Artist's Journal

  • Spring!

    Hallo dear friends,

    Spring is here with all her bright and changing moods.

    Just this morning I saw so many moving and beautiful things:

    • The town centre’s newly laid paving slabs with their rare pristine gleam before the blackened chewing gum polka dots descend
    • A large crow building his nest and a young man with no shoes calling "Leave me alone" to anyone who would listen
    • Herds of starlings ambushing the pigeons and seagulls as young girls throw their McDonalds breakfasts into the sky
    • A chance sighting from the bus of a former friend, with their head firmly in the clouds and sad eyes
    • A muddle of cellophane-wrapped flowers & a weather-beaten teddy bear on the roadside
    • An accidental glance at my reflection in a huge Primark window display reveals I am no longer twenty one

    Blossom falling. Bulbs sprouting.

    Spring is here.

    I’m so grateful for all your Get Well Soon messages. I’m in robust health, thank you, it’s just that I’ve been absent from social media recently. I’m taking a few months’ break from all that… You know how things can get ‘a bit much’ sometimes? And dear Amber is doing a few posts which is so helpful.

    The most rewarding thing for me is spending quiet time creating new work but what gets in my way is ‘everything else’! I find I’m trying (and failing!) to be all things to all people. But I’m sure that’s a familiar story for many of us?

    My own solution is Little Mustard Club. Amber can help organise, post and share the material for those of you who’d like a little extra. It’s 12 months since we launched the Club and we’re proudly building on it each year.

    There are already lots of ways to access the Sam Toft range, internationally available, and for all budgets.

    But for those who would like something more exclusive - original work maybe, or priority access to bespoke items, regular newsletters, insider knowledge - we now have a Club for that!

    I have been much more relaxed and creative now I have the luxury of time and space, with Amber running the Club and Socials. So many new ideas as I work towards my Big London show at Panter and Hall in November. I’m currently painting on vintage book covers and illustrating the Crookleigh Chronicles. More information on those later but these two new pieces pictured below are soon to be released as limited editions for Club members.

    I’ve started working with Ami, a talented ceramicist, to produce a small range of half thrown/ half handbuilt painted figures, and I’m hoping to find the time to work on some bigger pieces with master potter Roberto Gagliano at Pottery Gagliano in Brighton. Some of you may remember our previous show Anything is Possible at that sold out within hours? I’m hoping to repeat that success with a very different vision. My ideas are for a small series of large urns with story quilts painted on them. If we can just find the time to make that happen, ANYTHING is possible at

    Meantime I’ve been learning (slowly and badly!) to throw a few plant pots on the pottery wheel at Pottery Gagliano and you can watch my various personal twitterings, courtesy of Amber, @thesamtoftinsider on Instagram

    I hope you will join us in our new adventure,

    Sam Toft


  • Lovely Things Happen

    A lovely thing happened to me the other day.

    I popped into a coffee shop before my weekend dog walk and ordered two cappuccinos (it was going to be a long walk)… and then I realised I’d left my purse at home. Do I leg it home (quite a distance) and get my money, or do I do without my morning coffee(s)? Both options would be quite disappointing, let’s face it. Also, I’m not very good at making decisions. So I just stood there in my waterproofs and walking boots waiting for inspiration with my very patient pup by my side. And then the Barista said, I’ll make your coffees for free! Generous, lovely, surprising and it gave me such a boost, restoring my attitude of gratitude at the end of what had been quite a difficult week. Small things matter. And I hope you are lucky enough to have a Lovely Thing happening to you when you most need it. As a good friend told me when I was sharing my woes and wondering what, if anything, was the point of life in general and me in particular, “Perhaps there is no real point,” she said, “except for the opportunity to be kind.”

    So, the nights are a-drawing in and there’s a nip in the air when the sun goes in. I’m digging out my hot water bottles, shaking out the blankies, and looking forward to making (and not sharing) Nan’s special recipe nutmeggie rice pudding. I don’t know about you but I’m feeling a bit tired. However, I am grateful for my MANY blessings and looking forward to riding this wave wherever it takes me.

