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For Julie Andrews the hills were alive with the sound of music, but for you and I, the hills are in complete ecstasy with the beauty of poppies and a exquisite lady name Christy. If you can locate this stunning location on the globe, you're free to join Christy in a celebratory romp through the gorgeous gifts Mother Nature has given us. 


Lately I've become one heck of a willing participant in anything to do with the brilliance of nature. I'm already bananas and head-over-heels in love with women of abundant curves, so placing them amongst the glorious foliage of God's green Earth is just more icing on the cake when it comes to creating these portraits. Beautiful flowers are one of the few things on the planet an artist can not improve upon. But it sure is fun to attempt it. 


Enough about the birds and bees! Let's find out a bit more about tonight's barefoot contessa from the lovely lady herself. But before we do so, I want to give a little preface to Christy's words. 


Every time I contact these lovely ladies to announce it's their time in the Spotlight, I always ask that they share a little something about themselves for our art patrons to read. I basically leave it to them to decide how they want to be represented and what they think people should know about the woman in the art. Christy sent me something that I'm just now reading for the first time as I construct this Spotlight page. I just wanted to express how--moved--I am by what she wrote. In my opinion it's an eloquent manifestation of what makes a woman truly and sincerely...beautiful.


I am from Stockton, CA. I live with my husband, Arvin as well as our two beloved Bergamasco Sheepdogs, Dahlia and Maximus. I love my challenging career as a school teacher. It is a privilege to work with children and be a part of their lives, even for a short while. Other things I do for fun include drawing, crafting, reading, and writing.


I have been an admirer of Les' work for some time, but it took me a while to develop the courage even to imagine that I could ever become a Toil Girl. People would likely describe me as intelligent, reflective, quiet, and unassuming. I am blessed with a great family and friends who love me, but unfortunately, growing up as a plus-sized girl and being a plus sized woman, means facing a society that has often been less accepting. Truthfully, for a long time, media images and judgments from ignorant people had significant impacts on my self-esteem. As a young woman, one of my escapes was reading romance novels and secretly wishing that I could be as lovely and as graceful as the women on those book covers. Then, my mind would "snap back into reality" and I would remind myself that those women were thin, gorgeous models turned into beautiful but fictitious characters created by some talented artist. Finally, I just put those secret wishes in the back of my mind and forgot about them for a long time.


Two years ago, while surfing the internet, I found the Toil Girls website. I sat for hours admiring the beautiful women in the online gallery. Real women, not super models or Hollywood starlets. It wasn't just the fact that these women, like me, were plus sized, but it was the "spirit" of the woman that was captured in each portrait that touched my heart. As I viewed the portraits, I could feel something inside of me coming back to life; my dream, reemerging like a flower after a winter frost. For the first time in a long time, I allowed myself to wonder, " What if...I can be like these amazing women? What if... I could be beautiful? What if....I could allow myself to dream again, not as a diet visualization trying to imagine myself skinny, but being and celebrating all of who I was now.... my body, my soul, and yes, my own beauty?". 


I immediately knew I wanted my Toil Girl portrait to represent a romance novel cover and see myself as I had dreamed of many years ago.


When the time was right, I contacted Les. To describe Les as a wonderful artist hardly does him justice. Not only is he incredibly talented, but he was also professional yet very approachable during the creative process. We shared ideas and laughs over several e-mails. His appreciation for plus-sized women is refreshing and sincere. He listens to his clients' concerns and treats each Toil Girl like a star.


I knew Les would do a great job, but I was completely unprepared for the overwhelming emotions I felt when I finally saw my portrait. I was stunned, giddy, and incredulous all at the same time. Never in my life had I felt as beautiful as I did when I saw my Toil Girl portrait. Tears welled up in my eyes as I stared at my portrait over and over. I wondered, "Is that really me?". Finally, I allowed myself to believe it, and immediately felt joy.


Nowadays, when I am feeling down, I look at my portrait and remind myself of who I really am. Yes, Les captured my likeness . Yes, I hardly look that "put together" every day. But for me, the portrait represents not only a homage to my dream, but a realization that everything I had thought I lacked: beauty, a "perfect" body, acceptance, romance, and joy--it's been with me, all along.


From the bottom of my heart, I thank you, Les, for my portrait and for this experience. It has truly touched my life!


Christy, I thank YOU from the very, very, very bottom of my own heart for giving those precious words to me--and to everyone else lucky enough to read them here.

You are truly splendor in the grass. :-)







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