Kayaking, Chilhowee Lake Draw Down and New Miniature Paintings

Kayaking  near Chilhowee Lake

By Rachelle Siegrist

rachelle siegrist kayaking Abrams Creek. - 1 (1)
Early morning mist on the Little Tennessee River

With kayaks loaded, early last Monday morning we drove the half-hour drive along the scenic Foothills Parkway over to Chilhowee Lake.  Splashes of bright red and yellow greeted us along the winding drive, reminding that fall is on its way!  Quickly unloading and jumping into our kayaks, we made it onto the water just in time to catch a quick glimpse of the soft rising mist, mere minutes before it quickly disappeared.

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Wes watches a Great Blue Heron

It was all quite exciting, as this section of the Little Tennessee River flowing below Chilhowee Dam, was new kayaking territory for us.  Slowly gliding across the glassy surface, we soon found ourselves in the midst of a hundred or more swallows flying above and all around us, performing quick, perfectly timed maneuvers while catching bugs mid-air!  Occasionally a few took mini breaks, while sitting atop a couple of tree snags nearby.  Belted Kingfishers flew beside us, while Ospreys soared above, filling the air with their all familiar call.  Then we noticed a Great Blue Heron fishing from where he was perched inches above the water on an old stump.

fun kayaking the tennessee river - 1
One of the many islands along the section we paddled

Paddling our way across the river, we slowly meandered in and out of numerous cove areas lined with soft, tall grasses and thick vegetation.  Each unfolding scene, beautiful and quite different than our recent paddle on Chilhowee Lake. We explored different coves, encircling islands when possible.  Paddling around another bend, the river opened into a wide area, filled with numerous tree snags, looking like sentries standing as a reminder of another time and place.  A couple of them had become their own mini islands, with little bits of grass, lichens, and even some with Turtle Head flowers blooming and growing on them.

old snag in the tennessee river - 1
A snag island

We decided that the middle of this snag forest made a perfect lunch spot.  Tying our kayaks to a tree, we enjoyed our lunch while listening to the relaxing sounds of  water gently lapping against the side of our boats, the peaceful song of birds and of crickets joining in.  Immediately I was completely mesmerized, while floating in a state of total relaxation!  Finishing lunch, we decided to explore the area further.  After passing through several old bridge pilings still standing, we paddled quite a distance around a couple larger islands.

rachelle siegrist kayaking by old trestles in the tennessee river - 1
In front of the old bridge pilings

The chilly water was crystal clear, with long tendrils of bright neon green grasses waving in the current below, and we saw bass and several Grass Carp as we floated along, feeling almost like we were kayaking over a large aquarium!  Along the islands, there were scattered trees flaunting red and yellow leaves, adding even more color to the setting.

rachelle siegrist kayaking Tennessee river - 1

Knowing rain showers would be approaching later that afternoon, we turned around and headed back.  All too soon we were back at the boat ramp, loading up our kayaks, talking of what a glorious time we had enjoyed on the water that day!

Wes siegrist kayaking the tennessee river - 1
Wes doesn’t realize there’s a shark coming for him!

Leaving there, we drove up to Chilhowee Lake, to where we normally kayak, to see the difference since they’ve drawn it down, to perform an inspection of Chilhowee Dam.  It hasn’t been this low since 1957, and is indeed something to see!  Now we know what we’re kayaking over in places, such as old bridges and roads.  We also heard some very interesting stories from several people who grew up in the area, which had come to see and photograph the lowered lake.

image of chilhowee lake draw down
The original bridge and railroad trestles, down below the bridge over Abram’s Creek
Rachelle Siegrist by abrams Creek during draw down
Abrams’ Creek before . . . and after the draw down
Chilhowee Lake draw down 2015
Chilhowee Lake before . . . and after the draw down

~ The latest paintings off of the Siegrists’ Easels ~

This past week has been one filled with lots of painting time, with days of rain!  I finished a miniature painting inspired from our recent kayak trip down the Flint River, of a gentleman bathed in beautiful warm morning light while catching a fish.  This setting reminds me of fishing along the rivers in south Florida growing up!

painting of fisherman on_the_Flint_River_by_Rachelle_Siegrist
“A Good Day on the Flint River” by Rachelle

Wes finished his miniature landscape of a gorgeous oak tree lined road, which we photographed on a plantation in south Georgia.  He also finished a painting of a Mute Swan, which was photographed during the same trip.

plantation oak lane painting_by_Wes_Siegrist
“An Enchanted Southern Lane” by Wes (SOLD)
swan painting by wes siegrist
Diamonds And Gold” by Wes (SOLD)

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Until next time . . .


