About Us

Brownie painted this Christmas card of Charles, Tim and Chele for her mother

Brownie painted this Christmas card of Charles, Tim and Chele for her mother

Renowned artist and illustrator

This website has been created in memory of Brownie Downing by her four children – Charles, Tim, Chele and Beau. It serves as a showcase for her beautifully-executed drawings and paintings of children, fauna and wildlife from all over the world.

As well as her popular artwork, Brownie produced a vast selection of merchandise – prints, greeting cards, ceramic plates, pottery sets, vases, figurines, wall-plaques, dolls, jewellery and children’s books – which found international acclaim. Her designs also found an interesting ‘niche market’ in Japan, where a selection of her prints were transferred to souvenir ceramic pieces.

Brownie’s influences

Brownie found fame in her birthplace, Australia. Throughout our childhood she would tell us stories of the idyllic days spent in the family home at Balgowlah on the North Shore of Sydney. From there she and her siblings would play in the bush of the National Park that dips down to Forty Baskets Beach – it was an environment bursting with colour and wildlife that inspired her from an early age.

Brownie Downing with her children, Charles and Tim

Brownie with Charles and Tim

Although influenced by nature, the primary source of Brownie’s inspiration was children and the fantasy world in which they inhabit:

I have always believed that children need magic, and most of the scenes I have painted are those which children love – full of fantasy and colour. You see, for a child, for example, a tree is full of pixies, gnomes, fairies and flowers. A child believes – and I also believe – that there is magic in the world, that flowers do feel and understand, and that somehow we have lost touch with so many things. But these are the things which I like to put into my paintings and drawings and books, and I think that is why they have been so successful

Her early work focused on aboriginal children and girls performing ballet, but through her extensive travels she created a portfolio of paintings of children of many nationalities. She used to say that every child was beautiful, regardless of their ethnicity.

Brownie drew or painted every day, often sitting in a crowded square and sketching with remarkable speed. She never used pencil to outline her watercolours and she very rarely used water – just the finest sable brush and a lick of saliva. Interestingly, she was also preferred to work at night and frequently painted until the early hours – this is quite remarkable considering the light and detail she achieved in her artwork.

In 1958 Brownie left Australia, never to return. She worked prolifically throughout her life but many of you will not have seen the commercial work which she produced after she left Australia – or the stunning originals from our family collection.

Acknowledgements

Thank you to Juan Carres for taking the beautiful photographs of Brownie’s artworks.

Many thanks to Amee D’Souza for helping us to create this showcase with such dedication and patience.

We would also like to convey our special thanks to the Brownie Downing Collectors’ Club, it is thanks to their enthusiasm and avid passion for collecting that Brownie’s name and work are still known after all these years. They can be contacted via email or Facebook.

Now it is our turn to raise her profile and help her gain the long-overdue recognition that she merits as one of Australia’s finest illustrative artists.