Magical Meadows, Rocket Stove and Eggs!

Hiking Schoolhouse Gap to White Oak Sinks!

by Rachelle Siegrist

tall phlox in smokies.jpg

It’s that time of year again, so this past Wednesday, we headed up Schoolhouse Gap Trail to see if the Tall Phlox were blooming. It was a beautiful morning, as occasional clouds passed overhead and the sound of springtime birdsong and gentle breezes filled the air!  As we started our descent into the woodland meadow area, clusters of the delicate lavender flowers started appearing, proving our timing was perfect!  Soon we found ourselves surrounded by a sea of lavender and their soft sweet fragrance filled the air! We found the perfect lunch spot, a big log with plenty of room for the four of us, and we were delighted to have this magical meadow all to ourselves!

A Swallowtail enjoys the Tall Phlox, Shooting Stars and Squaw Root

After lunch, we decided to hike up to a sinkhole where Virginia Bluebells bloom each year.  It’s tricky knowing exactly when they’re blooming, so we weren’t sure what to expect, but were thrilled to find that they were indeed at peak, and absolutely stunning! It was decided that it was a wonderfully peaceful place to just sit awhile, enjoying the beauty and quiet!

white oak sinks trailSoon it was time to start hiking back, and while winding our way through the woods, we heard what sounded like thumping on a large hollow log, growing in intensity and tempo as it went along.  Having an odd sound, it also seemed too slow for a woodpecker, so at first we thought perhaps it was a Ruffed Grouse. But after researching online, we concluded it was most likely a Pileated Woodpecker, since Grouse do the beating with their wings while standing on a log. However, I also discovered that it sounded somewhat like the tapping on a hollow tree made by Sasquatch!  Being a huge fan of Bigfoot, I decided to go with that theory in the end, thinking perhaps he was watching us from up on the surrounding hillside somewhere and was tapping out a “Howdy!” to me!  We strolled back down the path, and just before reaching the trailhead, we stopped for a short wade in the river, finding it most refreshing and a great way to end the hike!

rachelle siegrist hiking school house gap trail
Obviously Tom didn’t get the red shirt memo!

Yesterday was the perfect day for hunting Easter eggs with our little friend Chance, and so he, along with his grandparents and several others, spent time in our front gardens hiding and hunting the multi-colored eggs. Of course it all started with the guys hiding the eggs, while us girls kept him entertained with bubbles, a favorite pastime of his!

rachelle siegrist yard.jpg
Always fun playing with bubbles!

Soon the three dozen or so eggs were carefully tucked in secret hiding places and the hunt began!  Chance was having a ball locating the eggs and putting them in his red bucket, but stopped several times to watch the Swallowtail Butterflies that kept flitting above, occasionally landing to drink nectar from the abundant Azalea blossoms!  Each time he would sweetly say “Hi butterfly“, then proceed with his search for eggs.

siegrists gardens.jpg
Looking for more eggs!

Upon finding them all, we hid them for him again, so he could enjoy the experience all over again.  Having worked up an appetite, our group headed to Pizza Hut for a tasty supper and ended the fun evening relaxing on the back porch while enjoying Sharon’s yummy chocolate cake!

wes siegrist yard.jpg
Found another one!

Wes recently discovered rocket stoves in a magazine and after doing some online research, built us one, for free no less!  Upon using it the first time, we were totally amazed, so he built another one right next to it the very next day!  Using small amounts of sticks collected from the woods, it concentrates the heat in one area, thus cooking food efficiently and for free!  A day or so later, he built a table nearby to set things on, so our outdoor kitchen is now complete and works great!

wes siegrists rocket stove
The initial rocket stove in action

Celebrate Easter . . . For He is risen!


