Fine Art Oil Paintings in Ajijic, Mexico & Phoenix, Arizona ~ To the Design Trades & Private Collectors since 1998
I've always walked between two worlds; there's the real world in which I live and work, and the inner world of my imagination - where I daydream my way through colorful fables filled with exotic characters in paradisiacal locations.
Perhaps that's why I also live in between two countries; my U.S. base of operations in Phoenix, Arizona, and my Bohemian Art Studio retreat in the village of Ajijic, Mexico.
The United States provides access to art supplies and everything modern, the excitement of a cultural center offering new experiences, and my family connections. The village provides a simple lifestyle of cobblestone walks through narrow streets filled with music, dance, art, food, and friends - where I have endless time to imagine, create, paint, dream, and love.
As I slip back and forth between my inner and outer worlds, and two such diverse geographic ones, I find inspiration, gratitude, and love. And when that love becomes too great to contain, I create.
Mia has lived the unorthodox life of a professional dancer, writer and artist, often navigating the fringe of society amongst a talented underground of artists, musicians, singers, dancers, actors, scholars and spiritual seekers from around the world. These influences often reveal themselves in the subjects of her artwork.
Mia was born in Greenwood, South Carolina in 1955, but her family relocated to the west coast when she was very young. She spent her teens living in the lush redwood forests of northern California's Russian River valley, with the banks of the Russian River just yards from her family home. Wandering the forest trails alone allowed her to expand the world of her imagination, pencil and notebook in hand, with drawings, poems and stories. The forest became her first studio, and the startling beauty she discovered there became her inspiration.
Mia came of age on the cusp of an artistic and cultural revolution in 1970's northern California and was greatly influenced by the large community of creatives who congregated in the Russian River from nearby San Francisco. At seventeen she began exploring all of her creative interests; she painted, danced, performed poetry readings in local venues, acted with local theater groups, and studied with spiritual masters.
Her first real art studio was a converted school bus parked in an apple grove, where Mia focused on painting spiritual figures from religions around the world. For income to support her art, she painted tiny, iconic-style works on wooden panels, which she sold on the streets of San Francisco. She also studied Middle Eastern dance with Jamila Salimpour, the original west-coast diva of tribal-style dance and owner of the infamous Baghdad nightclub on Broadway in San Francisco. Dance and art became Mia's life and passion.
At nineteen, Mia joined the Rainbow Trance traveling bellydance troupe, touring the coast of northern California to perform at restaurants and art festivals, where she sold small landscape paintings in vintage frames in between gigs. When not traveling, she designed her own costumes and painted in oils at her dining room table. Realizing she was able to support herself with dance and art, living the artist's life became her career goal.
In 1981, Mia was hired by the opulent Marrakech Jazz Restaurant & Nightclub in Honolulu, Hawaii to perform under a 6-week contract. When the contract expired she was offered a full-time position as the club's featured dance artist, and she relocated to Hawaii permanently with her daughter. For four years Mia performed two shows a night, five nights a week with the Egyptian house band, entertaining dinner guests before the opening of the club's late-night jazz sets featuring her friend and legendary house singer Azure McCall and other jazz greats. During the day Mia took care of her young daughter and painted tropical garden scenes, selling her artwork in local shops and galleries. She also wrote her first book, "Snowballs in Hawaii," a short work of comedic fiction.
In 1986 Mia left Honolulu to accept a position at Pasha's dinner club in San Francisco, where she performed nightly with the club's Middle Eastern band along with male bellydancer and ballet master Horacio Cifuentes of the San Francisco Ballet. She continued painting during the day and selling her artwork via local shops and galleries, and with a focus on northern California seascapes, she soon became a favorite of interior designers and collectors in the area.
In 1993, with her daughter entering high school, Mia secured a position as a copywriter at MicroAge Computers in Phoenix, Arizona. She continued her painting on weekends with a focus on figures, while writing her second book on her lunch breaks - a fiction thriller novel titled "Conspiracy of Fear." After her daughter graduated high school, Mia felt free to return to the freelance life once again. She left Microage to found Old Pratt Studios, a philanthropic artists guild that served the Phoenix-Scottsdale design trades with exotic wall finishes and commissioned artwork, while providing paid apprenticeships to over 60 emerging artists over the course of a decade. During this time Mia also served as an artist-in-residence in a downtown Phoenix art gallery, and wrote her third book, "The Secrets of the 100 Golden Keys: Unlock the Power of Your Creativity & Set Your Life on Fire!"
In 2009, exhausted from a decade of operating the guild and fulfilling commissioned artwork, Mia accepted an invitation to travel to a Nahua Indian fishing village on the coast of Mexico from friends who wintered there in an old school bus amongst the indigenous villagers. Mia handed the guild over to one of the senior artists, and made the long trek through Mexico to the remote village of Maruata, on the coast of Michoacan.
Living in a palapa hut on the secluded Mexican beach, Mia rediscovered the creative passion she had experienced in the redwood forests of her youth; she decided to remain in Mexico indefinitely and focus on painting full-time. When the coastal hurricane season arrived in the spring and she was forced to leave Maruata, Mia went on to live briefly in historic San Miguel Allende before discovering the charming lakeside village of Ajijic. She settled there and opened a small private art studio, which later expanded into the Center for Creative Being, an arts venue where local artists, dancers, and the local Buddhist sangha held classes and events.
For family and business reasons, Mia returned to the US in 2015 and then relocated back to Ajijic in 2018 to establish the Bohemian Art Studio, where she now lives and works. Currently, she travels frequently between Mexico and the US, selling her artwork to interior designers and private collectors around the world from her base of operations in Phoenix, Arizona.
Mia Pratt is a American contemporary representational oil painter whose colorful scenes of exotic figures, creatures, landscapes and objects express the transcendent nature of life as it might exist beyond the oppressive social construct of the patriarchy, in an imaginary dimension where the harsh realities of the world are non-existent and only moments of conscious awareness and paradisiacal beauty exist.
Primarily a self-taught artist, Mia took general art classes and went on to study the traditional oil painting styles of Europe's old masters before discovering the works of artists from India, Asia and Russia. Inspired by the uninhibited and exotic themes of these works, she felt liberated to expand her interests beyond tradition, into the more colorful realms of her imagination.
Mia's fine art oil paintings feature lush compositions that tempt the eye through feasts of color, form and texture, while symbolism and hidden narratives peak the imagination. She combines oil paints, impasto medium, metallic finishes and translucent glazing to attain the luminescent quality and exotic color palette that define her work. Her style combines loosely-defined strokes of impressionism with delicate areas of detailing, to convey a romanticized point of view that blends realism with fantasy for an intoxicating visual experience.