When Michael Dines decided he wanted his artist studio closer to home, he just built it—right in the backyard of his circa-1905 Queen Anne bungalow in Inman Park, where he lives with his wife, Erica, and two daughters, Eva and Grace.
“Basically,” the painter says, “I created a space where I could paint the kind of paintings I want to paint.” Translation: It’s a place for big paintings—like 20-foot-long and 10-foot-high landscapes rendered in earthy colored acrylics. The size of a two-car garage, the studio has 15-foot vaulted ceilings and barn doors that swing open to let in the fresh air (and the smell of Confederate jasmine hanging over the doors).
Pass by on a weeknight, and you might catch Dines in his paint-stained shorts and a t-shirt, with reading glasses clipped to the collar, listening to Pandora and brushing away at his latest work.
Dines, 51, is a Parkersburg, West Virginia native. After graduating from Fairmont State, where he played basketball, he moved to Atlanta in the mid-’80s and made a name for himself in the ’90s gallery scene with sizeable, moody landscapes punctuated with small blocks of resin. Trees featured heavily in his work, and still do. But, Dines says, “It’s not important to see the trees. I want the viewer of the painting to see and feel moisture in the air, or the absence of light.”
In the ’90s, Dines’s gallery work was so in demand that show after show sold out. Drained by the sheer volume of work he produced during those years, Dines opted to take a hiatus that stretched for seven years. During that time, he worked with Erica, a well-known interiors photographer, to help build her business. He also met interior designers and collectors along the way, who often asked, “When are you going to start painting again?”
These days, Dines works directly with those designers and collectors. His paintings range from small- to medium-sized still-lifes that vibrate with incandescence to oversize race horses and sailboats (“Because that’s where I would rather be,” he says), to those darkly pastoral landscapes (minus the resin blocks) that have become wildly popular.
In his studio, he’s constantly experimenting. “I love when there are accidents in the art,” he says. “I don’t know if it’s intentional accidents, or accidental intention, but it’s the act of letting go.”