A Walking Clothes Rack

fungi of the smokies

Just as we were wondering what happened to fall this year, we were given one day of perfect fall-like weather to enjoy this past week! Undoubtedly there’s a term describing when the weather changes directly from summer to winter conditions whilst bypassing fall, and that’s exactly what happened here in the Smokies this year. We plunged from the delightful heat of summer straight into the gripping cold of winter! The kind of cold that slaps you across the face, leaving you in a stunned stupor, wondering what just hit you. The kind that instantly cripples your fingers, rendering them nearly useless and making it very difficult to do anything outdoors, like putting out seeds and nuts for the birds and squirrels.

Nonetheless, I’m learning ways to deal with it, one of which is becoming a human clothes rack. You may laugh, but that’s what Wes calls me as I walk about wearing half a dozen layers, appearing as a blob of draped cloth floating across the floor.  Think of “Cousin It” from the TV series The Monsters, but instead of hair, I am cloaked in a mixture of mix-matched fabrics. At least I am somewhat warm underneath it all though and have decided it causes me to burn more calories since I’m lugging a dozen pounds of extra weight around.

hiking the smokies
Anyway, we decided to enjoy the beautiful fall day with a short hike to a favorite waterfall nearby, that afternoon. Obviously, several other hikers had the same idea, as there were at least a dozen or more of them scattered across the rocks at the base of the falls, all jockeying for position to try and capture a photo of it minus the people. I decided to join in on their challenge and after climbing up and over several big rocks, succeeded in capturing my own photo without the people. Thankfully they were a quiet and subdued crowd, talking in whispers, almost as if they were reacting in reverence to the glorious living portrait of nature!

waterfalls of the smokies

Although it was an overcast day and a chilly one at that, we decided to go kayaking, with our dear artist friend Gregg Murray joining us.  It actually turned out to be a perfect afternoon for paddling, for the wind was at our backs and pushed us along at a nice relaxing speed while allowing us to enjoy the scenery and fly fish as we went along.  It was almost like being on one of those guided boat rides with the electric motor that is silent as you slice along the water’s surface, and doesn’t disturb the wildlife.

kayaking

Lying back and looking up at the surrounding hillsides bathed in golds and reds, I noticed a large bird, quickly realizing it was a gorgeous Bald Eagle!  He didn’t mind at all my pink kayak floating below him and graciously allowed me to watch as he carefully and methodically preened his long, glossy black and white feathers.  I must’ve sat there admiring him for nearly half an hour, and it was one of those times when time stands still.  The only sounds were that of crickets, birdsong and of drying leaves rustling in the breeze, and I was in my happy place!  The eagle decided it was time to move on but alas did not go far where he landed way up high atop a narrow limb on a pine tree.  How wonderful it must be to view the world from that perspective much of the time and be able to go wherever you so desire, I thought!

bald eagle photo

~ In The Studio ~

I’m currently painting a collection of 3 miniatures, a beautiful Bobwhite Quail egg, a small quail chick, and an adult Bobwhite male. The collection all with a gold background, will debut this next weekend at the  24th Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival November 15th – 17th at the Thomasville Cultural Center,  in Thomasville, GA.  Wes has also been painting this week on works for upcoming juried exhibitions.

Bobwhite Quail painting by Rachelle Siegrist


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~ See Our Miniatures In Person This Week ~

November 15th – 17th at the Thomasville Cultural Center,  in Thomasville, GA.

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

 

Hellbenders, Foxes and Flaming Leaves

Well, I finally finished my video featuring Hellbenders! Wes and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to observe and film at least three different Hellbenders for five days in a row this past summer, it was truly amazing indeed! We witnessed things we never thought we’d see and feel so blessed to have experienced these wonderful encounters. I hope that you will enjoy this video and feel like you too had the opportunity to swim with the Hellbenders, while also giving you a greater understanding and appreciation for these awesome creatures.

Sadly the days of snorkeling with Hellbenders and the likes are quickly fading into the past, with cold weather upon us.  I can only dream of my days in the water and am now relegated to just enjoy being on the water. So we enjoyed a morning of kayaking this past week, leaving the house early to head to a nearby lake. The fog, thick as milk, hung heavy in the air during the first part of our drive, bestowing glimpses of brilliant colored leaves only when we drew near to them, like surprises hidden around each bend in the road.

fall color in the smokies

Soon the fog lifted, however, letting the flame-colored leaves shine forth in all their glory, and it was quite stunning paired against the intense azure blue sky above!

fall leaves in the smokies

Within no time we reached the lake, where we quickly unloaded the kayaks and climbed in whilst embarking on another adventure. The wind was quite strong much of the time, so after a few casts with the fly rod, I decided it would be more relaxing to just paddle until the winds died down. A flock of ducks gathered nearby, decided to take to the sky every so often, circling above appearing as flecks of black pepper surveying the landscape below, then swiftly dropping down, settling on the water once again. There they commenced preening once again until it was decided that it was time to take to the sky once more for another circle about.

kayaking

It was so relaxing, lying back in my kayak while basking in the warm sun and watching them, as well as a flock of mixed warblers and other small birds, working their way through the grasses nearby. Since I couldn’t see most of them well enough to identify them, it made it a fun and challenging game to try and determine their type, based on their calls and songs.

fall color in the smokies2

Soon it was time to load up the kayaks and head home.  The drive back was lovely, so we decided to walk out to a little hidden outcropping of rock to enjoy the splendid view.  The tops of the mountains looked as if they had been barely touched with gold and orange paint, appearing much bluer in the distance.  It was a perfect spot to just sit for a few minutes while breathing in the crisp fall air and enjoying the warmth of the sun!

~ In The Studio ~

I finished my other two Red Fox miniature paintings this past week, both part of 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.

We were delighted to learn that Wes received 2nd Place in Opaque Watercolor on his painting “Bashful” and that I received 2nd Place in Animals on my painting “Admiration” at the 45th Annual International Miniature Art Show!

Moreover, we were excited to learn that I won 3rd Place in Watermedia and Wes won 2nd in Place Birds and Animals in the 86th Annual International Exhibition of Fine Art Miniatures!


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~ 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

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