Written and Illustrated By Toni Donelow Stewart

-- as originally published in the Mission Spotlight section of Blueroot Magazine --

It seems to me that there are all kinds of people – there are those of us who are swimming around beneath the surface trying to find their way below the tides, there are others who have broken the shining surface just long enough to breathe in the fresh air--and still, there are those that are riding around on top of the waves, showing their finest, whitest sails, living on their ship of dreams…out in the sunlit world of blue skies.

I wouldn’t go as far as bothering to blow through any statistics, but odds are that there are more of us swimming around underneath (maybe wearing snorkels…???) trying to feel our way around in the dark, murky waters of indecision.  More often than not, it’s in disbelief.

My first thought on that is, that most people I’ve observed haven’t learned to accept themselves due perhaps to the world around them (it’s very easy and very human to get caught up in worrying about what other people think…) – but in my experience, the ‘trick’ is to think for yourself and assess yourself (use reasonableness) realistically, and accept yourself first before any other ‘opinions’ are allowed to penetrate beyond your own little capsule.  And, as long as you’re within the boundaries of good taste (yes, I think this IS a requirement in the general world out there), then, most likely the world is going to see that you believe in yourself and, as we all know, there’s really no stopping a person who truly believes in him or herself is there? That is a great, obvious truth.

Whatever it is that floats your boat, mine would be the art career and all it’s little industries and/or markets that surround it, and shake it up, and make it into something viable for the world to experience--be it a site on the Internet, or pages in a book, or maybe the whole book – perhaps it’s that painting in the gallery that I painted once.  Maybe it’s that time I brought my portfolio to work or did a graphic logo for someone.  I write too, of course.

I am finding that in a world of “starving artists,” there are no failures—and there is usually an alternative way to keep from starving.  Maybe you have all your eggs in that basket, or maybe not enough eggs…maybe too many baskets…maybe no basket, but there are no failures.  If you are an artist for instance, you will always find reward in what you do, even if nobody else in the entire world likes it.

I am a bit optimistic about the world and I tend to see it differently than most; I think that one of the greatest “gifts” that I was given along with the many talents that I have, was the gift of being able to show my heart in my work, and the ability to (for the most part) say what I think (and yes that isn’t always a good thing’s honest).

I wouldn’t consider myself a real “success” at this point, but again, there are no failures—I’ve had more than a few problems along the way, I have been a single parent for the past 5 years – I  never went to art school (not really), but, I’m a published children’s book illustrator (The singer/entertainer Bobby Goldsboro’s “The Adventures of Cheze & Kwackers” 4 story 2 volume series released in 2003 and some  other things) with a site online called – I’ve heard that this is a more-than-tough market to break into -- and provided all goes well, starting next month, I should be teaching some children my brand of drawing, so, I will be an art teacher too.  In the meantime, while I am working on becoming “successful,” I’ll be writing and illustrating my own children’s books -- once I’ve gotten farther along on the ones I’m working on, I’ll be figuring out what direction those winds will carry me because I have just set sail, and honestly?  If it’s in the wrong direction, then, well, that’s alright too, because I’ll have my “oars” along for the ride…or was it paddles?

PDF file of another issue of the BlueRoot with Toni's artwork on pg 13:

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