August 11, 2020

Artist finds quiet fulfillment through creating works of art, inspiring others through teaching

When art instructor Danielle Tickell describes her work, she says that teaching is her passion and art is her love. Both are evident in her work at Shelby County Arts Council and in her recently-accepted position at Hueytown Elementary School, where she shares her artistic inspiration with students who might otherwise not be engaged in the creative process. Danielle believes that art brings a sense of calm to the artist, whether that’s Danielle herself or one of her students.

“Creating art is a way to clear and focus the mind,” Danielle says. “I feel at peace and like I really have a grasp on my life when I’m working.”

As a two-time graduate of the University of Montevallo, Danielle holds her bachelor’s degree in fine arts with a concentration in both drawing and painting, as well as a master’s degree in art education. In fact, it was during her time at Montevallo that she first realized how comfortable she felt working in a studio. Joe and Misty Bennett, two of her art professors, had a special impact on her love for the craft. “I had so many ideas and concepts that I needed to express, and so many opportunities to do so visually,” Danielle says.

While her career path as an artist didn’t fully bloom until college, Danielle’s love for art took root years earlier, when she signed up for a required Art 1 class at Hueytown High School. Danielle’s art teacher, Elizabeth Ware, transformed the way she viewed artistic expression. “She pursued me and assisted me greatly in growing my God-gifted skills and talents that I had never tapped into,” Danielle says of her former instructor. “She has been such a blessing in my life and is the reason I became an artist and an art educator.”

That’s the kind of impact Danielle wants to have on her students at SCAC and at Hueytown Elementary—but there’s someone else in her life who’s showing interest in art, too. Danielle and her husband of six years, Christopher, have a 2-year-old daughter, Aria, who loves to play with Danielle’s art supplies. The family lives in Calera along with their dog, Brownie.

Of course, Danielle loves spending time with her family, but it’s not as easy to find time for her own art as it used to be. She has a studio in her home, but her work often migrates to other areas of the house, like the living room or the kitchen island—whatever works best in the moment. “It’s hard to find time to create and enjoy doing so without interruption,” Danielle says. “Life is busy, and with a young child, my attention is constantly being pulled in many directions for many different tasks.”

Somehow, though, she does find the time to create. Her pieces are vintage-inspired, showcasing diminutive details and whimsical designs. She creates a unique style in her artwork by marrying techniques from both drawing and painting, resulting in pieces rich with pattern, texture, line-work and the layering of mediums.

“I always enjoy seeing inspiration in the eyes of others brought on by my artwork,” Danielle says. “It allows us to make brief connections as humans just going about living life, encountering and engaging with others on a personal level.”

One of the most exciting things Danielle gets to do with her students is create pottery, both wheel-thrown and hand-built. Hand-built pottery is often created through coil, slab or mold techniques, and Danielle enjoys teaching that style to her students, but wheel-throwing is where the real fun happens. “It is hard to master, so sometimes, you do not know what the end product will be because it is moving as you are working on it,” she says. “I enjoy teaching wheel-throwing to my young students because they will jump right in where many adults would be hesitant.”

Ultimately, Danielle believes that her art expresses her feelings about nature and the world around her, including details about her own experiences that the viewer may or may not be able to interpret. “My desire is to create something beautiful that really speaks to the soul of an individual who may look at or purchase a work,” Danielle says. “In instances where I gift a piece of my artwork, I feel I am passing on a depth of myself.”

Republished with permission of Shelby Living magazine.