When It Gets Hot . . . Jump In The Water!

Summertime Fun in the Smokies!

by Rachelle Siegrist

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Wow . . . this week’s been a hot one for us here in the Smokies, and while it’s too warm to do almost anything outdoors, it’s been perfect for playing in the river!  So we’ve taken time to do just that several mornings this past week.  We like going early in the morning, when everything seems fresh and new, and although the water is even more frigid, it’s worth the trade off to us!  Friends Tom and Sharon, and sometimes our neighbor Mike, joined us each morning and it became an unspoken contest of who would brave the frigid water first.  I’m pretty sure Wes was the first one in most mornings!

noethern hogsucker photo
A Northern Hogsucker

“Woooo-weeeee!” filled the air, as each one stepped into the icy water, instantly cooling off!  Thankfully your emerged skin goes numb quickly, no longer freezing but feeling quite pleasant, or at least tolerable.  “No pain . . .  No gain” I tell Sharon each time, trying to convince her to go ahead and get in. Visually enjoying the rocks and surrounding tree covered mountainsides while listening to sounds of the water crashing down the cascades, our feet and legs enter a world inhabited by numerous fish, some brightly colored and truly amazing to see indeed!

Tom snorkeling with the fish
Oooooooo . . .  very scary Papaw monster!


Creatures of the deep lagoon!

Many times Sharon and I make a couple of trips tubing down the river, while the guys snorkel different areas, and  it’s always great fun to hear what all they’ve seen in our absence.  This past week while snorkeling and relaxingly watching the abundant fish swim by, Wes suddenly came face-to-face with a Banded Water Snake, that needless to say, caught him off guard, scaring him as much as it did the poor snake, who was just hoping for a fish instead of a monster!

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Hang On . . .  Here we go!!!

As you can see in the photos, we have had a blast this past week playing with our new “toy”.  An inexpensive underwater camera.  It’s been nice not worrying about dropping our camera while playing in the water.

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Oooooooo-Weeeeee , , , , Now this is fun!!!

Wes was the first to use it,  videoing some of our beautiful native fish species before sharing it with me.  Proudly wearing the camera on my head, with an added strap tied under my chin for extra security, I headed down the initial torrent of rapids, while capturing the first video of many I hope to get. We’re planning on compiling the videos from our water adventures at the end of the summer to create an entertaining movie for you all to enjoy, making you feel as if you’re right there with us experiencing the fun!

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Chance having a ball!

Friday evening we enjoyed spending time with our friend’s grandson Chance, who loves the river as much as we big kids do. Within no time he was going down what he deemed “A waterfall . . . the big one!” and having an absolute blast doing it!

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The little adrenaline junkie!

Meanwhile Wes and Tom did a bit of snorkeling, getting great videos of several beautiful and brightly colored native fish. Here are a few photos for you to enjoy . . .

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A pretty little Darter
Northern Hogsucker
A larger Northern Hogsucker
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One of my fav’s . . . the stunning Warpaint Shiner and a few friends!
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Our lovely native Brook Trout

We all swam, tubed and played, while enjoying the delightfully refreshing escape from the heat.  Of course by the river, or better yet in the river, is a great place to enjoy a picnic. So I took my chair out into the middle of the stream, and sat next to a large rock, serving as a drink holder, while enjoying my sandwich in yet another fantastic outdoor restaurant! 

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Chance loves spinning with Chell

Afterwards with his new love of tubing the waterfalls, Chance spent quite some time trying to figure out how to slip past us grownups to enjoy going down the cascades alone. Since this became an obvious losing prospect, he decided to stack all of the boats instead, calling them a big sandwich, and commenced pulling them around in the river.  Once again many more wonderful memories were made, and Wes and I have certainly enjoyed this form of daily exercise much better then walking around town in the heat.

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Chance says “I need your tube Chell . . . go sit over there

~ Fresh off the Easels ~

Here’s a recent drawing I did of an adorable little Yorkie named Benji. Wes is currently putting the finishing touches on a landscape from Blackwater Wildlife Refuge, and I’m finishing a landscape featuring the Dan Lawson place from Cades Cove.

Yorkie drawing, Benji by Rachelle Siegrist

~ To Commission A Painting by Us Click Here!

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle

Paddles…Miniature Paintings…And Rhinos

Smokies summertime fun!

by Rachelle Siegrist

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Wes, Tom and Sharon heading out

Wes and I headed back over to the lake this past week for another kayaking adventure, this time taking friends Tom and Sharon along with us. It was a stunningly gorgeous day, and we couldn’t wait to hit the water! Soon we arrived at the boat ramp, where Sharon christened her boat with a handful of lake water before we loaded up, paddling on our merry way. The lake’s surface was nice and smooth making it flawless for her maiden voyage in the new kayak!

