Enjoying Our Residency at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum!
by Rachelle Siegrist
Arriving for the first time at Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum during the Bird’s in Art opening weekend in 1999, we would’ve never imagined that years later, we’d be enjoying a residency at this amazing museum! What a delightful experience it has been, while teaching around 300 students and workshop participants, as well as lecturing and demonstrating this past week! Hopefully, we’ve inspired a few to paint miniatures in the future.
Not only did we greatly enjoy teaching numerous students and workshop participants, but also our daily interactions with the wonderful museum staff! Spending time with them during lunch breaks and getting to have dinner with a few, was a highlight of our residency! We also enjoyed the glimpse behind-the-scenes of how the museum operates!
Monday morning started off with the first of many children’s classes, where we taught them how to paint a miniature tree. We were delighted with how well the students did throughout the week, and after painting trees along with them, we joked staff members that we’ll be painting trees in our sleep for weeks to come . . . Ha Ha! Time spent teaching kids, often brings laughter through things they say and do, so I wanted to share some of our hilarious encounters with them from this past week, sure to put a smile on your face and bring you a chuckle as well!
While I was demonstrating in the gallery, an adorable little girl confidently approached me, and upon stating her name in entirety, proceeded to tell me that she loved making art and doing geometry. When I asked about her favorite subject, she said she loved birds, especially chickens, so I asked if she had any pet birds at home, to which she replied “No . . . My daddy won’t let me, cause he says they’ll go potty all over the house!”
After Wes helped one boy paint part of his tree in class, he overheard him telling his friends “That man messed up my painting, because he’s right handed instead of left handed and that’s why these limbs are going the wrong way!”. Not remembering” Wes’ name, the boys friends referred to him as Mr. Guy thereafter, which they and I found quite funny!
A very proud little artist ~ Wes demonstrates techniques on the big screen
After painting for awhile, one boy asked if it was toxic. Thinking he was referring to the paint, I said no, that is was not. He replied “Awesome! . . . Can I drink the green paint water?”
In another class a little girl excitedly told me that her daddy too was a painter! I said “That’s wonderful! . . . what does he paint?” She sat up even straighter and said very proudly . . . “Houses!”
A little boy held his miniature tree painting at arm’s length and looking at it admiringly, he said “I believe I have a real talent for this!” Another proudly announced that “His was for sale for a million dollars!”
After students completed each task in class, Catie asked them to put down their brushes and look up so we would know they’re ready for the next step. In one class upon finishing the task at hand, several cute little boys laid down their brushes and looked up staring at the ceiling!
Since we don’t get a lot of snow here in the Smokies, I was very excited to wake up to snow covered ground one morning! Staff member Shari joined me in building wee snowmen that morning, and afterwards I couldn’t resist building a “Snowy” Owl in honor of the current Birds In Art exhibition!
We had a couple of free hours one afternoon, so we headed to the gorgeous Dells of the Eau Claire! A short drive from Wausau through farmlands, we were delighted to see several beautiful old historic barns, a couple of which we hope to paint in miniature. Arriving at the park, we hiked for a couple of hours alongside the river flowing through the interesting rock formations. Snow still lay on the ground in most areas affording a lovely and peaceful stroll through the surrounding woodlands.
Wes is obviously very hardheaded . . . ha ha!
Another evening we had a chance to walk along riverside park for a while in downtown Wausau. Afterwards we enjoyed walking through some of the lovely stores downtown before eating dinner at a restaurant called Jalapeños. We were invited to friends Linda and Don’s beautiful home for dinner one evening, where we enjoyed Raclette, a dish indigenous to parts of Switzerland. In the middle of the table was an electric table-top grill with small pans, known as coupelles, in which we melted slices of cheese, while cooking shrimp on the grill on top. Once melted, the cheese is poured over cooked red potatoes and broccoli rabe. Not only was it super delicious, but great fun to partake in as well! The evening was filled with cooking, entertaining stories and lots of laughter and ended with a delicious chocolate lava cake!
Wednesday evening we were invited to Catie and Dave’s home for a scrumptious gourmet dinner consisting a Mediterranean style salad, eggplant involtini which seemed to melt in our mouth, topped off with delicious key lime pie for dessert! It was a great evening, sharing stories and lots of laughs! Thursday evening Wes gave a lecture, followed by a hands-on painting class, where attendees got to try painting a miniature tree. Steven Bjella, Central Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra concertmaster, filled the air with beautiful and relaxing tunes as we all happily painted. Countless times throughout the week, participants both young and older alike, stated again and again how very relaxing painting in miniature was, many times not wanting to stop! Friday marked the end of our weeklong classes during our residency, and we said goodbye to our dear friends at the Woodson. That evening, Andy and wife Jeana took us to Thrive for dinner, which was another treat indeed! We shared birding stories and those of past art shows and many more, while treating our tastebuds and of course doing a lot of laughing!
We want to extend a BIG thank you to the Woodson and all of the delightful staff members for extending this amazing opportunity to us, a wonderful memory and highlight of our career that we will always cherish!
Come see us and our miniature paintings in person this coming weekend at the 47th Waterfowl Festival located in Easton, MD! The show opens to the public Friday November 10th and runs through Sunday the 12th. We’re looking forward to seeing many of you there and finding new homes for several of our miniature paintings!
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Until next time . . .