A gallery in Grayton Beach is filled with beach scenes. Up in Nashville you’ll find rural depictions of old barns, old country churches and fields of flowers. In still other places edgy abstract pieces, or lush, color-filled landscapes will draw you in. But they were all painted by the same artistic visionary with each kind of art owner in mind.
While the cardinal rule of retail—that the customer is always right— might seem a bit out of place when referring to art, it sounds perfectly natural coming from Vicki Denaburg. Her background in fashion and business instilled in her the belief that customer service is the number one priority, whether it’s a demanding interior designer who wants a particular style for a commercial space or a laid-back couple looking for the perfect piece to complete their family room.
Vicki’s philosophy about art makes sense when you consider her experience in the retail world. She began her career as a makeup artist at Neiman Marcus in Atlanta, where she discovered that she loved making people feel good about themselves. Her talent and drive caught the eye of management, and she eventually rose in the ranks to become an account executive with cosmetics giant Estee Lauder, where she honed her skills in business and customer service.
After moving to Mountain Brook, Vicki left the business world and spent a few years as a stay-at-home mom. “I am not a stay-at-home person, though,” she says with a laugh. “I like being busy. I like feeling like I’m making a difference.”
And she had always wanted to paint. She’d skipped art classes in school since she knew she had a “business mind.” But she picked up a brush as a hobby and began taking art classes, learning the finer points of painting and developing her style. When friends began asking if they could purchase her artwork, that business mind of hers recognized that this hobby could become a way to earn a little extra money.
She began showing her paintings in smaller art shows, which led to loyal clients who purchased from her repeatedly. She credits her association with Beau Interiors, a gallery and home furnishings store in Grayton Beach, Florida, with providing the spark that really launched her career. “So many people from around the country vacation there (on the Florida Gulf coast). They would come in and see something of mine they liked. Then they might google me and find my website.” Often when pieces sell out on her website, she gets to tell people she can recreate it for them, no problem.
Vicki’s art is featured in galleries throughout the Southeast, and she receives commissions from all over the country. The day we spoke she had received two from Louisiana and Montana. She loves commissions, even though she says many artists won’t even take them. She, on the other hand, will keep working on them until they are perfect, often drawing on her keen eye for coloring and layering to assist interior designers. “I love working with designers to create pieces that will be focal points of the room,” she says. “The designers will send photos of the space, paint colors and even fabric swatches.” She sees herself as fulfilling a need with her art, creating fashion for the home.
Sometimes art serves a particular need in her own life too. In 2008 a fire destroyed her home, which housed her studio and every piece of her artwork. Undaunted, she started over. Looking back, she now believes it was a good thing. “My art back then was terrible,“ she says with a laugh. Today a large canvas hangs in a prominent spot in a hallway of her home, the first piece she created after the fire. She calls it one of her most meaningful works, representing her determination to continue evolving.
From those ashes she has crafted a career that never takes a break. “I work seven days a week, but I love it so much,” she says. “I dream about what I’m going to paint.”
Somewhere in there Vicki finds time to give back too. The paintings she donates raise large sums of money for charitable causes. Within a recent two-week span, her artwork was auctioned off for Camp Smile-a-Mile, Mitchell’s Place and the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB. It’s the most rewarding part of her job, she says, and one that draws out emotion as she speaks of what she absolutely loves to do AND that helps fight diseases. It’s clearly something she never anticipated when she began painting as a hobby.
So while Vicki Denaburg might not think of herself as an artist expressing her emotions through her painting, others might disagree. Every brush stroke or swipe with a palette knife demonstrates her passion for people and her desire to bring a little more beauty into their world.
Find a Vicki Denaburg Original
- Gallery 1930, English Village
- Beau Interiors, Grayton Beach, Florida
- Bella Vita, Collierville, Tennessee