The Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival

A Great time at The Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival!

By Rachelle Siegrist

cute baby squirrel photo by rachelle siegrist2
Ooooooooo . . . . The adorable triplets!

Wes and I left early last Thursday morning heading south to picturesque Thomasville, Georgia, where we participated in the Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival this past weekend.   We arrived in time to set up and arrange our miniature paintings in our display cabinets later that afternoon.  Afterwards we went to our dear friend Mary’s beautiful home, where we would be staying during our duration in Thomasville.  We were so excited to see Mary, her precious Sheltie Maggie, and the triplets as she affectionately calls them!  I could hardly wait to help Mary out with feeding the three rescued baby squirrels their supper, and as soon as I laid eyes on them I was totally smitten, instantly falling head over heels in love!  My participation with feeding them breakfast and supper would be the highlight of my days while visiting!

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Me on the porch at Pebble Hill Plantation

The next day we were delighted to have Mary join us for an exciting tour of Pebble Hill Plantation, where tour guide Tom Hill entertained us with great insight and humor, spoken in a delightful southern drawl.  Although Wes and I have toured the home many times before, we never tire of seeing it and the amazing collections it houses, and were happy to learn new interesting tidbits from Tom this past time.  We were delighted that their current exhibit in the Elisabeth Ireland Poe Gallery was “Working Like a Dog”, an exhibition consisting of selected works by major artists from the 17th through the 20th centuries.  Since I love painting dogs, I was especially happy to see the numerous beautiful paintings!

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What a glorious sight indeed . . . Spanish Moss in an Oak Tree!

It was a gorgeous day, with ample sunshine and clear blue skies above as we walked about the stunning grounds surrounding the stately home.  The Spanish Moss adorning  long outstretched arms of numerous Live Oaks,  was absolutely stunning with the sun shining through it!  The many Camellias growing about were covered with blooms, and one large bush in particular had so many white petals lying on the ground below, that it appeared to be covered with snow, which I called “southern snow“. They were gorgeous and several older huge bushes looked absolutely stunning with their bright pink blossoms nestled amongst the Spanish Moss!

 

The three of us had a wonderful day and before we knew it, it was time to head back to Mary’s to feed the triplets and get ready for the opening reception that evening.  Soon the Thomasville Cultural Center was filled to capacity with excited attendees dressed in beautiful gowns and many in black tie, and our miniatures drew lots of attention with people exclaiming “Wow!” as many peered through the magnifying glass for the first time.

rachelle & wes siegrist at plantation wildlife arts festival

Not all were dressed in suits and gowns however, such as this beautiful Pancake Tortoise, a new species I had not seen before and thought quite ravishing in its beautiful shell!

pancake tortoiseat plantation wildlife arts festival
A very handsome Pancake Tortoise

Of course the next morning began with Mary and I feeding the triplets, who are always excited and happy to eat!  Each one was carefully fed several syringes of a special warmed milk mixture, before Mary would check to see if we had sufficiently bloated their bellies!  Then came clean up time, so we gingerly wiped spilt milk from their tiny faces, tummies and hands.  After all three were pleasantly plump, we gave them a few fresh pecans for snacks later on, and listened while they played and romped inside their warm secure home.

rachelle siegrist with baby squirrel
I think we can squeeze in a little more!

Saturday brought more sales and fun conversation while talking with new collectors and friends.  That evening we attended the Bird Dog Bash held at the beautiful Sugar Hill Barn located on Pebble Hill Plantation.  Within no time the barn and surrounding area was packed with people filling the air with laughter and conversation.  We enjoyed  delicious food while talking with artist friends and others in attendance.

plantation wildlife arts festival bird dog bash
Wes talks with artist friend Tom Brooks

The band played on while we ate and later enjoyed sitting by one of many fires for awhile, and a great time was had by all!

 

Another special treat was in store for Sunday at the show, as friend Becky brought a baby Screech Owl, appropriately named Al the Owl, for us to meet and admire.  He was absolutely adorable and I so enjoyed hearing him quietly call out several times.  Sadly the tree containing Al’s nest was cut down by someone, so when they realized it had inhabitants, Al was brought to Becky to be raised and cared for, and he couldn’t have a better foster mom!

baby screech owl at at plantation wildlife arts festival
Becky and Al . . . and yes, he is as soft as he looks!

