ABOUT THE ARTIST
Koo Schadler graduated summa cum laude from Tufts University in 1984 with a BA in Art History. After graduation she traveled throughout Europe, settling in Florence, Italy so she could look daily at Renaissance art. On returning to the US in 1986 she moved to California where she was introduced to egg tempera painting through artist Chester Arnold at the College of Marin.
In 1993 Koo settled in a small town in New Hampshire. For three years she studied classical oil painting with Numael and Shirley Pulido while pursuing egg tempera studies on her own. Eventually she selected egg tempera and metalpoint as her primary mediums.
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. Her work is represented by Arden Gallery in Boston, MA and J. Cacciola Gallery, NJ; and her paintings and drawings are in more than 400 private, corporate and museum collections worldwide, including the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, Currier Museum, Huntington Museum of Art, Evansville Museum, Telfair Museum, Kalamzoo Institute, and the Philadelphia Athenaeum. Koo teaches workshops around the US and abroad. Her comprehensive book on egg tempera, which has sold to artists in 49 US states and 34 countries, is described as “one of the most concise and useful books on the art of egg tempera painting… should be on the bookshelf of every serious artist”.
I became an artist out of my love for beauty, craftsmanship, traditional methods, and the natural world. These inspirations are fundamental to my work. My primary mediums are egg tempera and metalpoint. Both are developed gradually through many, many thoughtfully applied layers. I am suited to the meditative, persistent layering required by these mediums.
My goal as a painter is to respectfully convey something essential about my subjects, as well as make a purely pleasing feast for the eyes. I am trying, as best I’m able, to create unaffected, beautiful imagery. As I teacher, I want to share practical, effective ways of working with old-fashioned mediums and old master design with artists who, as do I, love traditional art.
KOO SCHADLER ON NATURAL PIGMENTS
Because I love traditional mediums and working methods, I feel a deep affinity for Natural Pigments. I appreciate not only the products but also the in-depth information that accompanies each item. The website is like an encyclopedia and is one of the first places I turn for specifics on a material or to research a new technique.
One of the outstanding features of Natural Pigments is the company’s head, George O’Hanlon. He’s an inveterate innovator, as creative as the artists he supports. Egg tempera doesn’t offer many commercial opportunities for a manufacturer (since so few artists specialize in it and the paint itself can’t be tubed), and thus most companies are not interested in understanding or promoting the medium. George is the opposite: a willing and able advocate for egg tempera.
For example, egg tempera works best on a traditional gesso ground, but making gesso from scratch can discourage newcomers, so George developed a ready-to-use ground designed specifically for egg tempera. He invited me to test the ground to ensure it preformed well, and went through several iterations until we both were satisfied. I now recommend Rublev Colours Tempera Ground to students who don’t want to make gesso themselves. Taking things a step further, Natural Pigments sells the ground applied to an aluminum panel, which is yet another innovation for the tempera world.
I rely on Natural Pigments for all my true gesso ingredients because I am absolutely confident of the quality and can look up specs such as a glue’s bloom strength and a marble dust’s particle size. I also value the quality and depth of the pigment selection; among my favorites are the many natural blacks, including Black Oxide, Roman Black and Cassel Earth.
Recently, I tested eighteen grounds for receptivity to different metal nibs, and, not surprisingly, Rublev Colours Metalpoint Ground preformed the best. I also wanted to see if I could increase the mark-making capacity of other grounds by adding abrasive materials to them, and knew I’d find the obscure substances needed (Bone Ash, Ground Glass, Pumice, Silica) at Natural Pigments. Per usual, George helpfully recommended a substance I hadn’t thought of (Barite) as well as input on how to conduct my testing. This is the essence of Natural Pigments: an active interest in artists, their processes, and the raw materials with which they create their work. Few companies are as consistently high in quality or as generous with knowledge.