Toni Donelow Stewart 1961-2004
Toni's words and art can be found throughout this site. The background image of two sisters is hers. Below are some links to her work and more about her. In this archive you'll find preserved much of what she had online during her lifetime which is now slowly disappearing. I am NOT allowed to sell any of this work, however, because her only sister will not permit any sales of her work. Being that I have been denied access to the originals, I could not produce prints good enough to sell anyway. However, I CAN share with the world the work she had on her sites, all of which she gave me full permission to share during her life.
Toni and I regarded each other as sisters. Although we shared the same last name (except for the last letter), she was not my real sister but she certainly seemed like one. She was also on the very top of the list of people I ever called best friend.
She never quite got around to getting a lot of her things published. This is an even greater tragedy than her death. As far as I was concerned, she was the hands down winner for any competition she ever entered. Most of her stories here have at least one illustration with them however none of the stories were completed.
She had a very great talent that was meant to be shared.
If you would be interested in donating to a fund for her children, Bryan and Jeremy, please write me. For a while, I had explored possible trust fund alternatives that would provide protection of the monies (from anyone who would misuse them) while providing funds for their college or art school education. My own lack of funds slowed me down in the process. Bryan had quite a talent for art and I'd like to see him explore this potential. No doubt, Jeremy also shares some of his mother's unique talents. My dream, by the way, has always been to establish a self-sufficient spiritually--creative community and school (see HWP's vision statement). The intention of such a school and community would be to create an environment where gifted children such as Toni's two boys could grow both spiritually and creatively without criticism for being 'special' or strange. Anyone interested in making either of these visions a reality, please contact me. Your input and compatible contributory visions are also welcome.
You are also welcome to read my article about Toni in the journal.
~ Shirl A. Steward
P.S. I suggested to Bryan that, with a bit of help from family and HWP, he might finish some of the stories and artwork that his mom had started. He really liked the idea! So keep posted. You might be in for a treat from another very talented Stewart!
Note: If any of these pages are not working, please let me know.
(1) Down Memory Lane: Photos from Toni's old webpages and from my files. What can I say? Toni used to love her webcam. Those are her two boys, Jeremy and Bryan. That's Toni as a young girl, as a teen, her wedding picture, her with & without glasses (yes, she had her vision corrected), her tiger sketch and her raptor illustrations. Continuation pages: page 2, page 3, page 4 and page 5 here (in case of bad links).
(2) A FLIPBOOK gallery of Toni's Art: I created this gallery as a java-script flipbook. It has a selection of Toni's images. I will probably be adding more soon. Included also on this page are excerpts of Toni's comments about herself, her family and life taken from her various websites.
2-A) Some of the commissions and works-in-progress that Toni had been working on.
(3) Some of Toni's poetry and song lyrics: Toni and I used to joke around about how she wasn't a great lyricist. Well, neither am I. (I've done a dozen songs but none of my lyrics are onsite) I love to play with words and she loved to play with both art and words. We got along great. I've been trying my hand at some computer art (as you can see from some of the images around the site) but I don't anywhere come close to the level of Toni's talent. Anyway, most of these songs or poems are about a great love she held. The man could not even come close to appreciating how wonderful a person Toni truly was.
Setting Sail on Your
Ship of Dreams: This article, which
appeared in a magazine called Blue Root, is written and illustrated by Toni.
Her 'real' ship of dreams never quite set sail. I am so glad I have it.
It is a wonderful piece. (6).
Matilda: This story was a real favorite
with her son Jeremy. Toni entered this story in a Writer's Digest
competition but, funny how no one with any real talent ever wins these
things. Oh well. Anyway, I found the story in some old
emails and think someone should be enjoying it! (7)
(5) Setting Sail on Your Ship of Dreams: This article, which appeared in a magazine called Blue Root, is written and illustrated by Toni. Her 'real' ship of dreams never quite set sail. I am so glad I have it. It is a wonderful piece.
(6). Matilda, Matilda: This story was a real favorite with her son Jeremy. Toni entered this story in a Writer's Digest competition but, funny how no one with any real talent ever wins these things. Oh well. Anyway, I found the story in some old emails and think someone should be enjoying it!
(7)The Pumpkinman: This was a particular favorite of Toni's. And, many of the illustrations were finished (I only have the uncolored versions though). Toni's friend Jonathan Rand had the cover printed for her so she could she how it would turn out. Great is is how!!
(8) Balloon Landing: A children's story that was written by Toni © Feb 18, 2004. There is only one illustration included with this piece. My friend never finished the illustrations for this story so you will have to use your imagination.
(9) Rabbitville: This was meant to be a picture book so I found ALL (12) I could find of Toni's rabbit images to illustrate the story. Enjoy!
(10) Blaze: A children's story about a mouse Toni wrote (first draft © Feb 20, 2004.
(11) The Fairy was a Mouse: Another partially completed children's story by Toni © Feb 23, 2004. And, yet another mouse tale.!
(12) The Three Pearls: A children's story by Toni.
(13) Row, row, row your boat: A children's story by Toni.
(14) The Puddle: A children's story by Toni.
(15) Frogs Ain't Rubberbands: This was a story she used to tell to son Jeremy. I don't have any illustrations so have used some clip art I found.
(16) Works done in Toni's memory: Poems done by friends (follows below). If you knew Toni and would like to contribute something you've written about her, please email me. I will gladly add it to this special dedication.
