Hiking Amongst Icicles

Hiking The Chestnut Tops Trail In The Smokies!

By Rachelle Siegrist

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Last Friday was a beautiful day, albeit a cold one, so Wes and I decided to spend a couple of hours outdoors hiking in the nearby Smokies.  Arriving at the trailhead for Chestnut Tops, we suited it up, grabbed our hiking sticks and were off.  We plodded up hill, climbing the narrow winding path that leads up and up, to where it eventually twists around the mountain.  I must admit we were both quite happy when the path twisted its way around to the south side of the mountain where the sun was streaming down!

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The moss was obviously very happy to be feeling the warmth of the sun too, and was growing everywhere!  It was as lush and soft as I’ve ever seen and felt it, and I couldn’t resist stopping all along the way, as each bend in the trail brought bigger and fluffier clumps!  We soon caught glimpses of distant mountains, which looked as if a huge sifter had been used to gently sprinkle powdered sugar across the tops!

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As we continued to climb in elevation, scant amounts of powdery snow lay in the shadows, so I decided to stop and build a miniature snowball, which was almost impossible with the wee amounts of snow, but fun to try nonetheless!

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Later on we passed through one section where a little more snow still lay atop the leaves.

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We continued hiking for quite sometime, whilst enjoying the solitude and amazing peace and quiet found only in the woods!  Occasionally a bird would sing and at one point we could hear the rushing water of the river in the distance.  Growing later in the day, the sun started sinking behind surrounding mountains and we knew the temperature was going to start dropping, so we thought it best to head back.  We choose wisely, as it grew even colder quite fast, and what were baby icicles, had grown immensely since we had past them on the way up!

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I think this may have been the first time I had ever seen icicles forming from a downed tree stump!  It was definitely getting colder, and with the wind picking up, we certainly didn’t sweat as we hiked back down the trail!  It was a beautiful afternoon and wonderful hike, leaving me feeling very refreshed and with my batteries recharged!

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~ Fresh Off The Easel ~

I recently finished my painting of a frog which I saw and photographed while walking one of the boardwalk trails near St. Petersburg, FL last October.  He was great fun to paint and helped me feel warm, while thinking of being in the swamps in Florida!  Wes came up with the wonderfully clever title of “Somebody’s Prince“!

“Somebody’s Prince”

I also finished my miniature painting of a beautiful Bobwhite Quail, which I painted on silk, and will debut at the upcoming Southeastern Wildlife Exposition in Charleston, SC in a couple of weeks.

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 “Portrait Of A Bobwhite Quail”

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle



EXQUISITE MINIATURES at the Hickory Museum of Art

EXQUISITE MINIATURES opens at The Hickory Museum of Art!

By Rachelle Siegrist

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Wes and I with our two self-portrait miniatures

Wes and I just returned from a great weekend in Hickory, NC, where we attended the opening for our EXQUISITE MINIATURES Exhibition at the beautiful Hickory Museum of Art. The tour which opened in July of 2010 at the R. W. Norton Art Gallery, is now being exhibited at its 28th venue, and will be traveling to numerous other museums through 2022, bringing the total to 37 venues for our exhibition!

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Wes standing in front of the beautiful museum, which was once the High School

Normally the paintings ship from museum to museum, but they came back to our studio last week, for needed repairs on the shipping crates, as well as replacing some of the paintings and title panels.  So Wes and I drove the exhibit over, staying an extra couple of days, so there was time for the exhibition to be hung before the public opening on Sunday.  It’s always so exciting to see our miniatures exhibited in a new venue, so imagine our excitement at our first peak of the gallery in which they will be exhibited through March 17th!

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We did get to help with matching up the name signs since there’s 58 total!

It was so funny seeing our wee 58 miniatures lining the walls in preparation for being hung, and I enjoyed watching how the perfect lettering for the exhibition is applied, which is truly an art in and of itself!

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Kristina carefully applies the lettering 

We left our paintings in great hands, and spent a couple of hours enjoying another current exhibition at the museum, A Grand Vision: Elliott Daingerfield Paints Grandfather Mountain & The Grand Canyon.  It’s an absolutely gorgeous museum inside and it was a lovely exhibit.

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Wes looking at the Daingerfied exhibit

I really enjoyed our pretend visit to the Grand Canyon via a wall size photo on display in the exhibition!

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Yeah!!!!  I finally made it to the Grand Canyon!!!

We also greatly enjoyed seeing an exhibition of beautiful glass sculptures from the museum’s collection, including a stunning royal blue Chihully piece!  I personally love pop art, and was delighted to see a few pieces by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and other favorites of mine!  Needless to say, it was a most enjoyable afternoon!

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The first glimpse!

No matter the number of times we see it, it always seems like an amazing dream when we walk in and see our miniature paintings filling the walls of prestigious museums, being reminded of how truly blessed we are to have our paintings recognized and admired in such a grand way!

