06/02 — guest post by Sarah Dahlinger

i think this might be the very-first-ever guest post on this blog • & it is a delightful one! • Sarah Dahlinger does gorgeous glorious art • & also writes! • she is writing a WHOLE BOOK • with also a LOT OF PICTURES IN IT • which is so far beyond my comprehension of anything i could do, i cannot even •

anyway here she is to tell you about her book • “Seen and Unseen: Observations in the Panama Wilderness by Sam Hildebrand” • & how she got to this whole art + writing + nature thing • also lots of pictures • which i’d tell you they’re gorgeous but just go look • i mean • wow •


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.

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, 4 hours early, so I can practice.


This is Sarah Dahlinger. I’m an artist, both 2D and 3D, who has taken on the new challenge of writing and illustrating my own book, “Seen and Unseen: Observations in the Panama Wilderness by Sam Hildebrand”. It will be illustrated prose of roughly 60-80 pages, a historical fiction with elements of fantasy. Page length depends on how amped up I get over full colored spreads, and time. I’ve always had stories in my head but never felt like anyone would want to hear them. It’s time to see if I can make something that will make people happy. I’m excited for this challenge and I hope you are too.

This project is largely based on two things: my trip to Panama in 2014, and the 1911 Smithsonian Biological Survey. I’ve always thought a bit of magic lives in the places where humans can’t touch, so that’s in there too.

I’ve heard that you should make the story that your 12-year-old self would have loved to read.

This is my story.


If you would like to see some of my studies and sketches, check out my Twitter. https://twitter.com/SeenUnseenBook

I post new animal drawings there almost daily, in the efforts to improve my drawing skills before I illustrate Seen and Unseen.

If you would like to support the project, see full illustrations, read the copy early, see process sketches, and win prizes, check out my Patreon. https://www.patreon.com/SarahDahlinger?ty=h

My website also has a bunch of neat things on it as well. http://www.sarahdahlinger.com/


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