Artist's Journal

  • You’ve Got To Admit, It’s Getting Better

    Well, the dust is settling.

    It’s been a strange old year in Mustard Land but I definitely see a light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, it’s not been a bad old tunnel. I was very lucky with an early diagnosis of an aggressive cancer. And now I am getting better. I thank you for your hundreds of messages wishing me well. I am reading about 20 a week and have enough to see me into the new year! You ARE a lovely lot... I very much appreciate all your thoughts and prayers and I am sad to read about all of you out there who are going through terrible times. I feel so fortunate. My treatment was nowhere near as bad as I’d imagined. I got a big rest, a bit of a shakeup and a chance to put together a more ideal life. Sure there were some sadnesses. I had to close my little Brighton shop. I needed to shut down the service in my Phone Box Galleries. I’m hardly spending any time at the studio. I’m not planning any big shows for next year. But I AM considering doing an art course. I’d like to learn about sculpture and oil painting, printing and animation. There will doubtless be lots of plans afoot but until the end of the year I’ll be keeping it cosy.

    My mum has developed shingles. My big dog Betty has sliced her paw. And just when I was getting my energy back for walking, my left knee went all sore. We are a family in the wars. But we are strong, we are kind to each other and when we pull together, things gradually get better. And there are many many bright stars out there. One is my sister Louise. She lives in Cornwall and is stepping in to help run our online shop while Nan is ill. We have help from Lorraine who lives in the village. Serafina my niece is a whizz with the packaging. And they all have support from Juno dog, Pipskin and Elsie rabbits. In fact it’s been a hive of activity at a certain little garage in Cornwall. And I imagine you’ll want to know what we have been dreaming up for you?

    And although I am not making any definite plans for the new year, there are ideas simmering of course. I think it will be a quiet year in terms of productivity, but an enriching one too, I hope. I’m thinking about having a few Pop Ups at the Shop premises in Brighton. Small and cosy events where I can show you a few of my new original paintings, sculpture and ceramics. I’m not going to be spreading myself too thin. I’m going to be focussing on my creative juiciness rather than making vast amounts of work.

    I’ll stay in touch on social media but less so. Perhaps a few times a month rather than most days. It’s a time of hunkering down and drawing in. I’ll contact you here every now and so through the year and invite you to join us online or in person if we manage to get together any little events in Brighton by the sea.

    I count myself very lucky to have Mr Mustard who is such a good communicator of hope and joy and whimsy. It’s a crazy sad world out there sometimes, but I’m feeling that things are going to get better, in small ways, one day at a time.

    Big Love,

    Sam Toft

  • Has Spring Finally Sprung?

    Has Spring Finally Sprung?

    Hallo Dear Mustard Lovers,

     I hope this email finds you well?

     Do you feel Springy? Springish? Sprunged?

    Well I feel that we haven’t quite done Winter yet. It’s been so mild here in Brighton. The snowdrops are out in the woods, and the little daffodils are nodding their heavy heads in the Square. I can’t help thinking there must be a super cold snap on its way. I’m quite looking forward to it actually.

    I’ve had a lot of time to think on my long walks with the dogs. Betty and Stan are both thriving for which I am grateful each and every step of the way. After the year long illness and brave death of Moses, my brown dog, I can only feel incredible joy and good fortune when I watch my two running flat out after squirrels and rabbits, crashing through the brambles, barking up trees. I didn’t know what life would be like after Moses, but so far it has been kind and hopeful. Dear, dear Moses: I thank you.

    So back to those thoughts and plans. I had an idea that it would be good to plan my year a bit and let you know what I am doing as far in advance as I can. My little shop in Brighton takes up far too much of my time but I love it like a third child. The expensive one. I’d love you to come visit us if you can.

    I’ve been finding it hard to get back to work this year. After such a busy time of it in 2018 I still feel a bit jaded. Everything is a bit chaotic and untidy, piles of things to sort out, my hair is a mess and my exercise classes just aren’t doing themselves. I know its bleak out there but I really do feel that 2019 will be a special one. I just need to get myself started.

    I’ve been focussing on things that bring me comfort. Spending time with the dogs, sorting out the studio, repainting the shop, making lists. I think it’s going to be alright.

