Three Questions for Koo Schadler

Next year’s workshop line up includes the return of Koo Schadler and egg tempera painting to our studio. Old as the Egyptians and made most famous during the Renaissance, egg tempera painting is becoming increasingly popular with artists today. Tempera has unsurpassed luminosity, dozens of glazes can be applied in a day, and yet the medium also allows for meticulous linear details.

Koo is a Master painter of The Copley Society of Boston. She is a contributing editor at The Artist’s Magazine and a board member of the Society of Tempera Painters. Koo teaches painting and design workshops around the US and abroad. In advance of her workshop, she took a moment to share a bit more about her life behind the scenes as a working artist.

Q: How do you approach critiques in your workshops?

KS: My goal is twofold: to offer a specific suggestion as to how a work can be improved, and to make a genuine affirming comment. Both beginners and very good painters need a mix of encouragement and critique in order to improve. An experienced instructor who really looks at any artist’s work can nearly always see something being done well and an area that needs improvement. 

Q: How has your work evolved over time?

KS: Like most full time painters, I just keep trying with all my effort to improve. And I think my work has, very gradually, gotten stronger – more organized visually and with better technique. I’ve become less interested in the “story” within a work of art, more interested in just making the best possible visual experience I’m capable of – i.e. a beautiful work of art. That is my ultimate goal. 

Another change is that I’m focusing increasingly on metalpoint drawings, often combined with other mediums (such as metalpoint colored with egg tempera). I love old fashioned ways of working and am always working to expand my knowledge and experience of traditional mediums, to help bring them into current usage. 

Q: What’s one piece of advice you would give to artists looking to sell their work?

KS: Be very professional in every respect: Paint the absolutely best work you are capable of, photograph it well, present and market it professionally, follow through on your commitments. At the same time, stay true to yourself; what you love to paint, how you love to paint. Love is what keeps you an artist.

Three Questions for Sue Stone

Leading off our series of short interviews with new-to-us fiber art instructors is UK based textile artist Sue Stone! Sue studied Fashion at St Martins School of Art and then Embroidery at Goldsmiths College in London. She is current chair and exhibiting member of the 62 Group of Textile Artists and a Fellow of the Society of Designer Craftsmen. She’s best known for textural, figurative compositions that often feature a fish.

Q: How did you first begin creating art with the medium(s) you’ll be using in your workshop?

SS: I grew up surrounded by cloth and making. My mother was a talented tailor and I started designing clothes when I was very young. Fashion/ textiles was a natural specialism when I went to art school. I studied embroidery and graduated with a degree in Textiles/ Embroidery from Goldsmiths College, London in the 1970s. I had a long career as a clothing designer and manufacturer after leaving college but always longed to start stitching again. I returned to embroidery in 2002 and I’ve been making figurative embroidery since 2006. My recent work is mainly hand stitch sometimes with the addition of machine stitch or paint.

Q: How do you work through or get over the occasional creative block?

SS: All of my work is based on ideas and I am an avid collector of the seen, the heard and the experienced. My thoughts and observations are written in a notebook or a virtual notebook like Evernote on the computer. If I get a block I can delve into a myriad of ideas I have already collected to help me get going again. I use sampling to clear space in my mind to be able to think. The samples are never just samples. The samples spark ideas and explore the nature of marks left on the surface of the fabric by different threads, paints or crayons. They provide an important means of problem solving and a springboard from which to move forward.

Q: Tell us a bit about how you plan to conduct your workshop. Will it be more structured with specific tasks for students or will be it be more free form with students exploring their own work with your guidance?

SS: The workshop will start with a short digital presentation to introduce students to different ways to tell their story. The focus of the story can be a single figure or a group of figures. I will share the simple processes I use myself to make my work. The workshop itself will be fairly free form with individual guidance throughout. Students will be able to ask questions at any point. It’s very important to me that students produce their own work not a facsimile of mine. Students will have the opportunity to use their own drawings or photographs and ideas as a starting point so they can make their own choices. In short I like students to think for themselves but never be afraid to ask for help when they need it. 

Learn more about Sue’s Every Picture Tells A Story workshop.

Three Questions for Alain Picard

Joining us for the first time next season will be Alain J. Picard, an award-winning artist, instructor, author and speaker. His acclaimed pastel and oil paintings have been exhibited throughout the US, Europe, China and the UK. Alain travels internationally as an art instructor, demonstrator, speaker and artistic advocate for the vulnerable.

In advance of his March 31-April 6 workshop on Painterly Landscapes & Portraits, Alain took a moment to fill us in a bit more on his personal practice and approach to his workshops.

Q: How does your personal art practice fit into your life? Do you work on it every day? Block off certain time periods for it? 

AP: I’ve heard it said that the good is the enemy of the best. With many competing responsibilities, all of which are good, it’s crucial to design a schedule with studio time that is protected and nurtured. I teach, lead, write, speak, husband, father, and create. With all these roles, a very disciplined approach to studio time is vital. Currently, I have studio painting hours protected for every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, and then teaching and leadership roles are allocated as well throughout the week. This plan gets assessed for each new season to ensure there’s time to prioritize the best. I spent 12 years painting every day and logging my 10,000 hours of painting time before life began to get increasingly complex. We all have competing priorities and challenges, and studio time gets swallowed up by the tyranny of the urgent if we don’t have a clear plan of action. As artists, art-making is an essential priority which must be protected to foster growth. Read Greg McKeown’s book, “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” for an outstanding wake up call on how to pursue less and gain more. 

Q: How do you approach critiques in your workshops?

AP: I like call critiques a “constructive review and celebration” of our work together. I think critiques are vital to the growth of an artist as a feedback mechanism to assess progress, but they are also a positive affirmation tool to verbally reward a student for stretching into new territory and leaving their comfort zone. Yes, we evaluate what works and where opportunities for improvement lie. But we also look at some perceived “failures” and celebrate them as new departures into unknown territory. We must “fall forward” to reach a new level. So I like to get the whole class excited about growing together, and being comfortable with making mistakes along the way to new breakthroughs in technique. Critiques in my workshop are a wonderful time of learning and celebrating together. We have fun, and look for insights into opportunities for growth. I believe critiques when handled well can be quite revelatory for an artist in perceiving the way forward in their work. 

Q: How has your work evolved over time?

AP: I have developed from being more focused on realistic portrait and figurative work early in my professional career to now enjoying the landscape, and incorporating a colorist approach into all my work. My style has evolved to allow a more painterly and impressionistic application of marks. While I still love portrait and figurative subjects, I am interested in exploring themes of culture and identity in my figurative work, and utilizing techniques that will best tell the story of each subject, whether loose or more refined. I have a love affair with mark making in pastel, and continue to explore composition and color as new frontiers in my landscape and figurative work. 

Three Questions For Kellee Wynne Conrad

We’re excited to be launching our 2019 Instructor Interview series with new-to-us artist & instructor, Kellee Wynne Conrad!

Now settled in Maryland with her husband and three boys, Kellee has dedicated herself to the creative process, revealing complex layers of paint and emotion in her work. 2017 brought the birth of the Color Crush Creative, a thriving, internationally followed online community of color loving artists. It is through this program that Kellee has been able to connect with the hearts and souls of artists around the world, discovering that teaching her love of color and paint is her true calling.

Q: Tell us a bit about how you plan to conduct your workshop. Will it be more structured with specific tasks for students or will be it be more free form with students exploring their own work with your guidance?

KWC: I believe that a workshop should be a good balance between learning new techniques and foundation principles while still having the opportunity to grow and explore as an individual. I build on these principles each day with lessons and demos and then turn over the time to the student to explore what excites them the most. If I haven’t got you asking “What if?” in total excitement by the end of class then I know I didn’t work hard enough to tap into your curious nature. Art is supposed to be a fun exploration and I am always excited to go on that journey with my students because we learn so much together.

Q: How do you work through or get over the occasional creative block?

KWC: Artists block is a real thing. I’ve learned to embrace it and accept that it happens rather than fight through it and feel frustrated. When I feel blocked, it’s usually because I’ve been neglecting other parts of my life and have outside influences that I’ve been ignoring. I give myself grace and take some time off from the expectations of making art. This usually means that I end up doing something equally creative but different, like gardening, reading, going to museums, playing with my family more or cleaning out the closets. It doesn’t take long before I find myself sparked by a new ideas and craving my paints again.

Q: What influences your work?

KWC: Everything. I really try to observe the world and the elements and express my relationship to that experience in marks, color and motion. At the moment I am really taking in the fall colors and natural elements and I feel like a child observing autumn for the first time, but in another month I’ll be traveling and I am sure the old architecture of Europe and layers of history will capture my heart. By spring there will be something about the burst of color as everything grows that will keep me craving more flowers and then in time the sky will begin to fascinate me again and I will have no choice but to look and see and feel and figure out how to capture all of that as art….but it could just as well be the stars or an old book or a conversation about time and mystery. I just try to keep my eyes open with great wonder and see what flows through me.