Saturday, January 2, 2021

Joining The Society of Animal Artists

The SAA 58th at the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art

The Society of Animal Artists (SAA), founded in 1960, is devoted to promoting excellence in the artistic portrayal of the creatures sharing our planet, and to the education of the public through art exhibitions, informative seminars, lectures, and teaching demonstrations. The SAA's membership, past and present, represent a veritable who's who of artists from around the world. Membership is open to artists by jury, and the Society has several levels of Patron Memberships.

So Why Join the Society?

1. The camaraderie with fellow artists and like-minded individuals. SAA artists currently number over 525 and represent 23 different countries. Members have regular opportunities to interact with each other online, as well as in-person throughout the year. 

2. Exhibition opportunities in prestigious venues are available to members annually. The Society hosts their flagship Annual Exhibition with opening weekend activities and awards each Fall. The SAA also currently holds several special exhibitions annually. New members are accepted at either Associate or Signature level and are able to be promoted to Distinguished Signature Member, and even the coveted Master Signature Member through participation in SAA Exhibitions. 

The 59th SAA Annual Exhibition at the Briscoe Western Art Museum

3. Informative seminars, demonstrations, presentations are available during the SAA opening weekends. Monthly business panel sessions, artists' studio tours, and advice from experienced artists in the field are offered online to members. 

SAA artist Robert Bateman demonstrating in 2015

SAA artist Paul Ryhmer demonstrating bronze pouring techniques

SAA artist Sharon Fulingim demonstrating stone carving techniques

4. Field trips are planned during opening weekend celebrations, to visit zoos, national parks, and wildlife attractions in the local area. 

On a whale-watching expedition during the 50th Exhibition in San Diego, CA

Playing with lemurs during an opening weekend

5. Recognition and awards ~ Spaces in SAA Exhibitions are limited and chosen by the jury to ensure the highest quality artwork is featured. Awards in the Annual Exhibition are selected by a panel of three museum professionals. Thousands of dollars in award money, purchase awards, magazine editor's choice awards, and the coveted Awards of Excellence are bestowed at each Annual Exhibition. The Awards of Excellence are the sole path to Master Signature Membership within the Society. Participating artists are also featured in the catalog.

6. Building the future ~ SAA members, particularly the leadership, strive to build a foundation of opportunities and knowledge for the next generation of artists. 

Until next time ~ SAA Artist Rachelle Siegrist

Monday, November 30, 2020

Society of Animal Artists International Exhibition


The Gallery page featuring over 50 SAA artists

Since I've been sharing about the history of the SAA this past year, it's exciting to think we are making history with our 60+-year-old organization with our first online-only exhibition! This inaugural exhibition focuses on many of the SAA's international members (those residing outside of the United States). 

"The Society of Animal Artists, founded in 1960, is the most accomplished collection of artists who find inspiration in the birds and animals that share our planet. This worldwide membership of celebrated painters and sculptors represents the very highest level of excellence in virtually all artistic mediums. SAA’s membership includes 500 artists from around the world. This unique exhibition is the inaugural virtual presentation of artwork by many of our members who live and work outside the United States. Included are paintings and sculptures by 54 artists from 19 countries. Enjoy the exhibition!" ReneĆ© Bemis, SAA President, Society of Animal Artists

A close up showing how the map identifies artists by country

World map showing the participating artists from all over the world

Elwin's specific gallery page (above and below)

The exhibition embeds information from Wikipedia about the specific species featured in each artwork. To enjoy viewing the exhibition click on any of the above images or on this link:

Visit the SAA website via this link for information on submitting to the SAA jury for artist membership, or to become a Patron Member of the SAA

Until next time ~ SAA artist Rachelle 

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Enthusiastic Leaders of the SAA


A screenshot of Board members at our recent Zoom meeting.

For the first time in our history due to the pandemic, the SAA Board now meets online via Zoom. While it's not the same as being together in person, we are nonetheless still enjoying it, especially with the convenience and ability to meet more often. Of course, it's great fun to see each other as well as many of our furry and feathered family members who join the meeting at times! It's also nice to glimpse inside many of the member's studios and homes.

There have been at least 115 people, since the SAA began in 1960, that have volunteered their time and efforts to serve their fellow members leading this organization. Unfortunately, we are still trying to locate copies of the earliest records of the SAA from 1960 to 1963. However, from 1964 on, here are some interesting tidbits about the people that have served over the years.

There have been 52 women and 63 men over the years as Board members. While most have been artists, occasionally, non-artists served in an advisory capacity and in more recent times, have been able to serve as full Board members with the exception of not having a vote on membership and exhibition juries. Per the current by-laws, the SAA Board is comprised of no less than 13 and no more than 21 members, and the current Board is represented by 11 women and 7 men. Each Board member serves a 3-year term and is elected by the signature membership. They can choose to run again at the end of each term if they so wish.

