(Mirror) Dünny Potter grew up in the unique colors, shadows and light of Medellín, Columbia. He remembers life there as easy and fun with little worry.
“Everyone in the neighborhood watched over the kids,” Potter said. “We played a lot of games outdoors, there was a lot of creativity,” he said.
His lower middle class home was filled with art on the walls and the bookshelves held encyclopedias on everything from Egyptian to modern art. The family would look through their pages and talk about them.
“I was encouraged to draw and had a knack for it,” Potter said. “I chose art as my vocational track in high school and always did very well, always loved it.”
Potter graduated high school at 16, and thought he’d study languages in the states – English, French and Spanish – but said he chose engineering since it was a “real career” and he was good in math.
He earned his degree in electrical engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles, and moved to Seattle, soon landing a job in Boeing’s commercial airplane division.
“It was a lot of learning at Boeing, but not exactly what I expected,” Potter said.
At some point he says the work was tiresome, especially after he became a Federal Aviation Administration representative for the company. The ensuing paperwork and intense airplane certification process was stressful.
“It was job security, but I got tired of it. And I had a relationship that was falling apart,” Potter, 38, said.
Potter started dabbling in oil painting (he’d done most other formats). He took an oil class with a Ukrainian woman – Irina Kirienko Milton – who followed the Russian Impressionist style and turned him on to the work of American artist John Singer Sargent.
“I discovered one of his paintings and the drama around it and I wanted to reproduce it. I finished it in two weeks,” Potter said.
He became part of an artist’s cooperative with Russian and Ukrainian artists and met his current partner Mykhe Hesson. They were a Match.com love connection.
A writer and librarian, Hesson loves myths and helped Potter come up with his first art series – Urban Goddesses.
The two lived in Seattle’s gay, bohemian Capitol Hill district. Potter would stay in Seattle and at Boeing from about 2004 to 2014.
But South Florida would come calling after Hesson, 41, got a job offer at the Wilton Manors library.
“It was a little hard at the beginning. I was hustling clients for math and Spanish tutoring,” Potter said. He also did a stint as a middle school teacher, but it wasn’t a fit.
Potter began to check out the art in Las Olas, Wynwood and at Art Basel.
“It’s taken me a while to figure it out. There’s a lot of decorative art and marine life, it caters a lot to what Florida is, the beach, the sun, all that,” he said.
It’s also taken Potter time to move away from his sometimes darker mood of nudes and transcendentalism. In Seattle he mostly painted women, and now he’s painting more men.
He connected with the Claudia Castillo Art Studio in Wilton Manors (“I met her at a party, she’s Colombian, too.”) and showed there for four months.
Potter is now almost exclusively doing art. He’s found a strong niche doing pet portraits for Chewy.com – more than 300 so far, about 10 a week.
Potter said he sometimes ponders the decision to leave a solid engineering salary, but is enjoying life in South Florida and doesn’t regret it.
For more on Potter, go to ArtByDunny.com.