“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!


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...

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 others......

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...

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 where...

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 expression...


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 here: [button...


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 PORTRAITS AS A BEAUTIFUL...

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...

Fall Blog 2015

"GREAT BLUE" At last I am finally painting! "Great Blue" (oil on canvas) has been a long time in the making. The piece below is the initial painting. I love the blues in that piece but I was more interested in achieving a more natural look. I've done few landscapes,...


  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 weren't...

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 recolor,...

May Blog

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...