    The BIG news (and I am ever so pleased) is that Amber has agreed to run Little Mustard Club in 2023! It’s incredibly good news as it had always been a one-year (2022) project and I know it’s a lot of work for her (as well as a whole lot of fun). It’s a delight and comfort for me to have help from such a bright, creative soul.  If you don’t know already, Amber is a brilliantly talented artist and mother, making both colourful murals to commission AND uplifting paintings (get in touch with her via the Club if you’d like to know more). Such a wonderful woman to work alongside, I feel lucky to have her energy and enthusiasm to help bring the Wonderful World of Mustard alive for more people without a whole lot of extra work for myself. I know that many of you are content with my two or three catch-up emails a year, but in case you’d like to keep more up to date, I now have someone who can help!

    When I heard the good news I started thinking about where I’d like the Club to go, given we have another year. We’ve done so much already but there’s always room for improvement and extra kindnesses, right? So I’ve been dreaming up a few ideas for Autumn. I’d like the Club to develop (any ideas welcome)… and I’m trying to guess what you’d like to see. With money getting tighter and it being such an expensive time of year, I thought discounts & offers at our online shops ( and for Club Members may be welcome? Nan has a box of 2023 calendars and says she’s happy to send one out free with all purchases (if you drop her a line letting her know you’re a Club Member).

    October is Nan’s birthday month and we have a 10% off discount code for all members valid for the week 10th-16th October, and there are membership deals for early-bird sign ups. As we are nearing the end of the year, any new membership subscriptions will get the rest of 2022 as well as the whole of 2023 to enjoy all that we have in store.

    Renewing members will get year-long discount codes and surprises! We are planning a Members’ Day at our Big Studio Clear Out Sale early next year, and I’ve just finished drawing a smashing colouring-in card for Little Mustard Club which I hope you will love. You could even use it as a hand-coloured Christmas card! And we are planning a Big December Exhibition with your entries at Brighton’s Cutest Gallery Space: Dog & Bone. Whether or not you’re in the Club, you can check out the exhibitions on social media @dogandbonegallery

    But my main reason for writing is to tell you about Blankie. Inspired by the changing of the seasons and my state of mind, I have a new/old character to share. 

    Many of you will remember Roger. Doris dog’s fiancé for a while before he disgraced himself. Anyone remember the picture ‘Roger, Father of Many’? Well, the title explains the problem, for Roger was in fact a working stud dog. An EXTREMELY handsome, smooth haired Dachshund. A real head turner. To call him ‘one for the ladies’ would be an understatement. Not that he was a rascal as such, it was just his job. And there was a dog that knew his business.

    But times change, and dogs they get older even when we feel we haven’t aged much ourselves. Roger, with his confident smile and his charmed life of luxury without responsibility, was no exception. To cut a long story short, once he’d outlived his ‘usefulness’, the unscrupulous breeders threw him out on the street. An all-too-common occurrence. But this was a dog who had lived an unusually cosseted life. Hand fed the finest minced steak and poached salmon, favouring a well know brand of bottled sparkling water and receiving a weekly mani/pedi. This was not a streetwise dog.

    As a young pup Roger had been overly shy and sensitive. Never the first one out of the box, and his mother’s favourite. How he howled when he was adopted too young - first out of the litter - and taken to live on the Stud Farm. His remarkable good looks and conformation to standard were apparent even from an early age and he fetched a very good price.

    At first his new owners treated him well, looking after their investment. He instantly bonded with Nanny the house dog at the Farm so he settled in well and quickly grew in confidence as he was showered with every gift money could buy. Within the year he had grown into a fine looking hound, just as expected. But he also became proud, selfish, badly behaved and snappy as no-one bothered to teach him any different.  As he matured, he quarrelled with Nanny and his insecurities led him to compete so fiercely with the other stud dogs that he had to be kept apart. A nice cosy pen where he was provided with adequate exercise, gourmet meals and increasingly regular visits from pretty females.

    On the whole he was happy with his lot but some nights if he awoke from an uneasy sleep, the warm sheepskin blanket would remind him of Nanny the house dog (or worse his dear late mother) and he felt achingly sad. But each morning the efficient staff would bring him delicious scrambled eggs nice and early for breakfast, and his day would begin. And O they were busy days. When he thought of how far he’d come in his short life he did marvel at it. But he was lonely, and sometimes wished he hadn’t been born so devastatingly handsome and utterly adorable. 

    But then one day he was pulled up short. For some unknowable reason he found himself abandoned on the wild and dangerous streets of the Brighton Hove border. With no useful knowledge nor any social skills to speak of he soon grew thin, ill, withdrawn, depressed. But what he did have is plenty of company. There were so many homeless people, many of whom found themselves in a much worse state than himself. They had tried to catch him early on but he found his hidey holes. The urban foxes and marauding seagulls were terrifying also and for many months he lived under the prostrate cotoneaster bushes close to the amply filled bins at the back of St Ann’s Well Park Café. And it was perhaps his regular meetings there with the good-hearted Doris dog (after she’d finally gotten around to forgiving him for how he’d led her astray) that encouraged him to trust again and finally find the right kind of human and let himself be adopted.

    By this time he had lost many of his teeth so the famous smile was not so perfect, but the kind lady who lived on the square didn’t seem to mind. Her name was Daphne and she had so many old dogs that ‘one more would make no difference’. At first she pushed him around in a large pram lined with old blankets, and when he buried himself deep and refused to walk in the cold, she decided to call him Little Blankie. With her long bleached out hair and kind eyes Roger thought she looked like Brigitte Bardot in her older years. He fell in love with her instantly.

    His new life as Little Blankie could not have been more different. Every night he slept under an old patchwork eiderdown with Daphne and the rest of her kids. He ate whatever was going from the large tin bowls lined up on the kitchen floor in rows. He was no longer prized only for his good looks. In fact he was never picked out or treated any differently than the rest of the dogs and that was nice for the most part.

    It was okay to sometimes miss the heady days of his youth at Alpha Dream Kennels and Stud Farm, he told himself. He’d had some wild times as Roger, ‘Kings Blood Skyrocket Red Baron de la Mer’ to be sure. But here with Daphne he was never left alone. He had friends and they always looked forward to the stories of his glamorous former life when he was the veritable King of the Castle. And what tall tales he told.

    Whether you’d like to call him Roger or Little Blankie, I sculpted him out of clay, had him cast in bronze and now he is being editioned by the very good people of Sculpture Castings, Basingstoke. I have carefully worked on each wax prior to casting which makes each Blankie unique. He has a wonderful patina of lightly waxed russets which reflects his faded grandeur. I visited last week and fell in love once again. He truly is a little darling and I will be showing him on social media when I receive my first copy.

    We will have a limited number (from the edition of 47) available before Christmas at my late November show at This little man would be a perfect companion piece to my Pocket Doris bronze edition (now totally sold out), but equally he can stand alone. He will sit quietly in your hand or pocket, and would give your bedside cabinet or mantle shelf an aura of mischievous charm. You could even knit him a little blanket.

    He will be released this year at an introductory price and offered a day early to previous samtoftoriginals buyers and Club members. Once these few have been sold there will be a 3 month wait at the Foundry and the new year will see him at his regular price, similar to the Pocket Doris.

    With help from my family at our online shops, Graham at samtoftoriginals, Mr Cain with the computer thingies and Amber at the Club I feel lucky indeed. I have freed up time to work on a few new projects (perhaps some plates and teacups for 2023) and there’s a brand new calendar and diary for 2023 which I’m very proud of (you can view them on Mustard Hampers), there are new mugs launching soon and a few surprises to come. But these things always take far longer than I imagine, so the late November show at will be a small one. I’m hoping for a few paintings, a few earthenware Doris dogs and a few Jig Dolls too. Not forgetting Little Blankie.