A Miniature Painting Workshop, Biking Cades Cove and New Paintings

Biking Cades Cove in Early Fall

By Rachelle Siegrist

early morning in Cades Cove

With bikes loaded into our van, we left early this past Wednesday morning, and drove the short distance to nearby Cades Cove, located inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The morning was cool and beautiful, as we mounted our bikes and started our journey around the 11-mile loop road, winding its way through the cove.  The horses were the first to greet us, happily grazing on tender green grass, and seeing them is always a highlight for me!  There was a gorgeous black one that came running up into the herd, looking quite stunning with the early warm light dancing off of his shiny back!

horses in Cades Cove

Before long we were riding between vast fields of  Goldenrods, making the entire cove floor appear yellow as far as the eye could see!  It was truly a glorious sight, with thousands of yellow flowers bathed in the warmth of the early morning sun, set against the backdrop of cloud shrouded mountains behind!

fields of flowers in Cades Cove in fall - 1

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It seemed that every turn in the road brought yet another magnificent view!  All was going wonderfully until I noticed Wes had stopped up ahead and was searching for something alongside the road.  As I approached he said “My pedal fell off!” I replied “Oh my . . .  that’s not good!”  Thankfully the nut was found, but without the right tool, it was impossible to put it back on correctly.  So Wes suggested that I should go ahead and ride around the entire loop, as I would most likely catch him on the other side.  So off I went, while poor Wes started walking his bike across the gravel road that cuts through the cove, to the road on the other side.  The views were spectacular for both of us, going on our different paths.

Cades Cove in fall - 1

No vehicles being allowed into the cove before 10 AM Wednesday and Saturday mornings,  offers a sense of peace and tranquility, that is nigh impossible to find at other busier times in the cove.  The animals seem to know the difference and are more at ease and relaxed, so you can really take time to simply enjoy watching them, while also enjoying the quiet stillness.  The old historical cabins are usually empty as well, creating a perfect opportunity for photographing them.

tipton house Cades Cove in fall - 1
The Tipton House

The Tipton House was particularly beautiful that morning, and I arrived there at just the right time, to catch a ray of sun streaming down through the thick forested canopy, illuminating sections of the old porch roof, as if a spotlight were hitting it.  Riding along while scanning the road for fallen hickory and walnuts to avoid hitting, I glanced up in time to see a flock of turkeys gathered by the road.  I quickly stopped and quietly watched as the one group patiently waited for the others to cross the road . . . to get to the other side of course!  Little peeping noises could be heard as they discussed the happenings of the morning, and for a moment it seemed like the world was ours!
turkey in Cades Cove in fall - 1

A bit farther up the road, I came to the Carter Shields’ cabin, which sat nestled in the woods, looking rather peaceful and content, and quite photogenic surrounded by the early stages of fall color.  Since I had not caught up to Wes by this point, I figured he either had a problem or had somehow managed to beat me back to the van.

carter shields cabin in Cades Cove in fall - 1
Carter Shields’ Cabin

Reaching the parked van, I couldn’t see him, but finally saw that his bike was inside.  Just then he walked over with a smirk on his face stating he couldn’t believe I had been beaten by a one pedal rider, claiming some nice little boy had pulled him with a rope tied to his tricycle!  I have to admit I couldn’t believe it either, exclaiming that I had ridden further and stopped to take photos . . . for him of course.

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~ The latest paintings off of the Siegrists’ Easels ~

We finished a miniature painting of a Tom Turkey, which we photographed in Cades Cove this past year.  It’s part of our Tandem Treasures series, miniatures that we paint on together, and will be sold during an event at the upcoming Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival.  Currently Wes is painting a oak tree lined road which we photographed during our recent visit to a plantation while in Albany, GA in August.  I’m currently painting on my landscape of a fisherman on the Flint River in Albany, GA.

turkey painting by Wes and Rachelle Siegrist
“In All His Splendor” by Wes and Rachelle

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Take a minute to watch an intro video from Wes on YouTube

TexArt: A Workshop for Professional Artists

May 22-27, 2016: Schreiner University Campus, Kerrville, TX ~ Wes is honored to be one of the instructors at this unique artist workshop. For the very first time the Susan Kathleen Black Foundation and the Society of Animal Artists are combining their efforts to create one of the most coveted workshops ever! Participating artists can train in all of the traditional mediums of oils, acrylics and watercolor. They can also try their hand at sculpture as well as the very intricate skills involved in scratchboard. But in addition, … there are a couple very unique specialties offered in this workshop that set it apart from all others. Artists will have the opportunity to learn how to paint very, very big paintings… as well as very, very small miniatures. The instructors in this workshop are all award winning members of the Society of Animal Artists and include: John Banovich – Painting Huge, Wes Siegrist – Painting Miniatures, Sally Maxwell – Scratchboard, James Coe – Oils, Jan Martin McGuire – Acrylics, David Rankin – Watercolors, Dan Chen – 3Dimensional Canvases, and David Turner – Sculpture.  All in all, this workshop for the professional artist will be a noteworthy evolution of workshops for artists in America.  Click here to see why this is going to be such an amazing workshop: http://texart-we.com/workshop

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Until next time . . .