Soon the show had come to an end, and we were delighted to have many of our miniatures find new homes!  Back at Mary’s that evening, we enjoyed a nice dinner together and then Mary and I got to the important task of feeding the triplets once again. Later that evening we enjoyed watching the movie “The God’s Must Be Crazy”, and laughed and laughed until our sides hurt!  We had such a great time while there, and hated to leave yesterday, but alas it was time to head back home and return to the studio.  I must admit that meal time is quite lonesome since returning home, without helping Mary feed the triplets!

cute baby squirrel photo by rachelle siegrist
This one is definitely exceeding the cuteness factor!!!

Wes and I both would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to the staff of the Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival, Pebble Hill Plantation, our new and existing collectors and to our dear friend Mary for making it such a wonderful weekend for us!

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle

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Waterfowl Festival & Pickering Creek Audubon Center

Waterfowl Festival & Visiting Pickering Creek Audubon Center!

By Rachelle Siegrist

 

sunrise in the smokies

We were greeted by a stunning sunrise as we left our home in the Smokies early last Wednesday morning, heading to Easton, MD for the Waterfowl Festival. It was a beautiful day with gold and orange leaves still clinging to the trees as we drove north.  Thursday morning we hung and arranged our miniature paintings in the Armory  in downtown Easton, before grabbing a quick lunch and heading for a new adventure. Somehow we have missed this wonderful gem, while visiting Easton all of these years! I managed to find Pickering Creek Audubon Center online, and with directions, we were off.

pickering creek audubon center welcome center
What was once Heigh Ho Farm, was donated to the Chesapeake Audubon Society in 1981 by brother and sister George Olds and Margret Strahl. They wanted a place where the young and old from all walks of life could come and enjoy the natural beauty of the Eastern Shore. And thank goodness for generous people like these two, who afford nature lovers such as ourselves a delightful place to spend a day, and free of charge at that!wes siegrist pickering creek audubon center

Driving up a long narrow gravel road, we were greeted by a small quaint building which serves as the welcome center. To the left lay a vast open field, one of many in which they still practice sustainable farming.  Wes and I chose to walk rather than drive down a long gravel road separating the open fields from the woods, and delighted in watching numerous birds where the two meet!

pickering creek audubon center wes siegrist
We watched and listened to vast flocks of blackbirds that flew overhead, landing in the outstretched arms of several tall trees nearby. It was absolutely amazing and unlike anything I had seen or heard before! Each time hundreds of birds would lift off and fly directly above, filling the air with a sound, much like a helicopter taking off! I couldn’t get enough of it and was thrilled each time it happened!

birds at pickering creek audubon center
We saw numerous sparrows, warblers, robins, blue jays and many other songbirds as we relaxingly walked along the road leading to a small parking area near at the end.

We started walking along the dirt path leading through the woodland, and soon came upon a stately old home, where it sat overlooking the picturesque creek. “Wow…I could so live here!” I said to Wes, as the setting was simply stunning!

pickering creek audubon center tarm house

Leaving the home I walked down a short path leading out to a pier where the waterman’s shanty stood alongside. While standing at the end of the pier and soaking in the gorgeous landscape, a Bald Eagle gracefully circled above!

Rachelle Siegrist at Pickering Creek Audubon center Easton maryland

I watched as the eagle slowly circled above, silhouetted against brilliant blue skies!  I walked back up the pier aways and into the old shanty where I found what appeared to be holding tanks for crabs and such, with old nets and traps tucked into the rafters above.

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Leaving the old shanty I walked over to the canoe and kayak launching site, envisioning how delightful it would be to have had my pink kayak along on such a splendid day!

trails at pickering creek audubon center

I slowly meandered along the path leading through the woods, making sure to take advantage of each and every short path going over to the water’s edge.  I walked some distance before coming upon a small cabin which belonged to the late author Gilbert Bryon.

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Because he shared the same birth date with Walden Pond’s Henry David Thoreau, he is also called “Chesapeake’s Thoreau“. Byron published 14 books, over 70 short stories, poems, and articles during his lifetime, while living on the Eastern Shore of the Bay much of his life. The quaint log cabin where he resided for 45 years, was saved from destruction and ultimately preserved at Pickering Creek.

