Miniature Painting Workshop at The Woodson Museum!

Standing in front of the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Museum

We left our home in the Smokies early Friday morning, headed for Wausau, WI, and were surprised to see blowing snow through windows at the Minneapolis airport while catching a connecting flight! I was even more surprised when I realized we could see our breath inside the airport while waiting to board the plane! Thankfully it was a bit warmer in Wausau, where we’re spending this next week at the beautiful Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, as artists in residence, while teaching, demonstrating and lecturing about miniature art.

Wes talking about miniature painting

Arriving at the museum, we were immediately met by several familiar friendly faces, and upon getting settled into our new home away from home at the museum guesthouse, we returned to the museum to get things set up and ready for the upcoming week. That evening we joined Catie from the museum, and her friend Dave for a delicious dinner at Red Eye, while enjoying great conversation about hiking, archeology and other delightfully interesting topics! Saturday morning 16 excited students joined us in the classroom, and after Wes talked about the unique charm of miniatures and answer general questions about our materials and working methods, they enjoyed their first attempt at painting a miniature tree.

Wes demonstrates during the workshop on Saturday
Me demonstrating painting zebra whiskers

Everyone did a good job, and the room was filled with informative talks, conversation and much laughter, as they all watched Wes and me demonstrating different painting techniques, while also continuing to paint on their own little gems. That evening Wes and I went for an invigorating walk to Angelos, located several blocks away, where we enjoyed a delicious pizza for supper! Walking the tree lined streets back at dusk, we were afforded glimpses into the gorgeous historic Victorian homes along the way, creating a most picturesque setting.

Wes lectures on the history of miniature art

Today brings the last two hours of the adult workshop, with Wes giving an informative lecture on the history of miniatures. The following two hours, I’ll be demonstrating miniature painting in the Birds in Art Gallery, sitting near my “Usual Suspects” painting which is part of the exhibition. This evening we’re excited to be joining friends Don and Linda for dinner, and anticipate a wonderful, fun time!  Join me next week for more about our exciting week here at The Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum!
Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle


Fall In The Smokies!

More adventures with my parents!

by Rachelle Siegrist

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Enjoying a picnic at the Chimney Tops picnic area

This past week has been packed with more adventures, from boarding the Titanic, to driving over mountaintops and experiencing close encounters with Black Bear, Elk, turkey, White-tailed Deer and more! We’ve really enjoyed making more wonderful memories together with my parents here in the Smokies!

rachelle and wes siegrist at Titanic
Sharon, Wes, me, Dad and Mom in front of the Titanic in Pigeon Forge

Last Monday the four of us along with friends Tom and Sharon, went to the Titanic museum attraction in nearby Pigeon Forge. Everyone enjoyed learning about the history of this amazing ship, and getting to see numerous recovered artifacts from the wreckage.  Upon entering, each of us were given a card with a passenger’s name on it, along with a short description about them, and we were happy to learn that five of our people had survived the wreck. A big highlight of our visit for both my Mom and me, was getting to play the historic grand piano inside the exhibit!

Disembarking the Titanic, we headed to lunch before enjoying a relaxing drive along winding mountain roads leading to Carvers Apple Orchard, where we were met with the delightful aroma of fresh apples and other fall crops.

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Tuesday afternoon we headed into nearby Smoky Mountain National Park to the Elkmont region, where we spent time walking through several cabins that have recently been beautifully restored.

elkmont cabins
One of the restored cabins inside Elkmont

It was a gorgeous afternoon, with ample sunshine and a gentle fall breeze as we meandered through the cabins.  Afterwards we took a relaxing stroll through the woods, while watching a mixed flock of warblers migrate through.

An immature White-eyed Vireo

Waking up to another beautiful day Wednesday, we decided to spend it in Cades Cove. So we packed a lunch and headed to the Cades Cove picnic area before driving around the loop road. We stopped half way around the loop to see the Becky Cable house and other historical buildings before continuing the drive.  By that time we had already seen a couple of bear, as well as several deer and were anxious to see what else we would spot!

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Crunch . . . crunch . . . crunch!

Getting stuck in stopped traffic along the loop road for at least half an hour or more, I came up with the clever idea of driving across Hyatt Lane and leaving the Cove by means of a winding, gravel road.  This proved to be a wonderful idea, as we got to watch a black bear searching for, and eating acorns, a mere 10 feet from the truck!  Close enough in fact, that we could even hear him crunching! Later along the peaceful drive, we spotted a group of turkey just before one flew right over the truck while we were stopped! Returning home that evening, we decided even though the Cove was packed, it had still been a great day!

cades cove from rich mountain road
A stunning view of Cades Cove

The next morning my Dad, Wes and I took a nice walk around Townsend to enjoy yet another day of glorious weather!  Later that afternoon we were joined by my cousin and his family for a nice visit. Since it had been 20 years or so since seeing him, it was a delightful time to say the least, and we were all very well entertained by his adorable three-year-old granddaughter Madeline!

rachelle siegrist dancing bear lodge
Enjoying one of our local fall displays

Not having much fall color at our elevation here in Townsend, we decided to brave the traffic in the park and headed to the upper elevations in search of the iconic red and golds of the Smokies in the fall. Although some trees in the upper elevations recently hit by freezing temperatures had turned brown, we did find some nice areas of color. It was another gorgeous day with clear blue skies as we drove through the park, stopping to enjoy the stunning views of surrounding mountains!

