You may be familiar with artist Sam Toft’s popular images, following the life and times of Mr Ernest Hemmingway Mustard, his lady wife Violet, and their rather portly Jack Russell Terrier Doris. But how about the artist herself?
Sam Toft lives on the breezy Brighton coast, with a seaside studio and her own menagerie of animals; two dogs, more fish than she could count and a beautiful budgerigar called Almondine.
Like Mr Mustard, she spends a lot of time alone with her pets, walking in nearby woods or along the seafront, doing that most important of pastimes - daydreaming. It’s where she gets her best ideas; away from distractions, taking comfort from quiet times and solitude.
A sensitive soul and an eternal optimist, Sam faces life’s challenges with an open heart and a sense humour which comes through in her paintings.
“I am both surprised and delighted that my work has become so popular. It is so quintessentially 'me' that I often wonder whether my ideas will translate. But I put so much love and enthusiasm into my work, perhaps that’s what makes it so relatable.”
“On paper it does not sound very compelling: a man in a baggy coat and tights, spending much of his time with an old fat dog looking out to sea... but I think people see themselves in Mr Mustard as I do too.
“I am so happy to be able to make my living as an artist, drawing my hopes and dreams, being given the opportunity of communicating with more people than I could ever have imagined.”
Sam did not always plan on becoming an artist. Her earliest ambition was to work either in a Post Office or a Circus. She studied Business and Social Sciences, but turned to art in her mid twenties after enjoying several part-time courses in Liverpool.
Her journey into art has been an incredibly healing process. She has created an imaginary world, naive and easily accessible, colourful, whimsical and beautifully composed. But it is also a world where her characters deal with very real issues.
Perennial themes of loss, alone-ness and the difficulties of relationship, are approached with her characteristic attitude of openness, inclusivity and an irrepressible sense of fun.
Happily, this venture into the art world means that we can now enjoy her depictions of an eccentric couple and their collection of both furred and feathered friends in situations real and imagined.
Bold landscapes, woodland scenes and seaside walks with a fair wind blowing. Each lovingly created using her own idiomatic mixed media techniques, in faded ice cream colours and an unusual tactile and textured style.
To browse and buy from Sam’s hugely successful and ever popular collection of limited edition prints, click here