~ Fresh off the Easels ~

Wes painted two landscape paintings this past week featuring gorgeous settings from our beloved nearby Smoky Mountain National Park.  Just a few minutes drive from our home, we love hiking in this area, and of course painting it for you to cherish and enjoy!

landscape smokies painting by_Wes_Siegrist
Wes’ “Still Waters”
lanscape waterfall painting by_Wes_Siegrist
Wes’ “Cascade Colors”

I have almost finished one of my current commissions which I will share with you soon, and started this commission “A Mule Full” featuring four precious little doggies belonging to dear collector friends!  As you can imagine, I’m having a ball painting this one!

dog commission in progress
My latest dog commission in progress

commission a painting by wes siegrist, landscape painting of the virgin islands

~ To Commission A Painting by Us Click Here!

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle

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Objects of Beauty

By Rachelle Siegrist

Miniature Paintings As Objects of Beauty

waterfall painting spruce flats falls

Objects of beauty . . . what may be beautiful to one person, appears totally ugly to another. It’s definitely a matter of personal taste, uniquely fitted to each individual. Wes and I consider many paintings objects of beauty, obviously being partial towards miniatures! I personally cannot imagine a home void of paintings. Special places created by paint, where one’s mind is allowed to wonder and imagine being there. Perhaps it’s a beautiful landscape where you can walk through fields of flowers or sit under a large shade tree, while looking out over a herd of cattle or flock of sheep. A painting of an old barn, that lets your mind imagine what stories it would tell. A beautiful bird or animal or a precious pet that you share or did share your life with, that holds a special place in your heart. Somehow miniature paintings seem to intensify this experience of imaginative travel, as you are drawn into their tiny intimate worlds, their own universe of sorts.

Birds As Objects of Beauty

bluejay gathering spanish mossB.J. gathers moss for his nest

male cardinal with birdhouseA male Cradinal near the Tufted Titmice nest box

mourning doves with azelea flowersThree Mourning Doves amongst Azelea blooms

Birds . . . what kind of world would this be without them? I personally cannot imagine that! Such an array of colors and sizes, each equipped with it’s own unique song. Filling the trees with a splash of red, yellow or blue, and the skies with assorted shaped silhouettes as they soar above. Watching a parent patiently trying to catch a bug to feed hungry babies, or tenderly share with its mate. Seeing the gorgeous red iridescent feathers of a Ruby-throated hummingbird, or listening to the melodious song of the Wood Thrush lingering in the heavy early morning or late evening air. Beauty, plain and simple, and free to those who’ll take time to enjoy them!

Flowers As Objects of Beauty

bearded iris bloomA Bearded Iris

dianthus flowersDianthus blossoms by our split rail fence

wild geranium bloomAn iridescent fly works a Wild Geranium blossom

Flowers . . . they fill our world with so much color! From the cool purplish blues of Virginia Bluebells to the warm yellows of happy-faced Pansies, each one unique in its own way, filling our gardens and our world with such vibrant life! From a field of large-headed, golden-petaled sunflowers to the single, vibrant red of a miniature rose, each serving its unique purpose while creating beauty for us to enjoy! What a delightful treat it is, to take the time to walk through one’s flower gardens, admiring the vast array of colors represented in assorted shaped and sized blossoms, while listening to natures symphony composed of birdsong, crickets and the occasional bee or hummingbird buzzing by . . . this is truly an experience of beauty!

The Latest Painting From the Siegrist’s Easel

Wes finished his painting of an adorable otter playfully floating on it’s back, while I’m still painting on a Longhorn Steer.

Otter painting by Wes Siegrist“The Backstroke Made Easy”

Happy Easter and New Miniature Paintings!

“Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there.” 

~Clarence W. Hall

flower photo

I do hope that you all enjoyed a very happy Easter! The weather was beautiful here in East Tennessee, one of those picture perfect days really. Not too cool, although not too warm, with a nice mix of sunshine, and a gentle breeze. After church, we enjoyed a lovely Easter dinner with our dear neighbor friends, Richard and Melodie, at a restaurant in nearby Maryville. Upon returning home, I greatly enjoyed casually walking through and admiring our beautiful azalea gardens, which are simply stunning this time of year! Some of our bushes are so densely covered with flowers that the foliage barely shows through, and I think to myself . . . Ah . . . they simply love all of the pine straw that I carefully put around them each year, and are returning the favor with a gorgeous display of color! I took my camera along with me on my walk and captured some images of our beautiful blossoms to share with you. So come along with me, on an belated Easter afternoon stroll through the gardens . . .

