Teaching…Birding…Hiking… Fun at TexArt 2017
by Rachelle Siegrist
We landed in San Antonio last Saturday evening, arriving a day early before teaching a week long painting workshop at TexArt 2017. Early the next morning, we along with a few friends, headed to Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch. Being the first car in line and embarking on the safari drive, we knew a real treat was in store for us ahead! Within minutes we were watching numerous exotic animals and birds enjoying their breakfast, and were thrilled to see several babies throughout the herds and flocks!
Getting up close and personal is awesome!!!
Being able to ride through with windows down, whilst tossing out purchased food, brought the animals up close and personal to say the least, and it was awesome! At times the Emus and Ostriches were checking out the interior of the car and I couldn’t believe it when I got to kiss a zebra!!!
Every turn in the lovely scenic drive brought more surprises showcasing interesting and beautiful residents. Of course for me, another highlight was visiting the petting zoo, where I spent quite sometime brushing, petting and feeding several of the adorable goats.
After a delicious lunch, we enjoyed another drive around the loop road, before heading to the Schreiner University, where TexArt was being held for the week in Kerrville, TX. We joined fellow artists and made new friends at the meet and greet that evening. Monday morning started our daily teaching sessions. That evening Wes gave a presentation on the history of miniatures, which was followed by numerous questions as well as compliments on the informative lecture.
I joined several artists friends for a morning of birding with Jim Coe, at a nearby state park Wednesday. Although no new birds were added to my list, I was delighted to watch a Zone-tailed Hawk soar above for several minutes and get some great reference photos of other birds!
Blue Gray Gnatcatcher~Lichen bloom~Zone-tailed Hawk~The happy birders
That afternoon, I joined several friends as we headed to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. Excitement mounted as we drew near, and I was thrilled to have the chance to hike the beautiful pink granite dome once again after experiencing its magic last year!
As we started hiking the summit trail, numerous large rocks scattered about, mixed with cactus and wild flowers, surrounded us before opening up and revealing the first wonderful glimpse of the enchanted dome!
Up and up we went, the dome becoming steeper, and soon we found ourselves on top of the massive chunk of pink granite, enjoying an amazing 360 degree view! shallow depressions scattered about the top of the dome were filled with water, amazingly cool to the touch.
Each puddle was like a wee lake with it’s own ecosystem, complete with grasses and wildflowers, and some even with blooming Yuccas. Exploring the massive dome, we felt as if we were on top of the world, and found one pond that particularly looked inviting.
So we sat at the edge, while soaking our legs and feet in the water, and began noticing minuscule creatures swimming about. Looking more closely, we realized that it was teeny, tiny shrimp floating about in their mountaintop lake! Watching them while enjoying our little “hot tub”, we giggled and laughed for a short while, feeling as if cares no longer existed and we were six once again! Although we could’ve lingered there indefinitely, we decided to hike back down to where friends Diane and Bob patiently waited below.
We passed several huge boulders precariously perched on the return slope of the dome, before descending back to the areas where rocks became more abundant and fissures in the granite offered places for grass to grow from the cracks. Birds serenaded us on the way down, as we constantly stopped to take photos of the abundant wildflowers and stunning scenery. Soon we were back at the base and upon joining our friends, headed back to the campus.
Thursday I returned back to the classroom and demonstrated painting fur on silk, while Wes showed and talked about different painting techniques for doing rocks, grass, water and more. Each evening ended with an informative presentation given by one of the attending instructors, following a leisurely dinner in the dining hall.
Friday evening culminated with the instructors serving as a panel to which attendees could ask questions. Then each of us we’re asked to give a “take away statement” summing up what we wanted people to take with them from the week of learning. Mine was “Take time for long walks in the woods . . . For stopping to smell the roses in life . . . And eat lots of dark chocolate . . . for a happy artist creates happy art!” Wes and I were honored to be an inspiration to those who spent time painting with us, and hope they took home business insights and new techniques … and of course, great memories!
We were thrilled to learn that Wes won Grand Prize in the 26th International Miniature Art Show at Seaside Art Gallery on his miniature painting “Crossing The Falls”. Although this painting has been sold, we still have several available for purchase through the gallery.
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Until next time . . .