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.

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

Standing Room Only!

wes siegrist lecturing at yellow house gallery
Wes giving his lecture during the opening

We hit the ground running this past Friday, as my parents picked us up from the Orlando airport, then we drove down to Sebring, FL in time to grab a quick bite for supper, before attending that evening, the solo exhibition of our miniature paintings at the Yellow House Gallery, which is affiliated with the Highlands Art League and Highlands Museum of the Arts. We were immediately greeted, by a group of people including several long time friends whom we had not seen in way too many years! It was like a family reunion as throughout the evening familiar faces kept appearing and hugs were given. By the time Wes was ready to give his talk, the rooms were filled, and when he was almost finished, there were so many people in the rooms, and on the adjacent front porch, that people could not even get in and had to leave! We were thrilled to say the least at this amazing response and excitement about our miniature paintings, and about our return the beautiful Sebring area! By the time the evening had ended, we were on cloud nine, and so very happy to see so many people who were an important part of our lives many years ago. Many thanks again to those of you who helped to make this event such a success and wonderful experience, and memory for us! I’d like to share a few photos of some of our friends in attendance . . .

the siegrists with friends Jan and Kermit
Wes and I with dear friends and fellow artist, Jan and Kermit Fetters
wes and rachelle siegrist with friends
Wes and I with dear friends and fellow artist, Wayne and Daisy Wilkins
siegrists at yellow house gallery
Wes and I with long time friends of his family, Jim and Marylib Langham
the siegrists with friends at the yellow house gallery
Wes and I with friends, Rose (a former student) and Jack (an art teacher in the area)
wes and rachelle siegrist with susan from the highlands art museum
Wes and I with long time friend and HAL Administrator, Susan
the siegrists with a friend at highlands art museum
Wes and I with our dear friend that we taught children’s art classes with, Darian Dumont

We recalled the highlights of our exciting evening as we drove home to Okeechobee that night. The next morning, it was time to see the kids, so we played out by the pond and tidied up their playhouse so we could all enjoy a picnic lunch in it while looking out over the beautiful setting in the backyard. That afternoon we went over to our cousin’s property and the kids and I played in the mud and made a “mudman” since there was no snow available. We had a ball and it took some work to get us cleaned up so we could eat. We had a pasture picnic, under the spread branches of the gorgeous Live oak trees, with Spanish Moss-lined limbs, with the herd of cows not too far away. It was a beautiful spot, and the kids enjoyed once again, playing in the dirt until the sun finally set, creating a magnificent colorful display of pinks in the late evening sky!

sandhill crane photo
Part of a beautiful flock of Sandhill Cranes gathered in a nearby pasture
rachelle siegrist
Haydyn, Tyler, Dixie and I playing in the dirt
 a family picnic
Enjoying our yummy pasture picnic
kids playing in the dirt
Tyler and Haydyn working on the “mudman”

This morning, Dad, Wes and I headed out early to meet my brother Marshall at the trailhead for nearby Grassy Island Trail. My brother kindly borrowed a couple of bikes for us, so after mounting our “steel horses”, off we went, across the cow pasture to where the trail really begins. It was a beautiful, cool morning as we rode along through the hammock area filled with Cabbage Trees, Saw Palmettos and numerous large, gorgeous Live Oaks, all gracefully sporting their own drapes of Spanish Moss. We rode most of the man-made stunt sections throughout the trail as well. As always it was great fun, and there was much laughter as we went along, gathering more great memories! Many thanks to my brother, Marshall and his friend Scott, for letting us borrow bicycles. We made it home in time to have lunch with the family, and then enjoyed walking around another nearby trail that surrounds a beautiful wetland area, filled with hundreds of birds, and many alligators, making for another fun and scenic walk through nature! We finished up with the family all enjoying supper together, and eating chocolate dipped strawberries, bananas and nut clusters, which my mom made, for dessert, or what my niece and nephew call “massert”. I think it may have something to do with the idea of they’d like to have more dessert!

rachelle riding on the grassy island trail
Me Going up . . .
mountain biking at grassy island trail
. . . and coming down!
Marshall biking at grassy island trail
Marshall riding over the log bridge
photo of grassy island trail
Now it’s Dad’s turn!

Fresh off the easel: Wes just recently finished a miniature painting of a Kangaroo titled “Aha . . . There is Something Following Me”. I’m still painting on my miniature of my parent’s little dog, Dixie, which I hope to finish sometime soon after we returned home.

Aha ... Something Is Following Me!
“Aha . . . Something Is Following Me!” by Wes
3 1/2 x 2 1/2 inches

Come See Our Paintings This Week:

Siegrist Solo Exhibition at the Yellow House Gallery, Sebring, FL – Until @February 2nd


We hope you will be able to join us at the The ArtCenter Manatee in Bradenton! Wes will be presenting a program on the history and modern scope of miniature art as well as both of us doing a gallery walk to discuss our paintings in the exhibition. The formal presentations will be
held on Thursday, January 17th: Lecture: 3-4PM., Gallery Walk 4-5PM and Public Reception 5-7PM

We will also be attending the opening for the 38th Annual International Miniature Art Show of the Miniature Art Society of Florida.  This show will open with the collectors’ preview on the 19th and to the public on the 20th at the lovely Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art.

