NEDERLAND — A lifelike painting of Rocky Balboa, American flag draped around his shoulders, adorns a wall in Valerie Simoneaux’s bedroom.
Like the victory scene taken straight from Rocky IV, the namesake fighter looks weary and beaten yet triumphant all rolled into one — and that’s just what the teenaged artist wanted to show — the raw emotion that gives the character three dimensions both on canvas and metaphorically.
Simoneaux, 16, is a self-taught artist who started getting serious about her work around seventh grade. Now, a student at Nederland High School, she has racked up awards at various competitions, has taken part in painting utility boxes in the city with other art students and been part of various local outdoor art festivals.

“When I look at my art I see every single detail,” Simoneaux said. “When others look at it they see something realistic.”
A drawer holds her old, and new, sketch books and canvases featuring famous singers, actors and athletes adorn the walls of her room; there’s Ed Sheeran, a singer from The Hunna, Rihanna, “Zayn” Malik and Cardi B, as well as professional athletes.
There’s a painting of a triumphant Tom Brady of the New England Patriots.
There’s the painting of Memorial High School graduate Elandon Roberts who is now playing for the New England Patriot’s, which she presented to him.

At the center of the room is a large easel with the beginnings of a painting of Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints. While she doesn’t follow professional sports she knows what sports fans want.

Her mom, Michelle Simoneaux, looks at her and sees a beautiful, talented young lady and remembers back to when Valerie was young.
“When she was a baby I was in Waldenbooks in Central Mall and looked down and saw this book/CD “I Hope You Dance” by Lee A Womack. It’s about hoping for the best for your child while they grow,” Michelle Simoneaux said. “I said ‘this is my baby girl.’ As she has grown I see who she is inside and out. The song is so her. She is definitely blessed. She is definitely gifted.”

Art is not something Valerie Simoneaux will toss aside.
She works hard at her art, she said, and knows she won’t become famous overnight.
“I have my art work now but in order to make it as a professional artist you have to be well known,” she said. “Art is not something that I am going to put to the side.”