Fun at the 57th Annual Society of Animal Artists Exhibition!

Society of Animal Artists 57th Annual Exhibition!

by Rachelle Siegrist

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Wes and me beside my turtle painting during the opening reception

We flew in alongside New York City Thursday evening and I was delighted to even spot The Statue of Liberty, before landing at the Newark airport, trading the tranquility of our home in Townsend with less than 400 people, for the masses of the Paramus, NJ area! Nervously leaving the airport in our rental, we totally freaked out when the car engine died at the first chaotic intersection! However, it immediately started back up when Wes took his foot off the brake, and thankfully, upon experiencing this unnerving occurrence a couple of times, we quickly realized it was an eco setting on the car!  Friday, while Wes attended the judges’ luncheon, I went to a small local zoo nearby and loved spending the day outside soaking up the warmth and plentiful sunshine, while watching and photographing the animals!

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His salad looked way yummier than my lunch . . . a meal bar!

Sadly most of the birds had been moved inside for the season, and one of my favorites the prairie dogs, were also off exhibit, causing the zoo to seem even smaller. Nonetheless, I found a comfortable bench in the sun, where I enjoyed talking and laughing with my parents on the phone for long while.  That evening we enjoyed seeing the artwork, whilst enjoying soothing sounds of a harpist, during the opening for the Society of Animal Artists’ 57th Annual Exhibition at the beautiful Hiram Blauvelt Art Museum, which was well attended by an enthusiastic crowd!

Wes and me beside our paintings in the show

Saturday started with a business meeting for the group, followed by a game where attending artists served on a mock jury. Upon separating into several equal numbered groups and then individually voting on numerous artworks, the “In’s and out’s” were tallied for each separate group and the varying results shared. It was a most enlightening way to show the artists how fairly our annual exhibitions are chosen by the jury committees each year.

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Game time!

After lunch an informative and entertaining presentation was given by artist John Pitcher, and the afternoon activities culminated with everyone watching sculptor Paul Rhymer do an actual pour of bronze on the premises, while artist Jim Coe demonstrated painting in oils, both of which were very interesting and enjoyable to watch!

Paul carefully pours the molten bronze into the molds ~ Jim Coe paints in oil

That evening we returned to the beautiful museum, a renovated and redesigned 1893 cedar shingle and turret carriage house. The artists’ banquet, ended on a sweet note with a delicious dessert consisting of a fruit tart topped with caramel drizzle!

Society of animal artists dinner
Conversation and fun during the artists’ banquet inside the museum

After dinner, the various awards were presented and the audience was entertained with artists doing imitations of bird and animal calls. After stating that mine was of a Barred Owl, laughingly I said “Who, who . . . Who cooks for you” before doing the actual call which totally impressed all listening, resulting in “Hootin’’” and applause! The animal calls, some impressive and others hilarious, were part of an art swap enjoyed by participating artists and was certainly the big hit of the evening!  We were delighted to add original works by Cathy Sheeter and Aaron Yount into our growing collection.

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“Who, Who . . . Who Cooks For You?”

Sunday was spent at the SAA Board meeting and jury before having a fun dinner together with the remaining group for artists that evening. Boarding the plane mid-day Sunday, we headed back to our home here in the Smokies. 

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With dear artist friend and laughter buddy Allen Blagden

We especially want to thank the friendly Hiram Blauvelt staff for a wonderful opening weekend and Wes and I are delighted that our touring exhibition Exquisite Miniatures will be traveling to the Hiram Blauvelt in 2019!

~ Fresh off the Easels ~

I recently finished this miniature painting of a lovely scene from Dogwood Harbor, located on Tilghman Island, near Easton, MD.  Wes and I enjoyed exploring the island while there participating in the Waterfowl Festival last November.

“Dogwood Harbor, Tilghman Island”

I also recently finished another miniature painting of an adorable frog I photographed during one of our numerous visits to a swamp, a place I always enjoy being!  Both miniature paintings will be debuted at the upcoming 47th Waterfowl Festival taking place November 9th – 12th.

