Meet Danni Baird, the most recent addition to the Art Mecca family. (If Danni looks familiar it may because you know her from the Bravo series Southern Charm.) But first, art. We caught up with Danni in her home studio. Here's what she had to say about art, her background, a typical day in her life, and the celebrity side of her life:
Q: Danni, tell us about your background.
A: I was born in Birmingham, Alabama and moved around quite about in the South as a child, I went to grade school in Bel Air, Maryland. I spent most of my time after school competitively riding horses and spending my weekends at “the barn.” As a child, we would travel to Kiawah Island every summer for vacation. I always took art classes and painted murals in my bedrooms as a child, as art was always a great escape for me. I went to college in North Carolina at UNCW, where I received a Bachelors of Marketing and a Studio Art Minor. I moved to Charleston soon after and have spent the last 10 years in this amazing city. My parents also live in Kiawah Island full time. I’m happy to say Charleston is where I will stay.
I’ve also always had a love for interior design and staging. During a recent remodel of a home, I designed a unique wine bar to fill an awkward space in the middle of the entryway. It turned out beautifully.
Q: Tell us about your medium and why it speaks to you.
A: I am a little all of the board with my choice of media, as I love watercolor, charcoal and even oil, however Acrylic is my favorite. The colors always seem brighter, the densities and texture can be vastly manipulated and above all else, it dries quickly.
Q: What's inspiring you these days?
A: The world can be a dark and cruel place these day. I would rather channel my energy toward hope than in the certainty of anything or anyone else. This channeling of hope makes me feel empowered and more in control of what I allow to surround me. To that point, I paint anything that is aesthetically pleasing or symbolically nostalgic to me. They could be compositions of places I have visited, scenes of subject matter that speaks a significant memory to me or simply a snapchat that I find beautiful enough to recreate in my own form. I gravitate to lowland landscapes, seascapes, historical architecture, interior design still lifes, as well as unassuming and fluid human or horse forms.
Q: Let's talk about Southern Charm. What is that experience like for you?
A: It may or may not sound cheesy, but my involvement in the show undoubtedly broadened some of my perspectives and even expectations both internally and in external relationships. The platform of reality TV forces you to observe your mistakes, recognize them while challenging you to fix them. After all, over a million viewers are judging and coming up with conclusions on their own. There is definitely a heightened sense of accountability, which I believe is something positive as long as you don’t allow yourself to get too wrapped up in the false reality of notoriety.
Being involved in a show like this can make you feel pigeon-holed into a particular role or “ character," however it takes much courage to be true to your own principles and stay true to yourself, no matter what viewers or the general public may think of you. I’ve said many times that I am not the best for reality TV because a landscape like a reality show pressures you to “ listen with the intent to reply” rather than my natural intention to “ listen with intent to understand.” At the same time, the show can gift someone with the chance to make a positive transformation for all to see. While the events that unfold on the show are not always accurate or a true representation of actual events, it does force castmates, including myself, to think outside the box in terms of how a simple phrase, action or opinion could be alternatively perceived. This habit of thinking before speaking has been a critical take-away for me.
Over the past five years, I’ve observed the dedication, blood sweat and tears of all of the Southern Charm crew and all of the creative license that goes on behind the scenes to make a successful reality show. The field producers, sound techs, camera men, lighting specialists, scheduling techs, COUNTLESS levels of teamwork come together during each year of filming that never fails to impress me. The creative strengths of each team member behind the scenes is noteworthy and admirable on so many levels. Only with each of their innovative efforts could Bravo create a compellingly communicated any scene or story-line. This creative teamwork is partly why I have continued to participate in the show, even at the mild capacity that I do. I have a great respect for the crew that puts it all together.
Q: We always ask our artists to share what a typical day in their life is like. How about your typical day?
A: My dad-to-day life consists or waking up brewing my favorite blueberry flavored coffee and watching the first 30 mintues of the Today Show. I take my 6mo old Australian Sheppard, Luci, out for a walk downtown and once I return we both eat a big breakfast. Breakfast is by far, my favorite meal of the day. At that point I will either hop on the treadmill for 30 min or so or get straight into painting in my studio. I often times have Game of Thrones or the tv series, Reign, playing in the background as I paint. I’ve seen every episode but hearing the dialogue and music in the background keep me going.
I will typically work on 3 or 4 paintings in a similar series at a time, unless I am dedicated to a particular commissioned painting. I have to be honest, commissioned paintings have been my favorite work because the transaction is so personal. It’s much more fulfilling as an artist to create something specifically for someone else’s pleasure and keepsake.
If you'd like a customized commissioned painting by Danni, you can contact her at Dannabaird@gmail.com.
Instagram can be a great source of inspiration and positive energy if you carefully curate your feed. Did you know that most of our artists are on Instagram? Perk up your feed by following local artists sharing their inspiration, studios, and works in progress. Here's where to find them:
When you get tired of playing in the snow (we never thought we'd say that in Charleston), you might enjoy a good book and a cup of tea. Fishing For Elephants is a new book by local (and nationally recognized) artist, illustrator, teacher, and author Larry Moore.
If you are a creative, or a collector who would like a peak into the creative process, Larry has so much wisdom and life experience to offer. Plus, he's really funny. Larry's specialty is teaching creatives how to think for themselves, how to get out of the comfort zone, and how to create authentic art. (Also, keep an eye out for Art Mecca's own Robin Howard's work which was featured as an example of assemblage art.)
This book is a fantastic read and the perfect companion for a snowy (!!!) weekend. We're here, so come warm up - then take a walk down to the Horton Hayes Gallery on State Street to see Larry's work. Stop by their studios and you can meet Larry in person and watch him work his magic.