Saturday, July 4, 2009

Hamlet Sketch

"This above all: to thine own self be true" (Hamlet, Act I, Sc. III)

This is the latest project that I've been working on. I'm trying to put together a couple of posters for various operas, ballets and plays to send out as sample pieces for theaters around Houston. This one is in progress for a Hamlet poster. My photo reference is up there on the left, and those are some of my color comps are on the other side. My goal is to finish it this weekend, but what with the Fourth of July and the huge barbeque my family is planning, who knows if that'll actually happen.

I'm working full time as a kind of personal secretary, and finding the time to do art has been really hard. I've been doing some life sketching but with Houston weather (i.e. it's really hot right now) it's king of hard to be out there for more than 30-45 minuets.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The New Website

I now have a "real" website up,, go check it out if you want.  You can look at my portfolio, order prints, or go check out my links page, I have a link to all of the SU senior illustration students there.  There's some pretty great stuff.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

No more school, no more books . . .

Ha!  I'm back!  School is out, finals are done, graduation is on Saturday - it's kind of strange to think that this is it, I have no more classes to go to, ever, unless I want to.  The change seems so, I don't know.  I don't think it's really sunk in yet.  

I kind of feel like I want to live below the radar for a while.  I don't know if I'm ready, mentally, emotionally or artistically to plunge right in to "the rest of my life" as people call it.  Which, by the way is a really odd term.  It's like the 22 odd years that I've already lived don't count or something, like they're practice, and yet the decisions that I've made over the past two decades really do have an impact on what I do with the rest of my life.  I don't like how, at least here in the west, we compartmentalize and create these stages of life.  Cause it's not true or accurate.  We don't ever really stop being children, and I hope that I never come to a point in my life where I stop learning or stop being moldable and teachable.  Yes, I think there comes a time when a person had to bring up all of the lessons they've learned so far and impart that knowledge to others, but if someone actually knew everything there was to know, then they'd be God, and I don't think I'd be comfortable with that.  I mean with a person being God.  Unless it was Jesus.  Never-mind.

Anyway, I've been wrestling with this lately.  I have these highs where the knowledge that I'm graduating, that I'm done with school just completely fills my head and I start to fall into this trap of "wow, I am so cool" or I have nothing else to accomplish, or "I have reached the limit".  Then I have to stop myself or something else stops me, and I have to really examine my heart and my intentions all over again, and I'm reminded of how small I really am, how little I know about the world and myself, or I'm just overwhelmed by my own failings and incompetency.  

And what have I really done here with my time?  What have I really accomplished?  Does it matter?  Have I accomplished the things that should have been accomplished?  Have I done everything that God wanted me to do here?  Have I been everything that I should have been for him?  I don't know.  And then I remember that verse where it says something like 'My grace is sufficient for each day'.  I'm not big enough to ruin God's plans for the world.  But then I think, am I just making excuses for myself?

Arg.  I wish I had classes to go to.  Then at least my mind wouldn't have time to run around in these circles.  

Above are a couple of pages from my completed thesis.  Ha! Yeah!  I'm done!  It was really anticlimactic though.  I think I've begun to see that there really isn't a beginning and an end to things, there's just another step, and you really can't stop. you know?  You just keep moving along.  

I'll put up some other images soon.  I have to pack up my room so that we can ship everything back to Texas.  

Oh!  And two more things!  My new website is up!  Go see it:

And also, if you would like to buy a copy of my Alaska journal, you can order it off Lulu.  There are digital copies and printed copies available.  

Search "Sara Silkwood" at the Lulu website, or copy and paste the link below:

Friday, March 6, 2009


If you click on the paintings, they open up bigger in a new window . . . 

Copper River Fish Wheels and Sea Gulls

Four paintings so far this week.  Thesis deadlines are coming up, and I'm starting to feel it.

This is a painting, in gouache on brown paper (wow, something new), of exactly what the post title says it is.  In Alaska, if you apply for it, you can get a special permit to set up a fish wheel.  There are only two rivers that you're allowed to do this at (I think), and you have to be there at the river during the salmon season when it's turning.  Mostly all of the wheels are homemade, and you have to haul them out to the middle of nowhere to set them up, and then haul them back when the season is over (some people don't, they just take off their permits and leave the wheels there.  There's wreckage all up and down the river of old abandoned fish wheels that got broken up and carried away when the river floods.).  But the hassle seems worth it in some ways with how much salmon you can catch in a weekend.  

