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


Paintings for Children and Other Whimsical People: Art with a Story

When I began my acrylic painting class last February, I mostly did it for adventure. Something new! Playing with paint! I posted my paintings on Facebook so my friends could see what I was up to.

I was delighted when my friend Rachel commented that she loved the colorful, simple quality of my work. She thought the kids she worked with would love it too. She commissioned three paintings for her office at Dogwood Psychology Center for Children and Families. She requested an elephant, a giraffe, and an owl.

Elephant is giving advice to two bird friends. Giraffe is making a tower of magic spots. Owl is deciding what color frosting she wants on her birthday cake.


Rachel’s idea that I paint for kids hit a happy chord with me. Next, I painted a scene for a favorite second grade class at Hillsborough Elementary School where my friend Julia teaches. The school’s mascot is a dolphin, and their motto stresses kindness and cooperation.

Here is Dolphin kindly rescuing a baby bunny, who landed himself in big trouble by NOT cooperating with his parents and going out too far on his boogie board. A highlight of 2017 was delivering this painting to Julia’s classroom and talking with her students about the creative process.

A few weeks later, my friend Binnie asked for two paintings for her granddaughters. Binnie wanted the elephant (at top), and she asked for a giraffe and two bunnies going to Stinky, a Brooklyn restaurant frequented by her daughter.

Here are the paintings, framed by Binnie and on their way to Brooklyn for Christmas.

My friend Nancy encouraged me to donate a painting to a fundraiser for the Burwell School, an historic house in downtown Hillsborough. I got carried away and did three paintings, all Hillsborough scenes (with a twist).

This is Yveette, the Giant Frog, trying to decide if she wants to move into the Stickworks sculpture on our riverwalk.

In the painting below, Stegosaurus and two bird friends arrive in Hillsborough. Wouldn’t that be a blast!

Here is Hippo pondering history on the lawn of the Burwell School.

At the fundraising event, I really sweated it as people selected art to buy. I’d told mysel I was NOT going to get upset if my work didn’t sell, but I could hardly concentrate on the white wine or the delicious mint brownies.


One painting sold at the end of the event and the site manager had offers on the other two, thanks to Facebook publicity.  I’m pleased that some grownups bought my paintings just for themselves.

Hippo landed herself in the after-event publicity.

Murphy School

Close to Christmas,  interior designer Vicki McDaniel, requested Dolphin for her grandson and a hot air balloon painting for another child. The little girl’s name is Nellie Jane, and her mom is wild over hot air balloons.   


Thanks to the enthusiasm of these kind folks, I’ve decided to launch a small art business. Here’s the description:

I create custom paintings for nurseries, kids’ rooms, medical offices, schools, and  other places where kids and whimsical adults will enjoy seeing them.

Each of my paintings comes with a bit of a story. The owner gets to fill in the rest!

For more information, email me at Paintings may be any size you like and done on canvas board or stretched canvas, ready for you to frame or hang without framing. Prices range from $25 to $100. Shipping is additional.


I’m into painting toys, too. This is grandson Maze’s toy turtle and a favorite ball. Sadly, they’ve lost their kite. Turtle is gently nudging Ball back to the beach cottage after this unfortunate occurrence.

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