sarahdahlinger@gmail.com

Now & About

What am I doing right now?

I’m writing and illustrating a book, “Seen and Unseen: Observations in the Panama Wilderness”.

Seen and Unseen is a historical fiction set deep in the Panamanian rainforest. Follow Sam Hildebrand, an ichthyologist, during his harrowing adventure through mud and magic, as he tries to complete the 1911 Smithsonian Biological survey.

I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember, and this is my first attempt at writing. It’s been a great experience so far and you can come on this journey with me as I refine the text and create the illustrations.

If you would like to see some of my studies and sketches, check out my Twitter.

If you would like to support the project, see full illustrations, read the copy early, and win prizes, check out my Patreon.

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Art. Animals. Adventure.

When I was a kid, my parents bought forty-five acres of forest in rural NH so my sister and I could grow up away from the city. We lived up there every summer. For the first few years, when I was eight to twelve years old, we lived in a mostly broken camper. No running water. No plumbing. No TV. No microwave. We had a battery radio. We got a little house when I was twelve years old, but still no TV, and one radio for the whole house.

What makes me, me?

I lived outside like a little animal every summer from eight years old to fifteen years old. It has made a deep impression on me. It’s hard to explain just how much I love that land. My parents and grandparents taught me about the fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds who lived there. I memorized the “North American Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians” and had a very solid knowledge of the Audubon’s book on North American Birds by the time I was ten.

My parents sold the land when I was in college. I miss it deeply, but I find little patches of nature near my house to appreciate, and there’s always travel. I’ve been to Panama, Russia, the Everglades, Shenandoah Valley, Niagara Falls, among others. This year, I’m going to Glacier National Park to see bears. I guess, that little wild animal child is still alive and well in me. I hope to never lose her.

I think this is the root of my love of both the wilderness and art. Nature is an incredible force that is both beautiful and dangerous. I can go out into nature, and appreciate it, but, always with respect, because I’ll never own it.

Art, well, the battle with art is never won. There’s always something to improve, and this is what makes me get of bed everyday, 3 hours early, so I can practice.

Challenges are what fuel my life. There’s a magic in pushing yourself to your limits, to see where you stand. I’ve won some, and lost more, and, that’s not the point. The goal is to keep moving forward.

…and I hope, that if you’ll let me, I can show you what I have seen.

Hanging out with Thor, the gecko

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