Walkin’ In A Winter Wonderland!


Snowfall at the Siegrist’s in the Smokies!

By Rachelle Siegrist

snow in the smokies wes and rachelle siegrist1A magical thing happened at our home nestled here in the Smokies . . . snow fell!  It started falling last Friday, so Wes and I ventured out for a walk, the big fluffy flakes falling all around and landing on us. It was a wet snow, so it stuck to the trees like glue, outlining each and every limb, twig and remaining leaf with snow!  It was a beautiful sight and the world became a quiet and peaceful one!snow in the smokies wes and rachelle siegrist 8Being the first snow of the season, and a gorgeous one at that, I couldn’t resist taking photos, documenting our white world in pictures.  The ground was warm enough that the snow melted in many areas, creating less than ideal sledding conditions.  But not to worry,  I was more than happy to walk around just admiring my new marshmallow world!snow in the smokies wes and rachelle siegrist 7Surprisingly during the night, even more snow fell and we awoke to a stunning winter wonderland the next morning!snow in the smokies wes and rachelle siegrist 6To top it off, the clouds parted, revealing crystal clear blue skies above, allowing the sun to shine down, thus illuminating our white world and creating a surreal winter setting!   snow in the smokies wes and rachelle siegrist3I walked around our gardens babbling to myself about how amazing and unbelievably beautiful it all was!  Once again, God the master artist, had created yet another stunning masterpiece, and I was completely awestruck!snow in the smokies wes and rachelle siegrist5So sit back in the warmth of your home and enjoy this amazing walk amongst our winter wonderlands through these photos which say more than words ever could . . . .snow in the smokies wes and rachelle siegrist4

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While I love seeing, sledding and playing in the snow, I also love being warm.  So I’ve been enjoying watching . . . and I mean really watching, as it’s in Portuguese so I have to quickly read the subtitles . . . a documentary on Bossa Nova Jazz, and how it all started in the mid-50s.  Of course the birth of this amazing style of music happened in warm, sunny Rio De Janeiro, so the scenery alone makes one feel at least a wee bit warmer!

Having loved Bossa Nova since the first time my Dad played one of his LPs for me as a little girl, I am intrigued by how it came to be. One of my many favorites is “The Girl from Ipanema” . . . of course the first word describing her is “tall” so perhaps that’s part of the reason.  Nonetheless, watching the musician sitting outside amongst his tropical paradise while singing it, softly strumming the beautiful harmonious chords on his guitar, I could almost feel a warm sea breeze gently blowing my hair and hear the sounds of crashing surf in the distance, and I certainly felt warmer!

Today our winter wonderland is mostly gone, all that remains is a little snow in shady areas. The sun is shining and the skies are blue, much the same as in the Bossa Nova documentary in Rio De Janeiro,  but alas there’s still a big discrepancy . . . . the temperatures!

~ Fresh off the Easels ~

This week brought more easel time and Wes and I finished painting our latest Tandem Treasure, featuring a gorgeous rooster we photographed while visiting the Oconaluftee Visitor Center and Mountain Farm museum with my parents this past fall. We only do a few of these special miniature tandem gems each year.  We’re busy now painting for upcoming shows and doing commissions.

With hands for scale ~ Wes paints on Mr. Red 

Rooster painting by Rachelle and Wes Siegrist, Mr. Red From Rhode Island
Our Tandem Treasure “Mr. Red From Rhode Island”  

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle



Painting Pet Portraits


Painting A Commissioned Pet Portrait!

by Rachelle Siegrist

Dog Painting by Rachelle Siegrist

Pet portraits . . . each new commission brings with it excitement, as I eagerly wait for the collector to send me photos of their beloved pet or pets.  There’s always an element of surprise when I open an email, revealing what my latest subject looks like, while viewing the photos of them.  During emails back and forth, there’s delightful stories that proud pet parents share with me, some funny or sweet, and some which are very touching!  Upon choosing my favorite photos and coming up with compositional ideas, I draw a couple of sketches, from which the favorite is then chosen by the collector.  Many times I will be asked for my input too, so I will explain why I think one pose or background will ultimately make a nicer portrait painting than others.

Once the final pose is decided upon, I do a fairly detailed sketch before beginning the painting process.  The first washes of color are added at this stage, and I slowly build upon these areas, adding more washes of color, to begin establishing the values.  I like to go ahead and paint the eyes straight away, as they are of great importance and bring life to the subject, if painted correctly.  Plus that way the subject can watch me paint the rest of them . . . Ha Ha!

Fur colors are painted in, as well as areas of the background. I slowly build up the values and details in areas all over the painting, making sure it’s working together nicely.  If there are certain curl patterns in the fur, such as the case is with Emily, I start shaping them with darker and lighter values.

Once I have the areas painted with the correct value and color, I start adding the fine details of individual hairs in areas, as well as intricate details on things such as collars.  Emily is wearing an adorable bow placed on her by the groomers, and I loved the extra pop of color and interest it added to her portrait.  The bedspread she’s laying on, was actually stippled, created by hundreds of little dots of color, giving it that wonderful soft texture. Since Emily has amazingly soft hair, I painted hundreds of wee hairs, carefully blending the edges on most, to create the illusion of incredibly soft fur in her portrait.

