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) (Graeme) Well hi folks, well we are in Hollywood today, and we're in obviously California, Los Angeles, and we're with a lady who is a sculptor and a painter, Stephanie Burns.
(Stephanie) Hi, Graeme.
(Graeme) Welcome to the show.
So, Stephanie's actually an Australian and lives between Australia and Los Angeles – Hollywood, sort of going back and forth.
But you really have a really interesting past, before we we're just sitting down having a chat.
And you really come from a fairly academic background, based around the United Kingdom.
Your dear late husband, Peter was an Art academic as well, so you were very much involved.
I mean, David Hockney basically lived very close to where you where.
So you had a real great grounding as far as your past is concerned.
Tell me a little bit about all of that and how you came to be an Artist today.
(Stephanie) I met Peter, he was an Art Critic giving lectures at the Art school I was in, and asked me out and I went to England, to live with him and we had a family.
But we really lived in a milieu of Artists, philosophers and writers.
It was an amazing time so everything was Art.
people like Roger Scruton, who's a British philosopher, (Graeme) Yeah.
(Stephanie) whose worked in America as well.
Howard Jacobson, who's a prize winning novelist – all these people were just part of our milieu, so Art was night and day.
(Graeme) But even your own, your own Art academic background, you went to a number of Institutes in the UK, and even were lecturing at one stage in 97 – 78.
(Graeme) So, but you've had a real rounding, as far as the academia of Art is concerned.
But you've gone to produce some amazing paintings and a fantastic career: you've had twenty, one woman shows.
(Graeme) You've been involved in about eighty of them all together, (Stephanie) Yes, yeah.
(Graeme) and I think really developed an amazing style.
I mean there's, you know, everybody has a certain style and a certain genre that they do with their careers, but Stephanie has just developed this style were I mean, you use technology and a whole bunch of things to create these amazing pieces that really tell a story.
I mean very much a part of what you do is about family, (Stephanie) Yes.
(Graeme) and I think about the human condition from what I can see as well.
(Stephanie) Yes, I think that part of Peter and I coming together, like I was brought up in nature because at a very early age my father took us to Exmouth, before it was a town.
He was working for the American building Tower Zero up there, and there was no power.
We lived in a caravan outside from the other community and I was in the place where the red desert meets the sea.
(Stephanie) And that light is what I take with me everywhere.
(Stephanie) And you'll see from the paintings is I'm still painting that place, no matter where I am.
(Graeme) And I think they're fascinating pieces, but you'll obviously see those as we go through the day.
But you're actually going to paint an ariel scene of the ocean and Long Beach.
It's not a full ariel scene, I was out on the pier, but I guess it is my perspective so yeah it is like being a drone.
It wasn't a drone experience.
I came to California when I was twenty, so I visited Long Beach many, many times over the years, and I sort of need that to be able to paint something; I need to have been there.
(Stephanie) Because you know how it's actually really difficult to talk about nature and I think that's because we feel nature, and we smell nature, and in some ways that's sort of like Art too, that we – it's hard to talk about Art, it's something that we feel.
And so what I do, although I use photographs as a help – a prompt, I try and paint the feeling.
(Graeme) Okay, well I'm going to step out of shot and we're going to let you start on the process, and come along for the day.
You're going to see some fascinating work from a very fascinating woman.
I'll get out of here.
(Stephanie) What I'm going to do today is paint this scene of Long Beach.
So I do use the photograph.
Now the structure is really the most important thing of setting up the painting.
If that's wrong – if it doesn't commute in with human ascetics, it's not going to be any good.
So I'm putting in the beach line now and I put a bit of a curve here, just like we do actually have on the earth and the horizon line.
Just helps to make a little bit of a difference as well.
(Graeme) As well talking before, I really find great fascination with the approach that you make to your work, and you said that obviously being out at Exmouth had influenced you.
That you use Google and the fact that Nasa's got these satellites up there to create images that are, you're sort of floating above the images.
There's one It's called Volleyball – fantastic piece of everybody down at the Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia.
And you've got the nippers and you've got the rocks, the texture of the rocks.
You were describing before that it's the shadows that really help to tell the story as well.
(Stephanie) I started those paintings because I was going into a competition about Bondi Life.
You're just a blob from above unless you're lying down.
So the shadows are really the bit were the painting comes alive.
I really like these brushes, they're Catalyst by Princeton, and they do magic things for me that's why I use them.
So what I do now is probably be even more sculpture like, (Graeme) Yeah.
(Stephanie) and I want this surface to be flat.
I pat it basically.
(Graeme) Pat it? (Stephanie) I kind of pat it and I keep patting it.
And I even come back when it's partially dry and do it again.
(Graeme) And I actually notice that you've got gold, gold paint there.
(Stephanie) Yes, gold and silver.
I learn't from an Australian Artist (Graeme) Yes.
(Stephanie) who also travels the world like me and you don't see it, except that it adds that mineral quality to the paint afterwards.
Because obviously sand is made up of minerals; quartz does sparkle, does shine.
(Stephanie) Now this beach is a little bit yellow.
You know, it's not an Australian beach so it isn't white sand.
(Graeme) Yeah, and we do have sand down in Australia that is (Stephanie) White, yeah.
(Graeme) It's amazing isn't it? (Stephanie) Where I've been living is considered the whitest sand in the world.
(Graeme) Who do you feel has influenced your painting style thus far? (Stephanie) There's the great Masters that one can talk about, but I guess today, what I'm more likely to talk about is the people who are still alive.
So David Hockney, was somebody I was very keen on even before I met Peter, and I think his 'Bigger Splash' is an incredible painting.
I was fortunate enough to see so many exhibitions from living in London, cause you know, you fly to Russian, you go over to Spain.
It's not like living in Australia were you don't have these options.
Okay, now it's time for my favourite color, so this is Winsor green.
(Graeme) So, and you use Winsor and Newton? (Stephanie) I do use Winsor and Newton – they were the second company to make oil paint into tubes.
(Stephanie) The other company dissolved some time ago.
So I kind of figure they know what they're doing.
(Graeme) You've got one shot and it looks like it could be out of Western Australia somewhere.
Its just hovering above, and you can see the red desert sands that cross into the white sand, that cross into the water.
Its an amazing looking piece.
(Stephanie) Yeah, that's up at Shark Bay.
(Stephanie) I started painting the painting and I got to a certain stage with it, and I said to my husband "I'm really worried that this memory is forty-eight years old.
What if I'm wrong? We need to go.
" So we did.
And we took a helicopter and I took like four hundred photos.
I was like – this is incredible – it's exactly how I remembered, and what I thought, and it feels exactly how I remember.
(Graeme) That's fantastic.
(Stephanie) So (Graeme) It's really getting that, that perspective, that ariel perspective of life on planet earth.
The pictures that you paint, I mean you're influenced by the marine life obviously here in America, but back in Australia as well.
And we do have a whale down there who's pretty legendary in Australia, and his name's Migaloo, and he's a pure white Humpback whale.
And you've done a number of paintings of him as well.
(Stephanie) I have.
Yeah, I've done twenty-five paintings of Migaloo now.
(Stephanie) I discovered about him four or five years ago.
I won a paint prize for the acrylic paints, a thousand dollars worth of paints from Matisse Derivan.
And started painting the whales, and that's when I found out about Migaloo.
We got that population down to a hundred and five individuals on the Eastern seaboard of Australia, (Graeme) Yeah.
(Stephanie) and now it's up around the twenty thousand mark.
(Graeme) Which is fantastic.
(Stephanie) It is, it's amazing isn't it? (Graeme) There was at one stage you, with your husband you brought a sheep paddock.
It was like completely drought ridden at the time, and you turned it into a sculpture park.
(Stephanie) It seems mad now when I look back at those images.
We were newly married, we're talking about what we really want in life.
And I said, "What I" – it's like two o'clock in the morning, like young lovers do.
"What I really want to do is have a sculpture park with all my sculptures.
" And he said "What I've always wanted to do is build a forest.
" And I'm there, oh I think we can do that.
I think we can do that; they seem to line up those two things.
(Stephanie) But incredibly, within just five years we were open to the public.
(Graeme) Nothings impossible when you put your mind to it.
It's amazing what humans can do when they decide to isn't it? (Graeme) Yeah.
(Stephanie) And you do need people to follow you, you need parners in your dreams.
People who want to be on your team you know, that can see the dream too.
Like with Colour In Your life its obviously there's a team of believers.
(Graeme) Yeah, yeah there's great people, Soph probably being the key factor in the whole thing.
It's hard work but it's very rewarding.
And your son, Laurence Fuller is an actor in Hollywood as well.
He's just finished a movie called Road to the Well.
(Stephanie) Yes, that's just screened, it had its premiere last week and I was so fortunate to be here, to be on the red carpet.
And I made shirts for Laurence, so he's wearing my patterns and the silks, and I'm wearing a dress made out of my silk fabrics as well.
And it was, it was amazing you know, it's his first big feature film.
In some ways I suppose its his second one, because he was also in something called Apostle Peter the Last Supper, and that's on Netflix, and has been around for five years and has you know, its made millions of dollars.
So this is, yeah it was great to be here for the second one.
You've got a very talented family, you were saying just about everybody in your family's an Artist.
(Stephanie) Our grandparents were amateur Artists, the English grandparents and I guess that had a big effect on us, you know staying with them we always did Art.
My cousin Heidi Yardley and my cousin – her sister, Tiffany Tichel whose just finished her show in Melbourne.
And my step daughter, is – she's a designer in London, and I have a brother who's a stand up comedian, Brendon Burns.
(Graeme) Talented family.
I also like some of your other ariel shots that you've done back in Australia.
You've got one of Luna Park, and actually that was in the Fleurieu Art Prize.
(Stephanie) It's the richest landscape prize in the world (Graeme) That's right.
(Stephanie) they say.
That's how they promote themselves.
(Graeme) Yeah, even the piece that you've done of the Sydney Opera House, which is probably one of the most iconic architectural buildings in the world seen from above.
(Stephanie) Even though I'd lived in Sydney for six years, I needed to walk around, so I walked from the park opposite the Art Gallery of New South Wales, all the way around the Opera House.
Went over, got a boat, went out and saw whales that day, photographed it all the way around.
And so it's all about feeling, and seeing, and even understanding that painting.
Yeah, there's all sorts of things that you think you know something, but you have to go and have another look really.
Okay, so now I'm going to start making the water.
So you can see I'm creating some movement, I'm just letting my hand kind of move across the painting.
(Graeme) You just really, you just roll the brush.
(Stephanie) Yeah, that's it, it gives the best shape, so I'm looking for shape in the paint.
(Graeme) So with all the people you have met and known over the years involved in the Arts world, how would you describe how much its changed in the years, what stands out most of all? (Stephanie) Back when I started, Artists actually were taken care of by dealers, and that's not what happens any more.
You know, through social media, you've got to be taking care of yourself.
You know, it's a business like any other business, it just happens to be that you make everything, and other people don't help you make it.
So 1991 you set up a Foundation after the death of Peter.
Can you tell me a bit more about that? (Stephanie) Yeah, I set up the Foundation as a lecture series, I figured there was enough Art prizes in the world.
And the Tate Gallery helped sponsor that by letting us have the lecture at the Tate.
Incredible people gave the lecture over the years, there was the British Composer, David Matthews, Sir Anthony Caro, Howard Jacobson, David Coan, there was Robert Natkin.
Yeah, it was writers, Artists, we tried to get, and a composer tried to get all different versions of, of Art from lots of different sides.
The Foundation as charity still exists, but Laurence is taken up the mantle now, and he's doing something called The Peter Fuller Project.
That can be seen on his blog on his website, and later in the year he'll be going to the Tate Gallery.
I gifted all of Peter's archive to the Tate.
It's a very large archive including all his dairies, and Laurence will be going there and researching in that.
And he's going to make a film about his father, and his beliefs, certainly thought that Art creativity was the centre of you know, human life and interaction, and was the most important thing that we can do.
(Graeme) Oh okay, there's more white.
So you've got more white down, so what are you about to do now then? (Stephanie) I'm about to put the buildings in.
(Graeme) I can see that you've moved onto putting the characters on the beach.
But in saying that, there's a piece that you've done called Mollymook Beach, and you were saying to be before that you put the Golden Ratio into a lot of your pieces, and at one stage many years ago, that you actually met Benoit Mandelbrot, who was the gentleman that basically discovered mandelbrot fractals, (Stephanie) Yes.
(Graeme) and they've obviously got a lot to do with the way Art is perceived as well.
(Stephanie) Yes, there is actually an equation that is human aesthetic, which is the Golden Ratio.
And it's sometimes referred to as the rule of thirds, but it's not actually a third, it's between a quarter and a third.
I use that in my paintings, the way that I use it is where the umbrellas are, where there's a surfer, everything is done in a particular way that splits the painting and continuously into those dissections, and putting the major figures and the major colors into those positions.
(Graeme) Yeah, there's another piece that you've got called the Surf Lifesavers, and you actually do that, and then looking at the umbrellas from above, you put them into a place where that represents that Golden Ratio once again.
That's my most popular painting.
(Graeme) There you go, obviously the aesthetics are working well.
(Stephanie) Although I am working from a photo of something that happened on the beach that day, you know I have to make up in my mind exactly the stories of the people to do the ariel scenes.
So I have to make up what they're feeling, what they're doing, who they are, what kind of family group we're talking about.
People buy painting obviously for lots of reasons, but I suppose my paintings are particularly about joy.
But I feel like lots of Artists have already got tragedy, difficulty, stress, horribleness of the world sorted.
I don't, I don't need to be in that vein.
I want people to put my paintings in their homes.
I don't want them to put them in a shed because they're waiting for it to go up in value and have it as an asset; it's not the purpose of what I'm doing.
(Graeme) And you also licence a lot of your images onto varing products as well, Stephanie, it's pillows, and dooners, bedding, and a number of other things.
And you also make some really fantastic materials out of your images that are made into silk, silk materials that people use for shirts and dresses, I mean it's just fantastic.
(Stephanie) Yes, I do.
I work with designers and I create patterns for them to use for their collections, for the design collections.
I have actually made some shirts and we'll probably go into some menswear products, try and team up with a designer.
But I also do the cushions which are available; I have an online shop and they're available there.
(Graeme) And what's the web address for that? (Stephanie) The web address is aquaburns dot com and that's the the platform for everything that I do: it's my brand.
And then the Art website is stephanie burns fine art dot com.
Yeah, so if you want t go and have a look at Stephanie's work, either purchase her materials, or pillows, or bedding, even some of the fantastic Art she's got in there, I mean please go in and have a look.
(Stephanie) Yeah, I think they make people happy – that's what they say.
No point in wearing miserable clothes.
Well Stephanie's got a lot of work to do, but as you can see by the beauty of television, we've just screened up the finished piece and it looks spectacular, really, really well done.
Alright guys, fantastic day in Hollywood, at the studio of Stephanie.
Stephanie, (Stephanie) Thank you, Graeme.
(Graeme) fantastic day, we really had a great time, and you've got some absolutely beautiful work.
Now Stephanie does commissions as well, so if you would like to come in and talk to her about her commissions, and also the fantastic materials that she's developing for the clothing line that she's doing.
I mean, the stuffs amazing.
Her son, Laurence Fuller who is an Australian Actor working in Hollywood as a movie star – pretty great guy as well, obviously he wears a lot of her shirts and her materials to various red carpet events which is pretty cool isn't it? (Stephanie) He does.
(Graeme) Without a doubt.
So if you want to see a lot of that you can go to aquaburns dot com.
(Stephanie) That's right.
(Graeme) And your website again for your Art work? (Stephanie) Is stephanie burns fine art dot com.
(Graeme) And you can come in and see all the things that we're doing at colour in your life dot com do au.
Go to our YouTube page and subscribe, that's pretty cool – Facebook as well.
But we're gonna head off again and as we always say – remember: make sure you put some Hollywood? No – colour in your life! See you guys.