(17) Books by Toni: This page contains a link to Cheze & Krackers at Canaan Books. It is not the only set of books that Toni illustrated but it is the only one available for sale. Sorry about that. As stated above, it was her sister's wish not to market any of Toni's work. Hopefully, perhaps, when Toni's children come of age and, if the artworks are still intact, her kids will offer the work for sale. She was illustrating a book on Raptors but since she was never paid for any of this work, that book will remain without illustrations.
(18) Just some notes on Toni's old website: As I think of any odds and ends regarding the old sites, they'll be posted here.
(19) Archive of Messages from Toni's website message board: for the full time it was actively receiving messages . . . July 22, 2000 through February 12, 2005. In collecting information to put together this memorial, I found the old archive still intact and thought some of you might enjoy browsing through.
This archive really shows how much both Toni and her work were truly loved. Had she lived on, there is no doubt in my mind that she would have been one very successful and famous artist/writer! Her incredible talent was complimented by her amazing drive to remain positive, be happy and be succeed beyond all obstacles. She was a true blessing to all the lives she came to touch.
If you find anything I have missed in posting here, please let me know.
Many blessings to all. ~ Shirl A. Steward
"Two Souls" illustration by Toni Donelow Stewart
I remember you, my friend who I never knew!
Toni, I knew you not. Were you my sister ?
I sit and wonder, I think I feel your pain and your loss.
Your talent is amazing my friend, my sister.
Your hand reaches to me then and ah I feel you my friend.
Your heart touches us . . . speaks to us and shares your love,
Can we find your strength to open, courage to move on?
As you share you heart from the beyond, move in ours !
Have I been in your past, present or the future?
Sister through many life as yours...!
Life's challenges and yes..! Sickness and facing death.
Sister in the past bring each of us to the now
I love you always and remember you when I see you again.
by Patricia Ann Red Cloud O'Connell
November 16, 2005
"Never knowing" illustration by Toni Donelow Stewart
Exactly how our time began
Is somewhat cloudy now.
My children’s stories needed
To come alive in illustration art
So I decided to look around.
My eyes roamed all.the books,
Magazines and webs to no avail,
Then, when near to giving up
I began to play and enjoy
This seemingly silly game
Of finding just the right art
With just that right spark
that could please my critical eye.
Only then did I wander straight away
into a wondrous place of magic,
the birthing ground of our friendship
Twas no doubt in my mind even then
It was not by work of chance
but rather fate alone that prompted
me to write and say, “hello,
you are so talented,
your art truly amazing,
could I possibly hope against hope
that my stories can strike a chord enough . . .
to make you want, well . . .
oh, shucks, I’ll just have to say it.
Might you like to illustrate a
book or two for me?”
Your answer of course was
“Yes, I’d love to.
Your stories are wonderful.”
It was a resounding yes that vibrated
throughout my being for weeks.
Getting to putting it together
Was an entirely different matter. Ha!
So many false starts, other
Projects, health issues and programs
Always seemed to put its foot in our way.
I knew somehow it would never come to be
But I never wanted to see it might be death
That laid the final stone of that wall
Still, I wouldn’t trade all the art in the world
For having shared so many special moments
With such a delightfully wondrous friend.
What a treasure you were as both
An artist and best of friends..
I remember my delight in seeing
your images for the first time.
You captured the essence of youth,
It’s playful joy and wonderment,
It’s warm, giving heart and
The smile and sparkling eyes
of an Innocent child.
Toni Donelow Stewart,
Sorry, I could never get your last name
Spelled quite right, for alas, it was only
One letter short of mine. Aha!
But I doubt I will ever forget it
Now that you can’t tease me
Or get irritated any more.
I can barely write these words
For I can not contain the welling
of tears forming now in my eyes
and the ache still in my sad, lonely heart.
It’s been a long year, my dear friend
Since you’ve been gone.
I still think sometimes the phone
Will ring and it will be you
On the other end of the line,
Pretending that you’re mad
About some silly little thing,
Except the game never lasted
More than a minute . . . funny,
How can it be that I still hear
that roaring laughter of yours at if
that last call had been last week,
just yesterday or even just now?
You always had a way of making
Me smile and somehow, in the joy
Of those shared moments, we took
Each other to a place of peace beyond
the sadness, heartache, loneliness and
even the physical pain of Lupus
we both despised, and also, shared.
To you dear friend, I have chosen
Now to make a heart-felt vow.
I may not be able to sell a thing
But I CAN and will take in hand
the bulk of all you’ve ever done
both in art and in words.
I will take this amazing work AND
Make your name a common word,
And even as I take my own art
To greater and greater heights
Of fame, so will I take yours,
Yes, to you, this I vow,
I will brave against it all or die
Trying . . . nothing, not even this
depression that wraps around
one’s psyche when life is so hard,
And threatens to destroy all we are.
Someday, also, if God might will
It be and they would have it so,
I will guide your children
As best as I know how
And teach them to be and live
In the light and love and talent
that was the best of the beautiful
heart and soul of the one
they knew as simply mom.
Heart-to-heart friends forever
We are bound even beyond this
Horrible darkness called death
It has stolen you so rudely
from our bond of friendship,
in the illusive physical world,
but never will it steal you
from this place where throughout
eternity you shall always be alive
in this heart and soul of mine.
As long as I have breath,
I will have purpose
And so shall you . . .
Soul-sisters, comrades, friends
Sharing our many triumphs and sorrows,
Creating from the depths of soul,
Living our art, our joy,
to the end
By Shirl A. Steward
To my dearest soul-sister Toni
© Feb 2006. Last edit March 18, 2006
In the heart, then, . . . now