photo of flower gardens

Among some of my blooming beauties!

flower photo

flower photo

flower photo

flower photo

flower photo

Later that afternoon, our dear artist friend Beverly and her husband Ira Abbott, blessed us with a delightful visit! After giving them a quick tour of our home and studio, we simply enjoyed sitting in the living room, while sharing the remainder of the afternoon in much conversation and laughter. As we sat there relaxing, the open windows, invited the warm gentle afternoon breeze to softly come in, carrying along with it the delightful spring songs of our numerous feathered friends, making for a most pleasant time spent together. That evening, the four of us headed down to Pizza Hut for a couple of pizzas, while enjoying more laughter and stories being shared. At one point Bev and I were laughing so hard, our stomachs were hurting. Before long, it was time for them to leave and head over the mountains, so alas we said our goodbyes.

Although it’s cooled off once again and has been a bit too cool to eat lunch on the back porch the past couple of days, we did enjoy eating several lunches out there this past week. Almost every day we were blessed with a visit from my sweet Dovecakes. He comes and lands on the handrail, then slowly jumps the deck floor, walks over close to us and looks at me while I slowly get up and put his special seeds down. He then meanders over to the tempting pile, where he daintily begins consuming his edible treasure. About half the way through, he pauses, then walks the short distance to his floor level birdbath, where he gulps down several big drinks, before returning to the seed pile, to polish it off! When he’s sufficiently full, he slowly walks over to his favorite spots in the sun. It’s located at the edge of the deck, where he can survey the back forty, yet he is safely tucked under the trumpet vine, while also being able to enjoy the full warmth of the sun. He usually sits there the entire time we are nearby eating. Usually Peedeepeeps, my Carolina Wren, also pays a visit, to eat a few of his peanut crunchies in his dish located on the table by us. What a great lunch it always is to me, when we get to share it with our feathered friends!

photo of snowball bush

Me standing by a gorgeous Snowball Bush that’s along our walking/biking route

Fresh Off the Easel: I’ve been painting on a portrait miniature commission this past week of a precious little girl wearing her straw hat. I’ve also just started a miniature commission of three adorable puppies. Wes finished his very tiny miniature of a sweet little turtle enjoying a sunny warm spot on a rock. He also finished a miniature painting of a kayaker going down a gorgeous waterfall, called Bald River Falls, that is located a short drive from where we live, in the Cherohala mountain range. I tried to get him to paint the kayak pink and put bits of blonde hair coming from under the helmet, as I figured that is probably the only way I’ll get to go down a waterfall in a kayak. However, he said it was too difficult, and declined. Can’t imagine why, since the kayak itself, is only about 1/16th of an inch long . . . Ha!

portrait miniature painting

miniature painting of a turtle“Wee Sunbather” by Wes
1¾ x 1¾ inches 

miniature painting of a waterfall

“Tackling Bald River Fallsby Wes
3½ x 2½ inches 

~ Upcoming Events and Exhibitions of Our Paintings This Week ~

~ 21st International Miniature Show at the Seaside Art Gallery in Nags Head, NC. This show opens April 28th and runs through June 2nd. Miniatures are displayed in the gallery, as they arrive, so are some miniatures are already on display including ours.

21st Annual Artists for Africa Benefit April 11, 2012: New York, NY

Up Against the Wall Gallery, Kingsport, TN – This gallery has over a dozen of our paintings on display!

Miniature Artists of America Traveling Exhibition – At the MasterWorks of New Mexico Fine Art Show, Expo New Mexico, Expo New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM

Blossom II: Art of Flowers at the Greenacres Arts Center, Cincinnati, OH

51st Society of Animal Artists “Art & the Animal” Exhibition at the Appleton Museum of Art, Ocala, FL

Art of the Dive: Portraits of the Deep at the Wildlife Experience, Parker (Denver), CO

To view all our many exhibits: http://www.artofwildlife.com/exhibitschedule.html

“Collect the future’s history today while it is still affordable.”

Until next time ~ Rachelle