Heather Foster | Artist Profile Photo
Heather Foster
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Artist Heather Foster captures an enduring image of the West. She paints the dramatic landscapes and stalwart animals she encounters on her adventures to ranches and rodeos. Heather says she has always known she wanted to be an artist. As a child, she spent her weekends and summers riding the bus into Philadelphia to attend art classes at Philadelphia College of Art, Moore College of Art, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Over the years, she's moved around the country quite a bit and done many jobs - everything from driving a pedicab (a giant tricycle that transports passengers) to art restoration and conservation (for one project, she unstretched and then restretched a $17 million painting that would not fit through the door of the buyer's house). The one constant though, no matter where she lived or what side jobs she held, she always made space and time to paint. Today, she works from a home studio in Santa Fe, painting from thousands of reference photographs she shoots on her travels. Her artwork has been featured in the magazines Southwest Art, American Art Collector, and Western Art Collector, and published in the books Art Journey New Mexico and The Book of the Horse.
Studio Photo 1 Studio Photo 2 Studio Photo 3

Artist Statement

Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working. -Pablo Picasso This is the truest statement I can think of to represent how an artist creates. It is the work itself that perpetuates the creation of more work and leads to more ideas. I have been working with several themes over the years. My interest in cattle began with the visual contrast they presented against the ochres of the landscapes. As I was painting plein air, trying to capture that, a group of cattle snuck up behind me to investigate what I was doing. I began to see them as the subject of portraits. I wanted to convey the questions they presented to me, as I was wondering what they were thinking. Since that day, I have visited many ranches and dairies, enjoying meeting the animals, as their caretakers shared their time and knowledge with me. Each animal seemed to call for a new portrait painting. From there, I also became intrigued by the rodeos. An empty field one day was turned into a small town overnight with animals, caretakers, and riders following the circuit hoping for a successful 8 seconds. In all of these paintings, I intend to show connectivity with something that may normally be overlooked as we move through the world around us. I work in acrylic paints with a layering process. I create blocks of color with an underpainting that will show through the top layers in varying amounts. I alter the resolution on those top layers to give variation between loose and more refined details which lets the underpainted colors show through with variances. The painting process itself has led to other avenues of developing themes/series of work. Texture within the landscape is also a visual theme that appeals to me. Some of the landscapes are about showing the patterns and textures while approaching the painting process the same way as my other portrait works. I continue to paint weaving through these various series- always working and always finding something in one painting that leads to the next.

Artist Background

Maryland Institute College of Art
Bachelor of Fine Arts, 1990
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