The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

October 5, 2013

A lasting tribute

Mural to honor WWII hero, academy

BY CAROL ROEHM croehm@dancomnews.com
The Commercial-News

---- — With dozens of strokes of her paintbrush, Danyielle Proctor transformed a blank wall in the hallway of Kenneth D. Bailey Academy into a lasting tribute to the school’s namesake.

Although drawing and painting comes naturally for the 18-year-old who joined the Walldogs — a group that travels to communities to paint murals on buildings — when she was 14, Danyielle spent countless hours researching Bailey — a Danville High School Class of 1930 graduate who was a U.S. Marine, a World War II hero and a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions on Guadalcanal, where he was killed.

The young artist wanted to make sure everything was just so — right down to the mahogany wood grain and scrolled parchment paper — on her grand-scale painting that features Bailey’s portrait and three of his medals displayed on a tabletop.

“I was itching to do something on someone’s wall,” she said.

Around the same time, the academy’s principal Tracy Cherry said she was talking with Danyielle’s mom, Yalanda Isaac, who is the academy’s food service director.

“We were talking about how we wanted a mural at the school, and with Danyielle being a Walldog, it just kind of worked out,” Cherry said.

The school district purchased the paint and supplies Danyielle is using to create her work of art, which Cherry said, “replicates Kenneth D. Bailey and his medals of honor.”

Danyielle said she researched Bailey and his life for more than 12 hours and studied photographs of him.

Not entirely pleased with the old photographs of Bailey she saw online, Danyielle said she “learned his facial expressions” and then created a unique likeness of Bailey for the mural using a painting technique she calls “laser-line portraiture,” in which dozens of razor-thin lines are concentrated in areas to contour the face, much like how the presidents appear on U.S. currency.

Danyielle said she incorporated antique elements into the mural, such as the parchment scroll and mahogany tabletop, because “I love parchment, and mahogany tables are what the military used.” Her signature on the painting is in the form of a painted wax seal on the parchment.

Three of Bailey’s medals — a Purple Heart, a Silver Star and his Congressional Medal of Honor — are featured prominently and in full detail in the mural.

Danyielle said the most difficult part of the large-scale painting is “the tons of blending” that it entails.

“I’ve also used random shapes to trick your eye into seeing something that’s not there,” she added.

The mural has been a labor of love for Danyielle, who started working on it four to five weeks ago.

“I come here (to the school) when my mom comes to work and stay until 10:30 at night,” she said.

With only a couple more days to go, Danyielle was feeling confident Friday morning the mural would be finished in time for its grand unveiling at an open house for academy students and parents Monday night at the school on East Main Street.

“When you feel it coming together, you feel relief,” she said.

“I decided to make this (mural) really important for Danville because it’s my last mural I’ll be doing here and my mom works here and I like the people at this school,” she explained. “I’m doing the mural to say goodbye to them.”

That’s because Danyielle’s artistic abilities haven’t gone unnoticed and have generated offers from outside of Danville to pursue art as a career.

Her portfolio includes everything from little sketches to murals, but her specialties are realistic photo-like portraits, watercolor portraits, hand-drawn animation and digital animation.

“I started drawing when I was 2 1/2,” she said. “I love details and making things look realistic.”

A few years ago, Danyielle said she was offered a scholarship to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The only problem was she was 15 at the time, and after learning her age, the institute said they couldn’t accommodate someone as young as her.

Recently, though, she was invited to enroll in Disney Animation School in Orlando, Fla., where she will attend after the beginning of the year.

Before she leaves for Florida, Cherry has asked Danyielle to paint the wall opposite Kenneth D. Bailey’s mural as a Wall of Fame for the school.

“It will be a wall to hang things on,” Danyielle said. “I’m going to do the companion mural after I take a two-week break.”