Giving Back: The Toys Are Escaping!

As time becomes more precious, I find I’m less interested in doing regular volunteer work out of my house. So how to happily give back to a world that’s been good to me and where there’s plenty to be done?

The best volunteer work combines a passion with a need. Since I’ve discovered painting, I’ve wondered how I could combine art with giving. And so, I hope I’m onto something.

I  just finished a series of 16 paintings for the Orange County Historical Museum here in Hillsborough, North Carolina. The museum’s  executive director, Stephanie Pryor, invited me to do the paintings to coordinate with an antique toy exhibit. The exhibit opened April 26 and runs into October. Where’s the giving? I’m donating the paintings.

The paintings are for sale, and the proceeds will support children’s programming at the museum. Large paintings are $65 or two for $100. Small paintings are $40 or two for $70. I’m glad to ship the paintings for an additional $10.

I came up with the idea of toys escaping because maybe, just maybe, toys have dreams and visions too. And maybe, just maybe, they sometimes need a break from the kids who own them. (And I like to think the toys in my paintings come home again.)

Here they are:

Ms. Bear Moves into the Oval Office. 20 by 20.

Snuggle Bunny Escapes the Nursery

Snuggle Bunny Escapes the Nursery.  20 by 16.

Bathub Sailboat Dreams of the Great Lakes

Bathtub Sailboat Dreams of the Great Lakes. 11 by 14.

Paint Set Decorates the Sky on a Gray, Gloomy Day

Watercolor Set Decorates the Sky on a Gray, Gloomy Day. 20 by 16.

Play Dinosaur Morphs into a Real One and Visits the Museum

Play Dinosaur Morphs into a Real One and Visits the Museum. 20 by 20. Sold.

Bunny on Wheels Takes Off

Bunny on Wheels Takes Off. 16 by 20.


Plastic Unicorn Finds a Real Pot of Gold. 14 by 11.

Vintage Sheep and Yoyo Enjoy the Breeze

Vintage Sheep and Yo-yo Enjoy the Breeze. 16 by 20.

Rag Doll

Rag Doll on Her Way to Town for a Store-bought Dress. 12 by 12.


Kaleidoscope Studies Her Own Shapes in the Mirror. 16 by 20.

The Kittens Stand Guard but Where are the Dolls

The Kittens Stand Guard but Where Are the Dolls? 14 by 14.

Play Dough

Play Dough Flowers in a Play Dough Pot Decorate the Palace of a Real Queen. 12 by 12.

The Marbles Have a Field Day

The Marbles Have a Field Day. 20 by 16.


Rocket Ship Heads Straight to Mars. 12 by 24. Sold.

Toy Kitchen

Toy Kitchen Bakes a Cake. 14 by 14.


Xylophone Takes a Bow at Symphony Hall. 14 by 11.


You can see more of my work on my art website:

Flowers and Pot

12 thoughts on “Giving Back: The Toys Are Escaping!”

    1. Thank you so much, Wendy. Do you think it would work as a series of vignettes of sorts, with each toy having her or his own story? With some sort of connecting fiber at the end?


  1. Oh Barbara!!!!! Do I love these paintings and the spirit behind them!!! You and your art are so very, very special. Thank you for giving the world this . . .this love. Phyllis


  2. Oh, and Barbara, it’s been about one year since my husband passed. And, it is only now that I may begin writing that series of posts for you. We have to process. Process everything. . . And, it indeed, takes time.


    1. Phyllis, I am so glad you feel ready and I have great respect for the process. I would love to have your posts! I love the idea of doing some shorter ones, by timeline or by theme, whichever you choose. Thank you!


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