    There are some wonderful bargains available at our MustardShop and Mustard Hampers online shops with club discounts. We have Nan’s 10% off too next week. And our second-year sign ups get a secret discount code until the end of 2023. There’s never a better time to join or bestow a Gift Membership.

    But I know it’s a difficult time for most with rising fuel bills and interest rates, so I hope my little stories and pictures serve as a bit of a pick-me-up. I’ll be in touch again in a little while with details of the late November online show, but until then I fondly hope that you too will find your very own Lovely Happening very soon. Keep your eyes peeled! 

  • 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 …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 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 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 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 … 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
  • An Exhibition for Summer

    Hello friends,

    I hope this email finds you well?

    It’s a strange old time we’ve been having, many still suffering or recovering from the ravages of the pandemic and just a lucky few of us feeling that things are ‘back to normal’… but these times leave their mark even for us fortunate ones don’t they? For better or for worse I don’t think anything will be the way it was before. And if you’re like me, now more than ever there’s a pressing need to focus on the good things life has to offer. To be real, true, authentic but also optimistic, hopeful and to appreciate the little joys.

    In this spirit I am deciding to have an impromptu show. Online, not in person, as things are a bit topsy turvy with me as my little dog is old and ill so I have no idea what state I’ll be in come August. I’ve got lots of help so I can make sure little Stan is comfortable, as well as working a few days in the studio and having big walks with Betty in the woods. Among the trees I have always found such solace and inspiration and it is with much sadness that I accept Stan can no longer join us on our long tramps over the green hills. But he has his daily outings to the park where he can sometimes chase his ball and play hunt the biscuit. There’s nothing at all wrong with his nose and he still manages an amount of mischief which is right and proper for such an independent, opportunistic soul. And, as I’m realising more as I get older, grief can bring us closer to our friends and family. Sometimes the best of us comes out at the worst of times. 

    The problem with my recent shows is that there are never enough paintings to go round. I produce much less and the demand is high. So I’m deciding, like most galleries, to operate a priority list so certain people will get the link to the original work before everybody else. This should avoid the log jam as sales go live. I know from the many emails I receive how disappointing and frustrating it has been for so many of you. 

    How to join the small band of individuals on the priority list? We will be including all previous buyers from Sam Toft Originals (as loyalty is important) and also members of Little Mustard Club (as I think membership is a good gauge of people really interested in my work).  July memberships are now open at Little Mustard Club so no-one needs to miss out. The small pieces will be the same price as always and the slightly larger pieces (as they take me so much more time) will be subject to a 30% increase in line with  gallery pricing. I’m anticipating a small collection of around 7-10 paintings.

    Little Joys goes live on Saturday 6th August. And everyone on our priority list (we’ll call them ‘the Specials’) will get an additional email tomorrow with all the extra details. If you don’t receive it and you think you should be on the list then please let us know by return. And nearer the time I’ll send a reminder too as I know we all have a lot on our minds right now. 

    And let’s end with a little story I may have told you before. Even after all this time, the strength of the experience still wakes me up at night sometimes. Although I have the most terrible memory and forget most things quickly, strong feelings always stay with me.

    It all started a few years ago when my close neighbours were making a nuisance of themselves. I live in a terrace right next to a block of flats so it’s to be expected, but the noise was so loud over a number of weeks, it sounded as though there was a live band at the bottom of my garden. They would practice the same parts of one particular song time and again. They sounded so earnest it could have been heartwarming, and there was this carefully scripted message repeated over and over -through a microphone- thanking the audience for their loyalty and admiration, followed by something that sounded like a primal scream. Long anguished animalistic cries plagued my Sunday afternoons. But I choose to live in a city so I guess it’s part and parcel.

    But then the food missiles started. Just chunks of stale bread at first and I hardly noticed them as I think my dogs hoovered up the evidence. Always mysterious trails of breadcrumbs and quite a lot of drooling, but I let that pass. And then they started with empty tubes of Pringles and tubs of half eaten hummus, dirty tissues and baked bean cans. I found the remains when I went outside in my garden but never actually saw them being thrown. I looked up at the blank grid of windows from the neighbouring block. Was there someone sniggering behind those curtains?

