Jasper Latané’s expressive oil paintings capture the diversity and inner emotions of the subjects he paints. Visit his website to view more of his artwork.
When I was eleven, I stayed out of school to take a trip around the world. We lived for days or weeks at a time in California, Mexico City, London, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia. We flew, we were on trains. Each destination was a fresh canvas with its own special light and its own challenges.
It was a defining period in my life. Meeting people from so many different cultures shaped how I look at the world. I found commonality with a variety of personalities, no matter where they were from.
The summer after high school, I traveled to what was the Soviet Union. It was an important journey for me. I met so many wonderful people enduring hardships who again shattered my expectations. This was just before the wall came down. Somehow these people stayed positive and warm while struggling with adversity. People around the world opened their homes and welcomed me into their families. I felt connected to people from different cultures, seeing through their eyes.
In high school I painted in oils, and decided to attend the Columbus College of Art and Design to focus on figure and portrait painting. I experimented with super thick paint, using pallet knives and other tools, and tried other ways of expressing myself and my subject with the same intensity and importance.
During this time I painted with a muted pallet, reflecting the grey and earth-toned atmosphere of the industrial midwest landscape.
While at CCAD I got a second education in the underground music scene. During the day and evenings, I worked long hours at school and in my painting studio. At night I got my true inspiration from punk rock and metal shows and spending time with people in the shadows. I witnessed the dark side of humanity and was drawn to it, while recognizing that the search for light and beauty kept me grounded.
After college I got married and started a business in Austin, Texas. I put painting, my true passion, on the back burner. I was a “Sunday painter.” I masked my disappointments and frustrations with alcohol and drugs.
But the vibrant people and music surrounding me in Texas transformed my once muted pallet. I searched for all of the color that is found in life, not only in the highlights, but in shadow as well. A trip to Italy reignited my drive to paint and catalyzed my move to New York City a few years later.
By the age of 39, I had nearly drunk myself to death. I quit drinking five years ago. Now I paint with an energy and clarity that I never had before. I find new inspiration in painting portraits and find new ways to apply paint to convey my sitters’ emotional states.
My new paintings reflect the diverse energies and characters of New York City. Each painting is a new opportunity to explore the balance of dark and light and beauty we each hold within us.