What We Do When It’s Cold!

 Snow, Paintings and our Exquisite Miniatures Exhibition

By Rachelle Siegrist

Rachelle Siegrist's snowman

It’s hard to believe that most of January is already a thing of the past, and that warmer weather I was so hoping for, well it never came, but alas we did get more snow.  So what do you do when it snows, why you build snowmen, sled and walk in it of course!  So Wes and I enjoyed a few nice walks amongst the carpet of white, and I decided to build a fashionable snowgirl this time to brighten things up a bit!

snow in the smoky mountains

I also greatly enjoyed sledding nearby, while flying down the steep hillside leading to a pond!  The frozen pond was covered with snow and squirrel tracks that zigzagged across the powdery white surface, like those of the little boy in the Family Circus cartoon, when told to hurry home.  Refraining from going into the pond adds an element of adventure to the downhill run, and I was tempted to head across the one end of it at the bottom!  But alas I doubted it was frozen enough, and just knew as soon as my sled skidded to a stop out in the middle, it would crack and then . . . UH OH!

snow in the smokies

Nonetheless it remains cold, and so we spend most of our time at the easels.  While recently lamenting to my dear friend Don, about how I so long for the bright cheery sun to return, he had a wonderful idea!  He graciously got me the gift of my very own little sun in the form of a Verilux Happy Light, which emulates natural daylight!  As you can imagine it’s my new best little buddy, and joins me each morning for breakfast making me feel like I’m eating outside in the bright sunlight.  I just know these past few days that my dining room table is the brightest spot in the Smokies, and I simply can’t refrain from singing . . . “Sunshine in my dining room makes me happy!”

Our traveling tour Exquisite Miniatures opened this past week at it’s 26th venue thus far, the beautiful Neville Public Museum in Green Bay, WI.  It will remain on exhibit through March 25th, so if you are in the area, grab your coat and head over to the museum to see over 60 of our miniature paintings including portraits, landscapes, wildlife and still-lifes!Exquisite Miniatures at the Neville Public Museum

~ Fresh off the Easels ~

This week brought more easel time, with both of us finishing our two recent surprise commissions which I’ll be sharing with you later this Spring.  We’re also painting on pieces for juried exhibits.  I finished my miniature painting of a Brown Pelican, which I photographed at Sailfish Marina located on Singer Island, while recently visiting Florida.  It will be one of seven paintings which Wes and I will have featured in the upcoming Invitational Show at MacArthur Beach State Park.
Located on Singer Island, this show runs March 2nd thru the 18th, and is a great chance to see our miniature paintings in person, as well as add one or more to your own collection, while helping to support this fabulous State Park!

My “On Blissful Seas”
With hands for scale

Oops . . . we recently realized that we had forgotten to share this little gem with you after I completed it this past year!  I photographed this precious family in Texas last spring while there teaching a painting workshop for the SAA.  Each afternoon, when the sun would beat down on the wee babies, the caring mother would spread her wings out over them to shade them, while panting herself to try and regulate her own body temperature.  It was a touching sight to see her protecting her precious little babies!

bird painting Under Her Wings by Rachelle Siegrist
My “Under Her Wings”

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle



20 Years of Miniature Shows!

The Annual Miniature Art Society of Florida Exhibition

By Rachelle Siegrist

rachelle siegrist at MASF
Standing beside my award winning miniature at MASF in 1999

Its hard to believe it’s already been 20 years since Wes and I started specializing in painting miniatures and entered our first miniature show in 1998, the Miniature Art Society of Florida!  Wes was the first to actually paint a miniature, after receiving a show prospectus in 1997, listing size restrictions etc. from MASF.  Once I saw his, I too had to try my hand at painting a miniature, and we were both hooked!

wes siegrist at MASF
Wes and his Nana at the MASF opening in 2000 at the St. Petersburg Museum of Art

We didn’t attend the MASF show opening the first year we had paintings accepted, but attended the next year upon learning I had both won an award and had one of my paintings purchased for the Society’s permanent collection.  I was thrilled to say the least, and when the current president approached us at an outdoor art show in Sebring, FL and introduced herself as such and told us we just had to attend the opening, we decided we would!  We attended the show and were amazed at seeing hundreds of miniature paintings and sculptures, and awestruck by the excitement and fervor of throngs of attending collectors admiring the little paintings and making purchases!

rachelle and wes siegrist at MASF 2009
Enjoying time with a group of miniature artists and friends

We have attended most of the show openings throughout the past 20 years and have met some wonderful artists and made numerous dear friends, with many of them from England!  We certainly didn’t realize how attending the MASF opening in 1999, would change and impact our career as artists in amazing ways!

Rachelle siegrist painting miniatures

Wes and I both have enjoyed demonstrating at the MASF shows and others through the years, as much as people have enjoyed watching us paint.  Wes has also lectured on the history of miniature art numerous times during opening weekends at MASF and at other shows and workshops on several occasions.  In 2010, Wes published the book Modern Masters of Miniature Art In America which comprehensively covered the subject of miniature art and featured 53 Signature Members of the Miniature Artists of America.

wes siegrist lecturing on miniature paintings MASF 2010

We greatly enjoyed having arrived in time a couple of years, to help a dedicated group of volunteers set up the miniature show, which entails a lot of hard work by many people!

rachelle siegrist at MASF 2009 004
Jan and I helping to set up the miniature sculptures

In 2015 Wes was asked to judge the 2016 MASF show which was a big honor for him as well as a difficult but joyous task!  We have also judged other miniature shows and each time it brings new experiences and joys!

wes siegrist judging miniatue painting show MASF
Wes judging the 2016 MASF show

Who would’ve ever imagined when Wes picked up his brush to paint our first miniature painting over 20 years ago, that today we would be two of the world’s foremost miniature artists, with a traveling tour of our paintings, Exquisite Miniatures making history!  Premiering at the prestigious The R.W. Norton Art Gallery, in Shreveport, LA on May 4th of 2010, Exquisite Miniatures is still touring the US and currently encompasses 23 States and 34 venues with more pending!  It’s historically amazing, and we feel very blessed indeed to  have been sent that prospectus in the mail back in 1997 from MASF!