    And it went on. One day I found my little dog trying to swallow a leg of fried chicken, raw inside and from the foul smell not too fresh. Boy, was he sick that night. There followed weeks of clearing up meat bones in red sauce, fast food containers, rotten eggs. And each time I felt myself getting more and more angry. This is the feeling I remember so clearly. I was absolutely livid. And as the mature adult I am I decided -rather than talk to anyone face to face- to post a strongly worded note on the front door of the flats. I’m not proud of myself. Every night I went to bed fuming. 

    If I look on the bright side, one good thing that came of all this was discovering how many lovely people lived in those flats. They put kind notes through my door or came round to tell me it was not them. Then one wise person came up with a solution. I really didn’t see it, but I bet you’ve guessed already?

    After weeks of seething, we found out it was the seagulls. They had been nesting on my roof. I discovered a rare treasure trove of rotting food and rubbish when I climbed up there. The items in my garden had merely been their overflow. All that energy wasted feeling hateful. I still wonder how I was capable of such righteous anger. And I was so wrong.

    So what I learnt from that is to take things with a pinch of salt and not be too ready to jump to conclusions. And to do something to stop those pesky seagulls nesting in my chimney pots. 

    I’ll be in touch tomorrow with those Specials on my list and wish you a grand weekend,

    Big love,

    Sam x

  • The Merry Month of June

    It’s the right weather isn’t it?

    It’s something someone said to me n Betty as we were walking across the golf course up at Hollingbury on a sunny day recently.

    Truth is, I DON’T like it too hot personally, but I LOVE that it makes so many people happy and chatty. For me a sunny day always seems like an extra thing to do. I know I should get out and enjoy myself, but a colder day just let’s me BE… And then I got to thinking, he’s right that man on the golf course. It’s actually always the right weather! When the sun is too warm it’s a welcome reminder for me to be resourceful. When nothing is uncomfortable, there is no incentive to change.

    Most of my life I’ve felt the pressure of being too busy, and it’s motivated me to make some changes. And when there’s a hot day I’m reminded I can do that then as well. Instead of feeling grumpy with the weather, I can walk the dogs early and keep the blinds down. I can open all the windows and dry my sheets outdoors. I can appreciate people’s sunloving smiles and feel slightly less worried about the those who live on the streets in all weathers. It makes me especially grateful for the trees and the cool of my studio.

    So to help manage the stress I can feel when I’m over busy, I’m going to take the advice of so many of you out there - thank you - and start doing less!

    I’m going to raise the prices of original work as I’ll be painting fewer pieces. Which is a lovely reward for anyone who has bought my work over the last 30 years … It’s about time your investment paid off, eh? I’ll be healthier and happier and able to spend more time writing, sculpting and walking the dogs.

    But this price hike is not undertaken without some feelings of guilt, a fair bit of awkwardness and a little shame. Why should I charge so much more when many people can’t afford it? Why shouldn’t I fulfill the desires of everyone who wants to own an original Sam Toft?

    So I’ve thought about this long and hard, and here’s the ‘half way house’ that will help both myself and my nearest and dearest.

    The ‘almost original’ experience: For people who want artwork with original sketches in the title line, we have the remarqued prints. For those who like things you can’t get anywhere else, there are self published prints, signed books and even Studio Proofs that come with a complimentary original drawing direct from my own Mother’s garage in Cornwall. Visit MUSTARDSHOP at and find the Exclusive Limited Editions.

