Summer Places and Social Graces!

Exciting news and happenings !

by Rachelle Siegrist

American Crocodile painting
My Crocodile painting “Uncomfortably Menacing”

Wes and I were delighted to recently learn that four of our miniature paintings have been accepted into the prestigious 2016 Kentucky National Wildlife Art Exhibit held in Henderson, KY!  My Crocodile painting, “Uncomfortably Menacing” is one of our four paintings that will be featured in this exhibition.  We’re also thrilled to have been asked to participate in the upcoming Steamboat Art Museum’s 10th Anniversary Exhibition at the beautiful Steamboat Art Museum, located in Steamboat Springs, CO starting this December! I’ll be sharing the paintings that will be featured and available for sale through these two wonderful venues with you soon!

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Sharon, Me and Wes during one of our river picnics

We’ve spent most of our time at the easels again this past week, but with the onset of fall, we took several opportunities to spend time at the river tubing and hillbilly snorkeling with friends! While every trip to the river is a delight, sometimes something unusual happens, making it even better!  Such was the case early one morning this past week, as our group enjoyed having the river all to ourselves, just relaxing and floating around.  Then Sharon and I decided to tube the rapids, and rounding the bend as we walked along the river’s edge, we noticed that the water appeared to be rising and areas that were dry the day before, were now covered with half a foot of water or more!

The large, wide pool where we normally start our adventure, was now the color of Yoo-hoo and covered with floating debris.  It’s a “mountain Tsunami” I stated, as we quickly decided to jump on our tubes and take advantage of this thrilling opportunity!  The smaller rapids were now medium rapids, but the best awaited us around the bend! By the time we reached the guys, Tom’s chair sitting on dry ground minutes before, was now surrounded by water.

Sharon and I threw caution into the wind, quickly deciding to tube the first set of rapids, which were now amazing!!!  Once visible rocks were now submerged under several inches of water, creating 2-3 foot drops and dips in the whitewater, sending us bouncing all over the place and up into the air at times.  We held on and squealed with delight as we flew along, getting out at the bottom and doing it again numerous times over! We were totally soaked in the end and quite chilly, but decided it was totally worth it, deeming it the best ride of the summer!!!  The water went down as fast as it came up, and we felt blessed to have watched this amazing show of Nature!

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Playing at the river with Chance

We went back a few more times throughout the week, enjoying a picnic and playing in the water with Tom and Sharon’s grandson Chance one evening, and  I was delighted when a gentleman, teaching his grandson to kayak, asked if I would like to sit in it and try it out.  Of course I jumped at the chance to try the shorty kayak, which was a different design than ours, deciding it was indeed as much fun as it looked!

We were so thankful to get a wee bit of some much needed rain here this past week, and I think our resident critter friends were just as delighted to get it!  We were thrilled to have our one of our resident Box Turtles show up on our front porch one morning, so I took her a fresh tomato, which she quickly devoured!  Another evening, friend Kit, spotted this baby Katydid sitting on one of my roses.  I was most impressed to see it showing off it’s keen sense of the use of complimentary colors!

A very happy Box turtle and a baby Katydid

It has been a very social week for us as well, starting with an end of the summer party at friends Chet and Claudette’s beautiful log home in the nearby mountains of Walland.  Lots of laughter and great conversation filled the air, as tasty food was being enjoyed, but I must admit the highlight of the evening for all was the chocolate fountain!!

rachelle siegrist with a chocolate fountain

Then there was Taco night at neighbor friends Mike and Deb’s beautiful log home, which started off with us all enjoying her legendary “World’s Best Dip”!  In no time at all we had reduced the mountain of dip to the size of a small mole hill! We laughed the night away, as Wes told stories of happenings in the neighborhood over the years. Another evening we enjoyed playing Mexican Train at friends Fred and Barb’s house, and the weeks happening culminated with a dinner party at neighbor friend’s Dick and Elise’s gorgeous home, with Tom and Sharon joining us!  The air was filled with wonderful conversation as we enjoyed delicious food, and ended with the group relaxing as Wes told funny stories about life in Townsend, before they all moved here.  Elise, an accomplished pianist, has a beautiful baby grand piano, so we’re greatly anticipating many wonderful memories being made in their beautiful music room during future sing alongs!

~ Recently Off the Easels ~

I finished my miniature dog painting this past week, featuring two adorable Labradoodles, which I photographed in Easton, MD last year during the Waterfowl Festival.  Looking almost like muppets, I just had to paint these adorable two, and thought how the look on the large dog’s face appeared as if she had been left the tedious duty of keeping the little one out of mischief.

