Keeping Up with Paul Downs


A fan once approached Pablo Picasso with a napkin and asked him if he could draw a quick sketch “I’ll pay you for it, name your price.” Picasso quickly rendered a goat on the napkin and said, “Now you owe me $100,000.” Shocked the fan expressed, “100,000?! It took you 30 seconds to draw.” Picasso replied, “You are wrong, it took me 40 years.”

Local artist Paul Downs appears to be everywhere. You’ve seen his skilled work at Ways Station Coffee, Anderson Mercantile, The Arts on the Coast Gallery, and Photopoint Gallery. He’s also showing work at Locally Made Savannah, Savannah Gallery of Art, the airport, Moss & Co and then some. The mythical overnight success? Hardly. 

Paul thinks with his brush. It’s not unusual for him to have multiple pieces going at once. His subject matter varies from whimsical illustrations to abstract landscapes, nude sketches to sci-fi inspired works. He works proficiently in watercolor, acrylic and oils, a versatility that allows him to switch gears without getting stuck. “If you’re not going to use that blank canvas, give it to me, I’ve got plans,” he says.

Self-taught and incredibly disciplined, Paul sketches daily. He frequently shares mesmerizing time lapse videos from his sketchbook renderings on Instagram, a glimpse of ideas emerging in his brain. “I’m going to die with thousands of unfinished stuff; ideas that I never got to.” It’s this style of work ethic that allows him to see opportunities other artists might miss. When the pandemic hit, many artists suffered a hit. Paul took the opportunity to jump ship from his advertising job and promote his art full-time. A bold move that has paid off in droves. 

Paul’s portfolio features large scale statement pieces, as well as small, attainable works. His hand-painted bookmarks are highly sought-after teacher gifts and he’s always open to commissions. His pet portraits are gaining speed and currently have a waiting list. When asked where he finds inspiration, he responds, “where don’t I?” His energy is infectious.

As Vice President of local non-profit, Arts on the Coast, Paul shares his valuable experience with other local artists and art enthusiasts. He also helps run the Richmond Hill Farmer’s Market, and you’ll often find him working at the History Museum. “What we are doing with Arts on the Coast and the culture that we bring as artists to the community, in many ways these things all knit together. Each one connects to the other.” It’s this concept, that if built upon, will help strengthen the uniqueness that is Richmond Hill as we continue to grow.

The success of a local artist like Paul Downs or the community as a whole, lies in perseverance, dedication, passion, and willingness to serve. It’s having the courage to throw paint on the canvas and trusting it will eventually come together.

The Arts on the Coast Gallery currently hosts Paul Downs watercolor classes. Classes are designed to engage artists of all levels and ages. Reserve your spot on and watch the Arts on the Coast calendar for new classes this fall. 

Follow Paul Downs on Instagram @art_monkey16