Magical Meadows, Rocket Stove and Eggs!

Hiking Schoolhouse Gap to White Oak Sinks!

by Rachelle Siegrist

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It’s that time of year again, so this past Wednesday, we headed up Schoolhouse Gap Trail to see if the Tall Phlox were blooming. It was a beautiful morning, as occasional clouds passed overhead and the sound of springtime birdsong and gentle breezes filled the air!  As we started our descent into the woodland meadow area, clusters of the delicate lavender flowers started appearing, proving our timing was perfect!  Soon we found ourselves surrounded by a sea of lavender and their soft sweet fragrance filled the air! We found the perfect lunch spot, a big log with plenty of room for the four of us, and we were delighted to have this magical meadow all to ourselves!

A Swallowtail enjoys the Tall Phlox, Shooting Stars and Squaw Root

After lunch, we decided to hike up to a sinkhole where Virginia Bluebells bloom each year.  It’s tricky knowing exactly when they’re blooming, so we weren’t sure what to expect, but were thrilled to find that they were indeed at peak, and absolutely stunning! It was decided that it was a wonderfully peaceful place to just sit awhile, enjoying the beauty and quiet!

white oak sinks trailSoon it was time to start hiking back, and while winding our way through the woods, we heard what sounded like thumping on a large hollow log, growing in intensity and tempo as it went along.  Having an odd sound, it also seemed too slow for a woodpecker, so at first we thought perhaps it was a Ruffed Grouse. But after researching online, we concluded it was most likely a Pileated Woodpecker, since Grouse do the beating with their wings while standing on a log. However, I also discovered that it sounded somewhat like the tapping on a hollow tree made by Sasquatch!  Being a huge fan of Bigfoot, I decided to go with that theory in the end, thinking perhaps he was watching us from up on the surrounding hillside somewhere and was tapping out a “Howdy!” to me!  We strolled back down the path, and just before reaching the trailhead, we stopped for a short wade in the river, finding it most refreshing and a great way to end the hike!

rachelle siegrist hiking school house gap trail
Obviously Tom didn’t get the red shirt memo!

Yesterday was the perfect day for hunting Easter eggs with our little friend Chance, and so he, along with his grandparents and several others, spent time in our front gardens hiding and hunting the multi-colored eggs. Of course it all started with the guys hiding the eggs, while us girls kept him entertained with bubbles, a favorite pastime of his!

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Always fun playing with bubbles!

Soon the three dozen or so eggs were carefully tucked in secret hiding places and the hunt began!  Chance was having a ball locating the eggs and putting them in his red bucket, but stopped several times to watch the Swallowtail Butterflies that kept flitting above, occasionally landing to drink nectar from the abundant Azalea blossoms!  Each time he would sweetly say “Hi butterfly“, then proceed with his search for eggs.

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Looking for more eggs!

Upon finding them all, we hid them for him again, so he could enjoy the experience all over again.  Having worked up an appetite, our group headed to Pizza Hut for a tasty supper and ended the fun evening relaxing on the back porch while enjoying Sharon’s yummy chocolate cake!

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Found another one!

Wes recently discovered rocket stoves in a magazine and after doing some online research, built us one, for free no less!  Upon using it the first time, we were totally amazed, so he built another one right next to it the very next day!  Using small amounts of sticks collected from the woods, it concentrates the heat in one area, thus cooking food efficiently and for free!  A day or so later, he built a table nearby to set things on, so our outdoor kitchen is now complete and works great!

wes siegrists rocket stove
The initial rocket stove in action

Celebrate Easter . . . For He is risen!


~ Fresh off the Easels ~

Wes painted two landscape paintings this past week featuring gorgeous settings from our beloved nearby Smoky Mountain National Park.  Just a few minutes drive from our home, we love hiking in this area, and of course painting it for you to cherish and enjoy!

landscape smokies painting by_Wes_Siegrist
Wes’ “Still Waters”
lanscape waterfall painting by_Wes_Siegrist
Wes’ “Cascade Colors”

I have almost finished one of my current commissions which I will share with you soon, and started this commission “A Mule Full” featuring four precious little doggies belonging to dear collector friends!  As you can imagine, I’m having a ball painting this one!

dog commission in progress
My latest dog commission in progress

commission a painting by wes siegrist, landscape painting of the virgin islands

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle

Our 17th Year at SEWE!

Our 17th Southeastern Wildlife Exposition!

by Rachelle Siegrist

Southeastern Wildlife Exposition in Charleston, SC Wes and Rachelle siegrist
With our miniature paintings during the opening gala

We drove through the Smoky Mountains last Friday, as we headed to Charleston, SC for the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition held this past weekend, arriving at the Charleston Place Hotel in time to hang our miniature paintings that evening.  Thankfully mild weather graced our weekend, making our daily mile-long walks between the show and our hotel, pleasant ones!  Thursday the artists were treated to a delightful luncheon held at the beautiful Charleston Grill. Conversation and laughter filled the air, and the relaxing time culminated with a fun presentation.

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Our beautiful artist luncheon on Thursday

That evening, the ballroom was filled with a sea of black as the promenade of attendees dressed in tuxes and long, flowing ball gowns mixed and mingled, and our booth was filled with admirers “Ooooooing and Awwwwwing” as they viewed our paintings through the magnifying glasses. Of course we also enjoyed the scrumptious delicate desserts, offered during the evening, tempting the palate with wee chocolate truffles, key lime tarts and other tantalizing treats!

Wes and Rachelle siegrist with John & Suzie Seerey-Lester at Southeastern Wildlife Exposition in Charleston, SC
Wes and I with dear artist friends John and Suzie Seerey-Lester 

Saturday afternoon attendees were treated to a celebration of the arts, combining the beautiful sounds of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra Quartet with watching a few of our artist friends paint and sculpt live for the audience.  Standing a few feet away, while listening to the talented quartet slide their bows along the strings, was indeed a real treat for me!  The dreamy tunes lulled listeners into a state of relaxation, while enjoying this mesmerizing performance in ultimate surround sound!

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John Seerey-Lester and Grant Hacking painting on stage while the music plays on

Before we knew it, it was Sunday evening and the show had come to an end.  I must say we so enjoyed being next to long time friends John and Suzie Seerey-Lester, and David Lanier and his wife Cathy, and loved being entertained by John’s interesting stories throughout the weekend! It was also great getting to know our other neighbor, Jerry Raedeke, who has been doing SEWE from the very beginning, 35 years ago. After packing up our paintings, we walked over to Hyman’s where we enjoyed a delicious dinner, in a most relaxing atmosphere.  If you’re a lover of fresh seafood and are ever in Charleston, I highly recommend Hyman’s!

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A beautiful Palmetto rose handmade form a cabbage frond, a South Carolina tradition started during the Civil War

We so enjoyed talking with our existing and new collectors at the show, and seeing you excitedly taking our little gems home with you!  I’m also so excited about the numerous dog commissions I have been asked to do, and loved looking at the many delightful photos, featuring the stars of my future commissioned portrait paintings!  Thank you both to our collectors, existing and new, and to the SEWE staff for making this such a wonderful weekend!

Come see our miniature paintings in person at NatureWorks, this coming weekend February 25th – 26th, held at the Tulsa Renaissance in Tulsa, OK. For more information visit their website at NatureWorks.


rachelle-siegrist-painting-a-dog-commission

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle