Basking in the Sunshine


snow in the smokies1

The sun is shining today! The thick veil of dirty cotton in the sky has finally parted, opening the stage for a brilliant blue sky spilling forth abundant sunshine! And I am totally loving every minute of it, as a matter of fact, I have situated my green metal lounge chair in the one sunny spot on our front deck, angling it towards the sun and here I lie, blissfully engulfed in natural warmth! You see the sun has been absent once again for the past several days, so when it’s allowed to show itself once again, one must take full advantage of this delightful opportunity.

snow in the smokies

The birds are enjoying it as well, and they’ve arranged themselves like feathered ornaments in a bare tree nearby, while they sit and hammer away on sunflower seeds carefully held between their tiny feet. Even our resident screech owl Shivers pokes her face out toward the sun like a fluffy red sunflower, eyes closed, obviously feeling as indulgent as I am by this gift of warmth and brightness. You see, it seems like here in the Smokies this year, a winter day offering a clear blue sky and abundant sunshine is quite rare, so each one is truly a gift!

snow in the smokies3

My Carolina Wren Peedeepeeps fusses nearby trying to convince me he needs more mealworms placed in his bowl, but I must admit I have melted and in my state of sun-absorbing bliss, can’t seem to ply myself from my sunny spot to go and get him some. So for now, he’ll have to be patient and wait a little while longer. The other birds knowing that a sunny day such as this is not one to be taken for granted or wasted, have obviously greatly enjoyed bathing in their favorite birdbath as it’s nearly empty, with the surrounding deck floor looking like a watery Jackson Pollock. I even saw a honeybee visiting the cheery bright faces of my pansies growing in a pot on the front deck.

snow in the smokies4

This time of year here, the sun is angled low enough that it makes one wonder when mid-day is ever going to come and then before you know it the day has passed and the sun is setting again, seeming that noontime never came. It’s the strangest thing to me, but alas winter solstice is coming very soon and then every day thereafter, my beloved sun will start inching its way back up into the sky to where it will once again be shining abundantly on our front deck, a day which I greatly anticipate!

snow in the smokies2

It snowed one night this past week and we awoke to trees blanketed in white, it was a most beautiful scene, especially when the sun came out pairing the trees outlined in white against the brilliant blue sky. By afternoon most of it in our yard had melted except for on the back deck, where the snow turned to ice and stubbornly remained for several days filling me with great trepidation each time I went out to feed the birds and squirrels, being sure I didn’t go on an unplanned trip!

~ In The Studio ~

In the studio, it’s toasty and warm, where I’m currently painting on a piece I’ll be sharing with you later. Wes finished his last painting in a collection of miniature songbirds that is comprised of 6 paintings. The set will debut at the 38th Southeastern Wildlife Exposition this coming February.

miniature songbird paintings wes siegirst
Wes’ series entitled “Backyard Gems”

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~ See Our Miniatures In Person This Week ~

86th Annual International Exhibition of Fine Art in Miniature
Until January 5, 2020: The Mansion at Strathmore, Bethesda, MD

In the Tradition of Audubon Exhibition
Until January 5, 2020: Cincinnati Museum Center, Cincinnati, OH

Society of Animal Artists’ 59th Annual Art & The Animal Exhibition 
Until January 5, 2020: The Briscoe Western Art Museum, San Antonio, TX

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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.


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

In My Little Boat!

Experiencing the Repose of Nature!

by Rachelle Siegrist

lake in the mountains

There are moments when all anxiety and stated toil are becalmed in the infinite leisure and repose of nature.”  Thoreau’s words could not be more true! After an exciting, but somewhat hectic fall season, Wes and I experienced the calm he talked of, while immersing ourselves in nature this past Friday!  We decided to take advantage of the gorgeous weather and headed over to a nearby lake with our kayaks in tow.

rachelle siegrist kayaking

With expansive clear azure skies above, we climbed into our kayaks and as soon as my paddle dipped into the crystal clear icy water below, I breathed a sigh, and instantly melted!  There’s something truly wonderful about being on the water, watching the sunlight dance on the surface, creating a hypnotic effect of what appears to be thousands of shimmering diamonds.  The sound of the wind blowing across the lake’s surface and through trees on surrounding hillsides, as well as birdsong filled the air!

canada geese in fall

I was indeed in my happy place again, and couldn’t resist singing the line out of an old song . . . “Not a care have I, in my little boat.”  Slowly making our way through thick grasses and crispy, dried weeds, we quietly sat while watching a flock of geese preen and bathe. Several ducks and coots joined the flock, all enjoying the glorious late fall weather!

coot photo

Warblers nearby checked and sang occasionally, as well as wrens, titmice, juncos and goldfinches, as we slowly paddled along.  Finding the perfect lunch spot, we tucked our kayaks into a thicket of grasses, and commenced eating, while watching and listening to all that nature had to offer.  The peace and quiet was priceless, as the only sounds to be heard were that of birdsong, wind in the trees and the water lapping against our kayaks as it gently rocked us back and forth.


Jokingly, I felt my pulse to make sure my blood pressure had not dropped too much in my state of complete bliss, while surveying our personal outdoor restaurant, deciding there was none finer anywhere!  Paddling along later, I began noticing how each time I slipped over the water plants lying on the water’s surface, the trapped air formed bubbles, which would slowly rise to the top of the water and burst, creating living, fluid, abstract works of art filled with luminescent colors!

water droplets photo

I couldn’t get enough of this delightful show of nature, mesmerized by the brilliant ever changing bubbles!  Then Wes pointed out where a Beaver had been gnawing on a young sapling recently!  “How very exciting!”  I said, glad to know he was still there!  Later I found the perfect place to practice my “kayaking Limbo”, proving to be even more fun than doing it on roller skates!

kayaking woth rachelle siegrist

Soon it was time to head back across the  lake, and by that time the wind had shifted against us and picked up.  The water became very choppy with occasional whitecaps forming, and although it created challenging paddling, it made for a fun ride!  The flexibility of the kayak made it to where I could feel the movement of each and every wave against the bottom of my legs, making it feel as if I was just sitting atop the water!  I didn’t realize how much I had let the waves caress and rock my kayak until returning and finding my dry storage with a fair amount of water in it!

mountain lakes

Soon we had returned to the boat ramp, loaded the kayaks and were heading back, but after such a blissful day, I couldn’t help but wear a smile on my face the entire way home! We’re looking forward to a visit from Wes’ parents this week!

The 84th Miniature Painters, Sculptors & Gravers Society of Washington, D.C. International Exhibition of Fine Art in Miniature opens today, November 19th and runs through January 6, 2018,  The miniature exhibition is held at the beautiful Mansion At Strathmore in North Bethesda, MD.  If you’re in the area, this is a wonderful opportunity to see six of our miniature paintings in person!Wes and Rachelle Siegrists 2017 MPSGS Paintings


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

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle