I sketched Toni Taylor in a clandestine way as she worked on a painting at the Orlando Fringe Festival. After talking with her that day, I discovered that she lives and works less than a 5 minute drive from my studio. I asked if I could see her at work and she agreed. Driving up to her suburban home there is no clue outside to indicate what is to be discovered once I entered the front door. I did notice several exotic flowers and I thought they might have appeared in her art. I picked up a fed Express package that was on Toni's porch and rang the front doorbell.
Every room in Toni's home has paintings stacked sometimes 2 high on every wall. I just wandered in amazement from room to room taking in all the gorgeous art. Toni joked that she is running out of wall space and she might have to start hanging art on the ceiling. Every piece has a gem like quality. This was the finest art show I had been to in quite a while.
The last room we visited was her studio. She set up in the corner of the room with a window looking out to the pool on her left. All her brushes and supplies are neatly stored in a bookcase right next to her. She explained that the paint box had been given to her by her boyfriend when she was just 14 years old. She later married this childhood sweetheart and he also gave her the easel she is using. She said she was upset about the easel at the time because her ex-husband had used the rent money to buy it and she likes to stay on top of bills and commitments.
Toni plays relaxing music while she works. After nervously attacking the pages for a while, I felt myself relax and settle into a zen like state where every line and tone landed where it belonged. I stopped thinking and just reacted to the environment with affection and care. Toni and I worked in silence for several hours. I lost track of time. When I felt I was just noodling, I called it quits, and we compared notes. Toni opened the package I had dropped off and it turned out to be a book in which her work is featured. A painting in that book is one of my favorites. It showed a woman from the back with multiple arms outstretched reaching out in a circle. I find I am hungry for conversation with other artists and Toni and I joked and laughed for along time and I was sorry when I had to leave.