    For people who miss my own little shop in Brighton (now closed) or who weren’t able to visit because they live far faraway, during 2022 there’s a new Members’ Club! Here you will find an exclusive membership pack, monthly emails with competitions, prizes and giveaways plus a chance to hobnob with fellow Mustardeers. You can even give a Gift Membership. There are little films, interviews, bits of gossip, lots of social media content (@littlemustardclub) AND I don’t have to lift a finger. Little Mustard Club is run from my private studio in Hove by the fabulously brilliant Amber Elise. It’s the nearest you’ll get to ‘an audience with Sam’ without me actually having to be there. You can find it at

    For people who want to visit an actual shop in the UK or buy mail order with real customer service I can heartily recommend The Braithwaite Gallery in York They have a dedicated SamToft room, a HUGE range of Toftie goodies and all the latest designs from limited editions to framed cards, mugs, treasures and all things Mustard.

    For people who’d like free postage and overnight service there’s amazon & eBay, or for nice wrapping and slow service there’s my Sister’s hamper company at or Nan Mustard’s little mailorder shop again at

    For cards, limited editions and the full SamToft merchandise collection visit the publishers direct at ArtPressCollierDobson or Artgroup. And for the big London gallery experience there are those lovely people at Panter and Hall. For double basses, violas and cellos visit and for excellent help coping with life and it’s many challenges my sister has just launched @louisetoftcoaching … with over thirty year’s experience (although you’d not know it to look at her) in a whole host of techniques I don’t understand enough to explain. You can contact her currently only through Instagram until she gets her web page up n running. She offers free Clarity Sessions to find out if you’d be a good fit to work together. If you’re not on Instagram (why would you be if you didn’t need to, I’d say!) drop me a line and I’ll forward your messages.

    So I’ll close by sending you all the love from this tired heart. I’m very much looking forward to a quiet June celebrating my birthday month with a few little trips, some time off and a fair bit of sketching. The next opportunity to buy (VERY expensive) originals paintings will be in November from where we have just received new stock of all the small edition bronzes. And do visit the shop at SOON where the new self published prints have just landed. The Studio Proofs are selling fast!

    Warm wishes,

    A very grateful Sam Toft x

    PS for those Club Members who signed up for Pet Portraits… I’m getting through them very slowly. Remind me not to offer 12 at a time again. It’s taking me blummin ages!
  • A Horse Ate My Bag

    I must admit I’m a little scared of horses. Because I don’t understand them and they are so big. And generally I’m a little afraid of children because I don’t understand them and they’re so little. To me dogs have always seemed more straightforward. But back to this bag eating horse.
    A couple of weeks ago on one of my intrepid weekend walks, I found myself needing to cross a field where there were three horses. It was a public footpath and I put my dogs on their leads, but when I looked up I noticed they’d already started ambling towards us. They looked friendly enough but very big, and it soon became obvious they would reach us before we got to the stile. Instead of running (which my brain was screaming at me to do) I slowed right down and worked on calming the dogs and myself. I had no apples or carrots. Eeek.
    As they got closer I saw that two of the horses looked quite old with bowed backs and cloudy eyes. The other one was a fair bit friskier. I’d heard that horses (and cows) can be more interested in dogs than anything else, so I picked up little Stan so he wouldn’t get trampled, and let go of Betty. She promptly ran to the side of the field and pushed herself under the gate. One safe. I looked back at the horses. They had quickened their pace and were making a beeline straight for us. Double Eeek.
    And you know how life is all about expectations. And how managing your expectations is a good way to help with disappointments and disconcerting surprises. Well I had certainly not expected to be trampled to death by three blind horses that day. I suddenly had this strong vision of the orange wall flowers and the frothy blue forgetmenots I’d just planted in my garden. I’d never live to see them bloom again. But this can’t be how it all ends, I reassured my racing heart. And as they surrounded me, nuzzling at my jacket and pockets, I inhaled deeply and smelt their grassy breath. I know I’m pushing 60 but I’m too young too die, I whimpered. Stanley let out a warning growl.
    Brave as I am, I continued walking slowly towards the stile where I could see Betty was hiding in the shadows beneath some trees. Still safe. They started nibbling at my shoulders, tugging at my sleeves. I realised they were actually going to eat us alive. And then I remembered a happy song. I’ll go down singing, I thought.
    Inching closer to the stile one of them pulls off my hat. It’s not one of my favourites, I decide, I can sacrifice the hat. And if they start on my hair that’s fine because it’s all short anyway. I start singing a bit louder and push Stanley’s curly head inside my anorak. And I feel new empathy for all of the people I meet who are so afraid of Betty, my German Shepherd, that they would rather jump into the road than share the pavement as we walk by slowly and calmly. At least I’ll die a kinder person…
    But you know how this story ends already, dear reader. Although you were probably scared stiff I’d be mortally wounded at the very least? I remember looking around at those three long faces and I really appreciated their gentle softness from the other side of the fence. I couldn’t resist a little tickle on one of the soft grey muzzles held outstretched. Getting bolder I tried wafting away the flies from their eyes at which point the frisky one pulled at my shoulder bag and chomped right through the strap with his yellow crunchy teeth. I’m left with slightly greenish slimy strings.
    Well as I live to die another day, I’d like to share with you the dates and times for our May events.
    15th May 12-4pm Pet Portraits & Afternoon Tea on Zoom
    18th May 6pm Sales go Live for my new collection of original pictures, drawings and bronzes at
    15th May : A Virtual Afternoon Tea with Pet Portraits and Prizes!
    If that sounds good to you we’d love to have you join us… you can drop in, have the whole thing running away in the background, or tune in to specific events… Register here to get the link. 

