Toni's engaging and humorous contemporary animal portraits have made her one of the UK's most popular and highly sought-after artists with work selling through the country's most prestigious galleries and auction houses including Christies.
Toni spent five years at Blackpool and Fylde College of Art, studying technical and scientific illustration with a view to becoming a medical illustrator. She worked for a medical publisher in Surrey before returning to the north to pursue a career as a freelance wildlife illustrator eventually signing to a London illustration agency. But computer based illustration and digitised artwork were beginning to affect the role of the wildlife illustrator and the type of work available.
In 1997 her career reached a turning point when Toni met some international wildlife artists whilst exhibiting at the British Falconry Fair. This led to her painting wildlife pictures, often working from my own photographs of reference as well as sketch material gained from the field, including trips to Kenya and Botswana on safari.
After a number of years painting traditional wildlife paintings Toni decided she was ready for a new challenge and began to experiment on box canvas with a more contemporary approach to her subjects. She loves the idea of transposing animals to the reality of human situations and exploring how they might react with humorous results. Sometimes she has an idea for a painting based on a play on words, and will look through her photos until she sees something suitable. Sometimes it is the expression on an animal's face which inspires a title, however she generally waits until the painting is underway to ensure the title is a unique fit to the work in progress.
"My animals are not cuddly toys so I don't seek to portray the cute factor in my work. I like the individualistic nature of them and whether that comes across as docile or plain bad tempered for example then that's what I paint. Whilst I do attend agricultural shows and the like for inspirations, very often the animals are just too pretty and don't have the lived in tatty edges I like. My subjects are all around me and I'm never short of inspiration - in fact I have a list of titles and subjects on my studio wall just waiting for me to find the time!"