Wetting Lines And Soaking Ourselves

rachelle siegrist fly fishing

Daily thunderstorms have kept us from straying too far from our home here in the Smokies this past week, but we’ve managed to get out early in the mornings on most days to spend a little time outdoors.  One morning we headed into the park nearby to spend some time flyfishing.  Although we didn’t reel anything in, we had a few good bites, with a couple of them being good-sized trout.  Besides, just being out there wading in the chilly water, whilst listening to the symphony of birdsong filling the air, mixed with that of rushing water, makes it great fun whether you catch any fish or not!  At one point I had just made the perfect cast, landing my wee bumble bee lure directly under a tree limb hanging out over the water, and within seconds a fish hit it, tugging it enough to cause me to let out a wee shout in excitement!

rachelle siegrist tubing

The plus side of the daily showers is the higher water levels in our river, making tubing a much more thrilling adventure!  We traded in daily walks or bike rides for tubing most days, and boy have we been having fun!  I’m filled with excitement each time we go as if it’s the first time, and can’t wait to get my wetsuit on and head down to the water.  The louder the roar of the whitewater, the more excited I get, as I jump onto my tube and hang on.  The big dips that send you flying up into the air, causing you to leave the icy water below before coming back down are obviously some of the best sections of whitewater, and there are several like this in the section we tube.  Our rides down vary according to the speed at which the river is flowing, and the walk back follows alongside the river and is quite picturesque.  Then it’s time to go down again whilst enjoying yet another thrilling ride.  On mornings when the water levels are lower and it’s clear, we love snorkeling and watching the different species of fish found in our streams here in the Smokies.  I personally love finding deep pools with just the right water current, so it creates an endless pool in which I can swim and swim, and I love every minute of it!

praying mantis photo

Here in our gardens, flowers continue to bloom and we’ll be enjoying fresh peppers off of our pepper plants soon!  Our resident Carolina Wrens are raising their second batch of precious babies, while some of our other babies are growing, such as one of our Praying Mantises that lives on the front deck.  I’ve watched this particular one grow from a wee small baby, and it’s big enough that it acts like it can take on the world now!  Recently, I was sitting out in my favorite chair on the front deck enjoying the warm sun for a few minutes, and over walks “P.M.” the praying mantis on the nearby handrail.  It stopped and looked at me while raising both arms as if it was going to try and karate chop me, and the next thing I knew it jumped over onto my neck, missing my face by mere millimeters!  Obviously, it caught me off guard as I wasn’t expecting it to do that, so I carefully got it and placed it on the rosebush beside me.  Of course, it immediately lifted both arms as if saying “I will take you on and chop you!”  Like they say, dynamite comes in small packages and that is surely the case with P.M.!

~ In The Studio ~

I finished a miniature painting this past week inspired by our visit to the gorgeous Three Sisters Springs in Florida last fall.  We kayaked to this picturesque location and spent over an hour there while I blissfully snorkeled.  We didn’t see any manatees there during our visit, but since they frequent the area, especially in the winter months, I decided to add them to my painting.  A dream of mine is to be able to swim with a manatee, so for now, this is as close as it gets for me.


three sisters springs and manatee painting
Putting the final touches on it


Wes has spent most of his time working on office work for the SAA dealing with catalog editing and other things associated with the upcoming exhibition at the Briscoe Museum this fall. This is his most recent miniature painting featuring our very own Carolina Wren, Peedeepeeps, sitting atop the Carolina Jasmine which was full of bloom at the time, adding to the beauty of the moment and captured forever in a little gem!


Wes’ “Carolina Song”


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Until Next Time . . . 

~ Rachelle


The Happy Campers

Another Great Camping Adventure!

By Rachelle Siegrist


rachelle siegrist2
Looking like a couple of Gypsies 


Wes and I got away this past week to enjoy a two-night camping trip.  With the conversion Wes did in the van, it’s amazing how easy it is to pack up and head out now!  Our new foam mattress made sleeping a dream this time too, not to mention we had enough blankets to stay warm as well!  Thank goodness we took them too, as it dipped down into the low 40s each night, and was only in the 50s during the day.  The first day brought a couple of rain showers, so we opted to spend time fishing from the bank, and when we stepped up to a small opening, we saw the most beautiful double rainbow I’ve ever seen!!  It actually dipped all the way down, ending in the water, and looked close enough that we felt we might be able to reach out and touch it!

rachelle siegrist

Needless to say, it was totally worth losing much of our first day to the rain, just to see that glorious rainbow!  That evening it stopped raining long enough for us to build a campfire and enjoy sitting by it for a while.  Eventually, the drizzling rain returned, however, ending our campfire party.  The next morning the clouds parted enough to allow the sun to shine through areas, highlighting sections of the trees along the bank, surrounding us with a spectacular everchanging light show!


The fish weren’t biting much, but we did get a few good bites, and Wes caught one.  I had one good bite strong enough to bend the rod way down, and even though I didn’t catch anything it was thrilling for a few seconds.  That afternoon we went for a nice hike and later that evening with no approaching storms or rain, we were able to enjoy a picnic supper on our kayaks, whilst enjoying great beauty and serenity.

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As the setting sun dipped behind the mountains late that evening, the clouds parted revealing a splendid sunset, bathing the scattered clouds above in orange, pink and yellow!

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It was once again very chilly the next morning, so we ate breakfast while sitting by the campfire.  Thankfully though, the last day brought abundant blue skies, which meant slightly warmer temps, for which I was most thankful since I had been cold the past two days.  I so enjoyed relaxingly paddling around while basking in the warm sun!  I had finally thawed out and it felt great indeed!

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Later on that afternoon, we enjoyed another relaxing hike, seeing numerous Mountain Laurel adorned in pink blossoms, Flame Azelalas sporting blaze orange blossoms, Pink Lady Slippers and more, filling the woods with splashes of color.  As we headed back home that evening, we decided it had been another great camping adventure!

mountain laurel



~ Fresh Off The Easel ~

Wes and I both have both continued painting on our Tandem Treasure commission of our beloved Carolina Wrens Peedeepeeps and Elvira this past week, and I’ll be sharing the completed painting with you soon. I also pretty much finished painting my miniature commission, after Alred Usher Soord’s painting from the late 1800s, “The Good Shepherd“.


The Good Sheperd 5
The Good Shepherd



Peedepeeps and Elvira 5
Peedeepeeps and Elvira in progress


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~ Rachelle

Jurying The SAA 59th Annual Exhibition

Attending the SAA Spring Meeting!

By Rachelle Siegrist

Chicago airial photo
The “Sears Tower” seen in the back right corner

Wes and I left for Chicago last Tuesday morning, to attend the Society of Animal Artists’ spring meeting.  Our plane took off on time and landed in Atlanta, where our connecting flight was delayed a couple of hours due to very bad storms in the Chicago area.  They finally boarded us and before landing, we flew through a complete whiteout for quite some time,  I was delighted that the clouds parted enough to reveal the city below, allowing us to see the “Sears Tower” rising above the clouds!  Our friends whom we were riding from the airport with, had been delayed as well, so we all ended up at O’Hare Airport at about the same time.  Arriving at SAA President Reneé and husband Brian’s beautiful home, their handsome English Setter, Max was as happy to see us, as we were him!

cute dog photo
My precious buddy Max

One of his favorite spots is sitting on the sofa while resting his head on the back, patiently waiting for someone to come and pet him.  As you can imagine I spent a lot of time petting Max and scratching his back with my nails, which he absolutely loved, for each time I did this his eyes would almost roll back and he became somewhat mesmerized.  So it was a past time which we both enjoyed!  Reneé and Brian graciously invited Wes and I and three other Board members to stay at their home and Reneé always has a vase of gorgeous fresh flowers in our room.  Upon entering it, Wes said he smelled jasmine, and I too thought it smelled divine, and a short time later we realized it was the flowers whose amazing scent filled the room!

flowers for rachelle siegriist
Beautiful and scrumptiously fragrant!

The next morning fellow Board members and guest jurors serving on the SAA jury joined us at  Reneé’s, and it was time to get busy.  We spent eight hours that day looking through around 400 images, from which pieces were selected for the annual show.  The jurying takes place in their home theater and I was delighted to get to sit in the massage chair, where I enjoyed numerous back and foot massages throughout the day!  After lunch Board member Sherrie and I took Max for a nice walk since the rain had finally stopped for a brief period, and I’m not sure who enjoyed it more Max or Sherrie and me.

SAA dinner part rachelle

That evening, Board members who’d arrived during the day joined us for a dinner party, and the kitchen became abuzz with activity, with many of us helping out and cooking, filling the air with delicious aromas!

SAA dinner party
Hanging out in the kitchen

Afterward came the time to enjoy the fruits of our labor, whilst feasting and enjoying lots of wonderful conversation and much laughter!  A highlight of the dinner conversation at our table was the stories Reneé and Brian shared about their experiences with spinner dolphins, rays and the likes while staying in Costa Rica!  Later that evening we excitedly viewed for the first time, the accepted artwork that would comprise the annual show.

SAA dinner
Allen, me, Roger, Brian, Reneé, Chris, Jim, and Sherrie, having a great time!

The next day started early once again as we headed to the hotel where the remaining Board members were staying and our Board meeting was to be held.  Although the agenda was a long one, things went fairly smooth and by 5 o’clock that evening, we had accomplished everything we needed to do.  Another 8-hour meeting!

SAA board meeting
The SAA Board meeting

That evening, it was time to relax for a while at a restaurant nearby, where we once again enjoyed delicious food and lots of great laughs and conversation.  Afterward, we said our goodbyes and our crew headed back to Reneé’s.  The next morning we thanked Reneé and Brian for their wonderful hospitality and I petted my sweet Max one last time, before heading back to the airport.  Once home, Wes got busy with a mountain of SAA work.

SAA Board Dinner 5.2019
The happy gang enjoying dinner!

Wes and I, are both thrilled and honored to each have a painting accepted into the upcoming SAA 59th Annual Exhibition at the gorgeous Briscoe Western Art Museum  September 19 – December 31, 2019!

alligator painting Stealthy Approach by Rachelle Siegrist
My “Stealthy Approach”


red-shouldered hawk painting Southern Sentinel by Wes Siegrist
Wes’ “Southern Sentinel”


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Until Next Time . . . 

~ Rachelle