here are many people out there who tirelessly dedicate their every waking hour to perfecting their beloved chosen skill.
Whether it’s the violin, or carpentry, tight-rope walking or growing giant marrows, the hope is always there that, hey, one day, this is going to be perfect.
There are others, of course – let’s call ’em feckers – who decide to give something entirely new a try, just for the laugh, and, lo and behold, they’re a complete and utter natural.
One such fecker is Toni Smith, late of this parish, having grown up with Derek, Jackie and Gary in the recently sold and mighty fine Lyndhurst on St Vincent Rd. Now comfortably settled in leafy Cheltenham, Toni went from novice to Prints For Sale within about eight minutes of first picking up a paintbrush.
Of course, it helps when your chosen subjects are bewitching Irish beauty spots, etched deep in a charmed childhood growing up in Greystones. With the likes of Spendloves, Buoys Kitchen and The Village Bookshop now stocking her cards, a framed original on the walls of Café Gray, the Sherry Fitz gang ordering boxes of her work for Marina Village welcome packs, and her diary already hopping with gift orders, too, well, Toni is naturally quite excited and delighted to see her work getting such a warm welcome back home, and beyond.
And to think all this high flying was sparked by Toni having her wings clipped somewhat by a multiple sclerosis diagnosis…
We asked the lady herself to fill in the details of how she got from down there to up here…
Although I moved to the UK many years ago, Greystones has always had a firm hold of my heart, and is deeply embedded in my DNA.
When I had to give up work for health reasons a couple of years ago (MS and all that goes with it), I started adult ‘colouring-in’ – which was all the rage at the time. Then a year ago I decided to upgrade, and give painting a go. Besides doing art in first year at secondary school, I had never held a paintbrush.
In November, I went to my first art class, and the next day started painting with acrylics like there was no tomorrow. I just couldn’t get enough. Painting scenes of Greystones means I get to be in my home town every day. And what could be better than that?
To date I have painted 18 different Greystones scenes tracing the journey from the Cliff Walk and Bray Head, past the marina and harbour, and right round to the end of the South Beach. Unknowingly, I have created three collections: Greystones Timeless, Greystones Today, and Greystones: The Way It Was.
My Greystones friends have provided lots of support and encouragement and, seeing some sort of potential, made requests for paintings of Greystones old and new. As I started to sell paintings, I wanted a record of my work, so had large prints and greeting cards made. Each card is captioned and provokes a special memory for me, and hopefully other Greystonians.
This turned out to be a great idea, as shops in Greystones now stock my cards, and Sherry Fitzgerald including them in welcome packs. How amazing is that? And to have one of my paintings hanging proudly in Café Gray, that’s a real thrill…
I come home to Greystones every few months. The friendship, warmth and sense of community that comes from being home keeps me inspired and motivated to paint and paint and paint. And for the next few weeks, I will be busy working with my buddy Kialan from my amazing printing company to put my three collections into greeting cards gift boxes, ideal for Christmas, anniversary, birthday presents and beyond. Plus, I have calendars now, for €20.
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