It’s All About The Birds


 

I‘ve so enjoyed being able to eat breakfast on the back porch several mornings this past week, and am never alone, but I am always joined by numerous feathered and furry friends, bringing me great joy!  The Tinymouse family consisting of five adorable Tufted Titmice, hang out with me constantly as long as there are treats being offered.  I spread out a lovely little buffet of sunflower seeds and peanut crunchies, which they find irresistible, and in turn, spend much of their time sitting at the table with me.

They fly all around and above me, and occasionally land on me, which is always a delight and a thrill!  While recently reading Thoreau’s wonderful book titled “Walden” I came across this statement which I totally love . . . “I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance than I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn.”  I couldn’t agree more, and delight greatly in time spent with my bird friends each day! Of course, I also delight greatly in visits from my precious squirrel friends who frequent the back porch looking for peanut treats.  One squirrel named Skittles always gives me a gentle bump with her velvety soft nose after grabbing the first peanut as I’m placing them on the floor beside me, and I always feel like I’ve just been given the world!

cute squirrel photo

The shrews have also returned to secret garden in our backyard, and I’ve been enjoying watching the little furry critters runout at lightning speed, grab a peanut or seed, to take back and eat safely in the underground home. I delight in watching birds everywhere we go, and whilst kayaking one day this past week, I found myself amidst a flock of mixed birds, mostly warblers. Sitting in my kayak mere feet from the shore, I noticed one wee tiny brown bird, which I’m quite sure was a Winter Wren, exploring a dirt crevice running the length of the wooded bank.  It purposefully went along, tossing aside leaves much larger than itself, while intently searching for bugs, and at one point flew out, almost landing on the front of my kayak!

wes siegrist kayaking

While still watching the adorable wee wren, I saw a chipmunk come scampering down to get a nice long drink. Thinking to myself “This keeps getting better” I suddenly saw two male Prothonotary Warblers fly and land close by in front of me.  Then one flew down to the water’s edge where it commenced taking a nice long refreshing bath in the shallow water lined with leaves.  About that time a regal looking Belted Kingfisher landed on an outstretched tree limb close by, and I decided I could happily stay there the remainder of the day!  After paddling a few times and heading in the opposite direction, a precious little Pied-billed Grebe popped up nearby, from underneath the water where it had been searching for lunch.  It curiously swam near while trying to figure out what the big plastic pink creature was that had invaded its private swimming hole, but didn’t seem to mind me being there at all, so I stayed a while longer, just watching him swim effortlessly about.  I had indeed made more amazing memories that I will keep with me for a long while!

fall leaves in the smokies

 ~ In The Studio ~

I finished my red fox painting that is one of three paintings in 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.

red fox painting by-Rachelle-Siegrist

I’ve also started on the other two, switching between them just to keep things interesting, and will share them with you once I’ve finished them both.

Wes finished his miniature painting of a baby Red-shouldered Hawk, resting in his nest constructed out of piles of lush Spanish moss.  This little fellow was born in my parents’ backyard in Florida, and my Dad was able to take the reference photo for the painting.

 

baby hawk painting_by_Wes_Siegrist
“Sitting In a Spanish Nursery”

 


~ 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

 

Falling Into Fall

Rachelle siegrist kayaking

There’s a crispness to the air in recent mornings, and leaves are starting to turn those brilliant colors that they do this time of year.  Although many here in the Smokies are just turning brown and falling to the hard dry ground below, while the trees are seemingly just trying to survive in the current drought conditions.  Our rivers and streams have dropped to extreme lows, with many boulders normally submerged, now dry as can be above the water.

wes siegrist kayaking

Wes and I enjoyed our last snorkeling adventure of the season last week, as water temps are now too frigid even with our wetsuits, to enjoy this favorite pastime any longer. However, with water levels so low, and no silt running into the streams, the water is unbelievably clear, and you can see the bottom whilst watching resident fish swimming about, without snorkeling.  I enjoyed these amazing views this past week when we slipped out of the studio one day to go kayaking.  It was an absolutely gorgeous day, with brilliant clear blue skies above and abundant sunshine, so as you can imagine, it was a delightful time spent on the water!

smokies stream

Most of our time this past week was spent here in the studio painting at our easels and doing office work. I’m putting the finishing touches on a red fox miniature painting, which will be one of three paintings on silk, forming a set, while Wes is painting a miniature of a baby hawk resting in a lovely Spanish moss-lined nest.