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Enjoying some of the color in the upper elevations
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Most of the trees were already bare at this elevation

We visited historic Mingus Mill, where the gentleman working there explained how the turbine-driven mill worked. Leaving there, we drove to nearby Oconaluftee Visitor Center and Mountain Farm Museum.  We ended up being there at the right time and I got a kick out of watching as two beautiful resident white hogs, worked themselves into a frenzy while waiting for the Park Ranger to mix up their delectable supper, consisting of fresh ground corn and apple butter, with some pig pellets mixed in. They really carried on, and no wonder, as it probably tasted like a trough full of cake!

cute pigs at okunaluftee
Here comes supper!

Minutes later we were walking past the blacksmith shop and my Dad noticed one of the beautiful resident roosters preening in a most picturesque setting.

cute chicken photo

Delighted with these two encounters, I couldn’t believe it when a herd of Elk we had been watching in a far off field, began crossing the stream mere yards from where we were sitting at the water’s edge! Needless to say I was ecstatic, as we watched about 35 Elk gracefully enter and stand in the frigid water, in a sunlit location no less, creating one magical second after another as they continued crossing! Several older calves in the herd called out, and then the big bull elk descended into the water, striking a majestic pose in the sun, before walking up the stream.  Doe elk followed behind, until the group eventually disappeared around the bend. What an amazing encounter we experienced, creating a memory that will never be forgotten!

elk in the smokies
Part of the herd crossing

Yesterday, Dad and I enjoyed hiking to a beautiful waterfall.  Walking along the path, we talked and laughed, stopping  occasionally to enjoy the views and take photos.  We explored different areas nearby the falls and of course I couldn’t resist wading in the icy water at the base of it!  We sat there, relaxing and soaking up the surrounding beauty, deciding we could easily spend the entire day right there!  Nonetheless, we eventually had to leave the peaceful falls and hike back to join friends for supper at Pizza Hut.  We said goodbye to my parents early this morning as they left for their home in Okeechobee, FL, and I’m already looking forward to their next visit!

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Dad and I enjoying the sounds of the waterfall


~ Fresh off the Easels ~

Wes and I are both delighted to have paintings accepted for the 2018 SEWE Art Book!  These paintings will be featured in the catalogue and will be available for purchase at the 36th Annual Southeastern Wildlife Exposition.

My “Lion in the Shade”
“A Scissor-tailed Flycatcher” by Wes
“Waiting For High Tide” by Wes

~ To Commission A Painting by Us Click Here!

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle

Enjoying Time With My Parents!

Enjoying time with my parents!

by Rachelle Siegrist

My parents arrived at our home here in the Smokies late last Wednesday. They’ve been thoroughly enjoying the cool mornings, while sitting and relaxing on the back porch, happily leaving behind the heat and humidity of south Florida for a few days! We spent a couple of hours at the river one afternoon, while friend Sharon and I took what may very well be our last tubing trip down! The icy cold water seemed even colder this time, especially when it totally soaked us going down the largest set of rapids!  Of course Mom and Dad got lots of laughs out of watching us, and it cracked everyone around up, when I exclaimed that Sharon’s legs looked like a naked chicken with her mountain-sized goose bumps!

rachelle siegrist in the smokies
Mom, Dad and me atop Look Rock Tower

Yesterday afternoon we took a leisurely drive up along the Foothills Parkway, while enjoying what little bit of fall color there is so far.  It appears that the warmer temps last week have obviously halted the color changing process, with most trees still being green and looking like summer!  Nonetheless, it was still a beautiful day and a perfect time to walk up to the Look Rock Tower, where we were treated to a 360 degree view of the surrounding mountains.

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Mom, me and Wes by one of my happy places!

From there we drove along a narrow winding road, passing beautiful pastureland and homes nestled in hollers and tucked between mountains.  We ended up at the lake, where we watched sunlight dance on the rippled surface, looking like hundreds of diamonds.  Numerous sports cars and motorcycles either heading to, or returning from, an exhilarating drive along the Dragon, also entertained us as they passed by, with the most interesting being a motorcyclists wearing a big, furry sharks head, causing us to take a second look indeed!  This coming week has a full agenda, as we’re planning to enjoy seeing the sights and make new memories with my parents!

~ Fresh off the Easels ~

I recently finished this miniature portrait painting of my parents, to celebrate and honor their recent 50th wedding Anniversary!  As you can well imagine, they were both pleasantly surprised and very delighted!

Larry and Sally Davis 50th
“Mom and Dad”
commission miniature portrait painting
Shown with hands for scale

~ To Commission A Painting by Us Click Here!

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle