Art Saves • by Danielle Daniel
Creating to Survive
Creating is the way that I survive. It also makes me feel connected to humanity. It makes me a better person, it keeps me balanced and grounded, and it helps me make sense of the nonsensical. It helps me relax, heal, and grow, all in the same hour.
Art is my philosophy. Like yoga is for others. It is my practice, my fuel, my sustenance. Art is my every day, like prayer and meditation.
Sharing True Stories
I paint stories. Short stories. Actually, I paint and write true stories, the ones I feel compelled to share. I believe our stories connect us and help create bridges from one heart to another. I have only been a painter for a little over three years now, but I have been a storyteller my whole life. Perhaps that is a gift I have been given by my ancestors whose language was passed down orally.
The Algonkin people shared their stories from one mouth to the other, one generation to the next. I am lucky to be able to share my stories through my painted words, on canvas and on the page.
Our stories do not define us, but I believe they live within us until we learn to accept them, feel them wholeheartedly, and set them free. Each portrait I create is a way for me to honor my experiences. When I paint, I sit in this space and linger. Sometimes I paint the same story, because I need to. Maybe some of them will always want to be painted.
By selling my work and literally sending it away, I am able to detach myself from these stories, one canvas at a time. I’m also learning that I am able to give voice to someone else’s story. And together our stories are woven, our hearts are gently intertwined. This part has been the most rewarding as an artist and as a human. We all want our work to matter and this part gives my work purpose, and I am so grateful for this exchange.
Making Room for New Narratives
My portraits have been described as melancholy, pensive, and dare I say, even sad. I’m learning that many people are not comfortable with seeing faces that do not have smiles painted across its mouths. I am OK with it. I am comfortable here. I am slowly learning that this is not something that needs fixing. It just is.
Perhaps by painting and writing so many layers of my story, I will be able to make room for new narratives, those that are waiting to be experienced, painted, and scattered across the globe connecting us all, one by one.
Art is my necessity and without it, I would wither and die. Like breathing, like water, like sun. It goes where I go.
To learn more about Danielle Daniel, visit danielledaniel.com.