Getting Ready For A Wonderful Christmas!

Haydn the angel
My adorable little niece Haydyn, truly is an angel!

Busy . . . busy . . . busy . . . that’s what we’ve been much of this past week! We’ve been getting ready for my family, all eight of them, to arrive to spend Christmas week here in the Smokies with us! They should be getting here late tonight, so we’re getting the last few things on the “to do” list done! It’s going to be a splendid and very Merry Christmas with my family all around us and my little nephew, Tyler, and niece, Haydyn, here! It will be fun to see Christmas through the eyes of a child once again! In addition to getting ready for their impending visit, we spent quite a bit of time painting this past week as well. I have also been making numerous trips out daily to feed my feathered and furry friends. My little friend Stubbs, the Tufted Titmouse, has come several times, which makes me a happy camper. He’s very happy and content to sit in his bowl of finely crunched p-nuts and sunflower chips and gulp it down, and I’m perfectly content and happy to watch him!

stuffed acornsquash
My homemade stuffed acorn squash I made one evening . . . YUM!

We’ve enjoyed some fun times with friends and neighbors this past week too! Our neighborhood had a Christmas dinner party at a lovely restaurant in nearby Alcoa one evening. I took my camera with good intentions of getting a nice photo of the group, but alas we were having so much fun listening to our friends Gary and Pam, that I lost track of time and completely forgot to have a photo taken. Oh well, nonetheless, we were obviously having a ball, as they are great storytellers and very funny! Another evening, our friend Kit joined us, and we spent the evening at friends Fred and Barb’s house, where we were also joined by friends Pat and Frank. As we nibbled on some delicious snacks, we watched the Christmas movie “Elf”, and did more laughing than anything! A homemade orange-spiced brownie topped off with a bit of Extreme Moose Tracks ice cream put a divine ending to the evening! Fred and Barb graciously sent home more mealworms for my little wren buddy, Peedeepeeps, and Frank and Pat sent home “pizza bones” . . . pizza crusts . . . to be made into future peanut butter treats for the birds and squirrels.  Many apologies for not having many photos to share with you this week, but you can be sure that next week’s blog will certainly be an exciting one, with numerous photos and entertaining stories to share!

Fresh off the easel ~ Wes finished his miniature painting of a White Rhino and I completed a cute little bunny. Both of these will be among our new paintings for the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition (SEWE) this coming February in Charleston, SC.

african white rhino painting
“An African Treasure” by Wes

bunny painting
“As Cute As Can Be” by Rachelle

Come see the artwork in person at our exhibitions!

Cherish your loved one or a beloved pet in miniature!

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Until next time ~ Rachelle

Painting in the New Year!

“Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do.”
~Edgar Degas

carolina wren photo

My precious Peedeepeeps enjoying his peanut crunchies!

Paint the New Year in . . . we did! We’ve been spending most of our time painting on our miniatures this past week, with the exception of a couple of projects and of course, time spent feeding my precious critters. I have three Carolina Wrens coming most of the time now, along with a gang of Titmice that come in a group of about eight to nine, and can wipe out an offering of peanut crunchies in mere minutes! Believe it or not, I was actually able to eat my breakfast on the porch one morning this past week, in January no less . . . unbelievable! Anyway, I was joined by all my feathered friends, which also enjoyed eating their breakfast alongside me at the table. I told my dad this past week though, that their table manners just aren’t the best, as they always stand on the table when they eat, and sometimes even poo on it! Some gobble their food very quickly, others just eat and run, and some fuss the entire time their stuffing their beaks. Nonetheless, I love them all and enjoy every minute spent with them! They’re quite entertaining to say the least, as one never knows what will happen next!

