Going Ape in the Studio

organic gardening2

While the weather has been all over the board this past week, the garden continues to grow and produce, blessing us with a wonderful bounty of “nature’s candy”! Our tomatoes, which have grown the height of small trees now, are covered with these gorgeous little green balls. Because of an abundance of recent rains, we’ve been picking them a little green to prevent them from splitting. We let them ripen the remainder of the way inside, and Wes has read up on how to sun dry them, so we plan to do that with a big part of them and will share with you the process and how they turn out. We take a bowl of these little edible gems out to the porch during every meal practically, and I can’t stop popping them in my mouth, treating my taste buds with an incredible burst of fresh, homegrown tomato!

organic grapes

Our grapes which we believe to be the Concord variety, are starting to ripen this week as well, and I’m looking forward to eating these delicious little fruit snacks soon! Wes tasted the first one and said they’re not quite ripe yet, so we must be patient and give them just a little longer. They’re quite beautiful as well, and while looking at them dangling in gorgeous clumps, my mind travels to what it must be like walking through a vineyard, sprawling across the rolling hills of the Italian countryside, and I think to myself that it must be incredible!

growing organic grapes

The garden seems to delight my eyes as much as my tastebuds, with beautiful sights, just like this ruffly leaf of kale, dotted with water droplets glistening in the sun like diamonds.

organic kale

Even the humble cucumber blossom is so lovely, with its bright yellow petals, and is obviously attractive to insects as well.

cucumber blossom

Wes and I agree however, that one of the most spectacular blossoms in the vegetable garden is the hibiscus-like blossom of the okra, sporting its large, crepe paper like petals and brilliant dark burgundy center. I have always loved eating fried okra, and we have discovered a much easier and healthier way to enjoy this southern delicacy. We rub the entire okra pod with olive oil, salt and pepper and cook it on our Cuisinart Griddler for a few minutes, until it turns a nice golden color on the outside and is crispy. Oh my goodness, the first time I ate it cooked like this, I couldn’t believe how amazingly delicious it was and so simple to do!

okra blossom

The Zinnias are absolutely gorgeous as well and abundant, filling the garden with bold splashes of hot pink everywhere!


The green bean vines have reached the top of the trellis, and it’s another reason we’re thankful to be tall… it makes it easy to pick the beans at the top. The grapevines have reached the top as well and should cover most of it by next growing season, creating a lovely little nook in which to sit under.

organic gardening

The tomatoes must be very happy, as they are all over 7 foot tall and are loaded with tomatoes! They’ve begun getting some blight because of all the rain, so we’re trying to keep the infected leaves cut off, which is a time consuming task when the bushes are so tall. 

The yard is filled with hummingbirds too, who are enjoying the abundant source of nectar throughout the gardens. I’m now having to refill our 3 feeders every other day to try and maintain some sort of peace amidst them. This next week I’ll try and get some good photos of them to share with you.

wes siegrist

Wes standing in the midst of the tomatoes for scale


This past week we took advantage of the rainy times to work on a very important project. We were sent two 3-dimensional gorilla wood cutouts from an artist friend, some time ago. We could paint or decorate them however we so chose, and Wes decided to paint a large gorilla eye on his, bringing the viewer eye-to-eye with these amazing primates. If you’ve been following my blog, you know that my favorite color is pink, so I took full advantage of open possibilities for creating, and painted my gorilla pink to bring awareness to the female gorillas.

They are being shipped to the UK, where they will be auctioned off at the Ape Action Africa’s black-tie fundraiser on October 7th, 2022, which will take place in London. This amazing organization does an incredibly important work in the world for primates, and we are both so honored to be able to help raise funds for this important work. 100% of the proceeds go to Ape Action Africa.

ape action africa gorillas

Wes is delighted to have his painting “The Incubator” featured in the Society of Animal Artist’s online exhibition, WINGED THINGS which runs August 4 – December 31, 2022. This painting is available for your collection and you can see the show online HERE

barn swallow painting by wes siegrist

I started this miniature painting of Claude Monet’s “Springtime” or “The Reader” over a year ago and set it aside to paint several commissions and a few paintings for juried exhibitions. But this past week I got it back out and am hoping to finish it in the next couple of weeks. 

painting claude monet's springtime


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

Windsor, CO, May 15 – August 15, 2022 

 Francesca Anderson Fine Art, MA

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

visit our WEBSITE  artofwildlife.com     Email usInstagram

Until Next Time ~ Rachelle

In the Land of Mushrooms

fowlers toad photo

“Now, that’s a toad strangler!. . . I can still hear my late Granny Beth saying that, when the rains became torrential downpours, and that’s exactly what happened here a couple of times recently. It’s rained almost daily for the past couple of weeks, and with moist soil and forest floors, comes an abundance of mushrooms and fungi, which makes the squirrels, deer, and other wildlife very happy, as they love to eat many of them. We have one squirrel we affectionately call Bonzo, who I’m thinking must be finding and eating “magic mushrooms” at times, as he will suddenly dart off at a high rate of speed, flip up into the air, bounce off a nearby tree truck, followed by rolling around in the dirt, before starting this hilarious routine all over again. While I haven’t discovered the type of mushrooms Bonzo is consuming and enjoying, I thought it would be fun to take photos for you of some of the most interesting, weird, and beautiful ones I found whilst walking through our woods recently, so enjoy! 

mushroom photo

This was definitely a case of being at the right place at the right time with camera in hand, and obviously the slug likes the taste of this toadstool!

mushroom photo2

These delicate little beauties were growing in a waterfall formation going down the entire rotting tree stump, and there were hundreds, perhaps even thousands of them, creating a magical setting in the mushroom world!

mushroom photo3

This one with its ribbon appearance, reminded me of the cave formations that are usually said to look like bacon by cave tour guides.

mushroom photo5

This bright lemon-colored mushroom was not only big, but absolutely beautiful as well!

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With a greenish coloration, this funnel shaped mushroom was quite lovely!

mushroom photo7

This light peach-colored flat topped mushroom, reminded me very much of a type of coral you would see while diving in the ocean. You almost expect a “Nemo” or other brightly colored saltwater fish to swim up at any moment!

mushroom photo8

Obviously this one has a very sticky top on it, as it was covered with bits of dirt and rubbish. 

mushroom photo9

The numerous gills along the side of this multi-tiered fungus gave it a coral-like appearance as well, and I thought it quite stunning indeed!

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If you’ve ever walked along the beach and gathered seashells, you too will see the similarity of these interesting beauties to the patterns on some of the shells you would find at many beaches.

While the abundant rain is very good for fungi growth and causing cucumbers to grow at an alarming rate, it has begun causing problems for some of our vegetable plants. What were seemingly spotless plants, are now showing signs of powdery mildew, blight and a few other maladies. Nonetheless, thanks to the wisdom found on YouTube, Wes has learned ways of combating most of the problems, and even though they may not be as beautiful as they once were, our plants continue to bless us with fresh delicious veggies daily! 

We enjoyed a visit from Wes’ brother Greg and his fiancé Christie one day this past week. It was their first time to see our new property and they really enjoyed walking the trails, looking at the gardens, and especially swimming in the pool when the sun came out for awhile. I believe they thought meals on the porches were as relaxing as we do, especially when we were serenaded by a soft steady rain during supper that evening. It was a fun time together indeed!

rachelle siegrist swimming

While I’m so very thankful for the abundant rains, I have to be honest and admit that I am ready for some sunnier days to return, so that the water in the pool gets warmer again. Nonetheless, I just put on as many layers as needed to be warm enough to swim ha ha 🙂


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

Windsor, CO, May 15 – August 15, 2022 

 Francesca Anderson Fine Art, MA

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

visit our WEBSITE  artofwildlife.com     Email us

Until Next Time ~ Rachelle

How I painted this Gorilla in Miniature


gorilla painting by Rachelle Siegrist
“Standing Proud and Tall”

Wes and I were honored to be asked by the Explorers Against Extinction to create artworks for their upcoming “Sketch for Survival” Exhibit to be held starting October 6, 2022. All donated artwork can be purchased either through the online auction which will take place October 7th, or from their online or pop-up Affordable Art Gallery. 100% of the proceeds from artworks will be going to this very important cause and organization who has donated over £300,000 GBP to frontline conservation projects! So if you love our paintings and would also love to help out endangered species and support this great cause,  please visit their website here to learn more! And now that you know the reason for painting this miniature, I’ll share with you how I went about creating it. 

painting a gorilla in miniature6

After drawing a basic sketch of the gorilla. I put a light, warm-colored wash over the entire composition.

painting a gorilla in miniature8

Next I start painting in the darker areas of the fur

painting a gorilla in miniature7

Once I have the basic darker areas in place, I paint a wash of color over most of the gorilla’s body.

painting a gorilla in miniature2

Then I introduce a wash of warm sienna color to his head.

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Another wash was painted to darken the background a little more, and I started painting in some of the darkest details.

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The background was darkened a bit with another wash of color, and I continued darkening areas on the gorilla and adding more of the details.

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I then began painting in the grass, starting with basic shapes painted with a light wash, then I slowly painted multiple layers of grass, gradually getting darker with my paint mixtures of green. When I had it the mid and darker bits of grass painted, I came back with a light green color and painted in the highlights.

painting a gorilla in miniature5

Then came the fun part . . . painting in the gold background! I use Schmincke dry powdered gouache in rich pale gold, and pour a wee bit into a small container, to which I add a little water, and then mix it well with my brush. Then I add it to the painting, gently laying it in place with the brush and carefully stipple around the edges of the fur. Once I have the gold background like I want it, I go back in and add the final highlights and darkest darks to the fur and face.

painting a gorilla in miniature

The gold gouache will move around if accidentally touched or blown by your breath, so once you’re done with your painting, it must be sprayed with a UV varnish to secure it safely in place, thus making it permanent. This is tricky to work with, but the end results are certainly worth it!

Watch the entire painting process in my YouTube video “HOW DID I PAINT THIS tiny GORILLA


YouTube painting video

Below is Wes’ miniature painting of an adorable seal soaking up the warmth of the sun, that will be in the Sketch For Survival as well. I will keep you updated as the show and auction draws nearer.


basking beach babe painting

“Basking Beach Babe”


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

Windsor, CO, May 15 – August 15, 2022 

 Francesca Anderson Fine Art, MA

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

visit our WEBSITE  artofwildlife.com     Email us

Until Next Time ~ Rachelle