“Swamp Life”

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

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle


Paddles…Miniature Paintings…And Rhinos

Smokies summertime fun!

by Rachelle Siegrist

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Wes, Tom and Sharon heading out

Wes and I headed back over to the lake this past week for another kayaking adventure, this time taking friends Tom and Sharon along with us. It was a stunningly gorgeous day, and we couldn’t wait to hit the water! Soon we arrived at the boat ramp, where Sharon christened her boat with a handful of lake water before we loaded up, paddling on our merry way. The lake’s surface was nice and smooth making it flawless for her maiden voyage in the new kayak!

Prothonotary Warbler
A beautiful Prothonotary Warbler Wes spotted along the way

Within minutes Wes had spotted a beautiful Prothonotary Warbler, and while he watched and photographed the gorgeous little yellow-headed bird, the rest of us watched a pair of ospreys flying over and fishing in tandem. The birds circling in the sky above while peering into the clear water below, spotted fish, each time swopping down out of the sky, plunging into the water and sending splashes up into the air, while coming out with a prized catch in their talons! A few minutes later a pair of Bald Eagles flew overhead delighting us all, and the day had only just begun!

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Sharon says . . . “No fair, your legs are longer!”

Sharon instantly fell in love with her new kayak, and I’m pretty sure she and Tom enjoyed the sport as much as the Wes and I do. Soon we were paddling back up into a creek and the recent rains made the current much more intense and stronger than normal. Upon seeing the crystal clear water, I suggested to Sharon that we get out and wade while enjoying the cool water, with our beloved kayaks in tow.

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Kids just can’t resist playing in the water . . . even us big ones!

It felt delightful walking on the sandy creek bottom, while watching schools of small fish swim past as we made our way up the creek to the wee pebble beach. Once there, we beached the kayaks, once again enjoyed one of our favorite picnicking locations. Of course I couldn’t wait to get back into the water to wade and found the perfect rock to sit on out in the middle of the stream. Try as I may, I couldn’t convince Sharon or Wes to sit out in the stream with me.  However Tom decided it was a perfect place to enjoy snorkeling for a while.

Tom snorkels for awhile
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Bok . . . Bok . . . Bok . . . Sharon’s a chicken, cause she won’t sit down in the water!

Even though I could’ve easily stayed there all day long, eventually it was time to start back so we loaded up into our kayaks and we’re on our way.  The trip back was like being on a guided tour, since all we had to do was sit back and relax while letting the current slowly take us along.  Once back out into the lake, Sharon and I found a spot where the water was actually warm.  We tried hard to find a spot where we could easily get out and back into our kayaks, so we could take advantage of the blissfully warm water, but alas were unsuccessful, so we happily soaked our arms and feet in it instead.

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The colorful crew relaxingly paddles along
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Just chillin” in the warm spot

The lake’s glassy surface, perfectly showcased reflections of the surrounding mountains as we paddled back across.  Arriving back at the boat ramp, we loaded up the kayaks and started the journey home, relishing yet another wonderful memory made!

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Heading back

Our Exquisite Miniatures tour is currently at The Stauth Memorial Museum, located in Montezuma, KS.  It will be on display there until September 3rd, so if you are in the area it’s a great time and a wonderful venue in which to enjoy being “Wowed” by our miniature paintings!

Exquisite Miniatures on display at the Stauth Memorial Museum (photos courtesy of the museum)

Rhino Images - Art and the Rhinoceros with Wes Siegrist ArtworkWes is delighted to have six paintings featured in this newly published book with proceeds benefitting Rhinos: Rhino Images – Art and the Rhinoceros, First Edition, 2017. This book shows the rhino in art – masterpieces from the ancient past to the present. There are over 300 rhino images in this book. The rhino images include drawings, paintings, etchings, rock carvings and sculptures done in a variety of materials. These images of the rhino range from early civilizations such as in China, Roman Empire, Indus civilization in Pakistan/India area and from Southern Africa down to current day images of paintings and sculptures produced by modern day artists. Whether in the ancient past or in the present the rhinos are always represented as huge, powerful and solitary animals. Drawings, woodcuts, etchings, paintings and sculptures of the rhino all depict the power of the animal. The text indicates where you may find these rhino images. For the artists of our time their websites have been given. There are very few of these magnificent wild animals left in the world, so unless they are protected and managed, artistic images will soon be the only viewing option. All proceeds from the sale of this book will go to saving the rhino from extinction. The book is now up and running, being available via as a Kindle eBook download at a cost of $US20.00. Just type in rhino images in the search and the book will be available for purchase.

~ Fresh off the Easels ~

I finished one of my pet commissions this past week, of two adorable friends named Riley and Boris!  It was such a joy painting these two adorable babies, and seeing their obvious love for each other as well as the precious expression on Riley’s face, brought a continual smile to my own face!  I’m currently painting on another dog commission of a precious baby named Tito, as well as working on a Smokies landscape.

King Charles Cavalier painting by rachelle siegrist
My recent pet portrait “Riley and Boris”

Wes finished his painting this past week of boats which we photographed in a marina while in Easton last year during the Waterfowl Festival.  Having an extra day to spend at Blackwater Wildlife Refuge and see some of the surrounding area, we really enjoyed photographing the boats.  We plan to have a couple of these delightful boat paintings at the Waterfowl Festival this year, including this one featuring the Wendy Lee, and upon close inspection, you can see three people working aboard it!

“Prepping the Wendy Lee” by Wes

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle

Two Days of Sheer Bliss!

Camping, Kayaking and Hiking . . . Oh Yea!!!

by Rachelle Siegrist

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The Happy campers!

Camping . . . The mere thought of it makes me giddy with delight, and Wes and I were blessed with two picture-perfect days while doing just that this past week!  We’re basic tent campers, which brings back into one’s life simplicity and the lack of electronic connection, which I long for! Where only the basics of food, shelter and water matter! Needless to say I was thrilled when we left the house early this past Tuesday morning,   on our mini adventure!

Our happy home away from home!

We arrived in time to set up the tent before lunch and headed out in our kayaks for the afternoon.  A breeze kept us plenty cool while creating ripples on the water, looking like diamonds scattered and dancing on the surface, drawing nearer to us as the wind blew our direction.  Surrounded by mountains the beautiful lake looked almost surreal, feeling like heaven on earth!

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My “redneck bandaid” photo bombing the beautiful view … I didn’t have a regular bandaid with me away from the camp!

The tops of the surrounding mountains were still bare, as the brilliant spring green of baby leaves made their way up the mountainside, pairing beautiful against the cloudless azure skies above!  I had to pinch myself to make sure it was for real, this stunningly gorgeous setting!  We paddled along while peering below watching abundant baby bass swim nearby. Occasionally the adorable little fish would swim up and look up at me, as if saying “Hi”, then swim alongside my kayak.  

A gorgeous Banded-Water Snake, Flame Azaleas and Tulip Poplar bloom

Following the curving lakeside, we saw several Flame Azaleas blooming, with one in particular that was truly stunning! Several Mountain Laurel were also blooming, showcasing their delicate pink blossoms against the light green leaves.

Wes with the Flame Azalea and me with the Mountain Laurel

Although the wind made it a bit difficult to paddle at times, it provided a wonderfully relaxing rocking motion as I just drifted up and over the small choppy waves, and I decided I could happily do that for hours!  Upon returning to our campsite, we enjoyed hiking around the lake later that afternoon.

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Wes on the hiking trail

After cooking super, we headed back out into the kayaks for an evening of paddling around the lake. Reaching the far end, we heard the call of a Barred Owl saying, “Who, Who . . . Who cooks for you?”   A few times.  Before long it was answered by another “Who, Who . . . Who cooks for you?” Coming from across the lake.  By this time the wind had died down and a peaceful stillness had settled over the quiet lake, and if felt as if Wes and I, along with the chatting pair of Barred Owls were earth’s only inhabitants!  

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Sheer bliss . . .

The setting sun dipped lower into the sky, and I sat in my kayak, mesmerized by the sheer beauty of it all! Returning to our campsite, Wes commenced building a fire,  for sitting by the glowing warmth of a campfire and making s’mores is a must when camping!  Once the sun had set and darkness fell, we sat on a small pier, absorbing the sheer beauty of the lakes surface illuminated by the half moon, mirroring the star studded sky above!  

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Peace . . . .

As the night grew darker, the peepers started singing and we’re joined by the “Wounk . . . Wounk” of Bull frogs.  Suddenly the Whip Poor-wills started up, joined by the Barred Owls, and it was the most beautiful night music I’ve ever heard!  I laid there in the tent listening to it all, trying to decipher the distinct animal sounds I was hearing.  At some point during the night the Barred Owls decided to converse right above our tent, and the sound of them was truly amazing!

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Watching the sunrise

I was up by 6 AM the next morning, watching the sunrise over the lake, a splendid experience indeed!  After breakfast and warming up by the campfire, we headed out on the glassy-surfaced lake, amidst a etherial mist still rising off the water in the frigid morning air.  We paddled with ease throughout the morning, making our way around the lake.  


We enjoyed another hike that afternoon, and I was thrilled to find that the little camp store had small cups of Mayfield chocolate ice cream, complete with the little wooden spoons!  A treat I loved as a child, I indulged thinking this just keeps getting better!  

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We decided to have a picnic supper in our kayaks on the lake, and once again enjoyed having it to ourselves, except for one lone fisherman.  We paddled along with ease, gliding across the glassy surface, stopping frequently to just admire the beauty of it all.  Removing fishing line from tree limbs along the waters edge is something we always spend time doing while kayaking, leaving the lake as free of the tangled line as possible.

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Our picnic supper view

Having froze the night before in the tent, we took it down and slept in our van that night, which was much warmer.  During the night the wind picked up and by the next morning, we were being hit by very strong gusts!  After eating breakfast and taking one last look at the lake, we decided to head out before the storm intensified.

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Wes with one of his fires

Having only driven a few miles, we came to a screeching halt behind a line of stopped fellow campers, as two large trees had fallen completely across the road.  Wes immediately went to help one guy with a chainsaw and a few other men that were working feverishly to get the trees cut up and moved off the road.  Thankfully the man cutting, was making strategic cuts with great precision, obviously knowing what he was doing!  Being near the crest of the mountaintop, the wind gusts at 80 mph plus, were barreling over the top and descending down on us with an unbelievable force, causing the trees lining the road to appear as if they were all coming down on our vehicles!  Tree limbs were snapping and cracking all over and the thundering crash of huge trees falling could be heard throughout the forest!!! It took all I could do to stand there, realizing I had never before witnessed such power of nature and I was truly amazed, thinking this must be what the adrenaline rush feels like for storm chasers! Tree limbs, 8 foot at least long and several inches in diameter, were flying overhead, hitting one person in the back!  Finally anther man with a chainsaw joined in and soon we had it clear, thankfully making it safely off the narrow mountain road, after driving around several more downed trees blocking part of it! “Wow “. . . I thought . . . “Two days of sheer bliss and an adrenaline-filled morning . . . what a great adventure!”  I’m ready to go again!

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Kayaking across a pollen-covered lake

 Great News!!!

Wes and I were absolutely thrilled to learn this past week that we each had paintings accepted into both the 42nd Birds in Art at the prestigious Woodson Art Museum and the 57th Annual Exhibition of the Society of Animal Artists, to be held at the beautiful Hiram Blauvelt Art Museum, which will also be hosting our Exquisite Miniatures tour April 1 – August 15, 2019!

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Wes’ Birds in Art painting “Lakeside Perch” 
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My Birds in Art Painting “The Usual Suspects”
turtle painting by rachelle siegrist
My 57th Annual SAA Painting “Aquatic Patterns” painted on silk
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Wes’ 57th Annual SAA painting “Lurking in The Pea Soup”

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

We’re also still working on commissions that I’ll share soon!

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle