TexArt 2016: An Unforgettable Experience!

A Wonderfully Inspiring and Fun Week at TexArt!

by Rachelle Siegrist

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The TexArt 2016 Group

We landed at the San Antonio, Texas airport last Sunday afternoon where we, along with sculptor friend David Turner, were picked up by a shuttle and whisked away to Schriener University, located in Kerrville. There, we were met by the smiling faces of numerous friends including the staff members of the Susan K. Black Foundation and Society of Animal Artists.  SKB and SAA were combining efforts for the first time to put on the TexArt workshop for the week. With linen kits in hand, we were on our way to our dorm which would become our home for the next week, shared with good friends, artist Jan Martin McGuire and her husband, photographer James Gary Hines II.  We settled in and then joined several friends for an early dinner at an Italian restaurant, before the big kick off party later that evening.

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Artist friend Jan Martin McGuire’s supplies and ours . . . can you tell who’s is who’s?… Ha Ha

Each day started with a relaxing walk from our dorm, winding through the beautiful grounds and gardens of the University, to the cafeteria where we were treated to a delicious meal. The cafeteria is much different than what many of us were used to in college and was like going to a great restaurant offering a buffet of new choices each time! Needless to say we all quickly became spoiled with not having to cook and getting to eat out every meal!

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A section of the beautiful gardens on the Schreiner University campus

Wes and I taught a one-day session class on Monday and greatly enjoyed spending the day with about a dozen wonderful artists. Wes started the class with an informative talk about the history of miniature art, while also answering numerous questions. While Wes and I demonstrated painting techniques on miniatures the remainder of the day, others watched and tried their hands at painting miniatures as well, enjoying it greatly! Before we knew it, five o’clock was here and we were all amazed how quickly the time in class had passed, coming to an end way too soon!  That evening after a delicious dinner, everyone enjoyed a fascinating presentation on plein air painting by SAA instructor Jim Coe.

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Wes demonstrating during our day session class

The next day started with everyone talking and laughing while enjoying breakfast together and then Wes and I were off with dear friends Bob, Diane and Sue, to spend the day exploring the area. We started the day with a visit to South Llano River State Park which offers amazing birding opportunities. Blinds are built so you can sit in the shaded room behind glass while watching and photographing numerous birds as they come to get baths and drinks from the natural-looking fountains and food from the feeders made out of strips of bark. As you can well imagine we got great photos for future miniature paintings and added several new birds to our life lists including the adorable Black-crested Titmouse.

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Me, Wes, Sue and Diane scoping the birds out!

After lunch we enjoyed walking a trail that begins in an arid setting before passing underneath the expansive sprawling limbs of massive Pecan trees forming a grove that nestles a large pond and eventually reach the banks of a beautiful river. Of course I couldn’t resist getting in the river and wading around for a while!

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The gorgeous Pecan grove
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Ah . . . the water feels great!

Not only did we see many amazing birds but we also enjoyed watching a Black-tailed Jack Rabbit and got great photos of a historical barn. Having spent most of the day there we left in time to grab supper before heading to Enchanted Rock State Park,  a stunningly amazing place, which I will be sharing about on my blog’s next post.

The adorable Black-crested Titmouse and a Black-tailed Jack Rabbit on the move

We spent Wednesday in artist Dan Chen’s class, which we found completely fascinating and inspiring! A master at all he does, it was great fun learning new techniques such as painting on silk, and painting with black ink using a Chinese brush.

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Watching as Dan demonstrates Chinese ink painting

Not only is Dan an amazing artist, but also a genuinely sweet person and very funny to boot! Needless to say we greatly enjoyed our day spent with him, and ended up spending most of the two remaining days with him as well!  It was such creative fun painting on silk for the first time and I’m now thinking of doing a series of miniature flower paintings on silk!

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Dan demonstrates working with pastels on top of watercolors

That evening everyone enjoyed a wonderful time at the Museum of Western Art in Kerrville, where we were treated to viewing beautiful western themed art, as well as a great presentation by artist Lee Cable on his exhibit highlighting the life of famous Texan Charles Goodnight.  Our visit culminated with a delicious BBQ dinner and a variety of desserts! Upon leaving the museum, we visited the beautiful river walk along the Guadalupe River, where we were delighted to see the large, stately cypress trees lining the river bank, as well as two Nutria swim by!  It was another great day indeed!

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Stately Cypress trees along the Guadalupe River Trail

Thursday morning began with the quick draw, in which all the instructors participated.  They worked feverishly for about an hour and a half, as everyone watched and asked questions. That evening after dinner, the pieces created that morning were auctioned off, with the proceeds benefiting the SKB Foundation.  We were most delighted that our new artist friend Noah, got Wes’ painting, “A Yellowstone Stream”!

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Wes, Dan Chen and David Turner working away during the quick draw.  Wes kept teasing them about shaking the table!

Early Friday morning, I headed out with three other friends in high hopes of seeing and photographing the gorgeous herd of longhorn cattle nearby.  Upon arriving at the pasture, we were delighted to see the herd nearby, and as soon after we got out and began taking photos, the herd walked over and greeted us up close and personally, bringing with them three brand new calves that were just adorable!!!  I was in heaven and snapping away, and am already planning miniature paintings of these gorgeous cows!

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Photographing the longhorns

While I was photographing the longhorns, Wes sat in on James’ photography lecture, which he really enjoyed!  The remainder of the day was spent once again with Dan Chen, watching him sculpt and paint.  That evening we all attended the opening of the SAA Sales Show at the beautiful RS Hannah Gallery located in Fredericksburg. The show was nicely displayed in two rooms, and we thoroughly enjoyed seeing it as well as the other works displayed in the multi-room gallery.

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Wes and I with our five paintings available at the RS Hannah Gallery

The next morning we said our goodbyes before getting on the shuttle and heading to the airport. We enjoyed a nice lunch with artist friend Wanda Mumm and her husband Les, during our layover in Minneapolis, before boarding the plane for Knoxville.

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Wes with Noah holding his newly acquired miniature painting

Meanwhile in the studio, it’s time to get caught up, before getting back to our easels.  Many thanks again to both the SKB and SAA groups for such a wonderfully fun and inspiring week at TexArt!  Join me next post for an enchantingly magical evening atop Enchanted Rock!

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle


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