Prothonotary Warbler
A beautiful Prothonotary Warbler Wes spotted along the way

Within minutes Wes had spotted a beautiful Prothonotary Warbler, and while he watched and photographed the gorgeous little yellow-headed bird, the rest of us watched a pair of ospreys flying over and fishing in tandem. The birds circling in the sky above while peering into the clear water below, spotted fish, each time swopping down out of the sky, plunging into the water and sending splashes up into the air, while coming out with a prized catch in their talons! A few minutes later a pair of Bald Eagles flew overhead delighting us all, and the day had only just begun!

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Sharon says . . . “No fair, your legs are longer!”

Sharon instantly fell in love with her new kayak, and I’m pretty sure she and Tom enjoyed the sport as much as the Wes and I do. Soon we were paddling back up into a creek and the recent rains made the current much more intense and stronger than normal. Upon seeing the crystal clear water, I suggested to Sharon that we get out and wade while enjoying the cool water, with our beloved kayaks in tow.

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Kids just can’t resist playing in the water . . . even us big ones!

It felt delightful walking on the sandy creek bottom, while watching schools of small fish swim past as we made our way up the creek to the wee pebble beach. Once there, we beached the kayaks, once again enjoyed one of our favorite picnicking locations. Of course I couldn’t wait to get back into the water to wade and found the perfect rock to sit on out in the middle of the stream. Try as I may, I couldn’t convince Sharon or Wes to sit out in the stream with me.  However Tom decided it was a perfect place to enjoy snorkeling for a while.

Tom snorkels for awhile
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Bok . . . Bok . . . Bok . . . Sharon’s a chicken, cause she won’t sit down in the water!

Even though I could’ve easily stayed there all day long, eventually it was time to start back so we loaded up into our kayaks and we’re on our way.  The trip back was like being on a guided tour, since all we had to do was sit back and relax while letting the current slowly take us along.  Once back out into the lake, Sharon and I found a spot where the water was actually warm.  We tried hard to find a spot where we could easily get out and back into our kayaks, so we could take advantage of the blissfully warm water, but alas were unsuccessful, so we happily soaked our arms and feet in it instead.

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The colorful crew relaxingly paddles along
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Just chillin” in the warm spot

The lake’s glassy surface, perfectly showcased reflections of the surrounding mountains as we paddled back across.  Arriving back at the boat ramp, we loaded up the kayaks and started the journey home, relishing yet another wonderful memory made!

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Heading back

Our Exquisite Miniatures tour is currently at The Stauth Memorial Museum, located in Montezuma, KS.  It will be on display there until September 3rd, so if you are in the area it’s a great time and a wonderful venue in which to enjoy being “Wowed” by our miniature paintings!

Exquisite Miniatures on display at the Stauth Memorial Museum (photos courtesy of the museum)

Rhino Images - Art and the Rhinoceros with Wes Siegrist ArtworkWes is delighted to have six paintings featured in this newly published book with proceeds benefitting Rhinos: Rhino Images – Art and the Rhinoceros, First Edition, 2017. This book shows the rhino in art – masterpieces from the ancient past to the present. There are over 300 rhino images in this book. The rhino images include drawings, paintings, etchings, rock carvings and sculptures done in a variety of materials. These images of the rhino range from early civilizations such as in China, Roman Empire, Indus civilization in Pakistan/India area and from Southern Africa down to current day images of paintings and sculptures produced by modern day artists. Whether in the ancient past or in the present the rhinos are always represented as huge, powerful and solitary animals. Drawings, woodcuts, etchings, paintings and sculptures of the rhino all depict the power of the animal. The text indicates where you may find these rhino images. For the artists of our time their websites have been given. There are very few of these magnificent wild animals left in the world, so unless they are protected and managed, artistic images will soon be the only viewing option. All proceeds from the sale of this book will go to saving the rhino from extinction. The book is now up and running, being available via https://www.amazon.com as a Kindle eBook download at a cost of $US20.00. Just type in rhino images in the search and the book will be available for purchase.

~ Fresh off the Easels ~

I finished one of my pet commissions this past week, of two adorable friends named Riley and Boris!  It was such a joy painting these two adorable babies, and seeing their obvious love for each other as well as the precious expression on Riley’s face, brought a continual smile to my own face!  I’m currently painting on another dog commission of a precious baby named Tito, as well as working on a Smokies landscape.

King Charles Cavalier painting by rachelle siegrist
My recent pet portrait “Riley and Boris”

Wes finished his painting this past week of boats which we photographed in a marina while in Easton last year during the Waterfowl Festival.  Having an extra day to spend at Blackwater Wildlife Refuge and see some of the surrounding area, we really enjoyed photographing the boats.  We plan to have a couple of these delightful boat paintings at the Waterfowl Festival this year, including this one featuring the Wendy Lee, and upon close inspection, you can see three people working aboard it!

“Prepping the Wendy Lee” by Wes

~ To Commission A Painting by Us Click Here!

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle