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Scientist-turned-artist has successful new career

DEL MAR — As an abstract painter and former lab scientist, Del Mar resident Dawn Kureshy is proof that two brain sides are better than one. 

“I’ve always been crafty, making cards or doing rubber stamping,” she said. “That was my creative outlet.

“I was given oil paints for Christmas one year and totally dove into it,” she said. “I thought it was fantastic and I always wanted to paint. But my parents were very practical, bluish collar, middle class. They said I had to do something that would pay the bills.

“Art as a career was not on the radar,” she said. “But it was always simmering way, way back in my mind.”

A native of St. Louis, Kureshy earned a bachelor’s degree in medical technology from the University of Missouri Kansas City.

She had successful careers working in a lab for seven years and then in medical technology sales.

After she and her husband, Fareed, moved to San Diego in the 1990s, Kureshy gave it all up to become a stay-at-home mom.

While her sons, Shan and Nick, attended Del Mar Heights Elementary School, she helped with traffic safety and volunteered as a reading tutor.

As the boys grew older she decided to revisit her old passion and in 2008 enrolled in painting classes at the San Diego Museum of Art. When that school closed she continued lessons at the San Diego Art Department in North Park, where she maintains a small studio.

“That’s where I really got into it,” Kureshy said. “Opening up that part of myself really changed my life. I had the courage to put myself out there. I was open to that creative spirit.”

At first she painted landscapes and her cats. “I was working to find my voice as an artist,” she said. Next she tried re-creating images of Earth and sky photos.

“I was trying to paint the Milky Way,” she said. “Well, you can’t paint that.”

At the time she had an instructor who was encouraging everyone to “go abstract.”

“So I just started painting over it and it was then that I very distinctly remember making that transition. It was very empowering.”

That was two years ago. Since then Kureshy has been in several juried exhibits nationally and internationally. Her work can be seen at ArtWalk on the Bay on Sept. 22 and Sept. 23 at the park at Hilton San Diego Bayfront.

“It was a milestone to me to be accepted into ArtWalk,” she said. “There are a lot of people who are drawn to my work, and that’s very rewarding,” she said. “I try not to focus on whether they will like it but that’s human nature.”

Kureshy said she is motivated by nature, living in Del Mar and the ocean. With a hillside home that has views of the Pacific and a garage transformed into a studio, she is constantly inspired.

She said she may delve into the ocean’s microclimate, painting things like starfish, but will stay in the abstract genre.

Kureshy also enjoys working with other artists. “Painting with them and watching their enthusiasm and joy while they create can tap into my inspiration,” she said.

She describes her artwork as “impulsive and spontaneous.” She said each piece takes at least 30 hours to create.

“But I don’t overthink it,” she said. “I just do it. I don’t think, ‘What should I paint?’ It just flows.”

Kureshy’s work is also on display and available at Violet Salon and Boutique at 520 Second St. in Encinitas.

Her pieces are available for $40 to $3,400. “I think it’s a bit of a myth that art is out of people’s reach,” she said.

“You can go to Target and get something for $40. Why not go to ArtWalk and get an original for the same price?”

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