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By Lucy Chabot Reed
Yacht Chef Danielle Perry got the call to submit a piece of her artwork in the competition just before the deadline. Four days later, after doing nothing but painting, she submitted and was chosen to grace the cover of the program for this year’s 57th annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.
“When I paint, I paint; I don’t do anything else,” she said recently, a day after hand numbering and signing 200 prints of her winning painting.
It’s taken her a lifetime to get here, but Perry has finally found a balance between her two creative jobs. At first, it was graphic design. Then it was yachting and travel. But when a near-death motorcycle accident in 2008 sat her still in a wheelchair, she focused on her artistic side that she never found time to discover. And a fine artist was born.
“After something like that, you never see your life the same way,” she said.
A friend helped her heal, took her to doctor’s appointments, and bought her an easel. It was during those five months of recovery that she took her artistic talent seriously and taught herself the masters, training her eye to see the world around her, paying attention to her weaknesses and forcing herself to improve.
She started with all the photos she took during her travels and began painting from those. All of the fine art pieces on her website (danielleperryfineart.com) were painted since her accident.
Her winning painting, “Take Back Our Reefs”, features the above and underwater worlds that yachting brings together, of boats and humans, reefs and sealife. Subtly centered in her painting is a lionfish, a pretty but voracious fish that is about to be gored by a diver’s spear.
Since 2008, Perry has found a balance of passions by working as a freelance yacht chef. When she’s onboard, it’s full on cooking and working. But the time out at sea gives her perspective and inspiration, she said. And that makes the high-energy stints of painting more refreshing than stressful.
“They both feed off each other,” she said. “They’re both very creative jobs, very passionate and intense. But working on a yacht is very stressful and high pressure. I don’t feel any stress with painting.”
After being at sea, it takes her three or four days to decompress and relax enough to paint. Just this year, she’s begun setting up her easel near cafes and in neighborhoods, plenaire painting that is forcing her to paint the 3D natural world differently than painting from photographs.
“I feel closer to the impressionists when I paint like this,” she said. “They were so in tune with light and movement.”
See the 30×40 original painting of “Take Back Our Reefs” in the Windward Club, the VIP lounge in the Swimming Hall of Fame. It’s for sale for $4,500.
Lucy Chabot Reed is publisher of The Triton. Please leave comments below.