bird photo

Okay . . . I’m back now, I just had to go put out more peanut crunchies for the kids since Peedeepeeps was sitting outside the studio looking in the window and fussing, trying to get my attention, and of course it worked . . . it always does. I admit that they have me very well trained.  Now, I have to share with you one of the funniest things that I’ve ever seen a squirrel do, and it happened this past week. We finally got some real winter weather this past week, so the birdbath, emptied the evening before, was filled the next morning with very warm, steaming water. Minutes after we had stepped back inside, one of our resident squirrels came and went immediately to the steaming birdbath. He dipped his nose and mouth down into it and within seconds had placed one of his arms into it as well, followed promptly by the other arm. He then decided that this hot spring felt so amazing that he laid his chin and then his entire upper body in the top part of the water, along with both of his arms, just holding himself there, eyes practically rolling back into his head, with the steam rising all around him.  We could just hear him say “OH . . . this feels so amazing, I could just spend the entire day suspended here!” It was hilarious, and this was not to be the end, for after he had gotten out dripping wet, and ate a few sunflower seeds, he returned and carried out this amazing ritual once more! We laughed and laughed, and then cried when we realized we didn’t get one single photo of this entire show, so I said I’d just have to paint it with words!

carolina wren photo

One of our neighbor friends, Norma, generously gave us three large pumpkins which we “processed” this past week. We began early one morning with washing and cutting up the pumpkins, one at a time, preparing them for cooking in the oven. We started filling pots with the chopped up pieces and cooking them in the oven, roughly an hour at a time. However, it seemed the more we chopped and cooked, the more pumpkin there was, almost like manna from heaven. This process went on all day long, with taking out the seeds, chopping it up, and stuffing it into the pots, then loading them into the oven. Finally by later that afternoon we had gotten it all cooked, mashed and loaded into freezer bags. It was then time to roast all of the seeds that we had carefully saved and cleaned. When it was all said and done, I think we had at least fifteen-quart size bags of pumpkin, and lots of yummy roasted seeds! It was a lot of work, but now we have a freezer full of pumpkin, and we have a new found admiration for our grandparents and the hard work they put into canning over the years! I must admit however, that we decided it’s much easier to paint!

pumpkin

Pumpkin . . . pumpkin . . . and more pumpkin!

Fresh Off the Easel: I finished a miniature painting this past week of a baby bunny that we photographed in our yard last year, right outside our bedroom window. It is just adorable, making it great fun to paint! Wes finished a couple of miniatures. One of a Sea Lion basking in the sun, that we photographed while in Mexico this past spring, on an island in the Sea of Cortez. He also finished a miniature painting of Red-shouldered Hawk, which we photographed in our neighborhood during one of our walks.  I’m currently working on a painting of mice that I photographed at the Louisville Zoo this past month, and Wes is working on an Cormorant photographed during one of our Florida visits.

 bunny painting miniature

“Precious Baby” by Rachelle
1¾ x 1¾ inches

sea lion painting miniature

“Basking Beach Babe” by Wes
2½ x 3½ inches

red-shoulderedhawk painting miniature

Red-shouldered Hawk
3½ x 2½ inches

~ Upcoming Events and Exhibitions of Our Paintings This Week ~

~ 37th Annual International Miniature Art Show (MASF) January 15 – February 5, 2012: Dunedin Fine Art Center, Dunedin, FL – We’ll be in attendance the 14th and 15th for the opening ceremonies! Also, at the same time/place will be the Miniature Artists of America Traveling Exhibition, which includes two of our miniature paintings alongside that of 33 others honored for being the best in American miniature art.

To view all our upcoming exhibits: http://www.artofwildlife.com/exhibitschedule.html

~ Many thanks for your prayers for my dad, as he is improving a little each day!  Thankfully, he found out this past week that his hip was not broken, and that his broken collarbone was aligned correctly for good healing. Now it will just take time, and I’m trying to get myself trained not to make him laugh too much when we’re there soon, since it makes it very sore for him to laugh.  However, since we both love to laugh and can’t help but do so many times, I’m thinking it’s useless to try and keep from it!  Oh-well, maybe it will help him heal faster!

“Collect the future’s history today while it is still affordable.”
Until next time ~ Rachelle