A gift from the SAA Board to Joe Vance in 1993

Some Board members truly go above and beyond and are deeply loved by their fellow Board members, as evident in their long term service! The record holder, serving a whopping 44 years in SAA leadership, is Doug Allen. The late Marilyn Newmark served 39 years and the late Joe Vance served 37 years including 10 of which he was president of the Society. The image shown above is a collection of small original artworks from fellow Board members presented to Joe Vance towards the end of his service as SAA President, which is now part of the SAA archives. We tip our hats to these who have dedicated so many years to this wonderful organization!

Of the current Board members, David Rankin has served 29 years and President ReneĆ© Bemis has served 25. There have been several husband and wife teams as well, that has served or is currently serving on the Board. SAA Board meetings are typically pleasant, but can sometimes be contentious. Most require 4 to 8 hours of time, but one did exceed 12 hours, and happily ended with everyone enjoying dinner together. 

I was elected to the SAA Board in 2018, and have enjoyed serving on it. Fortunately all the meeting s I've been a part of have been great fun, and it's exciting planning future events and opportunities for fellow SAA artists!

Until next time ~ SAA artist Rachelle Siegrist

Thursday, October 1, 2020

The SAA 2020 Members' Exhibition


The Society of Animal Artists' 2020 Member's Exhibition is now open at the beautiful Hiram Blauvelt Art Museum located in Oradell, New Jersey. The exhibition will be on display now through November 1st. The museum is located at 705 Kinderkamack Road.

HOURS OF OPERATION (Please confirm via phone before visiting)

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 10am–4pm

Saturday and Sunday 2–5pm


You can view the entire exhibition online here

(Please note due to shipping complications with the pandemic, some of the works featured online are not part of the physical exhibition)

Here are several photos of the 2020 Exhibition courtesy of the Museum.

Until next time ~ SAA member Rachelle Siegrist

Monday, August 31, 2020

Recalling Grand Memories From the SAA 50th Annual

The San Diego Natural History Museum

It's hard to believe that it's been 10 years already since the Society of Animal Artists 50th Annual Exhibition took place at the beautiful San Diego Natural History Museum in San Diego, CA! With most of us not being able to travel and be together in person with the current pandemic, I thought it would be fun and refreshing to revisit memories from this great weekend! It was truly an amazing time and attending SAA artists and guests stayed busy from the moment they arrived whilst enjoying the numerous activities over several days!

Helping with paperwork while enjoying conversation and laughter

The highlight of the weekend for many of us was the day spent on the whale watching excursion. It was a gorgeous southern California day, and the scenery throughout our journey was splendid, starting off with getting to watch and listen to the California Sea Lions that call the harbor home.

Heading out and anticipating an awesome day!

Nothing is sacred from a group of SAA artists armed with cameras... Ha Ha!

Of course, seeing numerous birds of varying species inhabiting the multiple islands we cruised around was exciting and I'm sure the birds felt like the paparazzi was after them whenever our boat approached.

Enjoying the sights and sounds of all the wildlife!

Watching and photographing the whales

The day continued to amaze us with stunning scenery and of course getting to see and watch the whales was absolutely thrilling! Then on the return trip, we found ourselves amid a dolphin pod, who ended up stealing the show from the whales! The large group of aquatic ballerinas swam alongside us at a high rate of speed, jumping up out of the water and generally showing off, and the hundreds of camera clicks that could be heard sounded like firecrackers going off on the Fourth of July!

There was a large foam cushion covering most of the top deck of our boat, and we piled as many of us as possible onto it, during the second half of the trip. I think that many of us did more laughing than anything while listening to a couple of our animated and comical members tell stories, and ended up holding our sore sides from all the laughing, and I can remember most of us not wanting the day to end.

The entertainment up there was superb!

The next day artists and guests went on buses to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and the following day were taken to the San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park, where the day was spent exploring and photographing the varies animals and birds living at the zoo, and that evening were treated to a delightful buffet on the grounds of the zoo. 

The hotel where everyone stayed was very nice and we enjoyed breakfast on the beautiful grounds before our member's meeting the last morning, followed by a presentation by SAA artist Robert Bateman.

Artists enjoying breakfast and wonderful conversation

That afternoon we went to see the exhibition at the museum, which looked truly amazing and spanned over three floors of the vast building and attended the Awards Banquet later that evening.

Viewing the exhibition inside the museum

Obviously, much of the fun of these opening weekends is being able to just hang out with other artist friends, and that was done by many of us every chance we had! 

If you'd like to experience or relive some of the excitement of the 50th weekend, here's a video below which I think you will enjoy. Please forgive the less than stellar quality of the video, but that was before we had iPhones and a GoPro or the ability to upload in 4K. 

If you'd like to read about and see more photos from the SAA 50th Annual Exhibition weekend, visit the links below:

Until Next time ~ SAA artist Rachelle Siegrist