It’s All About The Birds


 

I‘ve so enjoyed being able to eat breakfast on the back porch several mornings this past week, and am never alone, but I am always joined by numerous feathered and furry friends, bringing me great joy!  The Tinymouse family consisting of five adorable Tufted Titmice, hang out with me constantly as long as there are treats being offered.  I spread out a lovely little buffet of sunflower seeds and peanut crunchies, which they find irresistible, and in turn, spend much of their time sitting at the table with me.

They fly all around and above me, and occasionally land on me, which is always a delight and a thrill!  While recently reading Thoreau’s wonderful book titled “Walden” I came across this statement which I totally love . . . “I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance than I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn.”  I couldn’t agree more, and delight greatly in time spent with my bird friends each day! Of course, I also delight greatly in visits from my precious squirrel friends who frequent the back porch looking for peanut treats.  One squirrel named Skittles always gives me a gentle bump with her velvety soft nose after grabbing the first peanut as I’m placing them on the floor beside me, and I always feel like I’ve just been given the world!

cute squirrel photo

The shrews have also returned to secret garden in our backyard, and I’ve been enjoying watching the little furry critters runout at lightning speed, grab a peanut or seed, to take back and eat safely in the underground home. I delight in watching birds everywhere we go, and whilst kayaking one day this past week, I found myself amidst a flock of mixed birds, mostly warblers. Sitting in my kayak mere feet from the shore, I noticed one wee tiny brown bird, which I’m quite sure was a Winter Wren, exploring a dirt crevice running the length of the wooded bank.  It purposefully went along, tossing aside leaves much larger than itself, while intently searching for bugs, and at one point flew out, almost landing on the front of my kayak!

wes siegrist kayaking

While still watching the adorable wee wren, I saw a chipmunk come scampering down to get a nice long drink. Thinking to myself “This keeps getting better” I suddenly saw two male Prothonotary Warblers fly and land close by in front of me.  Then one flew down to the water’s edge where it commenced taking a nice long refreshing bath in the shallow water lined with leaves.  About that time a regal looking Belted Kingfisher landed on an outstretched tree limb close by, and I decided I could happily stay there the remainder of the day!  After paddling a few times and heading in the opposite direction, a precious little Pied-billed Grebe popped up nearby, from underneath the water where it had been searching for lunch.  It curiously swam near while trying to figure out what the big plastic pink creature was that had invaded its private swimming hole, but didn’t seem to mind me being there at all, so I stayed a while longer, just watching him swim effortlessly about.  I had indeed made more amazing memories that I will keep with me for a long while!

fall leaves in the smokies

 ~ In The Studio ~

I finished my red fox painting that is one of three paintings in a collection entitled “A Foxy Trio“. All three miniatures are painted on silk and will debut at the upcoming 24th Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival November 15th – 17th at the Thomasville Cultural Center,  in Thomasville, GA.

red fox painting by-Rachelle-Siegrist

I’ve also started on the other two, switching between them just to keep things interesting, and will share them with you once I’ve finished them both.

Wes finished his miniature painting of a baby Red-shouldered Hawk, resting in his nest constructed out of piles of lush Spanish moss.  This little fellow was born in my parents’ backyard in Florida, and my Dad was able to take the reference photo for the painting.

 

baby hawk painting_by_Wes_Siegrist
“Sitting In a Spanish Nursery”

 


~ See Our Miniatures In Person This Week ~

In the Tradition of Audubon Exhibition
September 12, 2019 – January 5, 2020: Cincinnati Museum Center, Cincinnati, OH

Society of Animal Artists’ 59th Annual Art & The Animal Exhibition 
September 19, 2019 – January 5, 2020: The Briscoe Western Art Museum, San Antonio, TX

EXQUISITE MINIATURES ~ September 15 – December 3, 2019: Kennedy-Douglass Center For The Arts, Florence, AL


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Until Next Time . . . 

~ Rachelle

 

Can You Say Worms?

Worms . . . Worms . . . And More Worms!

By Rachelle Siegrist

carolina wren photo5

     Kermit the frog would be as happy as I am, for the world is turning green outside!  It seems every hour of every day literally hundreds of baby bright green leaves unfurl, causing the woods to spring to life right before our very eyes!  The brilliant white blossoms of the dogwoods are in full splendor in our yard, as well as the tender pinks on the pink Dogwoods, and the hot pink of the Redbuds.  It’s truly beautiful and I can feel myself becoming more alive each day as well!  Several birds are already nesting in our yard, in bushes and available boxes located throughout.  I’m delighted to say that after a several years absence, the bluebirds have returned once again and we’re quite sure they’ve chosen a box by our garden to nest in, filling the air with their familiar . . . “Cheer cheerful charmer!

raising mealworms

Nesting birds are hungry birds, and even more so when babies start hatching soon.  So this past week we ordered 4,000 mealworms, and I don’t know who was happier when they arrived, the birds or me!  Peedeepeeps has been thoroughly enjoying eating the worms while posing for multiple reference photos for a current commission.  I’m quite sure he believes one can never have too many reference photos!  Of course, the Tufted Titmice are enjoying them as much as the wrens and soon the bluebirds will be as well.

