Get to Know a Gold Coast Member
interviewed and written by Jen Walls
Danielle Vaillancourt: Color Your World
Author’s note: this forum is usually reserved for a light- hearted peek into our member’s lives. In this issue, we take a moment to appreciate one of our members who is nearing the end of her life due to a rare bone marrow cancer. Danielle speaks with an elegant French- Canadian accent, and took a few moments to tell us her story by phone.
How did you come to be in Florida?
Danielle: In 1980, I came to the U.S. with my lover. I would have followed him anywhere! We spent thirty years together. He passed two years ago.
What influenced you to become an artist?
Danielle: When I lived in Montreal, everything in my life was white. My house was white on white. All of my clothing was white. I had twenty-eight pairs of white sandals! Then I went through a session of “re-birth” because a friend of mine was training in that field. She was always laughing and smiling and dressed in red with red curly hair. So I did it for fun. But afterward, I forgot all anger and pain - it was like being a new baby. And six months later, color came into my life. When I was 50, I took a watercolor class. I had never drawn or held a brush. I started to paint. My instructor wanted more and more color! Eventually, she took me to the Hollywood Art Guild. I began winning first prize all the time. Then I took an acrylic class and started loving color.
Now there are no more white clothes! I paint all my shoes to match my dresses and handbags. I make all of my jewelry to match my outfits. I don’t need to eat - I just need to create.
What advice to you have for other artists?
Danielle: Let yourself go. Don’t be afraid.
Is there anything you would change about your art journey?
Danielle: I would try not to be so tight. Years ago, I saw all the show winners were painting tight, realistically. Miami Watercolor Society, Palm Beach, Gold Coast...so I began to practice until I could paint the same way and win! Now I wish I could be looser in my painting.
How many paintings have you created?
Danielle: I don’t know. But I have 136 on my walls right now.
What are you reading?
Danielle: A book in French. I still read in French.
Do you have a favorite t.v. show?
Danielle: General Hospital. I have been watching it since 1981.
What do you do for fun?
Danielle: I go to exhibitions. It is art - pure art. It is coming out of my ears and fingers. It comes from my dreams - colors and shapes. I dream of clothing.
What did you do before becoming a painter?
Danielle: I created large wool wall hangings for hotels. I have always been creating. I sold 900 of those. But we don’t need wool in Florida.
You’ve been very matter-of-fact about this being the end of your life. Is there anything you need that we could help with?
Danielle: The doctors say I won’t last through Christmas. There is no time for me to move to Montreal (where two of her children are), so I have decided to stay here to die. My children said don’t want all of these paintings. I would like to sell it to people who will want to keep it.
Thanks so much, Danielle, for talking to us.
Danielle: You took me by surprise. I don’t talk to people so much anymore.
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