To view all our upcoming exhibits: http://www.artofwildlife.com/exhibitschedule.html


 Have a loved one or a beloved pet you would like captured in miniature? Contact and commission us!

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Until next time ~ Rachelle

Painting in the New Year!

“Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do.”
~Edgar Degas

carolina wren photo

My precious Peedeepeeps enjoying his peanut crunchies!

Paint the New Year in . . . we did! We’ve been spending most of our time painting on our miniatures this past week, with the exception of a couple of projects and of course, time spent feeding my precious critters. I have three Carolina Wrens coming most of the time now, along with a gang of Titmice that come in a group of about eight to nine, and can wipe out an offering of peanut crunchies in mere minutes! Believe it or not, I was actually able to eat my breakfast on the porch one morning this past week, in January no less . . . unbelievable! Anyway, I was joined by all my feathered friends, which also enjoyed eating their breakfast alongside me at the table. I told my dad this past week though, that their table manners just aren’t the best, as they always stand on the table when they eat, and sometimes even poo on it! Some gobble their food very quickly, others just eat and run, and some fuss the entire time their stuffing their beaks. Nonetheless, I love them all and enjoy every minute spent with them! They’re quite entertaining to say the least, as one never knows what will happen next!

bird photo

Okay . . . I’m back now, I just had to go put out more peanut crunchies for the kids since Peedeepeeps was sitting outside the studio looking in the window and fussing, trying to get my attention, and of course it worked . . . it always does. I admit that they have me very well trained.  Now, I have to share with you one of the funniest things that I’ve ever seen a squirrel do, and it happened this past week. We finally got some real winter weather this past week, so the birdbath, emptied the evening before, was filled the next morning with very warm, steaming water. Minutes after we had stepped back inside, one of our resident squirrels came and went immediately to the steaming birdbath. He dipped his nose and mouth down into it and within seconds had placed one of his arms into it as well, followed promptly by the other arm. He then decided that this hot spring felt so amazing that he laid his chin and then his entire upper body in the top part of the water, along with both of his arms, just holding himself there, eyes practically rolling back into his head, with the steam rising all around him.  We could just hear him say “OH . . . this feels so amazing, I could just spend the entire day suspended here!” It was hilarious, and this was not to be the end, for after he had gotten out dripping wet, and ate a few sunflower seeds, he returned and carried out this amazing ritual once more! We laughed and laughed, and then cried when we realized we didn’t get one single photo of this entire show, so I said I’d just have to paint it with words!

carolina wren photo

One of our neighbor friends, Norma, generously gave us three large pumpkins which we “processed” this past week. We began early one morning with washing and cutting up the pumpkins, one at a time, preparing them for cooking in the oven. We started filling pots with the chopped up pieces and cooking them in the oven, roughly an hour at a time. However, it seemed the more we chopped and cooked, the more pumpkin there was, almost like manna from heaven. This process went on all day long, with taking out the seeds, chopping it up, and stuffing it into the pots, then loading them into the oven. Finally by later that afternoon we had gotten it all cooked, mashed and loaded into freezer bags. It was then time to roast all of the seeds that we had carefully saved and cleaned. When it was all said and done, I think we had at least fifteen-quart size bags of pumpkin, and lots of yummy roasted seeds! It was a lot of work, but now we have a freezer full of pumpkin, and we have a new found admiration for our grandparents and the hard work they put into canning over the years! I must admit however, that we decided it’s much easier to paint!


Pumpkin . . . pumpkin . . . and more pumpkin!

Fresh Off the Easel: I finished a miniature painting this past week of a baby bunny that we photographed in our yard last year, right outside our bedroom window. It is just adorable, making it great fun to paint! Wes finished a couple of miniatures. One of a Sea Lion basking in the sun, that we photographed while in Mexico this past spring, on an island in the Sea of Cortez. He also finished a miniature painting of Red-shouldered Hawk, which we photographed in our neighborhood during one of our walks.  I’m currently working on a painting of mice that I photographed at the Louisville Zoo this past month, and Wes is working on an Cormorant photographed during one of our Florida visits.

 bunny painting miniature

“Precious Baby” by Rachelle
1¾ x 1¾ inches

sea lion painting miniature

“Basking Beach Babe” by Wes
2½ x 3½ inches

red-shoulderedhawk painting miniature

Red-shouldered Hawk
3½ x 2½ inches

~ Upcoming Events and Exhibitions of Our Paintings This Week ~

~ 37th Annual International Miniature Art Show (MASF) January 15 – February 5, 2012: Dunedin Fine Art Center, Dunedin, FL – We’ll be in attendance the 14th and 15th for the opening ceremonies! Also, at the same time/place will be the Miniature Artists of America Traveling Exhibition, which includes two of our miniature paintings alongside that of 33 others honored for being the best in American miniature art.

To view all our upcoming exhibits: http://www.artofwildlife.com/exhibitschedule.html

~ Many thanks for your prayers for my dad, as he is improving a little each day!  Thankfully, he found out this past week that his hip was not broken, and that his broken collarbone was aligned correctly for good healing. Now it will just take time, and I’m trying to get myself trained not to make him laugh too much when we’re there soon, since it makes it very sore for him to laugh.  However, since we both love to laugh and can’t help but do so many times, I’m thinking it’s useless to try and keep from it!  Oh-well, maybe it will help him heal faster!

“Collect the future’s history today while it is still affordable.”
Until next time ~ Rachelle