carolina wren photo

I believe the last of the gifted suet cakes have been served up, and I cannot express how much I have enjoyed watching all my critter kids enjoy eating it!  I’m sure the squirrels thought they had died and gone to heaven when presented with such a delicious treat, with several of them practically laying in it while consuming it, eyes going closed and obviously in a state of bliss!

cute squirrel photo2

And why simply sit BY it, when you can sit ON it while chomping down!

cute squirrel photo3

Of course, when you have eaten till you can eat no more, there’s nothing left to do but to go lie down and rest for a while.

cute squirrel photo4

Or if you overindulged, you may just have to be satisfied with sitting, like my precious Bunny squirrel below.

cute squirrel photo

Peedeepeeps and Elvira, as well as all the other birds, think it is too good to be true!

carolina wren photo.2

It seems like our yard is constantly bringing surprises as we never know for sure “Whoooo” is going to pay us a visit.

barred owl photo

Besides enjoying meals on the back porch while feeding and watching my critters, I spent much of this past week painting our bathroom and bedroom.  The first day it was exciting to have such a large canvas to work on, but by the end of the third, I decided it’s more fun to paint miniatures!  I’ve yet to touch up the trim and still have the living room to do but for now, it’s back to painting on my commissions for a while.

 

rachelle siegrist

~ Fresh Off The Easel ~

Wes has put in countless hours this past week while working on the SAA entries for the annual show, which will be juried at the board meeting in Chicago next month.  Therefore his easel has been very lonesome this past week.  I’ve started my commission painting which is a miniature after Alred Usher Soord’s painting from the late 1800s, “The Good Shepherd“.  Needless to say, I’m having a ball with this one and am anxious to get back to the easel!

 

painting The Good Sheperd
Painting the first washes

 

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~ Rachelle

 

 

It’s The Little Things

In Daily Life . . . That Many Times Mean The Most!

By Rachelle Siegrist

crab apple blossom

Spring is finally in the air, making its presence known through a beautiful display of flowers and tiny bright green leaves bursting forth on shrubs and trees.  It’s also brought milder temperatures, which I really love! While the bright yellow flowers of the forsythia and the cherry tree blossoms are now mostly gone, and the intense red of the crabapple blossoms have faded to a delicate shade of pink, the white flowers on the Dogwoods are starting to open and the Carolina Jasmine is adorned with lemon yellow bell-shaped flowers.  Each day seems to bring a change if one takes the time to observe nature close enough to take notice of it.  The recent rains followed by warmer temps have also brought another delightful treasure . . . Morel Mushrooms!  We harvested two baskets of these little edible gems yesterday!

morrel mushrooms photo

The challenge of the hunt in finding them is as much fun as eating this delicate gourmet treat of the woods.  We walk about looking intently, until catching a glimpse of one, and upon closer observation see another here, and another there, and before you know it our basket has enough for a meal, and we couldn’t be more delighted!  They are brought inside and soaked in water to remove debris tucked inside their numerous rubbery chambers.  Once free of dirt, rinsed and drained, each one is carefully sliced into four sections lengthwise, and sauteed in melted butter, in a cast iron skillet.  Add a little salt and pepper and within minutes, you have a delectable treat that is sure to tantalize your tastebuds if you, like we, are a fan of mushrooms.  Be forewarned, however, that once you have eaten Morels, mushrooms from the store will never taste as good again!

cooked morrel mushrooms

Speaking of edible treats, one of our neighbors who decided to stop feeding birds recently, gave us multiple packs of suet.  So one day this past week, Wes had a wonderful idea to make it where the furry critters, as well as the birds, could enjoy the tasty treat, so he spread some out along the handrails on the back deck one morning.  Within minutes there were numerous squirrels there lined up and competing for prime seating at the buffet!

cute squirrels

The squirrels enjoyed consuming the crumbles all day long, and towards the end, only a few crumbs remained for them to choose from.  I had to laugh when I looked out and saw one of my squirrels, looking as if it had exceeded the capacity of its stomach, and was overcome by the sense of fullness mixed with the warmth of the sun, and could do nothing but just lay down in it, succumbing to a complete and total state of bliss!

cute squirrel photo

Meanwhile, my resident Carolina Wrens Peedeepeeps and Elvira, are thoroughly enjoying the idea of practicing eating mealworms for reference photos for one of our current commissions.  Our collector friend wants a painting that’s long and narrow, requesting that I paint the side featuring Peedeepeeps whilst Wes paints the side featuring Elvira.  It’s going to be very interesting to be able to easily see the difference in our styles, permanently displayed side by side in the same painting.  I’ll be sharing progress with you on future blog posts once we get started.

carolina wren

Since we walk or ride bikes almost every day around Townsend, we occasionally find things.  We’ve found boats. money, tubes, ties, backpacks, umbrellas, just to name a few, and this past week we found a very nice cushion that will be great for camping or maybe kayaking.  I had to scamper down the riverbank to retrieve it and give it a wash before carrying it back home, but we were quite pleased with this week’s free treasure.

little river townsend

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~ Rachelle