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Work Samples

living fabric dries under the Cosmos

clothes line, living fabric, my tiny human cabin
A detail from the Human Cabin series, under the Whispering Cosmos, the living fabric dries on the line. 32.5"x 22.5" Gouache and Ink on black paper, 2019

Scorpio Moon

Deity hovers above the sunrise. Oil on a wooden circle, mounted on black 30"x 40" 2018

First Americans Prehistoric Astronauts

The big head sleeps among the human symbols, which hold the light of the world. Gouache and colored pencil Detail of a 22" x 33".

Doomsday Lamp

Merbird Human tears lighting the way.
Detail of a Merbird Human lighting the Way with Tears and the Doomsday Lamp. Entire piece is 22" x 32". 2019


About Liz

Baltimore City

Liz Downing's picture
E. Elizabeth Downing graduated from Auburn University in Alabama and then the Maryland Institute College of Art, where she studied painting under Grace Hartigan. Elizabeth has created musical performance art, toured plays and concerts, painted theatrical sets and costumes and has created film scores for experimental film makers. Her visual images arise from the landscapes of the Tallapoosa River in Alabama, which was dammed in the 1920's, flooding ancestral graves. Her focus is light upon this water... more

Series on Black

When working against black, every dot is evident and every mark is meaningful. To me the series is about reduction, even before beginning. Which marks are necessary and which marks are implied? I love to paint the cosmos in this way. Every dot is a galaxy. Every dash is an eon.

  • Scorpio Moon.

    Moon November Moon
    The Moon is a piece of the Earth, a favorite fact. This is an oil painting on a flat circle of wood against a black back drop. I attach this moon to a stick and hold it like a sign, while singing songs of longing to the Loblolly Pine. 25"x 30" x 1/2" 2018
  • Human Cabin Under the Cosmos

    The human cabin with her domestic scene, exists under the murmuring of the Cosmos.This is a detail of larger piece which is 22"x32".Gouache on black paper 2019
  • Breasted Lantern

    From the lantern series, an oil lamp on black. To create form with lines is a beautiful trick, one I will never tire of. This breasted lantern magnifies light.
  • Leading the Way with Tears

    This Merbirdhuman is traveling the darkest path at the loneliest hour. This piece is from the Lantern Series and is Gouache, Ink and colored pencil, 22"x 32".
  • Cosmic Bouquet in a Shroud

    flowers and funerals
    Flowers and funerals make a beautiful pair. Gouache on black with colored pencil. 2019 22"x 32"
  • Cosmic Laundry

    wash day
    A drawing for a theatrical set placed in the Bardo. 2019 22'x32" Gouache on black board
  • Anxious Red Moon

    Anxious Moon
    The Mood of the Sky is often swayed by the face of the Moon. You have to refer many times an evening to the furrowed brow or the desparate look. Gouache and ink on red board against black. This is a puppet to be placed upon a stick and used in a scrolling panorama show.

Story Boarding Monsters

Within the grids on black paper, with gouache, I catalog the dream actions of childhood monsters who have continued to live into my adulthood. These monsters are: The bear who got off the train and crushed a path through the pines to my family's living room, where we all sat. The goblin who lived under the slop sink, behind the mops and brooms. My dead grandfather's head, which appeared in the corner of the room, more opaque on anxious days. The girl with a Moon Head who followed me too closely. The crusty drunk, being frighteningly unaware.

  • Detail of Lifting the Veil in Small Squares

    heroes, sheroes, monsters, sacred eggs
    Monsters, Heroes and Flowers in gouache with colored pencil. This is a detail of a 22"x 33" drawing, created in 2019.
  • Corn and Moon and the Sisters Inside the Wood

    Monsters arise during the phases of sleep and inform the dreamer of the deepest layers of existence.
  • Moonheads sing the stories

    Life in all it's death talk makes us long for the Moon and our Mothers. Gouache and colored pencil. 25" x 34" 2019
  • Punch the Monster

    The life in the subconscious links with the lives of all others. Here, I am displaying the dreams of my childhood and how they have informed my life. Gouache and colored pencil on black. 2019
  • Bear got off the Train

    My dead Grandfather's head appeared in the corner of the room and never left.
  • Me and Momma went to town, to the Piggly Wiggly .

