Elaine Foster ("Valerian")
and Oil Painting
Although painting is considered a traditional medium, I prefer to
work around time-honoured techniques in favour of a method with
which I have found considerable success.
non-traditional aspect of my technique is that I use both acrylic
and oil on the same surface at the same time. I use black acrylic
paint to "draw" my subject, as one would sketch with India
ink. Once the acrylic is dry, vibrantly coloured oil paint is thinned
into a transparent glaze, and applied over the surface as a stain.
This allows the detail of the acrylic "drawing" to show
through clearly, and permits the bright whiteness of the canvas
to keep the oil colours intense. The result has a very stylized
and painterly look. However, I like to spend as little time as possible
completing the piece in order to preserve this sketch-like appearance.
Too much time spent on correcting mistakes in the final stages can
lead me to overwork it, making it muddy and opaque, and obscuring
the acrylic drawing beneath. Because of the speed at which I work,
and my tendency to let my hand run wild without correction, some
features become unintentionally exaggerated and distorted, giving
an otherwise bland portrait a considerable amount of character.
In addition, I have been known to incorporate oil pastel and fingernail
varnish, as well as broken mirror fragments, metal chain, dried
flowers, hard candy, jewelry and other found objects into the image.
So much for tradition!
am most fascinated with figurative work, predominantly in the form
of portraits. My work of the past 18 years has consisted almost
entirely of female portraits - most of them being images of European
fashion models. These women have influenced me more profoundly over
North American models, because of their look of extreme confidence,
their dramatic physical features, and graceful ability to wear the
most provocative and even ludicrous fashions by cutting-edge designers.
Even so, unlike most portrait painters, I believe rendering accuracy
is secondary. I prefer to capture the essence of the individual,
rather than produce an exact photographic likeness. My greatest
influences have been from certain painters and illustrators of the
late 19th century and early 20th Century, who made famous such styles
as Art Nouveau and Expressionism. Henri
Gorey and Aubrey
Beardsley are among those who have made the greatest impact
on me, each with their own unique way of presenting the human portrait.
Added to these is an admiration for the vibrant silk-screen work
Warhol, whose high-contrast style has influenced the look of
my technique the most.
graduating from the Emily
Carr Institute of Art & Design in 1991, I have made it my
mission to revive an age-old romantic, Bohemian lifestyle. I am
inspired by a love of cafés, alternative theatres and nightclubs,
and their eclectic patrons. I am also compelled by the darker side
of sensuality; I have been a part of Vancouver's Gothic
fashion scene and alternative music subculture for more than
20 years, and what I see in them never ceases to intrigue me. From
dimly-lit art cafés, to masquerade balls and Gothic nightclubs,
I take great pleasure in people-watching and observing the eccentric
my work, I would like to clear the nose-prints off art's proverbial
'mirror to the world', so people might catch a clear glimpse of
things they might otherwise overlook. I'd like to give them a small
taste of the strange, subtle beauty of the underworld: a Geisha
in a leather dress and fishnet gloves, the brooding glance of an
aging actress, a glamorous transvestite fashion model, or demonic-looking
statues in a lush Victorian garden. These are things not commonly
seen, or if they are, they are frequently passed over by the lure
of a more conventional aesthetic.