Beauty and the Buzz

azaleas bloming2

Each day brings something new in the gardens this time of year! A splash of color through blossoming bushes and trees, along with more and more wee bright green leaves popping out along the branches of many trees! The rains have also subsided thus allowing us to spend more time out working in the yard.

wildflowers of the smokies5

The air is filled with the hum of bees and springtime birdsong! It’s simply delightful and after what seemed like a long, gray winter, I’m thrilled to be drinking it all in! The azaleas are really starting to bloom, filling the gardens with bold, splashes of intense color throughout! Pinks, violets, salmon, red and now, white are the colors so far that seem to cover every square inch of many bushes.

wildflowers of the smokies4

Other flowers are blooming too, many of them being our native wildflowers. Needless to say, it’s a treat to walk the winding path through our gardens each day.

wildflowers of the smokies6

Mornings and evenings are prettiest, as the color becomes saturated with the subdued lighting, and you can just imagine that you’re walking through a magical meadow far, far away, where tiny fairies live and come out and flit about the numerous flowers!

wildflowers of the smokies

There’s a particular stand of trillium that has been growing near our crabapple tree for years now, and each year they get bigger and more amazing! This year they are huge and I was excited to see that they’ve spread and now a wee patch of babies is now growing near this wonderful clump!

wildflowers of the smokies trillium

When we moved here almost 19 years ago now, there was nothing in our yard except for a couple trees and shrubs. The topsoil had all washed away leaving behind a hard slate-filled yard that hardly nothing would grow in. Being the tree huggers we are and lovers of forests, we started planting trees right away and letting volunteers grow. Plus Wes hauled literally hundreds of pounds of leaves and yard debris from a dear neighbor’s woods, which we mulched and scattered about our wee “woods” for many years. At one point, we also went with friends to dig up wildflowers from an area that was about to be developed, which we planted in our yard.

wildflowers of the smokies rue anemone

The years of work have paid off for us and now we have our own beautiful woods, with much of the forest floor covered in lush green moss, and numerous wildflowers thriving and scattered throughout!

wildflowers of the smokies3

Well, I do hope you enjoyed this virtual walk through our gardens and I look forward to sharing more with you from them, in the next few posts!

azaleas bloming

I’m super excited that my precious Carolina Wrens Peedeepeeps and Elvira have decided to nest in the big potted Spider Plant right outside our kitchen window! I’ve watched their progress from the first bits of moss while building this amazing sculpture with their beaks, and I’m so impressed! There are now 5 wee brown speckled eggs in there, and Elvira sits on it staring in the late evening and throughout the night. During the day the temps must be warm enough, as they stay away from the nest. I will keep you posted on their progress each week.

carolina wren nest and eggs

Peeps is not the only one nesting, as the cardinals, chickadees, and doves are nesting in the yard as well. My precious little Tufted Titmouse friend, Tinymouse is also nesting, as she comes almost daily and sits atop my head whilst trying to gather hair for her nest! Sometimes she just sits on my shoulder, and at others atop my knee, when I’m sitting out in the lounge chair reading. It almost appears as if she’s either checking out which book it is or waiting for me to read to her! Sometimes she comes and sits on me while we’re eating on the back porch too! Such delight she brings to me each spring! With extra time on our hands from not going anywhere, Wes is spending quite a bit of time in the garden and greenhouse, so hopefully, we’ll have more flowers and fresh edible things soon!

wes siegrist in greenhouse

~  In The Studio  ~

I finally managed to make myself stay inside long enough this past week to finish my painting of a Black-crowned Night Heron, which I started at The Big Night For Small Works during this past Southeastern Wildlife Exposition. The reference for this beautiful serene swamp setting came from our visit to Brookgreen Gardens for the opening of our Exquisite Miniatures Exhibition.

black-crowned night heron miniature painting
“Among Cypress Knees”

~  See our miniatures in these shows (currently online only) this week  ~

 (Other shows have closed with upcoming exhibitions pending. Check the website for updates.)

The Art of the Miniature XVIII
May 3 – June 14, 2020: Snow Goose Gallery, Bethlehem, PA

29th Annual International Miniature Art Show
May 2 – 30, 2020: Seaside Art Gallery, Nags Head, NC

Want to enjoy your special friend as a miniature painting?
                                             
. . . Then commission us to do just that! Email photos for consideration to us at

commission a dog painting

 

Where Dragons Fly

Wes and I packed a lunch and headed to the water nearby to enjoy a day of sunshine and blue sky this past week. The water levels were up slightly, so we thought we’d take a shortcut while heading to a favorite lunch spot. However, sometimes good ideas aren’t as good as thought, and soon we found ourselves paddling across a sandbar, where the quickly dropping water levels were making it nearly impossible to cross. So above is a funny video of how we eventually made it across, with me, of course, laughing the entire time! Once we finally reached deeper water it was lunchtime, and afterward, I enjoyed taking a walk along an exposed sandy shoreline, where I came upon two beautiful butterflies who obviously had found something tasty in the sand.

butterflies of the smokies

I watched them for a while, as I listened to the waves lapping the shore and peepers chirping in the distance. Then I decided to draw in the sand for a bit while basking in the warmth of the abundant sunshine, before climbing back into the kayak.

butterflies

 

Paddling along, I noticed a dragonfly floating atop the water, which appeared to have a swollen abdomen. At first, I thought perhaps it was waterlogged or injured, so I carefully lifted it up onto my paddle, gently picked it up and sat it on a piece of small rope on the front of my kayak where it could rest while it dried out. Moments later when passing one of the numerous stumps sticking up out of the water, I noticed what looked like several dragonflies by what appeared to be their casings.