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My latest dog painting “The Babysitter”

Wes finished his miniature landscape painting of a sunlit section of the stunning Sequoias, located in Sequoia National Park.  It’s truly amazing to stand amongst those giant trees, a dream come true for a treehugger like me!  Driving into the park during our first visit, and catching my first glimpse of those ancient trees filled my eyes with tears and my spirit with sheer wonder and delight!

“A Path in the Ancient Woods” by Wes

painting a dog painting by rachelle siegrist - 1.jpg

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle


Our Exhibition in Kansas and new miniatures

Me inside one of the beautiful aviaries at the Sedgwick County Zoo.

We returned home Monday evening from our short trip to Salina, Kansas, for activities surrounding our exhibition in the lovely Earl Bane Gallery at Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure. We arrived in Wichita, Saturday, in time to grab a quick lunch and then we spent the afternoon at the Sedgwick County Zoo. The weather was beautiful with lots of sunshine, and we happily took alot of great photos that will certainly become future miniature paintings. It was a very nice and relaxing afternoon, which we thoroughly enjoyed in the midst of the business of these next few weeks. Later that evening we drove to Salina in time to enjoy a nice dinner at an Italian restaurant.

Our exhibition of miniature paintings in the Earl Bane Gallery at Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure.
Another view of our miniature exhibition.

After enjoying a nice lunch there at the zoo, we headed over to the Discovery Center to get ready for our two kids classes that afternoon. The first class was filled to capacity with excited young artists anxious to try their hand at drawing their favorite animals with colored pencils in miniature. They all did very well and went home with several Christmas ornaments to proudly display on their trees this Christmas. The 2nd class was also filled with the older kids who too did awesome jobs with their creations. They also enjoyed getting to watch Wes give a quick demonstration on drawing cartoons. After having not taught children art classes for almost 15 years, we actually got back into the swing of it pretty quick!

The kids watching Wes draw cartoons.

Upon finishing up with the classes it was time for Wes to give his presentation on the history of miniature art. Afterward, we headed over to the Gallery to spend a couple of hours talking with the attending public about our miniature paintings and asking many questions. It was a well attended and fun evening! We said our goodbyes at the close, and headed back to the motel to pack and get ready to fly out the next morning. We arrived back in Townsend later Monday evening, in time to unpack, wash clothes and repack to get ready for our next adventure, while painting on our current miniatures in between everything.

Fresh off the easel: I finished my landscape miniature “The Wee Tree Hugger”. It features one of the gorgeous Sequoias that we photographed and I hugged while in CA this past month. In case you’re wondering the wee hugger is me, happily hugging another one of those amazing beauties! Wes finished his painting “Awestruck” too, which shows him down on the foreground, standing and looking at the giant tree. I guess it’s quite obvious that we both couldn’t wait to paint miniatures of our wonderful encounter with the ancient giants of Sequoia National Park!

"The Wee Tree Hugger" by Rachelle, measures 3½ x 2½ inches.
"Awestruck" by Wes, measures 3½ x 2½ inches.

Currently on the easels: Wes is currently painting on a miniature of a Turkey that we photographed in Cades Cove, and I am painting on a miniature of a Ruby-throated Hummingbird eating from one of our beautiful orange Trumpet Vine flowers.

Happy Fall! . . . And in case you were wondering, yes the Wichita lineman is still on the line . . . I saw him!

Until next time ~ Rachelle  🙂

Our Visit to Yosemite National Park

Our first glimpse of Yosemite Valley (notice the view in the side mirror).

Upon leaving Sequoia, we drove a ways up to Yosemite to spend our remaining two days in the Park. Just as in Sequoia, we were greeted with more extensive road construction. Our first view into the valley area was accompanied with tractors and the road being completely removed to the dirt in preparation for repaving. We decided that this most certainly made a memory as most people don’t get to experience it in this way.

A gorgeous view of Half Dome in the distance.

When we got into the valley area, we were totally amazed by the amount of people in the park and the incredible amount of infrastructure present! It seemed everywhere you looked were more buildings. There were two story apartment buildings, restaurants, at least one grocery store as big as ours here in Townsend and massive semi-permanent tent cities in different locations. After passing a golf course earlier, in the Park itself, I guess we shouldn’t have been surprised at all of this. I suppose we were picturing a scene more conducive to the one that John Muir talked about and so enjoyed many years ago, not a metropolis, or at least what feels like one compared to Townsend.  After we finally found a parking spot, we walked for a bit on the “divided” walking path, making sure to not get hit by oncoming cyclists. The first real view of Half Dome was simply beautiful!

A very cute Squirrel having great fun with one of the large pine cones.

