A touch of talent

Published May 30, 2007


Danielle Shortt loves to draw and has, she says, ever since she can remember. Her mother says she has one of those God-given talents, something she has been in awe of ever since her daughter was about 3 years old. "She could draw a horse with a marker, " said Dena Shortt, "and you knew it was a horse."

At 18, Danielle still has an affinity for horses, but it's a colored-pencil portrait titled A Touch of Autumn that will carry her to Washington, D.C. The piece earned her a first place win in the 5th District Congressional High School Art contest in early May. On June 28, the Hudson High grad and her mom, dad and little brother, Jonathan, 8, will attend a special reception honoring Danielle and other district winners.

A Touch of Autumn, sent off weeks ago to be professionally framed, will hang in the hallway between the Cannon House Office Building and the U.S. Capitol.

That caps off a pretty good year for Danielle, who was also awarded the Pasco County School District's PRIDE award for visual arts and has garnered ribbons in other local art contests.

Danielle came to Hudson High as a sophomore after attending private schools and being homeschooled for three years. Her mom and dad were both 1981 graduates of Hudson High and enrolled their daughter there so she could take art classes under the instruction of art teacher Clay Verge.

"Verge was there when I was there, and I remembered the work his kids used to do, " said Dena Shortt. "I just knew that I wanted her there."

Turns out, Danielle liked it, too.

"I love this class, " she said in between joking with friends and working on a pencil drawing in the days before school let out for the summer.

So, after the trip to D.C., what's next?

There has been a scholarship offer - $5, 000 a year from the Savannah College of Art and Design. She's passing that up, though.

"It's expensive, " she said. "Do you know how much it costs to go there?"

Instead, she's opting for two years at Pasco-Hernando Community College starting this fall, followed by two more at Florida State University.

Long term, Danielle is mulling over a career doing graphic design for a magazine.

Sounds good, but she'll have to deal with deadlines - something she's not too fond of - even when it comes to an entry for those all-important art contests.

"She usually turns her stuff in on the last day when I've got the car loaded and I'm driving out to drop (the entries) off, " said Verge, with a raised brow as Danielle nodded and giggled. "And then she wins."