    Dawn, Sunset, First Americans, Grasping at the Moon
    Dreams of the first Americans making their way into daylight but on the other side of the veil, I am riding into town with my Mother to the Piggly Wiggly, to the Big Bear, grocery stores with animal names. Gouache and colored pencil 2019
  • Monster over my shoulder

    On the back of a stumbling drunkard, my baby was tied.
    In a dream, just before giving birth, I dreamt that my baby was tied to a crusty drunk who was unaware. I was running after them, but running in place. This piece was created in 2019 as part of an effort to decipher dreams by capturing the main action and turning them into psyche dramas or hieroglyphs.
  • In a boat, casting stars

    Casting stars from a boat, My dead Grandfather's head, the Bear who got off the Train, the Goblin under the Slop Sink, all are in these squares as I try to make into symbols these actions from dreams.

Dream Images in scrolling panoramas

This group of work is from a series of ink and gouache drawings on large sheets of deeply colored paper. These are illustrations of dreams, or paring down of dreams into an image, then into a symbols. I have experienced these dreams during pivitol points of upheaval and change in my life. Each dream is illustrated in 6-8 drawings and taped together, end to end and wound onto a scroll. Then I roll the drawings through a viewing window, in a device called a Crankie. I accompany these scrolling drawings with songs, which I hope further illuminate the meanings.

  • The Moon and the Loblolly

    Crankie image, loblolly pine
    The Moon has long wished to nest in the boughs of the Loblolly Pine, but in her crashing down, she broke all the loblolly's boughs. Knowing this to be true, they cried, they kissed. Gouache and Ink on Orange Paper, 2018.
  • Lighting the Way, We Need All the Animals

    animals and lanterns and human oil
    A bird merhuman traveling through Red carries a lantern. I used mostly dots and dashes of black ink and white gouache on red board. 30" x 30" 2019
  • Baptist Church Steeple came flowing, bell ringing

    In this dream, womb waters had just broken and sent a flood down the river, sweeping away church steeples and household items.
  • Pink Goblin sat under the slop sink.

    Pink Goblin, behind the mops and brooms
    From the Dream series, The Goblin lived under the slop sink behind the mops and the brooms. The Goblin would rise and sway, wide smile, when I passed by. And I would be running and running in place.
  • Winter Chalice

    In this Dream, there was a Chalice on the table and I was told not to drink from it or I would receive unwanted information. I was repelled and enticed in wave like motions, back and forth. All the while I was admiring the ancient cup.
  • Air Newly Formed

    The Air in this dream was like Air that had never before been lived in or breathed.
  • Bear on the train

    Bear, pink, Bear, golden eyes
    This Bear was always riding the train in my recurring dream. He would get off the train deep in the woods and head toward my family home. I knew he was coming and I was always, in the dream, trying to reposition my family from the couch and recliner, so they wouldn't be crushed by the bear's footsteps. The Bear grew larger with each step and I grew smaller as he approached.
  • Babylonian Bulls, carved from stone

    babylonian bulls
    From the walls along the staircase in the Palace of Darius, two great bulls were fighting. Later in a dream, on a high red dirt plateau, I saw from my bird's eye view, the same two bulls, drowning in the quickly rising waters. Ink and Gouache, 22"x 32" 2018
  • Anxious Moon

    red moon
    From the Moon series, the skies articulate the state of the psyche. Gouache and ink on red board, to be cut out for a hand held puppet. 2019

The Sun and Moon Series

These pale colored papers of Cerulean, Robins Egg and Blush, allow the transparencies of the sky, such as the motion of the clouds and the faces of the Deities, to be seen. Using gouache and ink, I can draw with liquid lines, the silhouettes of pines, whom I love. How better to conjure water than with another liquid. Dots and lines of white gouache are capable to describe light on water. All these things make it possible for me to relay the beauty of the land and water and calm the angst for a little while. All the paper is 22"x 32" and year created was 2017.


These Ink and Gouache drawings are 30.5"x 20.5"on deeply colored papers of Orange and Tangerine, created in 2017. The series is for a Crankie/Silhouette Puppet piece with a sound track and live singing. The story grew from a single wooden puppet whose beautiful glass eyes and slightly cracked head mesmerized me. This was a puppet from the Punch and Judy story and I began researching other wooden puppets from the play and began to draw them trying to capture the life in the wooden faces. The story these puppets historically portray is an unsavory story and needed some growth and updating, though the violence remains. As the images scroll by, portraits of the puppets, I interact with them using silhouetted figures. I sing the characters pleas and exaltations to the audience.

