PROFILE: Toni Wolcott

March 4, 2016
By Marcy Shortuse

Toni Wolcott
BY SUE ERWIN – Island artist Toni Wolcott is originally from West Harftord, Connecticut. She started coming to Boca Grande in the 1970s.
“At first, I came down to visit my mother because she lived here, and I liked it so much so I started renting a place every year. Then I bought my house here in 1984,” Toni said.
Toni moved here full time in 1992. That’s when she started drawing as a hobby. She discovered an interest in painting a few years later.
At first she found that watercolor was her favorite medium. Several years later she started working with oil on canvas, and occasionally she experimented with pastels.
“I got tired of just creating watercolor pieces and wanted to add some variety to my experience. I don’t really do watercolor any more,” she said.
There is a room in her house completely dedicated to her paintings.
“I am a studio painter, so I enjoy painting in my home. It’s quiet and very peaceful.”
Toni said she also has another studio at her summer home in Vermont.
She said she enjoys painting landscapes and structures in many of her works.
“I never know what I am going to paint until I start a new project. I think painters look at things differently and more carefully than non-painters. So whenever I get an idea in my head that I know I might like, I just expand on whatever picture I visualize in my head. I sort of just make it up as I go along,” she said.
Toni said she originally became interested in painting when she was no longer gainfully employed.
“I found that I just had too much time with nothing to do, so I decided to grab a pencil one day, and I spent an hour painting a flower and really enjoyed it. I also had a friend here on the island who was a watercolor artist, and it seemed like an interesting hobby. So I started taking classes at the art center. And with each new thing I learned, I became more immersed in it. It’s hard to let go of, once you start,” she said.
Toni said that when she completes a painting that she likes and thinks might be successful, that is encouraging. But a lot of pieces end up in the trash, and some get painted over, and that can be very discouraging.
“But I think that’s typical of how most people would react to things,” she said. “Whether you are writing music or short stories – some end up being good and some are not.”
When she is not painting, Toni enjoys walking, swimming and exercising.
She has a dog named “Oscar Wilde” that also takes up much of her time and energy. He is a Wheaten Terrier.
“He’s a wonderful companion,” Toni said.
Toni said she also spends a lot of time reading. She has a partner who is a writer. She said he enjoys watching a lot of sports on television, and that’s when she usually spends time reading. She said she enjoys reading a lot of nonfiction books.
She recently attended an event and was given the centerpiece to take home – which was a pitcher filled with five goldfish. She named them all after current presidential candidates.
But a week later, they all died.
“I don’t know what happened – maybe they were already stressed when I got them,” she said.
Before moving to Boca Grande, Toni worked for a bank for about 10 years. She then worked for a financial research journal for a number of years after that.
It wasn’t until she moved to Boca Grande full time that she found an interest in painting.
Toni said she enjoys painting because, in a way, it is an escape.
“You really get into a zone, and sometimes it’s a struggle – it’s like writing – you can often get ‘painter’s block’ because it’s a very mindful way to spend your time,” she said.
Toni said sometimes she paints for long periods of time every day, and at other times she’ll take a break from it.
“I painted in the summer every day and then not too much during the fall,” she said.
Toni said she regularly displays her work at about three or four art shows per year.
“That usually leaves me with enough money to buy more paint,” she said with a laugh. “We get a pretty good turnout at most shows.”
Toni’s sister-in-law, Linda Wolcott, is married to her brother, Frank.
Linda is also a painter and lives on the island. Together, the two of them do a biennial show with another local artist, Jack Horner. They recently held their show at the Boca Grande Art Center, where each artist had about 12 to 15 pieces of art on display.
According to artist Jack Horner, the most recent biennial art show was well attended.
Toni added that she was also happy with the attendance at the last show.
Jack met the Wolcotts through Linda’s mother, Susie, who had a home on the island for years. The first two art shows the trio held together were in Susie’s home, before they decided to host them at the Art Center.
If you are interested in seeing Toni’s work, send her an email at toniwolcott@comcast.net.