After walking around for a bit, taking photos, we decided to ride the shuttle to a different location and walked up to a lovely waterfall, where Wes was attacked by a swarm of Yellow Jackets on the way back.  Fortunately, only one was able to actually sting him, while the rest decided to just harass. I never knew Wes could “bust a move” like that, as he tried to get away from the onslaught of his vicious attackers! I guess you could say it made another memory! We later had a nice supper there in the Park and enjoyed watching the majestic scene of the mountains changing every minute as the sun started setting, taking as many photos as we could, of course. We then started our drive out for the night. Fortunately for us we were stopped for the 30 minutes road construction delay at a parking lot overlooking the valley setting, just before you enter a long tunnel. It was an absolutely beautiful display of colors and ever-changing shadows as the sun set. We sure felt bad for all of the people that were stuck in the dark tunnel for that half hour that didn’t quite make it in to see their sunset view.

The beginning of a gorgeous showing of the sunset on the surrounding mountains.

The next morning we started off by heading up towards Glacier Point. What a spectacular view it was from up there! You felt as if you could almost see forever as you looked across the rugged mountain ranges. Walking along the edge at the viewing area is not for the faint of heart that’s for sure! Earlier that morning we had stated that we would really like to see a Spruce Grouse, and amazingly enough as we walked back to the parking lot, there was a mother and her brood of  young Spruce Grouse! They were beautiful and very obliging to letting us photograph them for future miniature paintings. As I was about to get into the car before leaving, one of the young ones walked over and stood there for a minute looking at me as if to say “hi” and then slowly walked away.  A special encounter indeed!

Me making Wes nervous while standing on the tip of the "Pinnacle of Death".

On the way down from Glacier Point, we enjoyed a picnic lunch by a beautiful little meadow filled with wildflowers and several feathered visitors. We then resumed our drive to the Yosemite Valley area once again. With my coxing, we started hiking up to Vernal Falls, thinking we could see and photograph the beautiful falls, and perhaps get away from some of the crowd. Well, we did get to take photos of the falls, but get away from the crowds we did not. As a matter of fact, most of the time we had to hike single file as there was so many people on the trail, and once again, we found this completely amazing! The trail leading to the falls was really neat as it followed closely to the edge in many places and at a later point consisted of rough stones made to be steps, lots of steps!

Me in front of the beautiful Vernal Falls.
A precious little Chipmunk munching on a treat, on our way back from the falls.

The remainder of the day was just spent walking around taking photographs for future miniature landscape paintings. At one point while riding the shuttle bus, I was able to talk with a couple, one from Munich and the other from Australia, which had just spent the past 3 1/2 days climbing the face of El Capitan! It simply thrilled me to hear of all of the interesting details of their amazing journey and how things were done, like how he managed taking a 120 lb backpack containing their water and supplies up with him. Unfortunately, because of all of the people climbing, they spent a fair amount of their time waiting, thus using up their water and having to turn back before completely reaching the top. Learning to rock climb has always been a dream of mine, so imagine my sheer delight at this timely encounter!

Wes enjoys his supper in a beautiful surrounding.

We enjoyed another yummy supper in the park and then began our drive to Sacramento, for a very early flight out the next morning, while enjoying the beautiful and scenic views with the setting sun.  It was now time to go to the Birds in Art exhibit in Wisconsin!

Fresh off the easel:
I finished my self portrait miniature “The Pink Lace Dress”. I’ve decided that it’s not the easiest thing to do, to paint oneself. Wes finished his portrait miniature “Mountain Man Herb Herrick” this past week as well.

"The Pink Lace Dress" by Rachelle, measures 2 3/4 X 2 1/4 inches.
"Mountain Man Herb Herrick" by Wes, measures 3¼ x 3¼ inches.

Currently on the easels: Wes and I both are working on miniatures of the giant Sequoias. His miniature painting features himself quite tiny in the foreground, standing and looking at the awesome tree. Mine has a wee me hugging one of these great beauties! I’m excited that we should be able to finish painting them so I can share them with you next week.

We will be in Salina, KS at the beautiful Earl Bane Gallery at Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure, this next Sunday, October 3rd. We will be giving art classes for children: 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. ages 5 to 10 and 2:30 – 3:30 p.m. ages 11 to 14. Wes will then give a Powerpoint Presentation on the The History of Miniature Art at 4:00 p.m. in the Conference Center. Following will be a book signing of our publication The World of Nature in Miniature, followed by a Gallery Walk from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m., to meet with the public and discuss our techniques, influences, and paintings in the exhibit. The Museum will be offering half-price admission to the general public during the evening to attend our exhibit and see the rest of the museum displays. So if you’re in the area, we’d love to meet you!

Until next time  ~   Rachelle 🙂