  • Judy and baby

    Judy is thrilled, as she has just saved the baby, thereby saving the future. Punch had come home exhilerated from killing the policeman, the holy man, the executioner and the devil. Punch began to toss the baby about.
  • Policeman, giver of law and order.

    The policeman is called to check out the disturbance. Judy and Punch are quarreling loudly. Punch was caught chasing Pretty Polly, who didn't like it. Niether did Judy.
  • Executioner and Eternally Crying Companion

    Punch tricks the Executioner into killing himself, thereby killing Death. Devil becomes impatient, receiving no new souls, and goes up to see what is the matter.
  • The Sparkling and Triumpant End

    Sparkling Peace, Judy Saves the Baby
    This is the final piece in the 20 piece scrolling Crankie. At this point, Judy has fed Punch and all the other characters, except the Baby, into the sausage machine. Judy feeds the sausage to the people, redistributing good and evil, light and dark. The accompanying music is Sparkling Peace.
  • Judy saves Baby

    Ink and cut paper
  • Punch

    Punch thrills at Chaos and his Bullying Stick. Too much power, he accumulates and then Judy must hypnotize him and turn him into sausage.
  • Babylonian women Dismember the Devil

    Gouache and Ink on Tangerine Paper
    This piece is on Tangerine colored paper, 20.5"Wx 30.5" tall. The title is Babylonian Women Dismember the Devil. This taken from a historical basrelief and placed into my refigured Punch and Judy story.

Venus, Take a bite of my cake.

This group of Gouache and Ink drawings , 30.5"x 20.5", were created for the Crankie Festival at the Creative Alliance, January 2017, and inspired by Immanuel Velikovsky's "Worlds In Collision". Velikovsky studied ancient civilizations to validate his theories on cosmic cataclysmic events and how they affected Earth's history and ancient people. My favorite story of his, thus the song that accompanies the Crankie, is this:
In 1500 BCE Venus was ejected from Jupiter and became a comet which crossed the Earth's path every 50 years for many centuries. Women of the Sumerian and Babylonian villages would stand guard on their roof tops for the entirery of the year lifting up cakes of worship the the Queen of Heaven, Venus.

Piggly Wiggly

These ink drawings were created for illustrating a song. The drawings will be put on a roll and cranked to roll past a viewing window as I sing their story. This group of drawings was created for the Crankie Festival at the Creative Alliance in Baltimore, MD in 2016

Me and Mama went to town
To the Piggly Wiggly, to the Big Bear
grocery stores with animal names
grocery stores filled with poison creme
like creme horns and creme puffs
like the creme filled check out lady.

Shape Shifters on the Tallapoosa River

These are paintings on canvas using oil and are mostly involving the action which occurs when matter is transforming.
The air and the glow from within the beings of these paintings are engaged in a song, humming vibrations which I strain always to hear.
This work was created between the years of 2011 and 2015.

  • Ancestor

    This oil on canvas is of the ancestors whose burial ground is under the lake. This lake was created by damming the Tallapoosa River. The resulting lake flooded many small towns and burial grounds.
  • Stuffed Doll with Eye Portals

    stuffed doll
    The guide on the doll's shoulder will lead you into which ever eye portal you wish to enter.
  • Bottle Tree for Haints

    Bottle Tree
    There is a tradition in Alabama of hanging bottles in a tree just outside the door of a newly deceased person. The newly dead will try to enter the old home place but will be sucked into the bottles instead. Releaving the living inhabitants of the problem of haints.
  • spirit animal reflection

    Reflections in the water
    Looking deep into the water you will find your true reflection.
  • Spirit underneath, ready to rise

    spirits underwater, oil
    Just before dawn, the spirits rise from the water and float around the fields until the dew falls again. This painting is oil on canvas.
  • Cloud Spirit

    Impish cloud spirit, waiting for the proper moment to spring. oil on canvas
  • Spirit rider

    Ghost hat, worn by a horse person, when attending a cloud stirring ceremony.
  • Stag on Pink

    This oil on canvas is of a Stag in August.
  • Doll stuffed with Clouds

    This oil on canvas is a portrait of a stuffed doll that I stitched with needle and thread, against a cloud filled sky.
  • sky ceremonial headdress

    I painted the sky years ago and waited for someone to come inhabit it. One morning in the still darkness, I began to stitch with paint this hood and then the ties for the deer head, not knowing from stitch to stitch what was about to appear.

Gnosis and Needle Work

These are paintings on wood which I am working to encourage the glow from within the images to be seen by human eyes.

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