Southwest resident Nikki Danby has been drawing faces since before she could walk.
After almost 35 years as a professional painter, she’s determined to give back.
Painting full-time in her own studio, Danby, 56, donates portions of her commissions to charities, including the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and World Wildlife Foundation.
“If anyone commissions me, I’m happy to donate a part of my fee to a charity of their choice,” Danby said. “I’ve been blessed to do this for over 30 years. It’s been my one career.”
Danby describes her style as “impressionism through expressionism,” with her expertise mainly in portraits and landscapes.
“I paint mostly from life and experiences or memories, but I add my own touches,” she said. “For my clients, I really try to design the painting they want. I’m communicative through every stage.”
Born to British parents in Canada, Danby moved all over the world because of her father’s diplomatic career.
“I went to 13 different schools in half as many different countries,” Danby said. “I lived in Holland, Switzerland, England and Canada, to name a few.”
As the youngest child in the family by 10 years, Danby turned to art as a hobby.
“My mother was an artist, but she didn’t paint professionally,” Danby said. “I used to play with her paints, though I’m sure they were highly toxic at the time. It just seemed natural to me to always be painting and designing.”
Aspiring to be a fashion designer, Danby became a runway model for designers such as Dior, Nina Ricci and Lanvin.
“When I got into the fashion industry, I saw how cutthroat and demanding it is,” Danby. “All my friends were telling me to paint, so I figured I’d give it a shot.”
At 23, Danby attended what is now the Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design in London.
“I was slightly an older student, but it was good because I took it seriously,” Danby said. “I started painting commissions my last year, and it went on from there. I turned around one day, and 30 years have gone by.”
Danby lived in Australia for a few years before moving to the United States. Although she works mostly on local commissions, she said she still has work lined up in Australia.
“I can work from anywhere really because I work very easily from photographs,” Danby said. “I have a neat trick of asking everyone who knows the person for five adjectives to describe them so I get a sense of their personality. It works really well.”
About three years ago, Danby and her husband, Ronnie Lee Twist, moved to Las Vegas.
“It’s a great place for a painter because of all of the natural light,” Danby said. “When I lived in London, paintings would take forever because it was raining and I had to wait for the natural light to come back.”
Summerlin resident Lisa Taylor, who commissioned Danby to paint a portrait of her and her dogs, said she was encouraged to give input on the painting.
“The portrait began to take on a life of its own as (Danby) created each element in phases,” Taylor said. “To a stranger, the portrait may feel a bit fantastical, but for those who do know me, it reveals my inner spirit perfectly.”
Pleased with her first portrait, Taylor said she has commissioned Danby to paint a second.
“She creates exactly what is asked of her and somehow adds just enough of her own touch to simply make it come alive,” Taylor said. “It ensures that her works of art are priceless in every way.”
Prices for portraits start at about $700 for pets and $1,500 for children. Other options are available.
For more information, visit nikkidanbyart.com or call 615-812-3612.
Contact Southwest View reporter Caitlyn Belcher at email@example.com or 702-383-0403.