Under Her Wings
Compassion can take you by surprise. Toni Lance came to St. Croix as a young artist, expecting to discover and express the beauty of the island. She could not have anticipated the heart connection with the island birds that was coming into her life, and how many she would take under her wing. This short documentary explores Toni’s passion as an artist and her life as a caretaker for wild birds.
Film by: Elizabeth Herzfeldt-Kamprath
Music by: Jacqueline Schwab
Filmmaker Website: https://www.elizabethjoyproductions.com/
About Toni —
I have been a permanent resident on St Croix for 39 years, painting and looking after birds. Originally growing up in Laguna Beach, California, I had a tremendous love of birds and photography from an early age. I was fortunate enough to be given a scholarship for college in that area from the Laguna Festival of Arts. For two years, at Humboldt State, I studied Photography and Wildlife Management. I was good at drawing and painting and the photography equipment was expensive, so I spent the next two years at Long Beach State studying Biomedical Illustration. That is really where I had my training for the detail and rendering. There I was being trained to paint human subjects and worked often with cadavers, but my passion was entirely birds and animal subjects.
After college, I spent the next few years painting detailed watercolors of birds. I learned taxidermy and checked out stuffed birds from natural history museums. My paintings showed every detail of the feathers and my watercolors were very tight.
In 1980, I came to visit St Croix and, like many others, I loved it and moved here. Continuing to paint birds, my subjects also became the local architecture, people and flora. I was honored to be asked by the British Philatelic Bureau in 1986 to paint two series of postage stamps, The History of Rum Making for the BVI’s and Birds of Prey for St. Vincent. I traveled a bit and painted watercolors of Africa, Greece, Yugoslavia, England, Italy and Costa Rica. I also designed and painted 12 of the St. Croix Triathlon and Half Iron man posters. For the past few years, I primarily paint birds. I continue to have a tremendous passion and love for them. Since 1980, I have been rehabilitating injured and orphaned birds at my home on the south shore of St. Croix. With non-profit status and licensed under DPNR, The St. Croix Avian Sanctuary helps many birds annually.
Having shown my art in the Virgin Islands, California, New York, Florida and Arizona, I have had several one-woman shows at the Walsh Metal Works Gallery. I have also been honored to show at the Art @ Top Hat and Henle Gallery. I was thrilled to have been a featured artist in the Spring 2010 issue of American Artist Watercolor magazine. Locally, I have been a featured artist on the covers of St. Croix This Week in 2010, 2011 and 2019.