Striving for a creative balance in her life, Jacqueline DelBrocco, Wittenberg class of 2007, works two jobs in seemingly unrelated fields. In her day job, she is a software designer, but in her flourishing side hustle, she’s a live event painter.
"I’ve always thrived on sort of a duality mindset,” said DelBrocco, who earned both a BFA in studio art with a concentration in painting and a B.A. in biology, along with a minor in art history. “Art and biology, painting and tech...it helps me feel the most balanced."
Originally from Chesterland, Ohio, DelBrocco has found opportunities for creativity in the five years she has worked for Matrix Pointe Software in Cleveland.
"There’s a lot of opportunity for creative people in technology, and to be honest, I love my day job almost as much as I love painting,” she said.
Her side hustle began on a whim when a friend suggested she accompany her musician husband on a gig and paint him live. That experience was followed by a live event painting of the 50th anniversary celebration of The Ratner School held at the Cleveland Museum of Art in 2013, where her painting was auctioned off in support of the school.
Things took off from there as she painted live events for organizations such as the Cleveland Cavaliers, the American Heart Association, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and the National Huntington's Disease Society of America, where her painting raised $5,000 for the nonprofit. A referral by the Cleveland Museum of Art led to painting weddings, which now make up 90 percent of her business and have taken her to Lake Tahoe; Seattle, Washington; and Baltimore, Maryland. She still reserves a few weekends for causes she believes in, too. A surge in orders has now allowed her to decide with whom she works, as well.
“Lucky for me, there is a great interest in live wedding painting and not a lot of people who do it, so one of my biggest problems is constantly having to say no to people because I’m already booked," she said.
Along her career path, DelBrocco has had a variety of experiences post-Wittenberg, including owning and operating an art gallery, directing large multi-media arts showcases in downtown Cleveland, and creating a variety of public art pieces, including outdoor murals and painted sculptures.
DelBrocco’s duality mindset has also pushed her to hone her “soft skills.”
"There are talented people everywhere, but if you have talent and can’t figure out how to put it to use, it doesn’t matter,” she said. “It’s about recognizing opportunities, then outlining the plan to realize your vision, having the motivation to execute those plans, and the dedication to follow through.
“Soft skills of interacting with people and communicating effectively in ways that get them on board with your vision...that’s how you make things happen,” she continued. “My time at Wittenberg prepared me for this. Constantly juggling different responsibilities and studying different disciplines helped me become a well-rounded person with a unique perspective."
At Wittenberg, DelBrocco served as vice president of programming for Delta Gamma, vice president of scholarship on Panhellenic Council, and president of the Wittenberg Art League. She was also a member of The American Institute of Biological Sciences and studied abroad in Rome.
She is confident she wouldn't be where she is today without the liberal arts education she received at Wittenberg, which she said pushed her, prepared her, and gives her an advantage over other artists.
"When you’re a creative person, you can’t be expected to fit into a one-size-fits-all career path,” she said. “Wittenberg is certainly not a school for people who are happy believing in the one-size-fits-all mindset. Wittenberg is a school for individuals [who] are encouraged to think independently and draw conclusions on their own instead of always being told specifically how to do things. The future is built on creativity and innovation, not by people who do what they are told to do, but by people who think independently and come up with new and better ways to do things."
The art program at Wittenberg also helped take DelBrocco’s painting skills to the next level, exposing her to the magic of impressionist painting. She still uses the same recipe for her flesh palette that she learned in Professor Ed Charney’s portrait painting classes.
Although influenced by a variety of painting styles she learned as a student, DelBrocco says impressionist painters like Renior have had the biggest impact on her personal painting style that she has developed to capture the important events she witnesses.
"For me, gestural, painterly impressionism is unquestionably the best style to capture the great energy and excitement of an event – especially weddings,” she said. “They always say your wedding day will feel like one big blur, and I try to capture that in my paintings. One big blur of happiness and love, all your favorite people in the same place at the same time – I always say if that doesn’t deserve to be a work of art, I don’t know what does."
Experiencing these monumental moments in people's lives is not only rewarding for her, but results in a unique piece of artwork for the couple.
"Art provides such a special way to communicate with people and share personal experiences,” DelBrocco said. “Every live wedding painting is a one-of-a-kind memory and a unique work of art made up of many tiny stories and behind-the-scenes details. I love it because I get to be a special part of so many amazing, once-in-a-lifetime celebrations and help immortalize those memories for people with my art in a way that can be cherished by their families for generations."
DelBrocco has worked hard, created a niche, and found success, but as with all great artists, she doesn't plan to stop growing and striving to be even better.
"When it comes to creating art, a finish line doesn’t exist,” she said. “You can always improve the quality of the art you’re making, you can always continue to evolve and get better. My hope is that I can continue painting weddings and other events for the rest of my life, traveling to exciting new places to do so, and meeting more amazing people along the way. I’m excited to see what the future holds, what new opportunities arise and what new creative adventures are out there."
-By Devon Atchison ’19, Office of University Communications