Thanksgiving Blog

Sarah’s Update

 

What a year this has been! Most of it has been dedicated to illustration and the publication of our book, Frog’s Rainy-Day Story and Other Fables. I’ve been able to grab time to fit in these little paintings, which I’ve grown to love. I have them scattered all over my house. They’re on blocks of wood (6″x 6″x 1 5/8″}, so they hang in cozy spots and sit on tables, windowsills, even by my stove helping me cook.

Everything here makes wonderful gifts for friends and family. Please take a look around and enjoy.

Small Paintings

Oil paintings on Wood 6″x 6″x 1 5/8″

Gallery

Little Wren’s Friend

What?

Little Kitty

Sunflowers

Little Wren

Little Bee

Fred

Sarah Buell Dowling

411 Owen Street

Charleston, SC 29414

[email protected]

James’ New Puppy

This is James and his new puppy. His grandmother (a dear friend) asked me to paint a portrait as a Christmas present to her son and his wife. She wanted a soft look, and watercolor is a perfect medium for that.

I was given a 3″x5″ photo from which to work, and the finished portrait would be 16″ x 20″. Help! Thank goodness for PhotoShop. I was able to blow the picture up and see some of the details. Next the colors. Would they be accurate? Mary sent me samples of hair and skin color as James lives in Colorado…I live in Charleston…

 

This is going to be a short blog as I got well into James’ portrait and remembered I needed to take photos. You can see some of the drawing here, and the puppy is well underway. I used a combination of Transparent Red Oxide and Quinacridone Sienna to arrive at the wonderful orange/copper color on the nose and highlighted in the fur. At this point, I’m just starting to figure out the fingers and hand placement. Also, what is going on with the rear paw? Which leg was it attached to (look at the photo below)?

Women Waiting

 

Here is the sweet photo of James and the puppy.

Women Waiting

 

I thought you might like a closeup of James’ sweet face. I really wanted to capture his intent, his thoughtfulness. I hope I succeeded.

Women Waiting

 

Mary sent me this wonderful picture.  “They love it!” she said.

No sweeter words.

Women Waiting

Awaiting

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

Pastel Portrait

     A dear friend, Jan Fincher, asked if I’d do a pastel portrait of her three children when they were little (being now fully grown with children of their own).
     She then gave me a wonderful 3×5 photo taken many years ago of the kids in a bed of tulips! It’s the only one she had of them all laughing together at that age.
     The light was behind them casting shadows on the right side of their faces. I felt like a sleuth trying to figure out what the eyes were doing behind those shadows. You’d be amazed at how much moving something, even something as small as a dot, can change the character of a face. A millimeter or less can make a big difference!

Below is a closeup of Aimeé, the youngest. I love that face! Here I’m trying to find the placement of the features. The hardest part was capturing the slight amusement in her eyes and mouth.

Women Waiting

In this next image, I’m laying in the tulips. I’m also thinking about this wonderful red hair!

Women Waiting

Now I’m adding in the siblings. Ashley has reddish blond hair. Will’s hair is brown.

Women Waiting

About this stage, I’m realizing that these tulips are as big as Aimeé’s head. They really are this size in the photo, but it doesn’t work here.

Women Waiting

I’m also discovering that if you forget what you’re doing and lay your hand down, say on the tulips, you’ll then find that red pastel settling wherever your hand lands next. I spent more time than I like erasing or washing my hands…grrr.

Women Waiting

Below you’ll see that I’m starting to reduce the size of the tulips, trying to treat the picture as a whole. For me, probably the hardest part of painting is eliminating, deciding what is important and what isn’t. That’s probably why I don’t do landscapes. Just look at how many different shapes, lines and greens are out there! Brain implode.

Women Waiting

Once I got the ok from Jan that I’ve managed to capture the kids’ likeness, I started to relax and fill in the legs and sneakers.

I’m thrilled that the Finchers are pleased. Jan told me, “I’ve shown the picture to all three and they all have commented on what cute kids they were! Ha ha!”

That they were!

 

If you’d like to honor someone with an original portrait, I’d love to hear from you!

Please go to my contact page

Out On A Limb

Women Waiting

Out On A Limb

This piece, “Out On A Limb,” was so much fun to paint!

This is a watercolor on watercolor canvas, which I’ve never used before. Every medium has its own very distinct look.

This wood stork is young. Notice that it still has tufts on the top of its head, and its beak is not yet overly long.Wood storks are among the most bizarre looking birds!

Women Waiting

The Three Gents

If you clump mature wood storks together, they look just like old men. For fun, I thought I’d just throw in this humorous watercolor take of wood storks that I did many years ago. It now hangs in the home of dear friends.

Women Waiting

This is my first drawing exploring the “look.”

I apologize that all of these images are rather dark at the bottom. They were taken with my Iphone 7 in my studio.

Where to put the knees? I can’t tell you how many times I moved the knees up and down. These fellows have deceptively long legs!

At this stage, I’m also trying to determine the length of the beak, which becomes really long as the bird matures. Much like herons and egrets, the necks of wood storks can tuck into their shoulder and back, giving them a hunched-over look, which adds to their overall crazy appearance.

Those pink feet!  That’s when I think God made animals not only for our pleasure, but also for a real laugh! Life would be so colorless without them.

Here you can see the canvas and strokes. Again, these Iphone photos don’t do the finished fellow justice. He is really much brighter, and the background is actually white.

Here he is, out on a limb. He’s standing here waiting for someone to take him home.

This photo is more accurate as it was taken with my Canon. The painting is 12″x24″.

Charleston At Dawn

This is a commission that I just finished for someone who had seen the photo (below), and wanted me to paint it.

I knew that the photo below (taken by Luke Champion, a teenager who has split-second reflexes) needed to be a watercolor, as there were these wonderful layers of translucent feathers – perfect for this medium. I also knew that I had to invent the color, as it was to portray the rising sun, and the feathers would naturally pick up some of the early morning reds and oranges. I have to tell you that this was one of the more difficult paintings I’ve yet to do. I felt as if I’d entered a labyrinth, a maze of overlapping feathers and shadows.

I drew in the lines and started filling in the shapes. It wasn’t long before I realized that I was already going too quickly. If the shapes weren’t right, I’d have to start over again.

You can click on any of the images, if you want to see more detail.

I am not at all savvy about bird feathers. In fact, I almost flunked biology due to my lack of bird knowledge… However, I began to notice that there were at least three discernible layers, and I’ve read that there are six. Thankfully, I only saw three…

It was pretty early on that I began to get lost in the maze… which smaller feather was related to the larger one? Which feather let the light through? Which one didn’t?

I was also trying a new paper, Twin Rocker, a handmade paper that has quite a different look from my normal Arches cold press paper. I loved the colors that it picked up, but mistakes are not easily corrected. On my third try (two Twin Rockers, and one Arches), I started to pull it together.

Here you can see  how beautiful the granulation is that is unique to watercolor.
Here as well. This is the Twin Rocker with the beautiful subtleties.

I had to push my colors as I tend to lean towards the earth tones. I knew the bright oranges hadn’t really reached the blue sky as yet so I just hinted that the light and colors were rising. I hope you like this piece. 

Scary stuff to wait to see if the owner is pleased. Phew, he likes it!!

Winter Rose

How this still life evolved

I started out with this rather pathetic setup. The rose was dying, and I’m working against time. I loved the light on the vase, and the colors in the rose, but not the pine table top. This is when I decided to improvise.

 

 

I laid in the grey background first, then proceeded with the rose, and suggested the vase.

The more I defined the rose, the more I liked the suggestion of the vase. I sort of liked the realism against the more free form. 

I then filled in the vase imagining what it would be like if the pine side table were dark. I did not like the vase filled in. To me, it lost the spontaneity

So I went back to suggesting the vase with simple line where the light hits the curves and edges. I put in reflections of the rose to bring more color to the vase, and to draw the eye down. I want you to know that I spent, probably, the most time on that little line in the upper lefthand corner of the base of the vase. It’s truly amazing how a small dot can change the weight or balance of a painting.

Now I’m turning to the FABLES again. I’d love to complete them by the end of March.

Now I’m Working on the Fable,

Owl’s Client

I’m going back and forth between illustrating and fine art. I really love both!

 “What seems to be the problem, Mr. Mole?” said Owl.

You’ll have to read the Fable to find out what happens…

Address

411 Owen Street

Charleston, SC 29414

Phone

(912)223-8674

Email  

[email protected]

The Pink Hat

“The Pink Hat” is a painting I’ve been wanting to do for months! A dear friend had been to Uganda, and this little girl’s picture was among the photos. Her innocence was so compelling. So was the hat. Interestingly, the most difficult part for me were the hands. The way the lighting fell on them, and basically removed the dark brown color, made for an interesting problem. How to place the light and not draw the eye there as the subject was really the face!

 

Women Waiting

I forgot to take a picture of the initial drawing. Frankly, I’m amazed I remember to take any pictures at all. I get so immersed in the paint that I forget where I am.

She looks a bit strange…however, I’m trying to locate the shapes and values. The lines had already suggested the movement or placement.

Women Waiting

Where are the darkest darks, the midtones, and the light?

Women Waiting

I’m still laying in the darks, and finding the placement of the facial features.

Women Waiting

She’s starting to take form, and I can lay in the hat, which I’ve been dying to do. I just love her expression!

The wonderful part of being a painter is that you can decide what you want to emphasize or not. What color should the background be? Green is the complement of pink…does that work?

Women Waiting

I love her outfit. Again, what shadows do I bring forward (with a reddish tone) or set back (with a cool blue or blue/black). You can create great tension with cool colors against warm, not just light against dark.

Women Waiting

I decided I wanted a Ugandan countryside behind this little Ugandan girl. It’s filled with greens, pinks and oranges.

Now I’m moving to the hands with the gown as the background.

Women Waiting

Her right hand was interesting in that there were so many colors, shapes, darks and lights.

Women Waiting

The left hand was a bear! Hands are so expressive. I remember my mom’s hands so well…she who couldn’t sew on a button, but spoke volumes with her hands. I wanted these hands to express a certain vulnerability. Only time will tell if I succeeded or not.

Here’s the final piece. I decided to go with the left hand connecting with the right but relaxed as she’s not thinking about her hands. This hand was rough as I stated before. You have to be careful where you want the eye to go. It will be drawn to the light, and the hand is not the subject but, hopefully, an added statement.

THANKS if you managed to get to the end of the blog! Please comment if you have things you’d like to know or if I’m not conveying my thoughts in a way that makes sense (which is highly probable..).

’til next time!

Sarah

Thanksgiving Blog

Sarah's Update  What a year this has been! Most of it has been dedicated to illustration and the publication of our book, Frog's Rainy-Day Story and Other Fables. I've been able to grab time to fit in these little paintings, which I've grown to love. I have them...

James’ New Puppy

This is James and his new puppy. His grandmother (a dear friend) asked me to paint a portrait as a Christmas present to her son and his wife. She wanted a soft look, and watercolor is a perfect medium for that. I was given a 3"x5" photo from which to work, and the...

Pastel Portrait

     A dear friend, Jan Fincher, asked if I'd do a pastel portrait of her three children when they were little (being now fully grown with children of their own).      She then gave me a wonderful 3x5 photo taken many years ago of the kids in a bed of tulips!...

Out On A Limb

Out On A LimbThis piece, "Out On A Limb," was so much fun to paint! This is a watercolor on watercolor canvas, which I've never used before. Every medium has its own very distinct look. This wood stork is young. Notice that it still has tufts on the top of its head,...

Charleston At Dawn

This is a commission that I just finished for someone who had seen the photo (below), and wanted me to paint it. I knew that the photo below (taken by Luke Champion, a teenager who has split-second reflexes) needed to be a watercolor, as there were these wonderful...

Winter Rose

How this still life evolved I started out with this rather pathetic setup. The rose was dying, and I'm working against time. I loved the light on the vase, and the colors in the rose, but not the pine table top. This is when I decided to improvise.    I laid in the...

The Pink Hat

"The Pink Hat" is a painting I've been wanting to do for months! A dear friend had been to Uganda, and this little girl's picture was among the photos. Her innocence was so compelling. So was the hat. Interestingly, the most difficult part for me were the hands. The...

Portrait of a very dear friend

"Doots" My childhood best friend, who died last year was just so full of life! She loved to laugh. We met in pre-nursery school, and were both "Doots." We started the renowned "Doots & Doots Detective Agency"... solving all manner of crimes...often ones that we...

Teaching this class was so much fun!

I taught my first class! They liked it!! Who knew....   When I was in my twenties, I taught an art class of about twenty students, all ages. Within several weeks, most of the class had evaporated!  After that, I determined that I should leave teaching to...

Painting On A Billboard!

  I never thought that a painting I did with enticing lips would be chosen to be on a billboard!     A wonderful group called "ArtPop" (ArtPop Street Gallery) is on a move to fill billboards all across the US and eventually even in Europe with art!...

Sarah Buell Dowling’s First-Ever Sale

I'm posting birds probably because it's spring, and we're moving, and I'm decidedly feeling the nesting urge. Our house has sold, but we're not clear where we're headed yet, except we know we're staying in Charleston. I want all my paintings to find a nice home...

Christmas Commission

This painting was a Christmas gift from Luke to his wife, Rosie. Tackling this portrait was scary because I know Rosie, and I wanted this to be good, PLUS I’ve never done anything with this many different personalities in one portrait. I mean, look at the...

Blog

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to All!            

Holiday Season Blog

"SOPHIE"   Pastel Portraits Make wonderful Keepsake Gifts! "Two Asparagus" - watercolor print "Shallots" - 11" x 11" watercolor available for sale "Merry Christmas, Sophie" - Personalized digital print fits right into an 11" x 17" frame ~ wonderful gift for a child ~...

Pastel & Charcoal Pencil Portraits!

"SOPHIE"   I'm now offering colored pastel as well as sepia and charcoal portraits! These make really wonderful gifts! Patrick’s boys actually picked the charcoal as the look they would like. They’re thrilled! To see more portraits and to order click...

PENCIL PORTRAITS

Image size - 11" x 14" Matted size (ready for framing) - 16" x 20"                        ~ 3 DIFFERENT CHOICES sepia on toned tan paper sepia on white drawing paper charcoal on toned gray paper                        ~ I'M NOW OFFERING PENCIL...

Sarah Buell Dowling Spring Blog 2016

I'm madly painting and framing in anticipation of this Spoleto Festival. I have no idea what to expect, but I'm hoping that the people who might like my work will find me. As you can see from the paintings on this post and in the side panel, I don't have one style. I...

Portrait of a very dear friend

Watercolor Portrait

“Doots”

My childhood best friend, who died last year was just so full of life! She loved to laugh.
We met in pre-nursery school, and were both “Doots.” We started the renowned “Doots & Doots Detective Agency”… solving all manner of crimes…often ones that we committed.
I was asked by her siblings to paint her portrait as a gift to her husband. I so dearly wanted to capture this loving, zany friend who was always looking for a joke or plotting something mischievous.
I have to say that this was the hardest painting I’ve ever done. Often I’d cry.
But the painting was presented to her husband last week, and I was so touched by his thoughtful note:
“I can’t begin to describe the impact of your painting. Such a blessing. God’s in His heaven and Sandy’s with Him. Love you.”
Oh, I’m so glad I was asked.

Here are a few thoughts en route to the painting

This is what’s called a “value study.” I gave arbitrary colors to the various values on Doots’s face, namely dark black and dark blue for the darkest values. The middle values on the face are purple/gray. The interesting thing I learned is that you can use ANY color in a painting and it will make sense as long as the value is accurate. It will look astoundingly right. Value is key!

I’ve enclosed a value chart here going from the lightest light to the darkest dark, so you can see the variations.

Doots’s brother stopped by, and we determined that he had the same coloration as Doots. These are the sample colors that I used primarily on her face in the painting.

I should add that the finished painting (above) is actually on white paper, so the colors are not accurate (sigh). The camera has a hard time registering white, and often gives the picture a yellow, red or blue cast. Frustrating!

Painting almost always requires many failed attempts. For instance, I couldn’t get the right side of Doots’s face without her looking truly bizarre, so I’m hiding it in this photograph… I, also, realized that her mouth was too wide. She also looked fat, and I didn’t want that, so I scraped the whole thing. Sort of like bad batches of cookies…

I didn’t take many pictures as I worked through this painting as I was so absorbed that I forgot. Next time I’ll do better…

Aside from my fine art paintings, I’m illustrating a book of fables that my husband has written called “Timely Tales.” I love them! Here are two preliminary illustrations. I’ll be posting new ones here as I trot along…

GOOSE'S INVITATION

Goose getting out of bed

It’s Carnival Day!

PIG'S PLAY

bored chicken

I’m bored!

                    Back to Work…

Well, now it’s time to get back to work… 

Thanksgiving Blog

Sarah's Update  What a year this has been! Most of it has been dedicated to illustration and the publication of our book, Frog's Rainy-Day Story and Other Fables. I've been able to grab time to fit in these little paintings, which I've grown to love. I have them...

James’ New Puppy

This is James and his new puppy. His grandmother (a dear friend) asked me to paint a portrait as a Christmas present to her son and his wife. She wanted a soft look, and watercolor is a perfect medium for that. I was given a 3"x5" photo from which to work, and the...

Pastel Portrait

     A dear friend, Jan Fincher, asked if I'd do a pastel portrait of her three children when they were little (being now fully grown with children of their own).      She then gave me a wonderful 3x5 photo taken many years ago of the kids in a bed of tulips!...

Out On A Limb

Out On A LimbThis piece, "Out On A Limb," was so much fun to paint! This is a watercolor on watercolor canvas, which I've never used before. Every medium has its own very distinct look. This wood stork is young. Notice that it still has tufts on the top of its head,...

Charleston At Dawn

This is a commission that I just finished for someone who had seen the photo (below), and wanted me to paint it. I knew that the photo below (taken by Luke Champion, a teenager who has split-second reflexes) needed to be a watercolor, as there were these wonderful...

Winter Rose

How this still life evolved I started out with this rather pathetic setup. The rose was dying, and I'm working against time. I loved the light on the vase, and the colors in the rose, but not the pine table top. This is when I decided to improvise.    I laid in the...

The Pink Hat

"The Pink Hat" is a painting I've been wanting to do for months! A dear friend had been to Uganda, and this little girl's picture was among the photos. Her innocence was so compelling. So was the hat. Interestingly, the most difficult part for me were the hands. The...

Portrait of a very dear friend

"Doots" My childhood best friend, who died last year was just so full of life! She loved to laugh. We met in pre-nursery school, and were both "Doots." We started the renowned "Doots & Doots Detective Agency"... solving all manner of crimes...often ones that we...

Teaching this class was so much fun!

I taught my first class! They liked it!! Who knew....   When I was in my twenties, I taught an art class of about twenty students, all ages. Within several weeks, most of the class had evaporated!  After that, I determined that I should leave teaching to...

Painting On A Billboard!

  I never thought that a painting I did with enticing lips would be chosen to be on a billboard!     A wonderful group called "ArtPop" (ArtPop Street Gallery) is on a move to fill billboards all across the US and eventually even in Europe with art!...

Sarah Buell Dowling’s First-Ever Sale

I'm posting birds probably because it's spring, and we're moving, and I'm decidedly feeling the nesting urge. Our house has sold, but we're not clear where we're headed yet, except we know we're staying in Charleston. I want all my paintings to find a nice home...

Christmas Commission

This painting was a Christmas gift from Luke to his wife, Rosie. Tackling this portrait was scary because I know Rosie, and I wanted this to be good, PLUS I’ve never done anything with this many different personalities in one portrait. I mean, look at the...

Blog

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to All!            

Holiday Season Blog

"SOPHIE"   Pastel Portraits Make wonderful Keepsake Gifts! "Two Asparagus" - watercolor print "Shallots" - 11" x 11" watercolor available for sale "Merry Christmas, Sophie" - Personalized digital print fits right into an 11" x 17" frame ~ wonderful gift for a child ~...

Pastel & Charcoal Pencil Portraits!

"SOPHIE"   I'm now offering colored pastel as well as sepia and charcoal portraits! These make really wonderful gifts! Patrick’s boys actually picked the charcoal as the look they would like. They’re thrilled! To see more portraits and to order click...

PENCIL PORTRAITS

Image size - 11" x 14" Matted size (ready for framing) - 16" x 20"                        ~ 3 DIFFERENT CHOICES sepia on toned tan paper sepia on white drawing paper charcoal on toned gray paper                        ~ I'M NOW OFFERING PENCIL...