Rachelle Siegrist painting a red fox

While Wes has been working on the SAA office work, I created a few videos featuring highlights from the SAA’s 59th Annual Exhibition at the Briscoe Western Art Museum.  To enjoy the experience for yourself, click on the image below to watch the video.

 

Screen Shot 2019-10-12 at 1.25.53 PM
Click to watch video

 


~ 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

 

Attending the 59th SAA Exhibition At The Briscoe Western Art Museum

wes & rachelle siegrist SAA annual at briscoe art museum

Wes and I returned home last evening after an exciting week in San Antonio, Texas, where we attended the opening festivities for the Society of Animal Artists 59th Annual Exhibition at the beautiful Briscoe Western Art Museum!  We arrived in San Antonio in time for a nice dinner by the Riverwalk, and afterward, we enjoyed a relaxing riverboat cruise while taking in the beautiful scenery and learning about the historical buildings  that stand beside the river.

rachelle siegrist riverwalk san antonio4

Countless stunning old cypress trees line the narrow river, including one grand tree that is over 300 years old!  The numerous trees and lush gardens all about give a feeling of being in an oasis, making it a real treat to walk about the riverwalk meandering alongside the river.

SAA at briscoe western art museum

It was too late to tour the Alamo by the time we got there but we decided to walk over to see it anyway.  To get there from the Riverwalk, we were told to follow the water through a building which led us alongside a series of manmade fountains and streams that were quite lovely.

rachelle siegrist riverwalk san antonio

I have always wanted to see the Alamo since I was a little girl, and was delighted to have the chance to finally see this beautiful historic building.  I had just walked up to it and stood there abuzz with excitement, and suddenly heard a loud buzzing noise approaching.  Immediately after that, a bug flew into my left ear, and alas I couldn’t believe what had just happened!  Although I tried my hardest to dislodge the insect I couldn’t get it to come out.  So there I stood trying to maintain my composure and read about the Alamo while listening to loud scratching noises in my ear.  We walked back to our hotel, and I couldn’t take the noises it was making in my ear any longer, so Wes looked up online about how to get it out.  He walked to a nearby store and got baby oil, which he poured into my ear, thus suffocating the bug.  Thankfully the noises stopped immediately and I flushed out my ear with warm water afterward.  Needless to say, I’ll never forget my visit to the Alamo, and laughingly decided I had made yet another memory indeed!

rachelle siegrist at the Alamo

The next morning I went with several artist friends to the San Antonio Aquarium, while Wes attended to SAA business at the Briscoe Museum.  We had a wonderful time and were thrilled to be able to spend nearly an hour with two different groups of lemurs!  The velvety-soft fur of the lemurs felt so good to my bare legs as different ones took turns sitting on my lap.  We were allowed to gently pet them whilst using two fingers, and I simply couldn’t get enough of this amazing opportunity!

rachelle siegrist with lemurs san antonio aquarium

The energetic and inquisitive Lemurs were everywhere as they swapped laps, whilst checking us and our cameras out!  Being wildlife enthusiasts and artists, we were truly in heaven and thought this a most amazing experience to share as friends!

rachelle siegrist with lemurs san antonio aquarium2

Although we could’ve stayed there all day with our numerous furry new friends, we had to say goodbye, as there was much more to see.

