Camille Daunno: Painting a Life
By JeanAnn Taylor
Camille Daunno, originally from Newark, NJ, has always loved art.
As early as the 8th grade, she was inspired by the beauty of nature and spent many afternoons sitting outside with a canvas and oil paints in hand. While in high school, she explored all mediums of art, and fell in love with watercolors.
She recalls originally wanting to be a fashion designer but realized that she liked sketching fashion figures more than the clothing. She went on to major in art and music in high school and then got her BFA in Fine Arts with a Minor in Education.
She married at 24 and spent the next 20 years as a stay-at-home mom. While she was home and focused on her five children, Camille managed also to find time to take art classes on silk painting, printmaking, Batik, Shibori, and more. “I was fortunate to always have the opportunity to study with experts,” she says.
She also did free-lance work for several organizations. “At that time, the process of textile design was all done by hand. Now, the fashion industry has gone to computers and overseas. I love change and technology, but I have a soft spot in my heart for hand work.”
One of her free-lance jobs during this time was as a fashion illustrator for a clothing company on 7th Avenue in New York City. “In the 70s, clothing companies hired artists to illustrate their fashion designs,” Camille explains. She also illustrated for the Star Ledger in New Jersey.
They gave her photos and she would then illustrate the garments. Other free-lance jobs included designing a program for the New Jersey Opera and painting fashion posters for the New York City Design & Decorators Building.
When her oldest daughter went to college, Camille also went back to school. She attended the Fashion Institute of Technology and Parsons School of Design for her graduate work in textile design. As often happens, one thing leads to another and Camille decided to take a flat pattern design class where she discovered that she loved painting finely-detailed, botanically-correct flowers.
With this new skill, a design studio in New York City and fabric houses in Soho invited her to design and paint art for wallpaper and fabric. She worked for famous names such as Sissi Siska, Randolph Duke, and Donna Karan.
In 2002, Camille’s husband passed away and she was left with a need for full-time employment. She began teaching art history and fine art at a private girl’s school, and continued for the next 16 years.
In 2018, Camille moved to Weaverville, NC, to be closer to her two daughters. She continues to share her knowledge of art and design with others by teaching small classes or private lessons. “My skill as an artist is a wonderful gift from God, and I believe that what you do with your gift matters. Teaching art to others is a way to give back and say thank you.”
She also continues to feed her creative spirit. She is currently enjoying turning roving wool into felt. With this technique she makes bowls, scarves, and other wearable art.
Ten years ago, Camille was diagnosed with MS, but she doesn’t let that stop her from creating and teaching art. “I’ve learned to accept what is given, and I don’t let it rule my life. I’m thankful for all my blessings. Art helps me cope; I can paint away my sorrows,” she explains.
With all the success Camille has found, her greatest love and joy are her five children and five grandchildren. “They are all successful and healthy. I believe the most important thing we do as mothers is to instill values in our children and then watch them come to fruition when they grow up."
“Being an artist is a way of life. I bloom where I’m planted and make the best of where I’m at.”