Sand Dollars Illustration

  • 08/14/2015

More Than “Sand Dollars”

“Sand Dollars” (shown below) is the second in a series of three “coastal” themed illustrations in work for Dixie; my wife.  The completed triptych will include “Pelican Moon”, “Sand Dollars” and “Happy Hibiscus” (further below) with Dixie-preferred white-on-black familiar beach subjects. These coastal illustrations will be hanging in our living room.

“Sand Dollars”

Sand Dollars

In Explanation:

The “Sand Dollars” are three “dollars in the sand”; a natural sand dollar flanked by two 1921 Morgan Silver Dollars; showing the front and back sides of what some hold to be the most iconic and valuable silver dollar minted by the United States.  The Eagle in the upper right silver dollar is peering left over the top of the natural sand dollar toward a Bald Eagle track in the sand, and the lower left silver dollar’s Lady Liberty is overlapped and flanked by five “sand dollar doves” that can be found when a natural sand dollar is broken open.  Complementing the five “sand dollar doves” are five dove tracks in the sand to the lower right.  Then, there are three American Icon plants completing the overall image; an oak leaf (a symbol of strength and endurance), an olive with leaves (for peace and reconciliation), and a palm frond (for heralding and welcoming).

“Sand Dollars” required 50 hours to complete; in black, white and colored prismacolor pencil, white gouache, black ink, and white oil pastel.  Effort was made to etch and faithfully render familiar details, including those of the eagle and dove tracks in the sand; which may be less recognized but are nonetheless also accurate.  Also, note the numbered “sets” of subjects with the overall image; two eagles, three dollars, three plants, five sand dollar doves, five dove tracks in the sand, five sand dollar “feathers” and holes, and seven palm frond leaves; classic compositional choices.

Of possible interest, some have wondered why the word “United” on the upper left Morgan Silver Dollar is overlapped by the natural sand dollar and doesn’t appear, while “States Of America” is visible.  Viewers have speculated that this may be some kind of veiled reference to America not being “united”, or of state’s rights being of more paramount importance.  Whatever the case, I chose the composition for balance, but do acknowledge that various meanings may be interpreted.  This, the sand dollar dove near the forehead of Lady Liberty, the olive and oak leaf near the Morgan Eagle, and the inclusion of eagle and dove tracks are examples of icons chosen to “build additional interest”.

Whatever you may see and interpret, I hope you enjoy “Sand Dollars” and “Happy Hibiscus”, and are looking forward to the completion of “Pelican Moon” in the near future.  The original images are 18″W x 21.5″H and on black illustration board.  Matted in white with a black frame they are stunning individually, and Dixie thinks will be more so as a set.

Happy wife; so happy hubby!

A link to Wiley Studio is included below to aid you in viewing our other illustrations, fine crafts, and photography.  Note the Gettysburg Series also in work, and our 150th Gettysburg Re-Enactment photos – produced as an outgrowth of our work as battlefield illustrator and photographer re-enactors.

We are known for compelling works with story-telling detail, compositions, and historical accuracy.



“Happy Hibiscus”

Hibiscus - Mixed Media


Both illustrations can be viewed at Wiley Studio Portfolio.

Linked on Finding Silver Pennies,

The Scoop, Coastal Charm, The Charm of Home, Moonlight & Mason Jars,