We got to know Dinuk Lahiru Magammana on Instagram when he began sharing his art with us using the hashtag #GettyInspired. We were curious how a college student came to be burning the midnight oil with oil paint and canvas, so I decided to ask.

Dinuk grew up in Sri Lanka and moved to the U.S. with his family when he was 13. Even as a kid he liked to draw and paint, he told me. Just the process of creating something—anything—was special to him.

Now a student at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), Dinuk focuses on communications, not painting. But as a self-taught artist, he spends a great deal of time studying paintings and seeking knowledge about art.

Dinuk visited the Getty earlier this year to see the exhibition J.M.W. Turner: Painting Set Free. Turner is one of Dinuk’s favorite landscape painters, and he was in awe. It was after viewing these paintings, he told me, that he was inspired to go back to oil painting. Oils are a demanding and complex medium. The first time attempting them was overwhelming, but the second time around just felt right.

Now in his last semester at CSULB, Dinuk has a long break between classes. For two straight weeks, he sat outside of a figure drawing class until he built up the courage to ask the professor if it would be OK for him to sit in. The professor said yes, so on school days, Dinuk now sits in figure drawing, quietly observing. “I don’t seek advice from the professor because I don’t want to disrupt his actual students, but I’m still grateful to sit in his class,” he told me.

After seeing Turner’s work at the Getty, Dinuk painted a stormy seascape straight from his imagination. Since then, he’s been painting almost every week. “I don’t know where my future is when it comes to art, but I enjoy painting, so I’ll continue to do it.”


Have you been inspired in your creative practice by the Getty? We’d love to hear about your work. Share it with us on Instagram, add it to our #GettyInspired site at getty.edu/inspired, or share it by email at inspired@getty.edu.

This post is part of the series #GettyInspired, conversations with creative people inspired by the Getty.
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