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!


~ —————()————— ~

yellow lab painting, yellow Labrador Retriever painting, dog commission by rachelle siegrist

~ To Commission A Painting by Us Click Here!

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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!

rachelle siegrist tubing3
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

Family and Water . . . A Great Mix!


A fun visit with family here in the Smokies!

by Rachelle Siegrist

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S’mores time!!!

My family arrived here in the Smokies a week ago last Thursday, after dropping Wes and I off at the airport in Sanford, FL on the way up Wednesday.  My niece Haydyn and nephew Tyler were thrilled to be back in the mountains again, and were ready for a week full of adventure! We started it off with tubing in the Little River here in Townsend Friday afternoon, and although recent rain in the mountains caused swift moving and higher water levels, we still had fun and enjoyed tubing a couple of short trips down. That evening we had supper on the screen porch and made s’mores for dessert over the fire in the backyard.  A great way to spend a summer day indeed!

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Wes’ clay sculpture “Surf’s up Dude!”

Rainy weather Saturday made it perfect weather for hanging out here at the house and sculpting with clay. Of course we had to sculpt a surfer catching some waves complete with the a shark fin, as well as me in my kayak paddling with all sorts of critters including a gator. The kids had a ball creating a variety of interesting things out of the clay.

rachelle siegrist riding the cades cove loop
The best way to see the cove . . . in the back of a truck!

I made homemade baked ziti for Father’s Day lunch which my Dad, along with the rest of us enjoyed eating! That afternoon the weather cleared up, so we, along with friends Tom and Sharon, headed into Cades Cove for a nice picnic supper by the stream before loading up into the back of my parents truck and heading around the loop road. Our first stop was along Sparks Lane, where we had a blast wading in the stream and perfecting our rock skipping techniques.

rachelle siegrist in cades cove
Ready . . . set . . . skip!

While playing in the water, we were thrilled when a white-tailed deer walked over to where we were, coming down to the stream to get a drink. As we stood very still and quietly watched her, she decided to go upstream, gracefully and effortlessly jumping right over a log blocking her watery path! Needless to say, we felt tremendously blessed to have witnessed such a beautiful site so near to where we were standing!

deer in cades cove
Mmmmmm . . .  refreshing cold mountain water!

Loaded back into the truck, we continued our drive around the loop, seeing several more deer out in the fields, as well as quite a few turkeys. Riding in the back of the truck, with the tree canopy passing above, is a great way to experience the cove! We laughed, talked and sang as we rode along, a light misty rain falling on us at first, and before long we started seeing hundreds of fireflies in the grassy fields.  It was truly magical watching hundreds of  twinkling lights throughout the fields, and we couldn’t believe it when a black bear walked over towards the truck from a nearby tree, crossing the road behind us! We were absolutely delighted thinking it a most magical and enchanting evening!  Finishing the drive around the loop, we parked the truck and walked up into the cove a ways, enjoying the immense serenity and beauty, along with the twinkling display of light, complements of the fireflies.  It was a beautiful evening and a great way to spend Father’s Day with my dad!

rachelle siergist with pink flamingo
Me and my precious little buddy Haydyn

Tuesday came bringing nice weather for playing in the water, and so we did just that. We spent the day kayaking, swimming and hanging out on our floats and tubes,  with the new pink flamingo float from my parents stealing the show, proving to be a perfect complement to my pink kayak! 


I even got Wes to get on the pink flamingo with me ~ Hold on Sharon! . . . Ha Ha

wes siegrist kayaking
Haydyn goes for a little kayak ride with Grandpa (Thanks Kit for this neat photo!)

We took time for a relaxing picnic supper, which gave us more energy for playing in the water. Afterwards my Dad, Tyler and I went kayaking and I was totally amazed at how fast Tyler took to the kayak and learned the art of paddling! He’s decided he now knows what he wants for Christmas this year . . . a kayak, and I’m thrilled to have another kayaking buddy in the family!

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Food always tastes better in the woods!

Haydyn is definitely a water baby like me, perfectly happy and content to spend countless hours swimming and playing in the water, and although I forgot to check, I’m sure our toes looked like raisins by the time we left the water that night!

Kit, Dad and Tyler having a great time!
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Tyler was an instant pro!

I have totally loved the countless hours we have spent with my family in and around water these past two weeks while making many more wonderful memories!!  Moreover, while blissfully boogie boarding at the beach last week, I decided that from now on when asked . . . “As a kid, what did you always want to be when you grew up?” I’m going to be completely honest now and say . . . “A beach bum!”  And who knows, I just may get to be one someday yet . . . Ha Ha!

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A beautiful sunset enjoyed this past week after a day of adventure


~ Fresh off the Easels ~

I finished another pet commission this past week, of an adorable Yorkie named Benji!  I had an absolute ball painting this precious little boy and am happy I get to pet and play with him occasionally as well!

Yorkie painting - Benji - by Rachelle Siegrist.jpg
My latest dog commission “Benji”


I’m currently painting on two more adorable pet commissions, one of “Tito” and of “Riley and Boris” and look forward to sharing them with you as I make progress and eventually as finished portrait paintings soon!

yellow lab painting, yellow Labrador Retriever painting, dog commission by rachelle siegrist

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle