Dimitra Milan @dimitramilan
words | Celestial Williams, @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.
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!
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.
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.