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Rubina Dyan: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman

Globalism is part of the art and life of 19-year-old painter and model Rubina Dyan. The Armenian-born beauty seems to approach both her craft and her profession as a world tour of happy accidents.

“It does look like a map sometimes and it has faces in it,” she reflects on her current series of paintings. “It’s kind of a colorful, continental style.”

Rubina Dyan painting on set of the Nordstrom shoot

Dyan’s recent artwork contains closely cropped visages of various ethnicities in rainbow paints that sometimes resemble a topographical pattern. They are at once ethereal and aggressive: the eyes stare directly back at the viewer and mouths hang agape as if about to speak.

Artist and model Rubina Dyan on set at the Nordstrom shoot

Dyan herself speaks four languages fluently: Armenian, Spanish, Catalan and English. She is conversant in French and Russian as well. Born in Yerevan, Armenia, Dyan moved to Barcelona where she spent her teen years before moving to Los Angeles in 2007.

“It’s just life,” she says about making so many transcontinental migrations. “We’ve moved so much. I’m not complaining. It’s one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life. It’s where I get my inspiration for my craft.”

But Dyan’s family had very good reasons to move stateside. “My brother was born in 2007 with autism. That made my parents decide to move to L.A. because the best specialists in the world were there.”

Dyan is touchingly family-oriented, speaking often and warmly of her close-knit kin. “I have an eight-year-old brother and he’s gotten so many different interests out of me I didn’t know I had. I love spending time with my family. Honestly, we just have so much fun playing and being crazy as we are. Aside from art, I think that’s my only interest.”

Rubina Dyan painting on set at the Nordstrom shoot

Even on set, Dyan approaches her art like play, unafraid to make a mess or a mistake. “It’s a matter of letting a little loose, stopping thinking and getting out there,” she says. “This is how I get most of the ideas: little accidental things that happen while I’m trying to do something else.”

Artist and model Rubina Dyan on set

“I’ve been painting since I was little, since I can remember. It’s been an interesting transition to see myself as an artist just grow up and to grow a craft.”

Although Dyan primarily works in acrylics and watercolors, she’s been expanding her repertoire and is looking to take on new styles, perhaps eventually even creating a line of clothing or home decor. But first up is landing a manager and a show. “I am working toward making a strong full collection first. Then hopefully in March, in L.A., I’ll have my first show. I’d love to have my people come see it, my clients and friends,” she says excitedly. “It’s the one thing I want to do before I’m 20.”

Rubina Dyan on set of the Nordstrom shoot

—Britt Olson & Katie Christian