 

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It was like stepping back in time, to a much simpler way of life, while walking through the cabin.  Leaving there I continued along the path winding through woodlands and occasionally crossing boardwalks over little streams. It led me to a small pond surrounded by trees dressed in stunning fall color, mirrored on the glass-like surface of the water below.  Numerous birds flitted all around and minnows darted in the shallow pools near the edge, as I stood there enjoying the peaceful setting.

fall at pickering creek audubon center

All too soon it was time to leave, and head back to the hotel to get ready for the opening of the show that evening situated in historical downtown Easton.  We enjoyed seeing collector and artist friends throughout the weekend, and we were delighted to have miniatures find new homes!  The artist dinner party Saturday evening treated our taste buds to delicious food, while conversation and laughter filled the air.

rachelle & wes siegrist at waterfowl festival

Before we knew it the weekend festival had come to an end, and it was time to start the journey back home.  I was delighted to make it to the Bay Bridge in time to watch the sun set behind it.

sunset by the bay bridge

 ~ Currently on the Easels ~ 

It’s been quite busy again here in the Siegrist studio, with us just returning from the Waterfowl Festival in Easton, MD, and getting ready for the upcoming Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival in picturesque Thomasville, GA.  Here’s my latest painting featuring a Red Fox which we enjoyed watching in Homosassa Springs last month.  This will be one of many exquisite miniatures that will be available for purchase at the Plantation show.

Red_Fox_painting_by_Rachelle_Siegrist1
Resting On The Forest Floor”

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle

When Leaves Turn To Flame

Beautiful Fall Color In The Smokies!

By Rachelle Siegrist

rachelle siegrist

Brilliant reds, bright oranges and illuminating yellows have finally descended upon the Smokies, splashing our world with color!  While admiringly gazing upon the vivid fall palette, I thought of a quote by Faith Baldwin . . . “Autumn burned brightly, a running flame through the mountains, a torch flung to the trees.”  Yes, that sums it up wonderfully, as that’s exactly what it looks like!   Wes and I decided to take advantage of a beautiful day this past week to enjoy seeing the color from our kayaks.  As soon as my paddle dipped into the glassy surfaced water, I was instantly mesmerized, leaving cares far behind!  It was one of those amazing picture perfect days, with clear brilliant azure skies dotted with fluffy white clouds slowly passing above, pairing beautifully with the warm colors dressing the foliage below.  It was magical and I was once again in heaven whilst basking in it!

wes siegrist

We’ve been able to enjoy several meals out on our back porch this past week, even though we have to add a couple layers of clothing to do so.  Halloween evening, our resident Tufted Titmice were especially hungry, so after dinner I sat in my rattan swing while holding a bowl of peanuts.  I tossed out a few to a couple of squirrels and Titmice, and suddenly they began flying over and landing right beside me. Then one flew over, landed on my leg and walked to the bowl, where he inspected the offerings and chose just the right one.  This happened over and over again for the next hour, and I was delighted beyond words!  I decided that was the cutest trick or treaters I had ever seen, dressed in the most realistic bird costumes ever!

rachelle siegrist feeding tufted titmice

We enjoyed a short hike with friends Mike and Kit this past week to take in more of the fall color.  The weather was perfect for it, with gentle breezes blowing through the warm colored canopy above, as we relaxingly walked along, crunching fallen leaves underfoot.

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Even though there was still quite a bit of green left, there were stunning sections of reds, oranges and yellows!

I found this Sweetgum leaf in the crystal clear icy-water and thought it quite lovely!

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Gorgeous fall foliage was not the only visual feast of the day, but so were clumps of amazing fungi collections scattered along the trail!  It was a wonderful afternoon indeed!

Wes and I are in the process of updating Exquisite Miniatures.  Several of the paintings currently in the exhibition at The Stamford Museum & Nature Center in Stamford, CT through January 1st, are being replaced with newer ones.  We also had new panels printed that will be displayed along with the sixty miniature paintings, so we’ll be driving the revamped exhibition over to the The Hickory Museum of Art in Hickory, NC, where we will attend the opening for our exhibition in January. Exquisite Miniatures will be on display there, January 20th through March 17th of next year.

exquisite miniatures exhibition wes and rachelle siegrist
Wes with the two new Exquisite Miniatures panels

 ~ Currently on the Easels ~ 

It’s been a very busy week once again here in the Siegrist studio!  Wes has been working on his SAA stuff and framing our paintings in preparation for the upcoming 2018 Waterfowl Festival in Easton, MD.  I’m currently painting on a precious Red Fox that we enjoyed watching while in Homosassa Springs last month, and it will debut at the Waterfowl Festival.

red fox painting in progress by rachelle siegrist

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle