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.


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.

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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

Water…Sun…and treats!

Kayaking in Fall!

by Rachelle Siegrist

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Heading out

It was a glorious day, with clear blue skies above as we started our kayaking adventure early one morning this past week!  We had only been paddling a few minutes when we noticed Tree Swallows everywhere, literally hundreds of them, surrounding Wes, Kit and me, swooping and diving, and dipping down into the water at times!  It was a magnificent ballet gracefully preformed by flying winged acrobats, and it was beautiful to watch!  I delightedly exclaimed “Oh Wow!!” constantly surrounded by them as they zoomed right by me at times!  (Special thanks to Kit for some of the photos this week!)

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Birds . . . birds everywhere!

Happenings like this are nothing short of magical to me, and I always count myself blessed to experience them!  The aerial ballet went on for quite sometime as we paddled along, admiring the trees bathed in gold and red coming into view.  Flying acrobats and stunning fall color were not the only surprises in store, as we soon paddled up alongside this amazing nest, which was a real work of art!

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Thanks Kit for this great photo of the nest

Every bend brought more glorious fall color and I couldn’t contain my “Ooooh’s and Ahhhh’s” as I blissfully floated along admiring this splendid colorful show of nature!

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Here comes Wes

We started up a small stream winding our way around sharp bends, the golden foliage tunneling above us, until we came upon the perfect spot for a picnic in the sun!  Out came the sandwiches and other goodies, as we relaxingly sat on the pebble beach, serenaded by nature’s symphony of chirping crickets,  rustling leaves and the babbling stream beside us.  We had discovered yet another perfect “restaurant” indeed!

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Wes and Kit enjoying lunch

Soon it was time to pack up and say goodbye to our beautiful picnic spot, and off we went, passing the golden-hued forest nestling the narrow stream.  The crystal clear water afforded views of fish swimming below, and I was delighted to see several, with one of them being a large Smallmouth Bass!  All too quickly our time on the water had come to an end, and we were loading up the kayaks and heading home.

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Wes and me enjoying the splendid fall color

We joined friends Tom, Sharon and their grandson Chance for an evening of trick or treating while visiting a few of the neighbor’s houses Friday, in search for anything chocolate!  Chance made the cutest little Indian we had ever seen, and quickly caught onto the idea of ringing the doorbell in exchange for compliments and candy!  Our group looked like a real menagerie including a little Indian, a cowgirl, a farmer and his little pet “pig”, a black cat and an escaped convict!

Me (holding Bailey), Wes, Chance, Tom, Sharon and Judy

We started Chance’s candy collecting journey at neighbors Judy and Ernie’s house, ending the evening on Kit’s front porch!  Even their precious little Yorkie Bailey, dressed in his piggy costume, seemed to thoroughly enjoy the evening adventure!

The farmer and his little “piggy” and the cute little Indian

~ Fresh Off  the Easels ~

I finished my latest dog painting of a beautiful Golden Retriever obviously enjoying one of his favorite places . . . the water!  I greatly enjoyed watching him play while retrieving toys and sticks from the frigid water late one summer afternoon.  Bathed in glowing sunlight, I knew he had to be painted, and the title serves as a double meaning, since the water and sun is my happy place too!  I’m currently painting a commission of two best buds, a precious dog named Ivy and cat named Calvin, and I can’t wait to share it, along with their touching story with you next week!

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“In My Happy Place” by me ready for the Waterfowl Festival

Wes finished his miniature landscape painting of a beautiful scene from Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge.  We enjoyed visiting this lovely national gem several years ago, while in Easton, MD, exhibiting at the Waterfowl Festival.  The painting features over a dozen Mallards carefully painted in the tiny setting, drawing the viewer in while searching for them all!  Come see this as well as 40 other miniature paintings by us at the upcoming 45th Waterfowl Festival, November 10th-13th.  Wes and I will be in the Avalon Theater this year!

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“Mallards at Blackwater Refuge” by Wes

dog painting, commission a dog painting

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle