In 2016 my work shifted dramatically in its basic characteristics - the forms and designs became more "cosmic" and fluid, my colors were chosen to suggest the radiant light of more spiritual realms and so my art was covered in only pastels, luminous gold, silvers, and pinks. Generally speaking, my art has always been a consciously composed play of opposite elements but this was the year it became only about lightness and goodness. This was the result of some strong personal spiritual experiences that were cultivated in 2016. However, this glowing "light, life and love" period abruptly ended when the darker mood created by the elections in the United States came to the fore and so now I am back to incorporating the play of dark and light, good and evil, etc., that is ever present in our world. But 2016 was a wonderful year in which I got to experience "the light" in its purest form and so now, as we witness the epic changes going on in the world, it is at least nice to know that part of that light is ever shining within each of us.
Please check out my video channel on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/mimslater
I will be adding short videos every week about my art and drawing.
For over thirty years I have been painting people's dogs and cats. Back in the seventies I did a friend's dog and then some of their friends wanted a portrait and so it went - the demand has never stopped. I never tire of painting animals because each one has a distinct personality and so inspires a different portrait each time - its always a fresh experience from the perspective of an artist. People ask me if I have ever painted any of my own dogs and the answer is "no" only because there isn't enough time in the day, but I couldn't imagine living my life without the love of a dog!
As some of you know, over the years I put together a collection of antique Japanese hair ornaments. I was touched by their exquisite craftsmanship, the refined aesthetic and their poetic quality. After a lot of personal reflection it has become apparent to me that it is now time to sell these beautiful objects and give the proceeds in the defending and protection of nature. The kanzashi will be slowly listed on ebay and all proceeds will benefit the tortoises and elephants that gave up their lives for these pieces. The rest of the proceeds will go to ending the ongoing, absolutely heart wrenching slaughter of dolphins which occurs in Taiji, Japan every year (on a daily basis for months on end). That little village has slaughtered one million dolphins to date, and all the damage is done by a group of 40 or so men. It is time for this practice to end since they also kill endangered dolphins species as well. For those of you who wish to learn about the plight of the dolphins in Japan please take a look at the award winning movie "The Cove". I am happy to become an active voice and assist in the ending of this barbaric practice.
Diana Basehart is shown below her beloved Nell and with board member Tipper Gore.
My mother was half German, so it is only natural that a German Expressionistic side would show up in my art at some point. The objects and other paintings I do are usually done in a more precise, controlled manner, but in this series of small paintings of women (begun in the middle 1980's) I let my expressionistic side go wild, with lots of distortions, odd proportions, unusual perspectives and harsh lines, with a dash of evil, all characteristics of German Expressionism.
The gold leaf and lacquer Japanese style crow table seen here (the table was Jarrett's design) was commissioned by Jack Nicholson. He liked it so much he ordered two tables more in varying sizes for his other homes.
Other collaborations include the above long checkered Japanese lacquer wall desk based on a kimono design and the backgammon table (with faux malachite inlay and trompe l'oeil items from the owner's magic memorabilia collection). The bottom dresser was done in silver leaf with painted Japanese fans and was done for Hedborg's client Anjelica Huston in the 1980's.
In the 1980’s I also made a series of very small magical space form inspired paintings (such as the one at the bottom right which is 3.5 x 2". More of my surreal paintings can be seen at miriamslaterart.com).
Over the years my work has been used in commercial applications with good results. My clients included businesses such as Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles (see previous blog on this project), Asahi Beer, Tiffany's, the Arabian fashion company Bara Boux and various fashion designers including Bob Mackie and Donald Pliner. In the mid 1970's my artwork was featured in this billboard for Asahi Beer which was installed on one of the coolest streets in the world, the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, Ca. The folks at Asahi liked the design so much that they used it on t-shirts, table cards, menus and the like and the design won several awards that year.
Mistake #2 is the failure to establish the position of the complete figure on the page resulting in a drawing in which heads, arms or feet end up getting unintentionally cut off because the artist has run out of room on the paper. The solution is to put in underlying structure lines first, over which sub-forms can be placed. Be sure to include the top of the head and the bottom of the feet in your initial rendering plus some extra space for the margins. It sounds simple enough but it is amazing how many people will forget to do it.
Mistake #3 is the unintentional straightening of angles on the model (angles are important because they show how much the model is leaning). It is done unconsciously on our part and must be compensated for continually. Because most people aren’t aware of this tendency the problem never gets addressed in their drawings with the result that the model looks stiff. The solution is to start to draw the angles just as you see them but then to exaggerate the angle further to compensate for your innate tendency to straighten things. The effect is that your drawing will appear to be more accurate. You have to go out of your comfort zone and force things a bit, but to the viewer the drawing will look more believable.
Mistake #4 is the equalizing of the proportions on the human body when in fact irregular proportions are the norm. Nothing is equal or symmetrical in nature even though it may appear that way upon first glance. The solution is to observe more closely and you will see the many uneven proportions that you didn’t see the first time around. To just being aware of the tendency is already a step in the right direction and will help the quality of your drawing. Another method is to measure the length of various anatomical proportions on the model and compare them what you have drawn – you will inevitably find areas where you have “equalized” measurements. The irregularities are what make the drawing interesting and demonstrate the artist’s ability to observe closely. Nature and life are full of surprises and so your drawing should contain a few as well.
Mistake #5 is not to consider the environment surrounding the figure, resulting in a figure that inadvertently appears to be cut out or “floating” in space. The solution is to include a bit of the environment in the drawing. It can be the smallest line, but it helps the figure look more solid and more grounded. For example, add a small horizontal line next to the heel to suggest the floor, or a smudge done outside of the figure to suggest the space – it is as simple as that and works like a charm! The old masters did this a lot and you may want to refer to them for ways to integrate the environment with the figure.
In the 1970’s I began painting dog and cat portraits for friends and the idea caught on and so began a forty year career. I loved the models so much I could never refuse a commission! More portraits can be seen at miriamslaterhttp://miriamslaterdogportraits.com/