    Here’s what to expect (times in BST):
    12-12.15 Get a pot of tea on, plate up the sandwiches and enjoy a warm welcome from our sofa in Brighton. There’ll be a bit of a meet and greet from Sam, Graham, Betty and Stan. And most probably Almondine the budgie, as he never likes being left out
    12.15-2.15 Eight 15 minute Portraits drawn live, for the people who have booked already.  ?Mr Mustard and your pet, imagine that!
    2.15-2.30 Sam has a break to rest her fingers … she’s getting quite a lot of cramps nowadays. Take this time to do your drawings on the theme of Afternoon Tea. Later you’ll be asked to hold them up and there’ll be PRIZES for our favourites!
    2.30-3pm Two 15 minute pre-booked portrait slots (all sold out now)
    3-4pm During this hour we will have plenty time for a bit of fun, Mustard-style. The two FREE ‘nominate your friend’ Portraits awarded to Little Mustard Club members will be completed offline (and all of the portraits will be sent to you the following week). In no particular order, here’s what we have in store:
    • Get your Afternoon Tea drawings ready… we’ll be giving out PRIZES for our favourites!
    • Do you have a Question for Sam? Write it in the comments box on Facebook during this hour and Andy will get them together for our Q & A sesh
    • Over to Amber, Executive Director of Little Mustard Club!
    • A special Members’ giveaway and her chance to show off June’s BIG COMPETITION prize. June is Sam’s birthday month so she has been extra generous. There will be THREE prizes. And if Doris Fruit Salad means anything to you, it’s time to get excited. Little Mustard Club will always be small so there’s a very good chance to win prizes and competitions. The Club runs for the whole of 2022, offers a Welcome Box (a perfect surprise gift), monthly giveaways and priority booking for the next event. You can join or buy a gift membership at
    • Over to Nan at our online shop in Cornwall with news of our self published prints and a special Nan Mustard giveaway
    • Any other ideas of what you might like to see??
    18th May from 6pm BST we are opening up sales for Sam’s new Exhibition: We’ll Know Where We’re Going When We Get There We’ll have a new collection of paintings, drawings and bronzes. You can collect from the studio by appointment or we can send to any UK address for £30 (It is so very difficult to send abroad since Brexit, import duties are horrendous and postage to the US in particular has leapt up in price. Possibly you could have something sent to a UK address and organise your own international carriage?)
    Anyway I’ll love you and leave you. I’m off on a trip just now to see Nan in Cornwall. A train trip and some Cornish air. Marvellous.
    Looking forward to seeing you soon!
    Big Love,