Contemporary Portrait Paintings > Regardless of what he paints, Steve Forster’s primary interests are individuals’ stories and the relationships among people…
BY ALLISON MALAFRONTE
Steve Forster (b. 1983) has been exposed to many types of instruction and techniques during his career as a realist painter and instructor. Born in Boston, he spent the majority of his childhood in Florida developing an interest in drawing and painting. He then pursued classical training at the Florence Academy of Art before earning an MFA from the New York Academy of Art. Now residing on Long Island, he is co-director of the Long Island Academy of Fine Art and a faculty member of the New York Academy of Art.
While contributing to the art community as a teacher, Forster maintains his studio practice as a professional artist. Although he is probably best known for portraiture, his experience with a range of classical and nontraditional techniques gives him full flexibility in selecting subjects and styles. Forster’s traditional landscapes, for instance, sing with tonal harmonies and compositional clarity, while many of his contemporary narrative works are rich with symbolism and social commentary.
Forster’s portraits are created with both sensitivity and style — as evidenced by the painting “Black Swan.” Color-wise, this is a feast for the eyes, with deep teals, blues, and greens throughout the work, even in the subject’s skin and hair. The composition is well-designed, with the model posed in an elegant diagonal that directs our eye from one edge of the canvas to the other. The addition of a yellow background complements the abundance of blues and greens, and a few slashes of light color between the background and foreground create an unexpected airiness.
Regardless of what he paints or in what fashion, Forster’s primary interests are individuals’ stories and the relationships among people. “I’m drawn to the idea of a ‘portrait story’ in my subjects, which can take many different forms,” the artist says. “It could be based on biblical literature, pop culture, or on an interaction with the model. If I have enough time with the subject, I am also fascinated by using as many layers as possible, whether that is layers to the story, layers in Photoshop when designing a piece, or physical layers of paint that provide a sophisticated surface and make a painting unique — in a way that can only be felt in person.”
Forster shows his work at Hersh Fine Art (Glen Cove, NY) and Arcadia Contemporary (Pasadena).