Details were painted in the pillows in the background and a few darker grain marks were painted on the wooden part of the bed.  Several highlights in just the perfect spots were added, and Voila’ . . . beautiful Emily’s portrait was finished!  As you can imagine when our collector received Emily’s portrait this past week and presented her gift, the recipient was absolutely delighted, and I was told that he was completely beside himself!  A truly happy occasion, when all who are involved are delighted and touched in a very special way!!!

commission a dog painting by rachelle siegrist
My finished portrait of “Emily Rose”

While we’re on the subject of great gifts, guess what my dear friend Sharon surprised me with this past week . . . a pink inner-tube!  After she and Tom picked me up and we headed to the river one afternoon this past week, Sharon proudly handed me a box, and said “Here is your Christmas present . . . I can’t wait that long for you to have it!” Needless to say,  giddy as a little girl on Christmas morning, I immediately tore it open and by the time we got to the river, had it out and ready to be inflated, which Tom kindly helped me do. Within minutes I was floating on the water in it and it was so comfortable! We’ve since decided they’re so cushy in fact, that we almost feel guilty floating blissfully along in them!

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Ah . . . super comfy and pretty and pink to boot!


~ —————()————— ~

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle


River Adventures And Exhibition News!


Whitewater adventures in the Smokies!

by Rachelle Siegrist

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Ready or not Wes . . . Here I come!

We’ve been having a ball this past week, continuing to replace some of our daily walks with tubing adventures!  The video camera is still our cherished new toy and we’re having a grand time using it!  If only I could manage to learn how to operate it while wearing it atop my head, all would be well! Thrilled that I had captured some great video while tubing recently, I was crushed when reaching the bottom of the large cascade to discover the battery had died right as I started, and that the camera had not been filming at all. Oh well . . . I’ll get it right eventually and I’m certainly having great fun learning!

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Oh Yea!!!!

I have figured out that wearing my hair up in pigtails works best with wearing the head strap with the camera on my head.  What a hilarious sight I am, crashing down the cascades with that camera mounted on my head, pigtails sticking out through the top two sections of the strap and my black ribbon tied under my chin.  I’ll have to let Wes get a photo of the hilarious get-up sometime to give you a good laugh!

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Going down!

We finally got some rain, so the water was up and flowing nicely for a couple of our trips down, keeping the rock polishing to a minimum . . . Ha Ha!  When the water level is lower, at times it seems that our main job is polishing rocks with our backsides! Needless to say the moss-covered rocks or what I call “carpet rocks“, and friend Sharon calls “hairy rocks” are indeed our favorite, as they are the most comfortable and painless to polish when the necessity arises. We have jokingly started calling our gang the official Little River Rock Polishers!

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Sharon’s turn . . . Weeeeeee!

Even though we’ve been down this section of the river numerous times already this summer, and think we know it’s character, along with every little twist and turn, it still surprises us now and then whilst going down, but then that keeps the adventure fresh and new!  

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Having a blast!

Much needed rainy weather kept us from our usual Friday night date with Chance and his grandparents at the river this past week, so instead, we spent a creative evening at their house while coloring and cutting things out with him.  He loved it when he and I started making our own little crayons, which I cut out of appropriate colored paper in the shape of a crayon,  writing the name Crayola and the name of color on each one. He was most delighted when I folded him a box out of paper to keep his “crayons” in, loving it so much that he wanted three more paper boxes. Who knows, we may have the makings of another little artist here!

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The brave camera man with his common . . . I’m up to something . . . look on his face!


Wes and I currently have three paintings featured in the Society of Animal Artists’ Wildlife Treasures Show.  Located at the Nature in Art Gallery and Museum in Wallsworth Hall, Sandhurst, Gloucester, UK.  The exhibition runs now through September 3rd, so if you live in or are planning to be in the area, I recommend a visit to this beautiful museum!

Siegrist paintings on display at the Nature In Art Gallery and Museum
Ours are featured on the mantel
Siegrist paintings on display at the Nature In Art Gallery and Museum
Mine is the smallest painting in the group!

Wes and I are thrilled that our two paintings have been selected for the SAA tour! The image below lists the museums at which you can see them in person.

Siegrist paintings in SAA 57th Annual and Tour

~ Fresh off the Easels ~

I finished another dog commission this past week of an adorable little baby named Tito. He has been gone for a few years now, and his family thought this a wonderful way to remember him!  As you can imagine, I had a delightful time painting him with those big, beautiful and expressive brown eyes!

Dog painting - Tito by Rachelle Siegrist
My latest commission of “Tito”

I also finished my landscape painting this past week, featuring the Dan Lawson place from our beloved Cades Cove.  This painting is inspired from a visit to Cades Cove earlier this summer with Wes’ parents one evening.  I just love the late spring/early summer bright green of the trees in our area, as evident in my miniature painting!

Cades Cove painting by Rachelle Siegrist
My “Summer At The Lawson Place”

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle