For this month, Winnipeg River Arts Council features visual artist Danielle Bruneau. Currently working in acrylics, water colours, pen and ink, mixed media on everything from canvas to saw blades and cast iron frying pans, she has previously enjoyed working with stained glass (copper foil and soldered lead), wood working, as well as computer graphics, website design and photography.
Raised along the Winnipeg River, between St. Georges and Great Falls, she lived in Fort Nelson in Northern BC for 10 years. Since 2004, she has called Vancouver home, living on a 40’ live-aboard boat moored at the mouth of the Fraser River and then residing in condos with mountain views, but ended up being mostly art space where she could eat and sleep. She said, “Presently, I’m in a renovated shuttle bus – chasing sunrises, sunsets and different landscapes.”
In her “mobile” life, Bruneau finds inspiration “in everything from old buildings in rural settings to unique architecture in urban environments, how light and clouds play across the prairies, and in anything near the water, how it catches my attentions with its reflective quality.”
Before she was even in kindergarten, her uncle, Art Vincent, gave her pencils and paper rolls from the mill. She sketched scenes from her grandparents’ farm and watched her creative muse, Mr. Dress-Up, on her family’s first black and white television. As a teenager, Bob Ross had her dreaming of when she would own a real easel. At Powerview School, her talented art teacher, Sister Pauline Menard, taught her many skills in different media. “Although she would not give anyone an A, she did give a few of us the privilege of using the art room during lunch breaks to pursue projects.”
Bruneau also acquired knowledge from various online artists, citing Robert Genn’s newsletter and video tutorials. But she believes in “practice, practice, practice! The only way to learn art is to create art.”
At University of Manitoba, Bruneau studied for a bachelor’s degree in architecture, sharing professors from both Interior Design and Fine Arts. Afternoons included open studio with instruction and critique from professors, professional artists, and architects. She also worked on projects in pen and ink, water colour, clay and mixed media, and model building.
“My favourite professor, Claude De Forest, pushed us to develop our drawing and painting skills, with “plein air” outings and his famous Sketch Camp, a week on a Lake of the Woods island with various artists, instruction, practice, and group critiques from sunup to sundown.”
In the mid-1990’s, Bruneau instructed at Northern Lights College, teaching evening and weekend classes in website design. She also taught Adobe Page-Maker, MS Publisher, and other courses. She Bruneau loves gifting her art to friends and family and finds it rewarding when her hand-painted greeting cards have been framed. She also enjoys getting out on Monday nights with Winnipeg River Sketchcrawlers. On weekends, she concentrates on acrylic paintings, exploring ideas for a themed series.
“The artwork itself – the process, is an inspiration for me – putting what I see and how I see it onto media with a paint brush has its own satisfaction. The process of sketching and painting really helps me balance out a stressful career.”
Her artwork and photos can be viewed on Instagram. www.instagram.com/debruneau