Padre Island Spiral

Padre Island Spiral

Here is a great project I am blessed to be part of and contibute to: Amanda Joy Sisk is artist in residence for Padre Island National Seashore.  Padre Island, off Corpus Christi Texas, is the longest barrier island on earth, being 113 miles long but only about 1 mile wide. 

At the end of last year Amanda spent a number of months living on the island, observing its rhythms and patterns and creatures.  I was able to spend one month there as her assistant.

Being a barrier island in the gulf of Mexico, many pieces of trash wash up on the shore, especially during storms.  Plastic bottle caps dot the sand and settle into the vines that weave through and support the island structure.  These pieces of trash will be transformed into containers for hundreds of frescoes and cast impressions depicting the life of the island.

Having learned and executed some works in fresco, I was employed to share my experience of this technique. Fresco is one of the most ancient painting techniques, in which sand is mixed with pit lime to make a plaster. Pigments made from natural earth colors are applied to the wet plaster, or mixed with egg yolk and applied to the dried plaster.  For these island frescoes we are using the sand from the shore of Padre Island.

We are in the process of filling and painting the washed-ashore plastic bottle caps with paintings of plant life, turtles, deer and other creatures of the island with this ancient art of fresco.

Storms and currents also bring to the shore beautiful shells and ‘sea-beans’.  Sea beans are seeds carried from other lands, sometimes thousands of miles. Sea beans, such as the magical ‘sea heart’ will be featured in the final piece.


Besides sharing my experience of fresco, I have contributed to this project by designing the motif based on a flowering plant of the island called a Firewheel.

While staying on the island, hundreds of sea turtles, which are included in the fresco motifs, suffered cold shock and were cared for and then returned to the ocean.

In November I will return with Amanda to Padre Island National Seashore to help complete and install the finished multi-media art project.

Individual frescoes, made in bottle caps, can be purchased, as collectible works, gifts, and to assist in funding this project.

Please visit the website of Atelier Sisk for more images, information, or to purchase frescoes.

*This artwork was produced under the Artist-in-Residence Program at Padre Island National Seashore.*

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. matthia

    What an incredibly beautiful project.
    I am happy for you.
    It has offered you a medium for your deep talent and soul and acquired artistic skills.
    Sean and
    Keep us posted now for sure.

    1. sdk

      Thank you very much for all your encouragement and prayers over the years!

  2. Carol

    Such beautiful and meaningful work, Sean. I appreciate the story of the art and environmental education combined. Will you share details and photos re the installation?

    1. sdk

      Thank you—yes, I hope to share images and maybe a video of the installation.

  3. Tracy

    Fascinating and adventurous, a wonderfully creative process you are immersed in !!
    Such beautiful work, Sean … I proudly share your photos and stories often with others. Thanks so much for sharing ; it’s all lovely to read and see. My very best to you and Amanda ! 🍂🧡🍁

  4. Tracy

    Fascinating and adventurous, a wonderfully creative process you are immersed in !! Beautiful work Sean! So happy to receive your email and see all you’ve been accomplishing.
    I share your stories and photos with other often… it’s such a delight to do! My very best you you and Amanda . 🍂🧡🍁

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