• It Isn't Always Easy, Is It?

    It isn’t always easy, is it?

    I’ve always admired the easy breeziness of greengrocers. And I know no-one is without their troubles but some people manage to rise above it all and bring a little unlooked for happiness into people’s lives whatever’s going on in their own. Market traders, corner shop owners, delivery staff, they seem to have this straightforward way of serving with a smile and moving on. I remember getting to know a restaurant owner in Greece one year and feeling bold enough to ask how he kept his sparkle even at the end of a long day. After a moment’s thought he said maybe he had been lucky enough to be born with a sunny disposition? In fact he knew of no other way to be and was delighted to find himself the right occupation suiting his natural abilities. But wouldn’t it be nice to be able to do MORE than the thing we were born to do? Is that even possible?

    Although I’m ever so grateful to have the natural ability to enjoy lots of alone time painting and drawing, I do find myself sadly lacking in the ‘easy breezy’ department. I often think of that tune in The King and I… ‘Make believe you’re brave and the trick will take you far, You may be as brave as you make believe you are.’ I’ve certainly found that when I imitate more socially confident people and copy what I’ve seen them do, I can often surprise myself. Like learning the tricks of their trade! But bless my cotton socks, I’m a slow learner.

    I’d like to tell you a story of something that happened in my late twenties when I was working as a catering manager in a theatre. I was never really good at the job but I did work hard at it. I was a great waitress, and could do the cashing up fine but I was HOPELESS at managing people and chatting to the public. There was a major ‘easy breeziness’ deficit. O how I envied those delivery drivers and their casual friendliness, as they helped each other back huge lorries into the small space behind the kitchen. And I decided there and then to try and emulate their chirpily cheerful way of talking to each other (even if at first it involved a clumsy adoption of their accents) and see how far that would take me. What could possibly go wrong?

    I’m not a driver but I had a few lessons from my great uncle Bernard when I was in my teens. I was alright with the pedals and the gear changing, but it was the steering that always let me down and apparently that’s quite important. But you don’t need to be a driver to assist other people and although I lacked confidence I was keen to test drive my new skill.

    Fast forward to my Golden Opportunity.

    I was with a friend in a car and they said, Why don’t you just hop out and see me back into this parking space?

    Omigosh, thinks I, I don’t think I’m ready.

    The understanding friend says, Go on, just stand out there where I can see you and help me back into the space.

    O dear, I really don’t think I’m ready for this kind of responsibility, I’m not a driver you know.

    O come ON, says the friend getting impatient now. It’s not hard. Just stand where I can see you, wave your arms and say "Keep Going" kind of things.

    Okay okay yes I can do it. I remember now (thinking of those delivery drivers and how I’d practised in the mirror until I was just as good as them).

    I was so proud to be trusted with the task. It didn’t seem difficult at all. The driver just needed to back up slowly and turn the steering wheel a bit. And I could help! So I stood there - well out of the way of danger - and started with the casual arm-beckoning movement I’d studied so hard. And in my best Uxbridge accent I began the casual "Keep goin’ … kee’ goin’ … yeah righ’ keep goin’" and all the time the car backed slowly and obediently into the space. I was more than delighted (and dare I say ‘easybreezy’)… this was BRILLIANT! All that worrying and it was literally this simple! A bit of effort, some bravery and the opportunity to practice my skills. It’s all I needed. Just saying things in this new, calm and efficient way and everything was falling effortlessly into place. So I continued with the “Keep Goings” until they backed right into a wall.

    And before you ask, of course I wasn’t looking. I was concentrating on saying Keep Going and waving my arms (which in my defence is all that was asked of me). And yes they were cross.

    Well you live and learn (in my case rather slowly with the learning). And it helped me realise that as I was so bad at my job anyway and relatively better at drawing, I could decide to move away from those funny accents in Uxbridge and live in Liverpool with my sister to do an Art Course (no funny accents in this part of the world at least).

    The rest, dear reader, is history. And that neatly brings me to the present where I spend my days on my own writing and painting and working with clay. And organising little online exhibitions, to which you are cordially invited.

    Little Joys opens on Saturday 6th August at 6pm BST at www.samtoftoriginals.co.uk …There are 13 paintings and 9 drawings.

    As you may have noticed, if you are interested in buying, there is usually a bit of a jam. Thousands of people try to access our website at exactly the same time (or earlier!) and it means that nobody can get in at all. It’s frustrating for everyone involved, not least of all myself. I spend months and months working hard to make something special then I get disappointed emails.

    My problem is that I want things to be nice, and I’ve thought of many ideas: auctioning work to the highest bidder, tripling prices, selling only through large galleries, having a big corporate website, working much harder… but none of these options sounded any nicer to me. Instead we are keeping things SMALL by starting a Priority List of just a few hundred members. And as my 7 previous shows have sold out within a few minutes, being on the list may be the only way to buy an original piece direct from me.

    What can you expect, as a Special Priority List member?
    • Prior access to all www.samtoftoriginals.co.uk exhibitions going forward. We have two shows remaining in 2022. Little Joys in August and Where to Now in November. Solo shows at Panter and Hall will not be accessed through our list and you’ll need to enquire direct
    • Prior notification when our new (very limited) pocket sized bronze launches October/November
    • Prior access to the last four of the bronze edition Pocket Doris on 5th August
    • Prior notification of our new release of exclusive limited edition prints later in the year
    • All purchases from Little Joys will come with a complimentary 2023 calendar, beautifully printed on Art Paper. I’m exceptionally pleased with my calendar this year. The proofs looked wonderful, so let us know what you think when they go on general sale in September.

    Of course there may still be jams but I know you are patient souls. Amber, Andy and Graham will be on hand to help.

    How do I join your Specials List?

    If you have previously bought anything from www.samtoftoriginals.co.uk you will be on the list already. Thank you!

    If you are a Club member you will be on the Specials List. If you join now at www.littlemustardclub.com you will automatically be added before the launch. Amber has just released a few extra spaces prior to her usual ‘first of the month’ release to help finalising our Specials List before my Little Joys show. Thanks Amber, I know it’s extra work for you but it’s really helpful x

    Everybody on our list will receive a second email tomorrow. If you do not receive a follow up email (entitled Our Specials) let us know so we can iron out any technical hitches before your priority access on 5th August.

    There is no catalogue, so unless you follow us on Facebook or Instagram the work will be a lovely surprise! Several of the pieces may be joining our exclusive limited edition collection at Nan’s Mustard Shop online at www.samtoft.co.uk … nicely wrapped with good old fashioned service and things you won’t find anywhere else. We’ll let our Specials know once we have chosen, and when they will be released. Really small editions, beautiful remarques.

    Wherever this email finds you, I hope you are living your life as best you can, with a balance of ease and challenge. Take it easy on yourself. And if you decide to fake it ‘til you make it, stay away from heavy machinery…

    Until we meet again,

    Big love,

    Sam x