The 43rd Miniature Art Society of Florida’s International Miniature Art Show
opened today at the Dunedin Fine Art Center, in Dunedin, FL, and runs through February 4th.  Wes and I have 5 miniature paintings each in the show this year and are delighted that we each received awards once again! If you are in the Dunedin area, I highly recommend a visit to this wonderful show and by all means add a miniature gem or two to your own collections!

~ Fresh off the Easels ~

This week brought more easel time, and Wes finished his miniature painting of a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, which we photographed while visiting south Texas this past May.

“Southwestern Splendor”  ~  with brush for scale

Wes also finished a miniature painting of baby sea turtles which will be featured in an upcoming exhibit at John. D MacArthur State Park, which I will be sharing info about soon.

Sea Turtle Painting-Head_Of_The_Class-by Wes Siegrist
“Head of the Class” by Wes

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle

Fantastic Frozen Waterfalls!

Hiking the frozen Smokies!

By Rachelle Siegrist

Smokies in winter

Uncle . . . Uncle!” I cried in hopes that my verbal surrender would somehow cause the relentless ice cap that had descended upon us, to lessen its grip. Alas it did not help, but it never hurts to try I thought. At this point I would try almost anything to bring a bit of warmth back into our part of the world! I know many of you are much colder than we are and for that I am truly sorry, and so I try to remain positive. So while wrestling with a dozen layers of clothes, which I must somehow manage to get on to keep warm, I realize I’ve burned as many calories as one would in a 10-minute intensive aerobic workout! “Now there’s a benefit” I thought to myself.

frozen waterfall in smokies

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade I say, and we did just that this past week, taking advantage of some amazing effects of the current frigid weather.  Friend Kit joined us and we hiked to a nearby waterfall, which of course was frozen!  Wearing enough clothes to fill an entire clothes rack, we started our icy adventure, and I found that as soon as we started ascending the mountainside, all was warm and toasty except for my fingers, which I kept glancing at inside my mittens, just to be sure they were still there and attached.

rachelle siegrist with frozen smokies waterfall

WOW!” I exclaimed seeing the frozen falls for the first time!  They were truly stunning and unlike anything I’ve ever seen in person!  Carefully we crept over scattered large rocks, until we had reached the bottom of the falls.  There the usual dark pool of water, was frozen over entirely, having turned a milky white instead!  Only a couple of small openings remained where the water gurgled over cascades, trapping bubbles under the ice, that spun in circles as the water flowed underneath.  I sat there on a large rock watching it, becoming entranced by the abstract movements of the trapped bubbles and accompanying sounds.

smokies wintertime

The waterfall was gloriously mounded over with great globs of ice and icicles, that hung like long crystal tendrils, some three-foot or more in length!  Water still flowed behind the ice curtain, and the muffled sound of the falling water deep inside, made it sound like a waterfall off at a distance.  A couple of small cave-like holes in the encasement of ice allowed peaks inside the icy sculpture.

icicles in smokies

Every blade of grass and leaf scattered about the bank was completely encased in ice and frozen in place!  It was truly a magical winter wonderland and I felt very blessed to have the opportunity to see it!

winter in the smokies

Standing on frozen ground while admiring the scene, I remembered that just a week and a half ago, I was standing on the beach in Florida about the same time of day.  There I stood barefoot, wearing only shorts and a tank top, relaxingly gazing out at the horizon where water meets sky, each receding wave gently tugging at my ankles.  There the warmth of the sun could be felt all over.  Two encounters with water, but drastically different indeed!

rachelle siegrist hiking the smokies

Returning back to the vehicle, we enjoyed hot chocolate and fresh baked blueberry scones, while thawing out and recounting what we had seen.  Now back in the studio, I still have to check and make sure my fingers are still there, and am donning enough clothes to once again fill a clothes rack.  It is then while painting at my easel, I imagine running toward the beach, leaving a trail of discarded winter clothes behind me.  Arriving at the water’s edge wearing my swimsuit, I am faced with a big decision, do I dive into the warm water and blissfully float about or fall back into the warm sand, letting the sun thaw my frozen flesh.  Perhaps I’ll enjoy both by going only halfway, or perhaps returning back to reality, I’ll add another layer of clothing and keep on painting.

smokies winter photo

~ Fresh off the Easels ~

This week brought more easel time, and I finished my current dog commission.  Wes is also working on a commission, which is a surprise, so I’ll be sharing them with you as soon as the recipients have excitedly received them.  I’m currently painting a pelican which I photographed at Sailfish Marina recently, while Wes finished a western landscape painting with several wee bison in it.

Wes’ “Crossing The Land Time Forgot”

commission a dog painting by rachelle siegrist

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Until next time . . .