As human beings, there is an artist inside us all. Our talents all vary, and for some people, the talent is so great that the rest of us are lucky when they impart it on the world. Art comes in many forms…music, dance and the fine arts, and in today’s world, it can even be digital. But, as any artist knows, the muse does not always “hit” you. We chatted with one local artist recently who has had a resurgence of her craft. Fine Artist, Danielle (Dee) Colucci was happy to answer a few of our questions about what drives her to create her eclectic and bold paintings.
WH: Let’s go back to the very beginning. As kids, we all have dreams about what we want to be when we grow up. Did you always see yourself as an artist of sorts, or was it something that came to you later in life?
DC: I started painting when I was around 7 and knew that it was something that made me feel happy and peaceful. It came very natural to me and I started talking about becoming an artist when I grew up around 10 yearls old! So yes…I always had this dream. A lot of dreams give way to the harshness and reality of life…glad this wasn’t one of them. The fact that being an artist is still greatly considered a “pastime” over a vocation does make it hard to stay above water at times though.
WH: Where did you grow up, and did you take art classes in high school? Did you have a mentor, a person who pointed you in the right direction for college, and if so, how did they influence you?
DC: I grew up in the Bronx, NY in a blue collar, predominantly Italian and Irish neighborhood. I came from a warm, loving family that supported my art. My parents and closest Aunt and Uncle (Lori and Al) are highly creative and have pushed me towards art! My father is a very creative man himself and has always drawn in front of me so I would say he was my biggest influence growing up.
I didn’t go to collage straight away after graduating high school. I took a few years off to get a job and live on my own and experience life a little and then attended a private 2 year college in Greenwich, CT for fine arts at 21. I’m glad I waited to go to college as I believe life experience is the best teacher and so it made my stay at college more fruitful.
WH: What did you study in college? Did you aim for a career in fine arts, or did you decide to go into something a bit more lucrative…a “day job” so to speak?
DC: The college I went to was geared towards fine art and graphic design. I wanted to learn graphic design and Im glad I did as it has helped me in so many facets of my life but I knew that fine art was my passion and focused on that. Of course like every other fine artist, I had to get a “day job” in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle but I was always lucky enough to get a creatively driven job like Art Buying or Visual Display Design.
WH: Sometimes, for creative types (especially women), life gets in the way of the art. Did you find that as you went along? Was there a period where you were not painting?
DC: Was there a period that I didn’t paint? It was more like an ENTIRE decade! I knew at a young age I wanted a family and was willing to put my career goals aside to create that life thinking I could go back when I had the time. Unfortunately, I’m an emotionally driven artist and my unhealthy marriage was not conducive to my creative process. I went almost 8 years without picking up a paintbrush felt a loss within me but buried those feelings. I loved being a mom and a wife and was happy with that job but I was emotionally closing down with the strains of my marriage. It was the middle of many sleepless nights that I FELT the emptiness that not painting brought on and knew I needed to make changes.
WH: You mention that you have had a resurgence…perhaps a rebirth of sorts, in your art. Tell us about that.
DC: I dont blame anyone for my loss of creative drive but some people and circumstances bring out the best or worst in you. I had decided to separate from my husband, it was truly the hardest decision I have ever made as I never wanted to break my family up but, I also didn’t want to teach my children that it was ok to stay in an abusive and unhealthy relationship either. I made the decision to take my life back starting with my body and getting back in shape by walking/sprinting every morning and then within a few months, I started to paint again.
Actually the date I painted my first watercolor was April 28th 2011. It was a pivotal moment in my life because it marked a rebirth in me. I had went from not picking up a brush in 8 years to creating over 55 works of art in less than a year. It was like something broke inside of me and my art just came POURING out. It has been the best therapy for me emotionally. I thank God for this fulfilling gift everyday.
WH: You art takes the form of many different traditional “genres” or styles. Do you have a particular style? How do you describe yourself as an artist? What appeals to you most in your art?
DC: I always say I’m an eclectic personality and my art definitely reflects that. Up until just recently, I don’t think you could define my style under any one genre. The only consistent thing one could say is that it is bold and colorful. I guess one could say that about me as a person as well.
I can’t say I have a favorite style of art, nor can I say that I prefer any one type of media over the next even though I am a “paint on canvas” type of artist myself. I truly appreciate all types of art from traditional, to structural to musically enhanced art. If I had to give a name of an artist that has personally influenced me in my life it would definitely be Georgia O’ Keefe. I loved her bold style, color and fluidity and that fact that she created that style in a society that had not yet accepted or celebrated women artists. She was a pioneer.
As of recent, I have taken a turn to black and white paintings due to a customer request. My boyfriend, Mike Parker, introduced me to a friend that has a restaurant in Portchester called “Per Voi II” and was looking to buy some black and white photographs of the “Rat Pack” to go along with his new renovations. Mike suggested to his friend that he speak to me about getting some original artwork in there as opposed to photos that anyone could purchase online. A month later there are 4 five foot by three foot, black and white paintings hanging in “Per Voi II” that I created and have brought me many requests since.
WH: What is on your plate these days. Are you doing a new series? Any showings coming up that you want to talk about?
DC: Well, my first art show was put together by a great friend I met through Mike, local Westchester music artist “GFELLA”. It took place at “Duo” in Yonkers, NY in February! It was a great success as it not only brought me new opportunities but a greater sense of confidence in my ability to “show” my work. All artists are their own worst critic so it was nice to see such a positive response.
My first show is where I met Robert Salese, the manager of the “The Gallery Lounge” in SoBro, NY. I am having my next show at the “Gallery Lounge” on June 30th, 2012.
Stemming from my work in the restaurant, the new series is very graphic and bold like the “Rat Pack” pieces, just with LOTS of color added. The style of each of the pieces is bold and colorful, yet each of them has their own distinct look and feel. Im really excited about this show.
WH: And lastly, what is (are) your greatest muse(s)? What moves you to paint and express yourself?
DC: Well, I have to say that being an emotional artist means that my life and my happiness greatly influences my art. My children bring me the greatest joy so they are definitely what moves me most to keep painting.
I also have amazing and creative friends around me. My friend Laura Melissa is a make-up artist and my friend Lee Cappabianca is a photographer. Being around them and watching them work keeps my creative juices flowing.
My boyfriend, Mike is also an extremely creative man and has helped me come up with some amazing ideas for some recent pieces. Its nice to have someone creative to bounce ideas off of.
I am probably at one of the best points of my life all around. I have two beautiful, healthy children, a great support of family and friends and a wonderful man to share my life with. With all that, it seems, I simply CAN’T stop painting lately…nor can I stop smiling!!
To see more of Dee’s artwork, click HERE.