Sarah Buell Dowling Spring Blog 2016

I'm madly painting and framing in anticipation of this Spoleto Festival. I have no idea what to expect, but I'm hoping that the people who might like my work will find me. As you can see from the paintings on this post and in the side panel, I don't have one style. I...

Teaching this class was so much fun!

I taught my first class! They liked it!! Who knew….

 

When I was in my twenties, I taught an art class of about twenty students, all ages. Within several weeks, most of the class had evaporated!  After that, I determined that I should leave teaching to others…

When I was asked recently to demonstrate watercolor, I started the class by reciting my experience, but figured I’d aged and acquired some knowledge that could be useful. I used my bluebird painting for everyone to copy, and I painted along with them.

While the class painted their bluebirds, I painted two: one on Arches 300 lb. cold press paper; the other on Arches 300 lb. hot press paper. I thought it would be fun for everyone to see the difference. Hot press paper is smooth, and has none of the dips and rises of cold press, so the watercolor slides more readily and produces a different look.

They did a great job, and they all stuck around!! They’ve even asked me to come back!

Below you can see the class working away, and in the distance so am I, madly trying to keep up with TWO birds!

*Click on the images if you want to see them close up.

Here are the two Bluebird drawings side by side. The 300 lb. cold press paper is on the left. The 300 lb. hot press paper is on the right, and you can see the Arches logo on the bottom right. The “300 lb.” indicates the thickness of the paper.

*Click on the images if you want to see them enlarged!

Here are the two finished Bluebird paintings:  The 300 lb. cold press paper is on the left. The 300 lb. hot press paper is on the right.

*Click on the images is you want to see them enlarged!

PAINT – For the Bluebirds, I used Daniel Smith:

  • Aureolin (Yellow)
  • Cobalt Blue
  • Phthalo Blue (Red Shade)
  • Quinacridone Rose
  • Quinacridone Burnt Scarlet
  • Quinacridone Sienna
  • Alizarin Crimson
  • Prussian Green
  • Winsor Green (Blue Shade)

To make light black, I combine: Cobalt Blue, Quinacridone Rose and Aureolin.

To make dark black, I combine: Winsor Green and Alizarin Crimson.

PAPER – Arches Cold press and Arches Hot Press:

  • Cold press is best for beginners as it absorbs water better, and is easier to work with. It has a clean look.
  • Hot press is great for detail line work and inking, and stays wet longer as it lays on top of the paper longer so you can play around with it.

The next class we’re going to be doing “Hydrangeas” on hot press paper. You do this with the paper on an incline, and you watch what the pigment does as it rolls down the page…This is going to be a fun class! I’ll keep you posted!

 

If anyone is interested in buying one of these Bluebird paintings [$150], please email me!

 

This has been a particularly busy time since moving from one side of Charleston to the other. I love where God has put us, backed up to a creek coming in from the Inner Coastal Waterway. We can put our kayaks right in off our back yard, where we can see Dolphin, Osprey, Herons, Egrets, and so much of His creation. That’s my husband, Michael, in the distance, and Maisie (or Brussels) is making sure he stays on course…

Kayaking

Kayaking with Maisie

Painting On A Billboard!

 

I never thought that a painting I did with enticing lips would be chosen to be on a billboard!

 

 

A wonderful group called “ArtPop” (ArtPop Street Gallery) is on a move to fill billboards all across the US and eventually even in Europe with art!

ArtPop worked with the Charleston Arts Alliance and Adams Outdoor Billboards to launch the movement here. They had a city-wide contest, and we five (holding our unusual trophies) are the winners! Who knew?? Last night we had the opening send-off with the billboards lighting up! We’re each on several billboards throughout the city, and move when the billboard is needed for someone who can actually pay… I still haven’t seen any of mine, but many have, and I’ve heard it looks great.

 

Here is the original painting, and you can see where I took the long, skinny part that I submitted for the contest.

watercolor of woman reflecting

 

“Reflection” – This piece is for sale and, if interested, can be purchased in the SHOP

Thanks for taking a look.

Come on down or over to Charleston and see the real thing!