Five Year Plan

DimitriKourouniotisWhen I met with Dimitri Kourounitis recently, we discussed how his original transition to becoming a professional artist started with a “five-year plan”.  It soon became evident; however, that it was not really a “five-year plan”.  It was always the plan.  Dimitri Kourouniotis grew up in Greece and in England.  His father was an artist.  And, while he studied math and statistics, he always assumed that he, too, would eventually make his living as an artist.  Everywhere that he formally attended school; there were subtle reminders that art was really the road he wanted to take.  It seemed that there were always art classes being taught across the street or around the corner – in Greece and then in England.  He took evening classes and weekend classes.  From an early age, he had demonstrated an ability to draw; and, for the most part, he continued to concentrate on drawing in those studies.

Charcoal on PaperWhen Dimitri moved to the Bay Area in the mid-90’s, he went to work for a large technology firm.  Once again, the ubiquitous drawing classes popped up across the street.  Once again, Dimitri took those classes.  He got an actual art studio in 1998 and participated in his first Open Studios that year.  In 2001, he re-located his studio to Hunters Point, where he maintains a studio today.  With some early success, Dimitri decided to craft a business plan – a five-year plan to transition full-time to being an artist.  He took workshops with Cay Lang, who founded Taking the Leap, a business school for artists.  He realized that, if he was going to successfully transition from a mainstream 9-5 job to self-employment, working as an artist, he needed to understand the business of being an artist:  curating shows, applying to galleries, marketing his art.  It was not enough to simply make art.  If he wanted to survive as an artist, then he needed to know how to sell his art.

AbstractCanyonAbout this time, Dimitri was thrown a curve.  It was 2001 and Dot.com busted.  Caught in the wake of that bust, Dimitri lost his technology job.  That was when he decided to turn his five-year plan into a one-year plan instead.  He began marketing his work to galleries, eventually showing his paintings in over 20 different galleries nationally.  He joined the Artists Guild of San Francisco and began exhibiting his work most weekends.  He explored alternative venues, working with McKinley Art Solutions, and exhibiting his work in restaurants, office buildings and cafes.  For the last six years, he has wintered in Arizona at Celebrate Art, a ten-week long annual  premium art exhibit with over 100 open studios.  And, of course, he participates in the Hunters Point Open Studios every Spring and in San Francisco Open Studios every Fall.  It is a wonder that he finds the time to actually make art.  However, a visit to his studio reveals a prolific artist.

Shadow It is interesting to track the development of Dimitri’s work over the past ten years.  His early works were, not surprisingly, mostly charcoal drawings.  This was, doubtless, a natural outgrowth of his formal training.  He was heavily influenced by Leonardo Da Vinci in general, and Da Vinci’s drawings in particular.  When he was living and studying in London, he had the opportunity to see a series of drawings of horses that Da VInci made as studies for statues.  These works had a profound and lasting impact.ClipperSt

 When Dimitri transitioned to painting in the late 90’s, the additional influence of works such as Theodore Gericault’s “Charging Light Cavalryman” and Jean-Antoine Gros’ “Battle of Aboukir” came into play.  He acknowledges a fascination with the large historical paintings of the Napoleonic wars.  The influence of their color palette, their energy, not to mention their use of horses, is evident in his early abstract works; and, then again, in the abstracted horses that emerged from those works.  For the past couple of years, Dimitri has been focusing more on semi-abstract landscapes which feature a bold interplay of light and shadow.

 Most recently Dimitri has begun to revisit his roots.  He is integrating his early work in drawing into his oil paintings.  In landscapes that he is currently working on, he uses drawing to actually document the decision-making process that occurs when you make a painting.  First there is the under-drawing; then, he lays in the landscapes in bold, colorful, almost abstract brush strokes; and finally, he draws back in a portion of the under-drawing, in charcoal over-laid on the oil paints.  It is a way to “pull back the curtain” to some degree.  I very much look forward to seeing a number of these works in the upcoming San Francisco Open Studios in late October.TheHeights-DrawingElements

 You can see Dimitri Kourouniotis’ painting at his studio by appointment.  He also continues to show relatively frequently in the Artist Guild of San Francisco shows. His studio at Hunters Point will be open for San Francisco Open Studios on October 31st & November 1st, with a preview party on October 30th.  You can also visit his studio by appointment.  In addition, he will be a featured artist on ArtSpan’s Tour des Artistes, a fundraiser for the Art for City Youth program, which I will be co-hosting, on Sunday, August 16th, with Alan Bamberger.

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3 Responses

  1. Pretty cool post. I just came by your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your posts.

    Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon!

  2. I came from Twitter. Very nice works. I like this kind of abstract style. Doing myself.

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