Shrewsbury born Toni Potter has drawn ever since she can remember, and although art was one of her stronger subjects at school, she chose to follow a career in acting, and after her graduation from the drama course at Middlesex Poly, she worked for several years as an actor, during which time she toured her self-penned one-woman comedy show around England.
It wasn't until she moved to St Ives in 1988 that Toni's distinctive painting style began to develop and mature. And it's not difficult to see that her comedy drama background has a great influence on her work. Humour is a constant in the paintings, whether it's a remembered (and embellished) tableau seen through her childhood eyes - where grownup family members get up to the strangest of things - or a purely imagined situation - perhaps a quirky re-working of an old master - the characters and the mise en scare always closely observed with the gentle, affectionate humour that nostalgia can often produce.
The process is a lengthy and painstaking one. Toni will decide on an idea for a painting, make rough sketches for composition, then research and make sketches of the details that will be included - clothes, handbags, pets, crazyfoam, underwear, crockery and so forth - anachronisms are not tolerated. When the necessary elements are in her head, a larger sketch will follow which will form the basis for the final drawing. This will be done on paper, then copied through tracing paper and transferred from trace to canvas. Finally the painting can begin! (Toni often works up the final drawings in pencil at a later date to create stand-alone works on paper). She paints in oil, with very fine brushes, a practice which restricts her output to three or four paintings a year.