I love the writing of C.S. Lewis. One of my favorites of his, “The fact that our hearts yearn for something the earth can’t supply, is proof that heaven is our home.” This quote inspires me in my art. I feel like painting is a way to reach into heaven and capture those visions, bringing them to existence in this world. And this how I think we can change the world.
What’s your name and where are you from?
My name is Dimitra Milan and I was born in Atlanta, Georgia. I’ve lived in Arizona almost my whole life, but when I was only 6 months old, my parents decided to move to Greece. So we lived there for about 6 months, I had my first birthday there. I think this is part of the reason why I feel so connected to Greece, it was engrained in me from a very early age. Also, my mom is 1/2 Greek and we travel there almost every summer. My family moved there again for another 6 months when I was 5 years old. I really hope one day to live there again!
How did you get started?
I create dreamy, surreal oil paintings. I mostly paint woman and animals/nature together, I love the idea of each piece telling a story. I work with mostly oil paints, but sometimes I use acrylics or collage for the underneath layers. I love having lots of layers and different depths appear in my artwork. I would describe my style as dreamy, feminine, slightly surreal, and powerful imagery of woman and nature.
I began painting when I was 12 at an art school my parents just opened, the Milan Art Institute. They taught everything; classical oil techniques, drawing, abstract/mixed media, and collage. I learned many of my skills from them. My parents were a major factor for me advancing into my art career, they helped pave the way. They are professional artists themselves, making a living selling their artwork. It wasn’t until I took their Portfolio class, that I figured out my life-long passion would be art. Somewhere along the way in that class, I found my voice as an artist. I realized creating these surreal atmospheres with dreamlike qualities, and telling a story, was something unique. I need to hold onto it. I needed to pursue this, I felt strongly I could really take it far. The more I painted, the better I became. Opportunities unfolded, and doors opened for me. This was how I knew being an artist was my calling. I thoroughly enjoy it.
What Inspires you?
I find inspiration everywhere. Music, travel, photo shoots, dreams, but mostly I feel like it comes from God. I believe He gives me these ideas, He shows what to paint next. He places this need in my heart, to create a certain image. And I hang on to that vision or memory, and start from there. I pray and ask, what’s next?, and it comes to me.
Seeing the impact I’m making in other people’s lives keeps me motivated. I know I’m inspiring others by doing what I’m doing. Ultimately, my goal is to help others realize their purpose in life and help them live out their true destiny. I’m motivated because I know this is my true calling, without a doubt, I know this is what I’m meant to do with my life. I feel on track, and that’s one of the best feelings. Considering all the occupations, I would choose this life over anything else.
I think my artwork is influenced mostly from my spirituality and having a connection with God. I think each painting was brought to existence for a reason. Each piece was meant for someone, to speak life to them and give them hope.
What are some challenges you have faced and what advise would you give?
I’ve been raised that all those doubtful and negative thoughts that go on in your head, are just lies and you shouldn’t believe them. When I am frustrated on a certain piece, I try very hard to ignore the negativity that goes on inside and just remind myself what is true. It happens rarely to me, because it never goes very far. Sometimes I’ll just set the painting aside, and work on something else. And when I accomplish something on that piece, I can go back to the one giving me trouble and I find I’m able to get past.
How have you grown and developed as an artist or creative person?
Being creative, I think definitely translates to other areas of my life. I love writing, especially poetry. I like to decorate, do photography, and cook. There’s just apart of who I am that wants to make what’s around me more beautiful. It’s not just an outlet, it’s my whole lifestyle. I love changing the atmosphere, and turn it to something better than before. I have to create. I think constantly being in your right brain, is addictive. Inside every person, there’s a childlike part of them that wants to create. Not everyone has awoken that side to them, but I think they should.
What are some of your goals as an artist?
I have many life goals, but I’m so new to living out this dream and working full time in my art career, that this all I’m focusing on. In the next few years, I see myself traveling more to Europe and having my art sold more internationally. One day I’d like to move to Greece, or at least live there for some time.
What is your creative process like?
The creative process is something that changes all the time for me. For the most part, when I’m about to start a new piece, I’m inspired from a vision I see in my head. I’ll find several pictures/photography I’ve taken myself or from online, and I paint from the photos, trying to capture what I saw. I start with a loose under painting, getting the major shapes in. Then I’ll put in several hours, and layers of oil paint to get the end result. I’m done with it when I’m love with every area of the painting.
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