The very friendly handlers were happy to meet a group of wildlife artists who were as concerned about the wellbeing of this amazing species as they were, so a couple of us got to go into the enclosure with the resident porcupine, and I got to do something for the first time, which was to pet it, and as you can imagine I was thrilled to have the chance to do so!

rachelle siegrist with porcupine san antonio aquarium

There was also a bird aviary, which we spent quite some time in while feeding Lovebirds, baby Crowned Cranes and much more, and I absolutely loved it!  Leaving the aviary, I had a chance to feed the numerous resident stingrays that call the aquarium home, which too was a great joy for me!  Some got very excited about being fed the wee shrimp and splash great amounts of water over the edge of their large pool, so I happily was christened by several stingrays!

rachelle siegrist with birds san antonio aquarium

That evening as we walked over to the museum, something felt weird to my left foot, and looking down, I noticed the bottom of my shoe had come apart and was hanging down!  Thankful they were flats, I stopped and pulled the bottom of my shoe off while laughingly stating . . . “Yesterday a bug in my ear, and today my shoe falls apart on the way to the big opening, we shall see what tomorrow brings!”  So with my sole in hand, I merrily hobbled along while keeping up with the others.  The opening was well attended and the museum was packed with excited attendees and patrons!  Opening remarks were made by Michael Duchemin, the Briscoe’s Director, and SAA President Reneé Bemis. This year’s SAA student scholarship recipients were announced and we all enjoyed delicious hors d’oeuvres and drinks.  It was then time to see the exhibition which was hung and arranged beautifully and was an absolute delight to see in person!

SAA Annual exhibition briscoe western art museum

The next morning a caravan of numerous wildlife artists headed to Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, anticipating another great day!  We made many animals very happy as our entourage tossed out piles of food as we slowly drove along the loop road.  Thankfully it had cooled off a bit and there was a delightful breeze, as we went along feeding and taking numerous photos.

natural bridge wildlife ranch

The group enjoyed a tasty lunch at the restaurant on the ranch with many of us taking another drive-through afterward.   It’s a wonderful park where you can certainly get up close and personal with their numerous resident animals, whilst allowing great opportunities for taking perfect reference photos!

cute zebra photo natural bridge wildlife ranch

That evening at the hotel, we had a great time hanging out with everyone during the pizza party and game night for the attending artists.  The next day brought many activities starting with the SAA members meeting, followed by a most interesting and entertaining interview with SAA Master Signature Member Carel Pieter Brest van Kempen.  The afternoon was filled with demonstrations, live bird presentations and a community mural project in which Wes and other SAA artists helped the kids paint.  The museum had a tremendous turnout for the various activities and SAA exhibition!

wes siegrist & SAA at briscoe western art museum

That evening the air was filled with conversation and laughter during the awards banquet, and we all decided that Wes had chosen wisely with the caterer, as the food was truly delicious!

wes & rachelle siegrist SAA briscoe art museumOur very dear friend and fellow SAA artist John Seery-Lester was awarded the coveted Lifetime Achievement award by the Society.  This amazingly talented artist, who has achieved so much throughout his career, even being Knighted at one point, brought tears to the eyes of many of us as he graciously spoke of his love for the SAA in accepting his award.

SAA annual John Seery Lester

Then came time to announce the award winners for this years exhibition, and I was both totally surprised and thrilled to learn that my painting “Stealthy Approach” had received an Award of Excellence! This marks my third time to receive the SAA’s highest honor!

Rachelle Siegrist, Stealthy Approach - SAA 59 Award of Excellence

Later that night artists enjoyed hanging out together in the breakfast room, as we had all done the past evenings.  The next day was spent in the Board meeting, followed by dinner together that evening.  Afterward, I enjoyed swimming in the lovely pool, as I had done daily, and was joined by several others, relaxing together after the very busy past few days.  We said our goodbyes and early the next morning Wes and I headed back home.

I want to extend a big thank you to the Briscoe Western Art Museum for hosting the SAA’s 59th Annual Exhibition, and to the friendly staff that made it such a wonderful weekend for so many of us!

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Until Next Time . . . 

~ Rachelle