Wes and I had the privilege this past month of being interviewed by writer Ron Bell, for an article in the January 2020 issue of The Tennessee Magazine. It was a most delightful interview and we really enjoyed the couple hours spent with him and his wife Deana at our home and studio here in the Smokies. It’s always interesting to read someone’s take on what we do as artists and who we are, and Ron did a wonderful job with the article, creating something that is both fun and informative and makes the reader feel as if they too spent the afternoon with us. So here’s the link so you too can enjoy reading his insightful article entitled “It All Comes Down to Scale” featured in this month’s issue ofThe Tennessee Magazine.
~ In The Studio ~
Since it has rained most of the time this past week, Wes and I have spent most of our time here in the studio at our easels. We just finished paintings for upcoming juried shows, so I’ll be sharing those with you later. Here’s the commission I did last month of four precious, adorable chicks, which is now being loved and enjoyed in its new home!
Wes painted a miniature this past week of a beautiful dove nesting in a Palo Verde. We took the reference photo for this piece while visiting the Saguaro National Park region of Arizona, one of our favorite places to explore! It’s always fun to both paint warm sunny paintings during the winter!
Wes and I took a whirlwind trip over to Durham, NC this past week, where we went to pick up historical items pertaining to the Society of Animal Artists. One of our long-time SAA members passed away this summer, leaving behind newsletters and catalogs, among other things. With Wes as Executive Director of the organization, it was decided that we would drive over and get the material to add to the SAA archives. On the drive over we saw a couple different flocks of turkey while winding our way through the Smoky Mountains National Park, which is always a treat!
Leaving the park behind and entering Gatlinburg, we began noticing what looked like folding chairs lying along part of the sidewalks lining the main road through town. On the return trip the next day, there were even more of them, creating a continuous rainbow of folding chairs along the edge of the sidewalk, stretching the entire length of Gatlinburg! We decided it must be chairs that people laid in place days early, to save their place for the upcoming Christmas parade, and I must admit we found this unusual practice most interesting. Back at home that evening, Wes started the enjoyable job of digging through everything and finding the missing links in the Society’s 60+ year history.
My birds and squirrels are always very happy when we return home, even if we’ve only been gone overnight, and they all come to eat while acting like they haven’t eaten in days! The next day the sun returned for a while, which we all thoroughly enjoyed, especially my precious Bunny squirrel who hung upside down in one of her favorite yoga poses for nearly 15 minutes, obviously enjoying the sun’s warmth and a good stretch!
~ In The Studio ~
I finished painting a commission that I’ll share with you later. Wes is painting the last painting in a collection of miniature songbirds that will be comprised of 6 paintings. He had to postpone finishing them when his Ott-lite bulb burned out! The set will debut at the 38th Southeastern Wildlife Exposition this coming February.
What are the chances that the one single pretty day out of an entire week will actually fall on a holiday? . . . Well, this past holiday was 100%! So while many gathered with family and friends for a feast on Thanksgiving, Wes and I decided to take advantage of the gorgeous weather and enjoy it afloat in our kayaks! Armed with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for our lunch, we climbed into our kayaks and off we went happy to have the wind at our backs! Instantly I found myself amidst a flock of mixed warblers, checking, chirping and calling, as their little black silhouettes flitted from limb to limb against a brilliant sky.
We had paddled a short distance up the river when all of a sudden we heard a loud cry! I tried to imagine what in the world it was, and Wes even thought that I had somehow made the noise, and then we suddenly realized that it was a loon. What an amazing sound it was, funneled by the surrounding hillsides and made to sound even louder! We’ve never heard a loon cry before that close in proximity, so it was an experience we will indeed remember! Several Belted Kingfishers flew by at a high rate of speed while chattering their scolding call much of the way, and an immature Bald Eagle gracefully flew directly overhead at one point, gliding over to where it landed on a lofty perch atop a tall pine tree nearby.
Our precious little friend, a Pied-billed Grebe was floating in the same vicinity we’d seen him before many times and later that afternoon, we saw three more of these adorable tiny little ducks. We found a sunny location for our Thanksgiving feast and slowly floated along, enjoying the ever-changing scenery and gentle rocking motion of the kayaks. Later we found a lovely sundrenched pebble beach where we got out and ate our holiday dessert which of course involved chocolate! While relaxing and watching the ever-changing patterns of the water’s flowing surface, I noticed something was making shadows along the sandy bottom, which were shape-shifting and at times looked like wee perfect solar eclipses! Soon I realized it was floating clumps of sand that were creating this amazing phenomenon, and found myself mesmerized for quite some time as I sat there watching the changing shadows dance across the bottom of the stream.
Climbing back into my kayak, I paddled along until I caught up with Wes who was flyfishing, and we enjoyed a most relaxing paddle back to where our adventure started earlier and couldn’t believe it when we came upon the loon! He had caught a fish and was enjoying his own Thanksgiving feast, graciously letting us watch him the entire time. For what seemed like half an hour he swam all about me while I sat there in my kayak enjoying every second, most thankful for this amazing encounter!
I took this short video of the loon, and although it’s not the best quality, it still shows how magical our special Thanksgiving Day encounter was!
~ In The Studio ~
I’m still currently painting a commission that I’ll share with you later. Wes is painting a collection of miniature songbirds that will be comprised of 6 paintings. This week he’s painting the Mockingbird, Mourning Dove, and Eastern Phoebe. The set will debut at the 38th Southeastern Wildlife Exposition this coming February.