G'day viewers, my name's Graeme Stevenson and I'd like to invite you to come on a journey of creativity and learning and adventure through the series Colour In Your Life.
There's an artist in every family throughout the world.
Lots of times there's an artist deep down inside all of us as well.
So grab your kids, your brothers, your sisters, your aunties, uncles, and mums and dads, and come and see how some of the best artists do what they do.
(Music Plays) (Music Plays) (Graeme) Well hi folks, well we are in Sonoma County in Northern California.
It's a beautiful area, fantastic wine country and we're with a delightful lady, Linda Schroeter.
How are you darling? (Linda) I'm very good, Graeme.
(Graeme) It's fantastic to be here.
Now Linda is an ex Aussie, ex-Aussie expat living in California.
Funny part about it is that when I spoke to Linda on the phone a few months ago before we came over, Linda and I had actually met, I won't tell them where.
We'd actually met about twenty years ago (Linda) Yeah, yeah.
(Graeme) which was quite amazing.
So we've obviously come over to have her on the show which is great; a really talented lady.
Now you had a background in design and illustration for many, many years.
Got a bit frustrated I mean you were a fifteen year old girl and actually went to art collage, they sort of gave you a special leave to do that.
And your whole career has sort of come to a place now were you've really developed your own style and a fantastic art school called Russian River Atelier Art.
School, which we're going to talk more about that later on during the day.
But tell me a little bit about the journey and where you are now and what you're actually painting as well.
(Linda) When I found somebody in San Francisco actually to study with there still was movement around in traditional arts and realist work So I started training from people that really I admired and then eventually started teaching that myself.
What really struck me was fundamentals were missing in the schools and those base fundamentals are something that we really need to teach I think the upcoming artists today so they've got choices to go into whatever realm that they want to in the art world, but at least get some of those fundamentals in.
(Graeme) Yeah, but you've got in the time I've got to know you and obviously talking about what you do, you really have some fantastic traditional aspects about what you do.
I mean the old masters, teaching people how the old masters would work and Linda's extremely good at doing that.
Plus the fact you've got six other really well known artists that actually work in your school with you, and you know, you come along to this school and you really do get taught by people that know what the masters were all about.
But today we're going to, you've got a tracing up here at the moment and you're going to take us through the process and as I said once again this is really, really traditional, but incredibly important information.
If you don't have the foundations which is really what you teach, (Linda) Yes.
(Graeme) you're not going to be able to develop anything else with your work.
So you're going to take us through this process today as far as the tracing is concerned – fantastic study as well.
Linda gets little bric n bracks all the time – doesn't harm any animals, we can all assure you.
They sort of, they all come along in their own little boxes, but she does some stuff with bird nests and bird eggs and glass and they are really fantastic pieces – you'll love them.
But lets make a start.
I'll get out of shot and you can tell us what you're going to do.
(Graeme) Thanks Graeme.
(Graeme) Okay, Linda, now you've got a study sketch up here that you've obviously done before we go to the tracing side of things.
Tell me a little bit more about the study sketch.
(Linda) Ah, the study sketch is really important.
It's great to have a good drawing for the foundation.
To me it gives me, it tells me a lot about the painting of what it can be like before I get into the painting, so at this point I get it to this and decide yes, this is going to make a great painting.
So from here I actually then do a tracing of it so I can transfer it to the board.
So here I've done a very, very quick tracing.
I'm really looking at shapes; shapes are the most important thing.
So I have my egg and just the basic shape of the nest.
So I'm going to actually cover the back.
(Graeme) So what type of pencil, is that a two-B that you've got? (Linda) This is actually a four-B.
(Graeme) Four-B, okay.
(Linda) You've got to be careful that you don't press to hard, this is just to give me a little bit of a head start.
(Graeme) And you traced that over on that sketch (Linda) I did.
(Graeme) before hand, yeah.
(Linda) I traced it from the sketch.
Sometimes I'll go straight in with the brush instead of tracing, but I think it's really good for beginning artist especially, to start the tracing.
Get their foundational drawings very strong (Graeme) Aha.
And I really haven't done a whole lot of detail, there's really no detail – it's really just the base shapes.
And from there I'm going to set it up on my panel.
I'm actually using a panel today.
Graeme, I'm going to be working on a pre-gessoed panel.
(Linda) I make my own gesso, cook my own gesso, it's lovely to work on.
(Graeme) A lot of what you do within your work is really using those natural elements and what the old masters did.
I mean all the way through, even the paints that you use which is the Rublev paints are especially made in that traditional manner as well.
(Linda) That's right.
Rublev paints they're local here and they're amazing natural pigments.
Really lovely couple source their pigments from all over the world, family owned, really know their stuff.
What I'm doing here is actually tracing this with pen and push that graphite in.
So it's really just the base shape that I want, put the size in.
And from there, I'm really ready to start painting my Grisaille.
(Graeme) Okay, and when you say Grisaille, can you, can you tell everybody what that is? (Linda) The Grisaille is the underpainting, and we paint just in one color and that really is to tone the canvas, so we're not working white so I can get my values in instead of trying to figure out the values on a white board.
I love using these brushes, these are my favourite brushes to use made by a mother and daughter in England.
(Graeme) Get out of here.
So (Linda) Handmade Rosemary brushes (Graeme) Rosemary brushes from two ladies in England.
(Linda) from two ladies in England.
So I use a little bit of medium here, it's a little bit of solvent.
I try to be as solvent free as possible.
We want to make sure that we're doing a very thin paint layer.
We want to adhere to the fat over lean, or the thick over thin.
So this is a very thin layer and in order to do that I want to thin it down with just a little bit of odourless mineral spirits.
(Graeme) Your career really, really got into being a professional artist, a lot of it was wildlife and you still keep a great essence of that wildlife in your work.
(Linda) I do.
(Graeme) But you've got some pretty amazing pictures of when you where in Africa.
There's one piece you've got it's called Curious, it's of a lion with the beautiful sunlight coming through from the back – its so well lit.
Another piece that you've got called the Black Rhino, Endangered.
And obviously, unfortunately they are.
(Graeme) You know, many of the animals in Africa are these days.
But tell me the influence I mean was it because you went to Africa or was it just something you really wanted to paint? (Linda) I did go to Africa with some friends that ran a African Safari group, and they were fantastic.
And at that point I didn't realise I was going to fall in love with the animals as much as I did.
And it was just so sad to also see what was happening and so I decided well, let me try to see if I can put some of my talents into affairs and try to make some fundraising for the African Wildlife Foundation.
Okay, so I'm using a Burnt Umber for my underpainting, and again it's a , this is a Rublev product which has been great, I really love it.
I am looking at my still life there and just gauging roughly (Graeme) Yep.
(Linda) the values.
It's a bit hard to get the values completely at this stage.
I really just want to get rid of all my white.
(Graeme) Now these are all the techniques that you teach at this fabulous school of yours.
So that the viewers out there can get a first hand situation to come and see you and these other amazing artists.
Can you tell us what your website address is for the school? (Linda) It is russian river atelier dot com.
There's a link on my website also to get over to the Russian River Atelier, and then from there, there is all the artists that teach, we have guest artists coming as well.
We all have a little different approach to some of our paintings, but fundamentals are all the same; we all believe in the good strong foundation.
(Graeme) It's these things that simply really aren't taught in a lot of art schools that you guys have mastered over the years, and gone to Florence and Italy and France and learned how to do these things.
I mean you where in France at one stage weren't you? (Linda) I was.
I went and saw studied with Studio Escalier, which is phenomenal, beautiful place in this tiny villlage.
They also do a Paris program, I went and did their Argenton-Chateau program and it was fantastic.
Michelle Tully is an incredible teacher, and so I learnt a lot from that, it was a really good place to study.
(Graeme) But also a very well known, Sadi Verleri.
(Linda) Sadi: she's amazing.
When she very first started out in a small studio I found Sadi.
I cried the first day I went in there because finally realised that there was other people in the world that liked to do what I wanted to do.
Okay, I've got a little bit of odourless mineral spirits in here.
Just going to dip my cloth into that, come out and just put my eggs in where they go roughly.
(Graeme) Yes the nature side of what you do really is quite, quite amazing and you know, just going back to some of the work from Africa.
There's one piece I think is just magnificent, it's called Distant Thunder, and its a cheetah sitting on a mound with the light, I mean the light is just superb in this picture – absolutely beautiful.
I mean some of the detail in your work but, I mean you've got one picture there called Feathers, and it's a bowl of feathers with some little ornaments and some eggs around it.
But even the, looks like Irish lace on the tablecloth, I mean the detail is just superb; it's just amazing.
(Linda) It actually started with a friend who'd found some beautiful blue feathers, and so that actually was the reason I started that composition in the first place.
It was around blue feathers.
So right now I am still working on getting the painting a lot more precise, so I have something to work with.
With my next phase which is going to be called the Closed-Grisaille, or even the dead painting phase.
So we will be coming in and painting over this in the values which are more important than color.
Okay, so now I've got that base shape and I am going to come back in and just wipe out the area where the sun is hitting it.
(Graeme) I just wanted to bring up the piece called Imposter, and a lot of your subject matter has to do with Alegoria symbolism, particularly coming from the sixteen and seventeenth century Dutch painters.
There's obviously a story in these pictures, you know it may be up to the viewer to intemperate it, but I'm quite sure that you've got you're mind set on what it is.
(Linda) It's good to leave the viewer to interpret there own way.
Most people that buy my paintings have there own interoperation of the painting.
I tend to not want to say too much about why I painted it unless they're really interested, because they have their own story to tell and it means something.
They're clearly drawn to it cause it means something to them, and they have their own story.
It's always fun fun to hear what other people's stories are, that's what I'm about: alegoria and symbolism.
It's like the old masters did in the fifteen, sixteen centuries.
Back in those days people knew what symbols were when there where shells painted into a painting for instance or a bird in a painting – there was a meaning for that, and a lot of people in the public knew about what these meanings were.
We've sort of lost that a little bit in todays paintings so I have a lot of fun bringing some of those symbolism back into the paintings.
But again people are going to intemperate their own way and that's good.
It's a good thing for people to have their own interpretations.
Well right now I've actually finished the underpainting, or the Grisaille.
The Open-Grisaille they call this, because we've worked out the areas to keep light, so you can see pretty much what the paintings going to be looking like from here on.
We've got a good foundation down which is really important.
So now what I want to do is actually paint the values on and I've cleaned my glass and I'm now putting on on Flemish White, or white.
I like to use a lead white.
I'm also putting on Ultramarine Blue and an Umber, this is the Cyprus Umber medium that I like to use.
And with those three I'm going to make my values, which is mixing them to neutral greys.
I've also taken out the orderless mineral spirits; I don't use solvents from here out, so we're minimal on our solvents.
I'm actually just using linseed oil, just a nice refined linseed oil here, and I'm going to actually start with just mixing my two darks together.
I try to get a fifty-fifty of using the Ultramarine Blue and the umber, try to and come up with fairly neutral in between.
From there I'm going to start adding a little bit of white to that.
And mix about four to five different values in that stream.
So there we go down to our mids, a bit more white down here.
So I want to down to barely any extra pigment in this white – just a little bit.
It's amazing how different that will be from the actual plain white when we put the two up together.
So here I have just a what I call my value stream here.
From here I can by blending the two together in between these color pots I can get the ten values I need or more.
So I start off with my background, I'm going into just check carefully what my value is.
Values are really, really important.
It's more important than color, you've got to have your values down right.
Now there's a lot of detail that I'm still not putting in.
I'm still looking at shapes.
As the light hits here, and the form continues to turn around, there'll be what we call the terminator line.
The terminator line is actually here, which is where the sun no longer sees the rounded object.
As it turns around that form, anything that's reflecting from the other side is going to start reflecting back in, way over here on the right hand side.
So we're actually going to be lightning up again on this edge.
Never as light as over here, but it is going to definitely be lighter on that edge, and the darkest points are going to be here on that terminator line or appels line.
Some people call it the bed-bug line.
There's a few different terminologies for it, but really that's what's happening.
As the form is turning and the light ray is going past and the dark side is starting to come in, there's a lot of ellipsis to deal with here too.
So I'm always going to be coming back and checking my ellipsis.
And then as we come around that form we're getting reflected light.
New students have the hardest time because they realise what, oh my gosh, I've got to do that, and I've got to do it again, I've got to do it again.
But when they finally get through a painting and they stand back, and some of my students have never held a brush in their life, they are so proud of what they've done, that it makes it easier for them to pick up the brush and start another painting.
Because they realise what they can do just from having that foundational knowledge.
It really is a step by step, there's definitely no doubt about that, but once you've got that foundation and you do it well, you need to put miles behind the brush – I can't stress that enough; a lot of practice.
Right now I want to get into that egg.
Now there is definite terminator in this egg, the light's coming in this way – that's going to be the lightest area of the egg.
So I'm going to put my terminator in around here, right there.
(Graeme) The terminator's the darkest color after the light's gone through.
(Linda) The darkest as the light passes and that egg is turning.
When you paint an egg, actually an egg is one of the best things to start painting on.
Really see how that turns and I want to make sure that I keep my highlight area free of paint at this point.
(Graeme) So what you've done, is you've actually prepared another piece because of the fact that your work takes so long to do.
So we're going to move onto that one and you can show us some more techniques on that as well.
There you go.
(Linda) Thanks, Graeme.
(Graeme) Well done.
(Linda) So this one I've prepared with the color layer, and I like to really build the chroma up, much higher chroma.
So I tend to take away everything from the previous palette.
Clean my glass and bring out high chroma.
So I use a triad and I'm not, I don't use any black and at this point I don't use any umbers or earth colors.
So I use a warm and a cool yellow, a warm and a cool blue, and a warm and a cool red.
Okay, so right now what I'm going to do, Graeme is mix the yellows.
I'm going to mix that with a Cerulean Blue.
I've got my warm blue and my cool yellow together is going to make a lovely green and it's a very chromatic green.
And I have that from there I'm going to take my cool red and my warm blue, mix those two together to get my dark it's a purple.
it's really again rich, chromatic: beautiful.
And I'm also going to take my Ultramarine Blue and my Vermillion mix these together gives me an earthy color although it's still very chromatic.
From there you can get picture of what's going on here by mixing these colors together.
Look how chromatic that is.
(Linda) Now you might say there's nothing on here that you see that's going to need something as bright and as rich as that.
But actually in this mahogany base, there is this color right here in the reflection as it's, as the light is hitting the base it's very cool, and so I use all of these bright colors to in fact paint this entire layer of, of the painting, and I will continue to paint this.
It's going to be a very slow process from here on.
If you'd like to find out a little bit more about the colors in the mix and the color theory behind it – it's very complex, but I will have something up on my website.
If you would like to go and visit the website you can hear more about how we use these colors and why we use them, and how they work against each other.
And so I'm just going to continue to paint this painting and eventually you'll see it finished.
(Graeme) And because of the beauty of TV, and we do this a lot of course, but we're just screening up the finished piece at the moment.
As you can see and once again a beautifully constructed painting by a Master Artist under any circumstances.
Okay, two Australians in Sonoma County, in Northern California and we had a great day.
(Linda) It's been fun.
thank you so much, Graeme.
(Graeme) I'm so glad you could come on the show and what a fantastic lady obviously living in the States these days.
We also just wanted to mention once again Rosemary and Co, probably some of the best paintbrushes you'll get in the world and Rublev, which is a locally made oil paint as well, and this is all hand made.
You know these guys personally don't you? (Linda) Yes, natural pigments.
There amazing – great couple, it's a family owned company.
(Graeme) That's fantastic.
(Linda) They're doing great stuff.
(Graeme) Oh fantastic, I mean the brushes are superb, they really are.
You're address again? (Linda) www dot russian river atelier dot com or linda schroter dot com, either way you'll get to one of us.
(Graeme) A really talented woman with some amazingly talented people around her as well.
Also come and see us at colour in your life dot com au and on our Facebook page and our YouTube page.
As you can see we are back in America, we love coming over here.
There's some amazingly talented people in this country and Linda is one of them, so come in and say hi to her.
As we always say guys – remember – until we see you again: make sure you put some colour in your life.
(Graeme) See you guys.