    Sending Big Love to all of you. It’s cold, it’s a bit hard and it can be relentless sometimes. I’ve bought myself some sprouting daffodil bulbs for my window boxes front and back. I’m going to put them in tomorrow and look forward to the new year with hope,

    Keep on keeping on,

    Sam Toft


  • The Long Chatty One

    Hallo Lovelies out there,

    I don’t feel right talking about Christmas until December really...

    Is there anyone out there who warms to the sight of a fully laden Christmas tree in October? Does anyone like making Festive preparations while the leaves are still attached to the trees? And much as I LOVE mince pies, if I eat them for 3 months, will they lose some of their Yuletide yumminess? Am I bit of a Humbug? Well the answer to the last one is Yes I’m afraid, but there’s someone in my family who is Christmas Crazy. Someone who has made me at least one stocking every year since I had a Santa confidence crisis (about ten years ago). Someone who will tirelessly wrap gifts into the wee small hours (drinking enormous cups of weak tea) and who never tires of peeling sprouts. I am so fortunate to have a lovely sister with the child still alive within. And what a perfect idea it was for her to start a hamper business. I hope you can give her your support at

    Anyhoo. I hope this email finds you well? I hope you enjoyed our little video in the last? Florence is so talented. I’ve known her since she was a wee little twinky in a corduroy pinafore and stripy tights. She hasn’t changed a bit. Don’t tell her I said that cos she’s all grown up now. I’ll be posting her latest film on Facebook.

    It may sound strange but I’m making my New Year Resolutions earlier this year. I think maybe I could start a trend...? Don’t you find by New Year’s Eve often you’re “not quite so imaginative as you could be” and let this wonderful opportunity pass? I love creative visualisation, setting goals, making things happen. But I’m a people-pleaser (as so many of us are) and even though I’m self-employed and am managing to support myself and my loved ones, I find it easy to tire myself out by needlessly doing too much. At my age this is not going to change overnight but I’m trying. I’m resolving to do less of what is draining and more of what is sustaining. In 2019 I’m hoping for less travel, fewer public appearances, no commissions. More free time to paint what I like, make sculpture, write stories and take long meandering walks with the dogs. More baking, more gardening, more time to think. And when I can clear a space to think, all sorts of magical ideas drop in. Here’s hoping!

    Fame and Fortune

    Sitting here all quiet in my messy studio by the sea it’s easy to forget how big this samtoftartist brand is getting. I feel comfortable and happy with my small and cosy life but am delighted that my work spreads far and wide. Mr Mustard is taking on the world! I see on social media that there are lots of fans now in Korea and Japan, America and Australia, Europe and Canada, and lots of places I can’t pronounce. I have no idea where all the outlets are, but if you want one in your town you could do worse than asking your local store to stock my work. It’s quite nice, some of it.

    We have mail order on my website run by my mum from a little garage in Cornwall. She stocks all the favourites. Much more than we have space for in the shop. Everything signed, special, authentic, beautifully wrapped and sent with love. If you want the full range of ACTUALLY everything in publication or want to become a stockist, please contact my publishers direct from the list on the website. They all do mail order and they are all good people. They don’t have Nan Mustard’s special touch of course but who else does? She is offering a free calendar with every limited edition print order during November. If you’re desperate there’s always Amazon. I hear they have everything under the sun and it’s very convenient for most people. And I always receive a ha’penny for EVERY poster you buy. Don’t you worry about me.

    Love and Friendship

    The most important thing. The thing we all need. It’s what keeps us all going. I also think it’s the secret behind the continuing success of my work and for that I most grateful.

    And I must apologise right now, because I may no longer find time to answer all your emails individually. There are so many and I am so busy. But I am heartened to witness the growth of our Facebook group. An informal chat room where people can post their photos, see mine, swap opinions, offer support. It’s a way to communicate with like-minded people the whole world over. I love it. And it takes the pressure off me and the team answering queries individually.

    I feel very lucky to have you as my fans, dear Mustard Lovers. You are simply the best. Better than all the rest. Better than you’ll ever know, but you know I love you so...

    Don’t go changin’

    Sam x