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The opening was very well attended, and the gallery filled with onlookers admiring the “tiny paintings” with great zeal and excitement, with many stating they had never seen anything like it before!  We spent the next couple of hours answering questions of how in the world we did that and about our sources of inspiration, as well as numerous other questions.

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Wes talking with curious attendees 

The Museum’s Executive Director Jon Carfagno, introduced Wes and I, along with fellow artist Harold Humphrey, who’s wonderful work was in the adjacent gallery.  Afterwards Wes spoke for a few minutes before once again talking with people enjoying our work.

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Wes talking to a group of attendees

Wes and I want to extend a BIG Thank You to the wonderful staff at the Hickory Museum of Art and especially to Jon, Clarissa, Kristina, and Kelly, for a beautiful exhibition and delightful time!  If you will be visiting the Hickory, NC area, I highly recommend a visit to this wonderful museum!

If you would love to see EXQUISITE MINIATURES come to a museum near you, please contact our Curator David J. Wagner, L.L.C

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle

Water, Land And Sky

Kayaking and Hiking With Friends!

By Rachelle Siegrist

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We were blessed with a couple days of blue skies and sunshine here in the Smokies this past week, and what a treat it was! There’s a saying “Make hay while the sun shines”, and when it shines as rarely as it has here the past couple of months, it makes you want to take advantage of the rain-free days! So Wes and I did just that, spending a few hours out on the water kayaking. It was cloudy when we started out, and very windy, but at least it wasn’t raining and we were out on the water, so it was a great day! Paddling a new area, we found a short, narrow winding creek, going up it as far as we could. There, the water became shallow, with numerous small cascades upstream, so it was the perfect spot for a boat picnic.

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With the two Bald Eagles in the trees to the left 

We relaxingly sat there, watching a large flock of warblers flit around the surrounding bushes and trees, while being serenaded by the peaceful sounds of running water.  We saw Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Chickadees, Tufted Titmice and several other warblers, as well as Kingfishers, in our cozy little section of the creek.  Whilst paddling afterwards, we saw two adult Bald Eagles sitting in a couple of trees nearby.  At one point one of them called out that very distinctive sound, and it was most beautiful!  Then as I slowly passed beneath, I saw one looking directly down at me, it’s eyes appearing almost crosseyed, with the way they look forward at things, and for a few amazing seconds it was as if we two were the only ones around!

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Yeah the water’s cold, but it’s always cold here!

It was such a peaceful day, and the world was ours, save for one boat with fishermen, as we continued exploring this new area.  We could hear rushing water in the distance and it grew louder as we got closer.  Getting out and walking up the bank, we excitedly discovered a couple of small waterfalls, which were quite lovely!  The cool, overcast day, provided a great opportunity to check out this rocky area, that would surely be full of snakes on a warm sunny day.  Although I could’ve happily stayed there, it was time to climb back into our kayaks and start heading back to the ramp.  The wind was blowing so hard much of the time, that waves were white capping and spraying us with water each time we paddled as they crashed against the front of our kayaks.

Thankfully it finally died down and the rest of the trip was mostly smooth paddling!  After returning and loading our kayaks, we sat for awhile enjoying the amazing view!  I was instantly mesmerized by both the warmth of the sun on my skin and watching the thousands of sun sparkles dance about the water’s surface.  I could’ve easily stayed there the remainder of the day!

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Ah . . . sun and water!  

We chose to go on a hike with friends Tom and Sharon on one of the sunny days.  Since it offers numerous open views in the winter months, we decided to hike the Little Greenbrier Trail, which runs the ridge lines up from the Walker Sisters Cabin.  Wes and I hadn’t hiked this trail in many years, and couldn’t believe the growth in Wears Valley since we last saw it from up there.  It was a beautiful sunny day and not a cloud in the sky as we walked along, and I had to constantly stop to pet the large clumps of moss and deer lichen that lined the path, that were so soft to the touch due to so much rain.

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Where did Wes go?
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Oh . . . There he is!

We finished our hike in time to ride up on the new recently opened section of the Foothills Parkway, which offers stunning views of Townsend, Wears Valley and the Great Smoky National Park beyond.  With the clear skies, we could see forever and felt as if we were on top of the world!

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~ Fresh Off The Easel ~

Wes recently finished his painting of  Lubber Grasshopper, which he photographed during one of our kayaking adventures.  Next week I’ll be sharing my frog with you.

“Eastern Lubber Grasshopper” by-Wes

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EXQUISITE MINIATURES ~ Meet The Artists Reception

At The Hickory Museum of Art 

This coming Sunday, January 20th ~ from 2 to 4 PM

We are looking forward to visiting this beautiful museum and if you are in, or going to be visiting the area, we would love to see you there!

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle