Living the Dream with Artist Elaine Biss

February 08, 2020

We sat down with artist Elaine Biss of Elaine Biss Designs to learn what inspires her gorgeous French-style paintings and how you can find your inner artist too.


Tell us a little about yourself, the who, where, and what of Elaine Bliss?

I was born in the tropical island of Puerto Rico, to a seamstress who studied high fashion and a furniture designer and carpenter. My mother taught me how to sew and handed me art supplies at a very young age. She provided the basis for what I do today.

At a very early age, I knew I wanted to draw. While in high school, my teachers noticed I was a bit more advanced than my classmates and suggested I sign up to study commercial art at the local vocational school. Since then, I attended The Art Institute of Pittsburgh and the prestigious Parsons New School of Design in New York City.

I am a trained graphic and web designer with a background in fashion illustration. I work out of my studio in Lancaster, PA doing freelance work.


How did you get into design and painting?

It felt like the natural course of things. Although I love graphic design, logos become the property of the client. I hardly ever see the logos printed or framed for that matter. With illustration work, there is a certain appreciation. I get to see them hanging at a home or office.


Does any French artist particularly inspire you, and why?

I love Toulouse Lautrec, Cezanne, Jean Cocteau, and Sonia Rykiel. Lautrec’s use of color and flawless composition in his posters has me enamored. Cezanne’s subjects in his paintings often have a haunting matter to them coupled with their facial expressions give the works a dark beauty. Jean Cocteau`s linework is high energy and ahead of his time. And lastly, I love Sonia Rykiel`s story, and work is simply modern elegance.


watercolor painting of a woman with a blue dress by Elaine Bliss

Any advice for women who want to begin painting and creating their own designs?

Sharpen your skills. Take classes and grow. Then create. Create and never stop. The more you do the thing you love, the better at it you become. Also, some of my best work is created with some sort of limitation. Either one color, just lines or shapes.


What ideas are you trying to express with your artwork?

Elegance in simplicity and beauty in unexpected color.


Your watercolor work is simply gorgeous. How did you perfect your craft?

Thank you so much! I work really hard, and I want to love the piece before I make it public. It takes doing it daily. I sketch every day on whatever I have around. From paper, a napkin, my iPad…  you name it. I try different tools, techniques, paints. I am constantly exploring. The moment you stop exploring, your work dies. In the end, I do hope that my audience loves it too.


Who is your favorite designer, and why?

I don`t think I have a favorite designer, but I love the simplicity of the design of the classics like Chanel and Dior.


Any special awards or big-name companies you have worked with?

I was discovered by Dior through a “Call to Artists” type contest, which I won in 2008. I also won Woman of the Year by She Takes On The World that same year. I have been fortunate enough to work for some amazing companies! My favorite is Christian Dior, but I have also worked for Bloomingdale`s, Eileen Fisher NY, New York, and Company and Pour La Victoire NY.


What about Paris inspires you most?

Paris is a city filled with history soaked buildings that hold delicious food, modern shopping, and romantic scenery. This city spawns art. I cannot choose just one thing.

A watercolor painting of a red and purple dress in watercolor by Elaine Bliss

How do you start work — do you have any rituals?

I like to wear something red, get up very early and peruse old french magazines and images. I pull my papers and watercolors, and I start painting. An average illustration takes about 2 illustrations, and I have been known to toss my final piece and start over if it doesn`t look right.


Favorite quote?

“Some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. It is the opposite of vulgarity.”

― Coco Chanel

Do you think painting is underappreciated today?

It is. Especially because people perceive that digital art, as well as the availability of digital tools, is not real art. Digital tools are just that, another tool to create art. Supplies alone can be expensive, not to mention time, effort, and whatever schooling the artist had. It is not a cheap endeavor.


Written by our Paris Network Developer, Krystal Kenney

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