Holiday Season Blog

Order now for the holiday season
Pastel Pencil Portrait of Young Girl



Pastel Portraits Make wonderful Keepsake Gifts!

watercolor of two asparagus
watercolor of shallots
watercolor of shallots

“Merry Christmas, Sophie” – Personalized digital print

fits right into an 11″ x 17″ frame

~ wonderful gift for a child ~

Patrick's two teenage boys
Patrick’s boys actually picked the charcoal as the look they would like. They’re thrilled!
Charcoal portraits make wonderful keepsake gifts!

To see more portraits and to order click here: Pastel & Charcoal Pencil Portraits


“Oh, Sarah! Words fail me. It is beautiful!”
Jennifer  Riesmeyer Elvgren, Sophie’s mother

“We met with Sarah one morning and she took pictures of my teenagers while we were having a conversation. She was able to take the photos and piece them together into a work of art. The drawing is beautiful and catches their personalities. Thank you 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...

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,...

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...

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...


  I saw this spoon in a drawer of antique silverware belonging to my mother. I was struck by this particular one and its simple beauty. I loved the way the silver caught the colors that were nearby: the orange ruler and the aqua of a glass bird. They really...

Sarah Buell Dowling Fall Blog

Sarah Buell Dowling Fall Blog

I've not done very many paintings in oil, nor am I a still life painter, but I recently took a workshop with Chris Groves, a very talented, Charleston-based painter, and above is the result. Oils are messy! But I LOVE that you can change up, reposition, and...



Anite is a Haitian woman who works at 2nd Story Goods, a non-profit cottage industry started by my friend Kathy Brooks. She tells Anite's story below:   We stand outside Anite’s tiny thatch home, the one she moved into this past June with her four children. I...

Autumn Blog

Autumn Blog

Thanks for peeking in here! Teaching is not my forte’,  but I hope you enjoy this attempt to show you a bit of the watercolor process. To begin,  I placed this painting on a board at about a 45°  angle. I taped it down, and then started drawing. Below is a...

Spring News

Spring News

Spring is here (gorgeous!), and it's time to tend to my long-overdue blog. I've been working on a number of pieces over the last months but I'm going to take you through this one that I've been painting over a number of weeks. I"m attempting a style of painting called...

What’s New This Time

What’s New This Time

I just finished my first commissioned portrait, and it was a stretch!! The difficulty with doing a portrait for someone you know is that it needs to look like them...obviously. Felder Ann has the most extraordinary eyes. I'm delighted that her parents felt that I...

What’s New

What’s New

This piece, "Pensive," won first place and People's Choice Award at the Jekyll Island Art Show. This is a watercolor painting of my daughter, and what I really loved aside from her stance was the light on her blouse and her hair, and the orange of the bench. Two Old...

May Blog

watercolor of young woman


I painted this somewhat abstract painting, “Cautious” in response to seeing a photo of my aunt (taken somewhere around the mid-1930s) hiding in the back of a room peopled with mostly old women wearing assorted hats and solid shoes – perhaps, a garden club meeting… She was not comfortable, and I loved her stance and obvious fragility. I used these colors to augment her being set apart, young and alone. I am always torn between super-realism and folk art. This, to me, seems a bit in-between the two. I did this piece as a study for a large painting, which I’ll start soon. I think it will be a powerful work large!

Taking Off Framed Watercolor on Arches cold press paper $1700.00

Taking Off
Framed Watercolor on Arches cold press paper

This piece “Taking Off” is taken from a photo that I saw on a friend’s Facebook page. Bob McCarthy is a renowned musician, and a terrific photographer! I am so often moved by birds, and this Canada Goose was no exception. They’re like dancers of the ballet sort… I just loved the movement of the water and the anticipated lift-off!



Three Mennonite Women

Three Mennonite Women

I’ve added this next piece, “Three Mennonite Women,” just so you can see my process which is often messy. I like the idea of these three, but I’ll definitely redo it, maybe several times until I get what I want. Lots of times I don’t even know what I want. I’m just pulled, and then I work until it makes some sense to me.

Here is a closeup of the three ladies (click on it if you’d like to see a larger rendition). The color is quite blah but I’m often drawn to that as well. I like the lines. I like the shapes. I’ve also used some watercolors that are “granular” and they give a texture to the painting which adds some interest. These ladies are waiting for a train, but they could be waiting for almost anything.

Three Mennonite Women closeup

Three Mennonite Women closeup


I thought you might enjoy seeing where I work. If I’m not here, I’m in the other side of the house in the office where my husband works and which houses our computers. There I set up my blog.

Here I am in my studio. Not quite sure what I'm thinking...

Here I am in my studio. Not quite sure what I’m thinking…

My paints and water are on a table right behind me.


Another studio shot

Another studio shot

Here you can see my palette and water holders. With watercolor you leave the areas blank where you want white or you lift the color with a damp paintbrush.  You’re constantly using water to either lay down paint or lift it off the paper. Depending on the amount of water, your color will be more or less intense. The less intense (or the more watered down), the more you can see the paper through the pigment. That’s the beauty of watercolor. You can layer the paint, and see the underlying colors, creating it’s distinctive look.

Behind me is a large table where I mat and frame my work. You can also see that mat cutter in the photo below. I keep hoping there’ll come a day when I can hire someone to mat and frame…sigh.

Studio bay window

Studio bay window

This is what I look out on. I really love my studio! I have a bird feeder right outside, and I love watching the birds and seeing the marsh colors change throughout the day. There are few things more beautiful than a marsh, I think. Who would think that a swamp could be filled with such color and majesty! God’s handiwork at His finest, I’d say.

Thanks so much for looking in here. I hope you’ve enjoyed it!