals, where the female is sitting somewhere, and the male zips back and forth above her in a giant U formation, so fast that he sounds like a fighter jet racing through the sky, and it’s been very exciting to say the least, I’ve loved every minute of it! A favorite perch for several of them is atop the head of a kingfisher bronze by artist friend Paul Rhymer. I somehow managed to get this great shot of one of the males sitting on it during a misty rain early one morning.

Another exciting happening is that rose-breasted grosbeaks came to our feeders, and not one pair, but at least four pairs, sometimes feeding all at once! I can’t get enough of watching them, with their striking plumage, especially the males with their bright red bib!

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

And if that weren’t exciting enough, blue grosbeaks also came and I managed to get this shot below of both the blue and rose-breasted on the feeders at the same time! The yard is filled with their sweet little “mew” calls, and they’re not skittish, so we can sit fairly close now and watch them.

Blue Grosbeak

Several birds are nesting in the yard already, the phoebe in her special nesting box Wes built and attached to the front perch, bluebirds, chickadees, and happily a pair of gorgeous tree swallows, whose irradescent plumage glistens in the sunlight!

Tree Swallow

We also have a lot, and I mean a lot, of squirrels inhabiting the property, and many of them are quite fat and obviously spent the winter in their nests feasting on the thousands of acorns we have! There’s so many of them in fact, that I’ve told Wes maybe we should name our place, The Fat Squirrel Farm 🙂 I love this photo below, which looks like she’s saying . . . “What does one have to do to get service at this restaurant?” Ha Ha!

cute squirrel photo

We took a break from work and enjoyed kayaking in a new location for a few hours one day this past week. With us being the only ones there, it was so quiet and peaceful as we paddled about, and I was thrilled to see that the woods were filled with wild azaleas, and pink ones at that! 

wild azaelas

Then things got even better when Wes spotted a group of Pink Lady’s Slippers blooming near the water’s edge! These are one of my favorite wild flowers, and I was so delighted to see them. 

Pink Lady Slipper

We paddled along until finding the perfect spot for a picnic lunch, so we climbed out on the moss-covered shore, and happily sat amongst multiple wild azaleas blooming there. Not only did we enjoy the visual beauty of the location, but also being serenaded by a happy frog, who sang “Peep . . . peep . . . peep” the entire time we ate. Wes called him the “one note wonder” Ha Ha! Occasionally one other frog would join in, and get discouraged immediately as they couldn’t seem to get their timing just right. Needless to say, it was truly a delightful lunch!

wildflowers

Paddling back after lunch, I was looking into the trees along the shore, and suddenly spotted a bright yellow bird! I slowly pulled closer, and it didn’t mind me at all, As a matter of fact, it came even closer and was happy to pose for me occasionally, whilst eating bugs. The wind blowing the kayak all over the place made it very difficult to capture this little beauty, but I managed to get a couple of nice photos, one of which I’m planning to paint. It was a gorgeous prothonotary warbler, and it was absolutely mesmerizing to watch!

Prothonotary warbler

We’re still doing projects around the house, and yesterday was another rock moving day, as our neighbor’s sister had some nice stones at her place which once served as the base for an old chicken coop on the family farm. It was back-breaking work, but we loaded the van up twice and got enough nice, square stones to build stone columns at the base of our front porch. I think we may actually be through with moving rocks now, except for a few small ones to finish off the top of the pizza oven. I’m also happy to say that we discovered we have lots of wild pink azaleas on our property, as well as a lady slipper wildflower, which I’m hoping will be pink as well!

log cabin

IN THE STUDIO

I’m currently painting a commission of a beautiful Loon. We have had the opportunity to see these striking birds several times now, and its always so exciting to me, especially when I get to hear their etherial call, that makes it even better! Watch us paint on YouTube, There are now 15 painting videos on our channel for you to enjoy.

custom portrait of a loon

Wes and I were thrilled to learn this past week that we each had a miniature painting accepted into the Society of Animal Artist’s upcoming 62nd Annual Exhibition, which will be held at the Turtle Bay Exploration Park in Redding, CA, September 24th thru January 1st of 2023! I’m also delighted that my “Patterns” has been chosen for the traveling tour afterwards, which includes the Hiram Blauvelt Art Museum, and The Ella Carothers Dunnegan Museum of Art!

SEE OUR PAINTINGS IN PERSON

Birds of america show

Three of our miniatures available at Francesca Anderson Fine Art

5th Birds of America Show

 Francesca Anderson Fine Art, MA: April 20 – June 12, 2022

The Art of Miniature XXX
Snow Goose Gallery, Bethlehem, PA: May 1 – June 12, 2022

31st International Miniature Show
Seaside Art Gallery, Nags Head, NC: April 30 – May 28, 2022

17th Masterpieces in Miniature
Picture This Gallery, Alberta, Canada: May 2022

Society of Animal Artists 2021 Exhibition
Remaining Tour Venue:
February 5 – May 5, 2022: The Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Hays, KS

To see our available miniature paintings as well as some upcoming shows, please

visit our WEBSITE  artofwildlife.com     Email us

Thanks for following me 🙂

Until Next Time ~ Rachelle