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Tara Gamel

Tara Gamel grew up in the beautiful mountains of Colorado. She always had a passion for art, even at a young age. Growing up in the 80’s gave her an appreciation for pop art, which seemed to resonate with her personality. As a teen, she painted and sold images similar to popular pop artist Patrick Nagel.

She obtained a degree in graphic design in Arizona, but still longed for the process of putting paint to canvas. Tara and her husband created art together for various companies around the Valley of the Sun for many years. After moving out of Phoenix, Tara discovered her love for painting again through close friends who were also professional artists. She began painting pieces for local and national galleries, and sold many works through a national publishing company.

As she grew as an artist, she began to see a change in the way she wanted to create. She attended the Milan Art Institute’s Mastery Program to elevate her skills and discover her artistic voice. Now, she hopes to continue to create art that communicates her ideas and humor while still creating a sense of pleasing aesthetics and thought-provoking visuals for her collectors.

Tara and her artist husband, Stacy, have 4 children together - one who is also a professional artist. They plan to continue to travel, create art, and share their voice with the world.

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Artist Statement

There is a voice inside of us that we want the world to hear, but it takes being honest about who you are, and being vulnerable with the viewers. I am a middle child, so of course trying to stand out and be heard has always been a part of what drives me. I grew up in a house of women, which included my mom and 2 sisters. We had to learn to be strong and independent and I loved having that strength as I became an adult. As a child it had its disadvantages, but l learned how to cope by bringing humor into every situation I could. I know I’m painting whatever is inside of me that needs to be heard. I try not to plan too much of what I do. It’s always exciting, but it never becomes easy. Not having too much control leads to inspirational moments. I try to convey an idea and a feeling through images instead of words. I love those moments when people connect with my work and say, “Ah, I get it!” It’s a good feeling to know people get you and that you’re not alone in how you think!





Dimitra Milan

words | Celestial Williams

photography | Laura Gordillo

Through history, there have been a handful of painters that we all learn about in school. Van Gogh, da Vinci, Picasso, Monet, we can all name them. But where are the girls? We had the honor of interviewing a 17-year-old girl with all the makings of an artist that everyone will someday come to know. She’s not just talented, but she’s humble, kind, and uses her art for good. After reading her interview, no matter if you’re an artist, or you can just draw stick figures, you’ll leave inspired.

Dimitri Milan
Dimitri Milan

Does MUsic influence your painting?

I always enjoy listening to music when I paint, and I think music is definitely an inspiration for me.  I made a painting called Abiding Gaze, and it was two people about to kiss, with rivers flowing through them. As I was painting it, I was listening to the song Rivers and Roads by The Head and the Heart, and I realized the song went right with the piece. I think whatever you put in, you get out. So I try to listen to alternative, uplifting music, and a lot of love songs.

Have you ever painted a dream you had?

I dream a lot, and sometimes I actually paint my dreams or at least find inspiration from them. Once I dreamt of coming face to face with a white lion, and it was pouring rain. It was such a surreal moment; I just had to capture it. So I created the piece Quiet of the Whirlwind, which is a girl and a white lion with lightening and storms inside them.

When someone looks at your paintings, what are you hoping they feel?

I hope when someone looks at my paintings they feel like they've stepped into another realm. I hope they feel loved, inspired, and hopeful. I want my art to ultimately help others reach their destiny. I want them to realize their purpose, potential, and understand their worth.

Where do you find inspiration?

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 me what to paint next. He places this need in my heart to create a certain image. I hang on to that vision or memory and start from there. I pray and ask, "What’s next?" and it comes to me.

Where is your favorite place you’ve traveled because of your art?

My favorite place I've ever traveled to has to be Greece. I've been to many places including Paris, Prague, Ukraine, and Budapest. I’ve also been to Hawaii, and many other states, but Greece is by far my favorite. I love everything about the country, and I feel like I belong. Part of my heritage is Greek, so we travel there often. I can't describe how much I love it there!

Dimitri Milan

How have your parents influenced your art?

My parents are my teachers. They are both professional artists. They’ve influenced me with their different painting techniques, and they also taught me a lot about how to have a  good work ethic. There will always be blocks, but you can overcome them each time if you don't give up.

What does a typical day in your shoes look like?

I wake up at 7 AM and start my day with a ride on my horse Carmela. I usually ride with my sisters and my mom. We ride out in the cotton and corn fields by our house, or across the street into the sandy wash. We sometimes run into my friend Sydney, or other people we know. It’s a great way to start your day connecting with your horse and being outside in nature. Then I get to work, usually around 9 AM and I put my headphones on and disappear into my zone and paint until lunch, take a break and paint again until around 5 PM. In the evenings I sometimes help my mom teach in our art school. If classes are not happening, I go out with friends to the movies or get something to eat or shop.

Describe your style.

I would describe my style as dreamy, feminine, slightly surreal, and powerful imagery of woman and nature.

What are your thoughts on symbolism?

For me, symbolism is a natural language. A symbol does not just replace what it symbolizes; it has the ability to create a multifaceted deeper meaning of an idea or emotion I am creating. Symbolism is a poetic teacher, a guide into a slightly distant realm that brings the vision there back to us in a way that can be understood visually and without words. Symbolism can be simultaneously speaking about multiple things. Symbolism can be both open ended and specific all at once.

Do you believe all things are possible?

I believe all things are possible because they are. To live a life of excellence or greatness and be a world changer, you have to begin with believing that anything is possible. I believe in every person there is a portion of divinity, and we all have access to God who makes all things possible. What desire we have in our hearts that are good, life-giving, loving and just, are there for the purpose of manifesting in our lifetime. We have dreams inside of us waiting to be fulfilled, and it all begins with the belief that they are possible.

How have you used your art to help others?

I have used my art to help others through charities like Comfy Cozy's for Chemo, Anasazi, and Cardon Children's Hospital. But maybe more significantly I think my art helps others in the way of beauty, inspiration, hope and the desire to believe for better.

What is your self-talk like in your head?

I've been raised to believe 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.

Last words...

You can do anything you set your heart to. Dreams are living, and they can become your reality. It takes focus, passion, setting goals, and determination for success. So dream fearlessly, and go after the life you’ve imagined. You are a powerful spirit, placed on this earth with a destiny and a purpose. You are gifted with your own unique voice, and the world is waiting to hear it.

Dimitri Milan

Find out more about Dimitra and purchase her artwork on her website here: 



Express Yourself    

words & art | Rita Barakat                        

We all do art in elementary school, but there came a point early on, maybe with the loss of my grandmother, that art became more than doodling; it became a way to deal with the realities of life.

For years nobody ever even saw my art. I didn’t think it was good and it was personal. Through art, I found ways to say things that I could, or would not share. Art is a healthy way to deal with feelings that seem overwhelming or frustrating. Once I get going, those feelings slowly slip away, and I find peace in the stillness of creating.

Rita painting in her studio...

Rita painting in her studio...

The canvas: Your work does not have to be on canvas, it could be an art journal, a sketch pad, or even a loose sheet of paper. The surface doesn’t matter; it’s what you do with it. I love using art journals found at your local craft store. I recommend keeping and dating them so you can see your progress.

The medium: Use whatever you feel comfortable with, and don’t be afraid to experiment! You can try using paint, markers, pastels (chalks), collage (tearing & gluing other papers onto your project), anything goes! Don’t be afraid to bring in other elements for texture if desired for example sand, dirt, and glitter. If you feel like you can’t draw something, tear it out of a magazine and glue it on!

Symbolism:  You can attach items that mean something to you using glue or a gel medium. For example, if I were making art to represent my grandmother after she passed away, my colors would be dark and gray, perhaps clouds and rain (to show sorrow). I would find a way to add buttons or a needle and thread (she was a seamstress). I might use hearts (love), a dove or wings (peace). Today I would make the art about her with lighter colors, using clocks (time). Time heals our hearts; it’s not just a cliché. I remember her during happy times, so I would add sunshine (happiness), flowers (for beauty), or hearts (love). The symbols don’t have to make sense to others; it just has to make sense to you.

Color:  The colors in your art tell a story and affect the feel of an art piece. Darker colors like black and gray can portray sadness, depression, anxiety or fear. Reds, oranges, and blacks can represent anger or love and passion. Blues and greens can describe peace and tranquility, while yellows, pinks, and bright colors can represent starting over and hope.

Secret messages: Sometimes you might feel the need to express yourself in words, but other times you don’t want anyone else to read them. One way to do this is to write out your feelings directly on the project first, then paint right over it. You may leave some words exposed or cover them up entirely. You could also fold a small paper in half, write your notes inside, glue it to your project then paint right over it. Lift one side before it dries or let the paint seal it shut.

Finding the right words: Have you ever listened to the lyrics of a song and thought that’s exactly how I feel? Find a song, poem, quote or scripture that you identify with right now. It could even be as simple as one line. Use this to inspire your art piece. You may choose to incorporate the saying into your work, but it’s not necessary! You can print it out and glue it down, or tear it out of different words from a magazine.