dragonfly and nymph

The metamorphosis process of a dragonfly is quite interesting, and we happened to be at the right place at the right time, to see this amazing process firsthand! A dragonfly larva begins the nymph stage once the egg hatches and that part of its’ life may last only a month in warmer regions or possibly several years in colder climates. The growing nymphs breathe through gills, and they do eat during this stage of their lifecycle.

dragonfly metamorposhis

In springtime, when the weather becomes warmer, the fully grown nymph completes its’ metamorphosis process by shedding its skin, or exuvia, and then relaxes in the warmth of the sun whilst expanding its’ wings and letting them dry out.

dragonfly metamorphosis2

Soon it’s ready to take flight and in a few days will sport brilliant adult dragonfly colors, while commencing the important tasks of finding food as well as a mate. I was thrilled, to say the least, to be offered a glimpse into this minutely small window of a dragonfly’s amazing life cycle!

adult dragonfly

~  See our miniatures in these shows (currently online only) this week  ~

Our other shows this week have closed with some upcoming exhibitions pending.  Check the website for updates.

The Art of the Miniature XVIII
May 3 – June 14, 2020: Snow Goose Gallery, Bethlehem, PA

29th Annual International Miniature Art Show
May 2 – 30, 2020: Seaside Art Gallery, Nags Head, NC

Want to enjoy your special friend as a miniature painting?
                                             
Then commission us to do just that! Email photos for consideration to us at
dog painting commission

Escaping to the Serenity

wes siegrist kayaking
Wes with his best find of the day! It took him an hour to clean all the mud out of it but the rod and reel work like new now!

Like most of you, Wes and I have been spending much of our time at home this past week trying to stay safe and healthy. We’re still taking daily walks when the weather permits and managed to get caught once again in a rain shower accompanied by what seemed like 50 mph winds! Thankfully it wasn’t cold, so I just pretended I was swimming while walking along, and somehow that made it better! We did enjoy two rain-free days, so we took advantage of them, by packing a lunch and heading over to the lake with the kayaks. It’s always good to be back on the water and brings a temporary reprieve from everything going on in the world. We found a perfect spot for our boat picnic, near a duck nesting box, which the swallows were using. Here’s a short video so you too can enjoy watching and listening to these little beauties!

We were surrounded by swallows zipping here and there in every direction, all chattering up a storm the entire time. What a delight it was watching and listening to these beautiful little iridescent feathered birds, as we were gently rocked back and forth by the waves. By the time we left, I think they were still trying to work out whose box that was while trying to maintain some type of order. It was too windy much of the time for me to use my flyrod, so while Wes fished, I paddled around and explored while checking out the amazing collection of stumps exposed by the low water level.

kayaking2

There were stumps in every shape and size imaginable scattered across the vast sandbars, many looking like gigantic abstract wood sculptures walking across the sand whilst heading to new territory, and I love photographing them, from different angles.

kayaking

This series of stumps below made me immediately think of Nessie, and I imagined this being our own smaller version of her surfacing and having a look about!

kayaking4

There were numerous birds around both days, including Bald Eagles. The first day, we were able to watch one eating something on the shore nearby, as well as another sitting atop a tree preening for a long time. They didn’t seem to mind us watching at all, so we took advantage of the amazing opportunity. We also saw Pileated Woodpeckers, assorted ducks, Canada Geese, and I watched an Osprey drop out of the sky crashing into the water below, bringing up a large fish in his talons! So large in fact that he could hardly fly off with his prized catch! At one point I saw a beaver surface several times and once he was quite close, slapping his tail on the surface before quickly slipping below, creating a big loud splash! Later the second day out, I pulled my kayak up onto a sandy beach and enjoyed taking a walk along the vast winding shore. At one point I stopped and stood there, feeling the warmth of the sun on my face while listening to the sounds of the wind blowing in my ears, the water lapping on the shore and the peepers chirping in surround sound. It was truly delightful and I could’ve stayed there until sunset! At another sandbar I watched a lone Killdeer walking about picking at things on the sand. By the end of both days, the Osprey wasn’t the only one to make a great catch, as Wes kept 8 bass from the 2 days, catching and releasing even more!

killdeer photo

Monthly lectures are given at Brookgreen Gardens by Robin Salmon, called Brookgreen 101, and one of her recent lectures was on Exquisite Miniatures which is currently at Brookgreen. Although the exhibition is now temporarily closed, you can enjoy this insightful talk, where Robin shares her take on the exhibition as well as some fun and personal information about us as well. Click on the video below to enjoy.

Due to the COVID 19 all shows which we currently have miniature paintings have been closed to the public. However most of them have the available works online, so I’ve included the links to them below.

Wonders of the West
March 21 – May 31, 2020: Customs House Museum, Clarksville, TN

(Please note the opening for this show has been canceled, and they don’t have the exhibition online.)

Wonders of the West at the Customs House Museum - 1

The Art of the Miniature XVIII
May 3 – June 14, 2020: Snow Goose Gallery, Bethlehem, PA

the art of miniature show rachelle siegrist paintings

Wes and I currently have 16 miniature paintings in this show, and are delighted that 2 have already sold!

the art of miniature show wes siegrist paintings

29th Annual International Miniature Art Show
May 2 – 30, 2020: Seaside Art Gallery, Nags Head, NC

international miniature art show seaside art gallery rachelle siegrist paintings


 

Do you want to enjoy your special friend as a miniature painting?
                                             
Then commission us to do just that! . . . Email photos for consideration to us at

commission a dog painting by rachelle siegrist

~  ( )  ~

Visit our Website ~ artofwildlife.com

Follow us on Facebook!

Read Our Monthly Email Newsletters

Until Next Time . . . 

~ Rachelle