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!

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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.

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“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.

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“Swamp Life”

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

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle

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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!

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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.

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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 https://www.amazon.com 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!

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“Prepping the Wendy Lee” by Wes

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle

Water, Sunshine and Paddles!

Water, Sunshine and Paddles!

by Rachelle Siegrist

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Ah . . . . Heaven on earth!

We were blessed with some beautiful weather this past week, so we decided to take advantage of it one morning while kayaking at a nearby lake. The drive along the Foothills Parkway revealed splendid views of the mountains, with crystal clear skies above! Soon we were climbing into the kayaks, and paddling our way across the lake.

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What a beauty!

We decided to take advantage of the higher water levels and paddle back along a stream. Each curve in the meandering watery path, brought more lovely view, and we couldn’t believe our good timing when we happened upon a Great Blue Heron sitting atop a large stump, illuminated by the sun, he looked as if a spot light was set directly on him! As you can imagine, I snapped away with the camera, thinking to myself the entire time “Now this is a painting!” He graciously let me get several great shots, before flying off, his large wings swooping out, gently lifting him up and on his way along the creek.

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It’s like kayakig on glass

We saw several fish, some large ones striking at times, making the water splash and creating a big sound! Peering down into the amazingly clear water, we watched them swim below as well, many times passing directly beneath us. Winding our way along, we discovered the pebble covered beach where we ate the last time we were there, was completely submerged, so we paddled along as far as we could go, and found another perfect small pebble beach, which served as an awesome picnic spot!

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What a great lunch spot!

Even though I love peanut butter sandwiches, they always taste even better when eaten in the woods! After relaxing a bit, we decided to head back, so I paddled as far up as possible before letting the strong current catch me, sending me on my way through the small rapids, and even though small, it gave a wee thrill!

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Enjoying the wee rapids

I love lounging back in my kayak while propping my legs up on the front and paddling with my arms at times. It makes you feel as if you’re swimming, only that way you can stay warm! Okay, I know it’s kind of cheating in a way, but for a water baby who loves to swim, but still hasn’t mastered resisting the painful effects of cold water, this method works pretty good!

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Wes is scoping out our lunch spot

The wind had picked up that afternoon, so paddling back across the lake certainly gave us a workout. I must admit that even though it was hard at times, most of the time I was totally loving it, because of the choppy waves it was creating, rocking me and my beloved pink kayak back and forth, making me feel as if I was riding a float at the beach. Only we had this beautiful mountain beach all to ourselves!

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What a beautiful place!

Of course the Bald Eagle leaving his lofty perch, and soaring right over us before flying off to the mountainside, added to the excitement and beauty of the day! Even though our kayaking adventures always end way too soon for me, it makes me start looking forward to our next adventure!

Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle