Untitled, 92.5 x 51.5 inches, charcoal, acrylic and pastel on paper.
WBM july 2019
DURING residencies in Ireland
and Scotland in 2013, trees
with entwined branches
encircling earthen ring forts
drew her attention, as did
the spiraling oaks on a ridge above the
Black Isle. It was in Scotland that she cre-ated
Toll, a native of Stillwater, Oklahoma, has
been drawing since childhood, saying she has
always had a thing for trees.
“There was a whole forest behind us. Acres
and acres of woods, mostly pines with some
hardwoods. When you went really deep in
there, there was a magnolia tree. As a kid it was
like stepping into another world,” Toll says.
The lifelong artist’s voice warms when she
speaks of the tarp her father bought to make
a tent out in the woods in front of their house.
She was allowed to go only so deep into the
woods — but she always pushed the boundar-ies,
striving to see and experience more.
It’s a love that has stood the test of time, as
Toll still spends time exploring the woods with
She mentions the book by Powers and
singles out her favorite part: when two char-acters
protest atop a tree until they are on the
last standing one in the forest.
Her affinity for trees and nature has obvi-ously
influenced her artworks, and they often
provide a narrative.
“When I am making art, I am putting my
energy into it. It is physical. Then someone
comes along and looks at it and I hope it
strikes a chord,” says Toll.
She normally creates sketches when she’s
out in nature and then comes back to her stu-dio
to respond to her experience.
“In my studio practice, drawing is not dis-tinctly
separate from painting. But this body
of work — a slice out of 10 years pursuing an
energy around trees comes from a lifetime
spent among them — is primarily about draw-ing,”
she says. While she says she often paints
in oils on canvas, her trees are mostly pastels
drawn over acrylic washes on paper.