The wheel sits out in the river, close, but not too close to the shore.  The Copper River is very silty, very cold, and very fast, and because they have to push so hard, the salmon that you get out of this river are some of the best in the world, or so I'm told.  I'll eat almost any type of fish : ) Yum, and I'm no fish connoisseur, I'm not that picky (it's another story when it comes to coffee).  Anyway.   There are two baskets and two "paddles" I guess you could say, and when the wheel is "turned on" they spin.  Pretty simple.  The baskets are maneuvered so that as they spin, they create a depression in the bottom of the river.  When salmon swim upstream they look for places like big rocks in the water or depressions in the river bed, where the current is not as strong, to rest.  When they come to those depressions they're scooped up and dumped into a basket beside the wheel to wait until someone comes along to scoop them out and gut them, and eventually, eat them (Haha, "Eat them, eat them!" Sorry, LOTR flashback "Give it to us raw, and wwwrrrriiigglling!" Actually, raw salmon, fresh caught and cleaned is really good!).  You walk out on a little rickety pier to the wheel, your weight on the pier pushes the wheel into the river bottom to stop it turning while you're there, and you net the fish and carry them up to the shore to clean them.  There's no running water out there, so you have to store everything in coolers until you can get back to civilization.  It's nothing like dip netting, but pulling those fish out (they're HUGE, and HEAVY) of the waiting trough and up to the shore, cleaning them in the freezing cold wind, loading everything up on your four wheeler to take it back to camp, not a picnic. The flip side is that there are long hours of waiting in between for the wheel to scoop up fishy-fishy.  

Oh, and gulls are everywhere, just waiting for you to give up ground so that they can swoop in and clean up.  The bald eagles are more wary, but there were several out there scavenging, and they really were beautiful.  And huge.  People say everything's bigger in Texas - which is true - but everything is especially bigger in Alaska.  

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mozart "The Magic FLute"

This is part of a series  that I did from the Cornerstone list of the 20 most performed operas in the US.  It's a poster (without all the poster stuff yet) for Mozart's The Magic Flute (it'number 10 on the list if you were wondering).  

Let me just say that this is one of my most favorite pieces that I have ever done!  I cannot tell you why, it just is.  I think it's actually going to replace my Beowulf painting as my profile picture, which I never thought would happen.  This was one of those pieces that just painted itself, it's just a really fun, joyful, if I can use that word, piece for me.  All I could do was smile and giggle when I finished  I was actually able to go home and sleep when it was done, instead of spending two hours trying to wind down (Yes, this does happen, I don't set the time, it just happens, and it's always two hours.  Whether I've been out with friends or shopping or painting, I can never go to sleep right after.  Eventually I started noticing a pattern, and . . . No matter how late, no matter how tired, it's always two hours.  Yes, I know I'm ridiculous, thanks.). It was so nice.  

I've really come to appreciate Mozart through this painting, too.  I created a Mozart station on Pandora (Great, amazing, wonderful site if you haven't found it already) while I was painting, which was kind of appropriate, I felt, and he was/is awesome!  So is  Baccherini, and Haydn, and especially Paganini.  Jury's still out on Liszt, my internet connection hasn't been great so I haven't actually heard one of his songs in it's entirety, but I think we're gonna be cool with him, too.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

More Houses Along the Bering Sea

Yeah, I love these views from the sea.  I've done three or four of them, and I don't think I'll be getting tiered of them anytime soon.  There's something really cool about houses buried in four feet of snow.  And it's even better with these ones because of the colors.  There are very few "regular" colored houses in Nome.

Iditarod Dog Lots

Ha!  I'm back!  I've been scanning, so I thought it was about time that I put some stuff up.  This is a painting that I did as a part of my Alaska journal.  It's more of a side painting, I don't think it'll actually be in the journal.  This is where the mushers put up their dogs once they had crossed the finish line, and before they shipped everyone back home.  Each musher got half a railroad car to store their dog's food, bedding, etc.  that they had shipped to Nome before the race started.  It's empty because I took the picture before any the teams had come in; no one was allowed to photograph the teams except the official race photographers.