Frequently Asked Questions
Below is a list of the most commonly asked questions concerning my New Hampshire studio workshops. Feel free to email if you have other questions.
- Workshop Descriptions
- Workshop Logistics
(class size, hours, materials, imagery)
- About Koo’s Teaching
- Food and Accommodations
1. Workshop Descriptions
What courses do you offer?
I teach the following workshops:
How often do you teach these workshops?
I teach approximately 4 to 5 workshops mostly at my NH studio, occasionally at outside venues. I do not teach all workshops every year. However, I always offer Egg Tempera I as that is the only class in which we make traditional gesso panels from scratch.
Do you offer any online teaching?
I developed one, on-line class, produced and hosted by Acorn Arts. It's a very effective course and and is now open for Enrollment with Unlimited Access:
I do not anticipate, at this time, developing any additional on line teaching. While it's a joy to share egg tempera with students from around the world, I'm trying to minimize time spent in front of the computer.
What is egg tempera painting?
Egg tempera painting consists of three simple ingredients: powdered pigments, egg yolk and water. The pigments are ground with water to form a paste, then mixed with the separated yolk of an egg. The surface used in egg tempera is typically a panel coated with several layers of traditional, homemade gesso. Egg tempera paint is generally applied in very thin, often transparent layers of pure color. It dries to the touch within seconds. Many, many layers are applied in order to build up an image. The ultimate effect of dozens of layers of colors set upon the white, reflective ground is very luminous. In fact, egg tempera is renown for its luminosity, as well as its capacity for fine lines and exquisite detailing.
Egg Tempera is one of the oldest painting techniques. It was known in antiquity and became popular in Europe from the Middle Ages up through the Renaissance. In the late 15th century it was supplanted by oil painting and remained in near obscurity (with the exception of icon painters) until its rediscovery in the 1800s. Interest in egg tempera continues to grow.
What egg tempera painting traditions do you teach?
Egg tempera was and often still is used for icon painting but it is not limited to that style. It may be applied with traditional hatch strokes but also can be splattered, blotted, sponged on, scratched off and manipulated in countless ways to produce effects both ancient and modern.
In all my egg tempera workshops I introduce students to both traditional and non-traditional ways of working. I instruct students in durable, long-lasting materials and working methods but I am also interested in working efficiently (I want you to make progress in developing a painting). My goal is for students to understand the medium and acquire a range of skills. I want each painter to develop his or her own working method; one that suits his or her goals as painter.
What is Silverpoint?
Silverpoint is a traditional drawing medium that reached a peak of development during the Renaissance. While it is little known or practiced today, it is gradually gaining in popularity. While the medium is popularly known as silverpoint, I prefer the term metalpoint, as not only silver but many different metals (gold, copper, brass, etc.) can be used to draw with.
A metalpoint drawing tool consists of a "nib" (short, thin cylinder) of metal stuck in a stylus. Copper, gold, bronze, brass, platinum, lead, and other metals may be used; however a point made from silver was, and still is, the most popular metal to draw with. Hence the medium is often referred to as "silverpoint". Other metal objects, such as a wool pad, coin, key, ring--in fact, nearly anything made of a sufficiently soft metal-- also may be used as mark making tools.
Ordinary paper will not work with most metalpoints. A drawing surface most be coated to create sufficient "tooth", or abrasiveness, in order for a metal to leave its mark (literally, a deposit of metal). Many different paints and grounds (including gouache, watercolor, traditional gesso, acrylic gesso, egg tempera), as long as they contain hard pigments or solids that impart abrasion (such as titanium white, zinc white, silica, bone ash), can provide sufficient tooth for metalpoint drawing. Artists also may color a ground, by adding colored pigments, so as to begin a drawing on a light to mid value surface; metalpoint marks create the mid to dark values; light values are rendered by "heightening" the image with white paint or chalk.
Metalpoint lines are generally elegant and precise, with a limited value range (no deep darks). They cannot be easily erased. Like an egg tempera painting, metalpoint drawings are generally built up in many, many carefully applied layers. Over time some metals, such as silver and copper, tarnish; this is a much-prized characteristic of genuine metalpoint drawings.
What is the Traditional Visual Language (Old Master Design) Workshop?
There are two distinct skills a painter must have. The first is technique - the medium and method with which an artist builds a painting, and how he or she handles the brush, paint, etc. The second skill is design - how an artist organizes the visual elements within a painting, akin to how a composer arranges the musical notes in a score. Design is often equated with "composition", but I mean to denote more than just the placement of objects. Design refers to the entire, complex, visual "ecosystem" of a painting. Both technique and design are important, but if you acquire technique only and lack designing skills it is difficult to create good, original artwork.
In the Composition and Design workshop we study the traditional cannons design used by the "Old Master" painters of the past (Botticelli, Michelangelo, da Vinci, Durer, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Ingres, to name a very few). These principles were understood by virtually all painters from antiquity up through the 19th century but have been neglected more or less since the late 1800s.
All of my workshops discuss to some degree design principles, but none goes into as much depth as the Composition and Design workshop. The entire five days of that workshop are devoted to understanding the powerfully compelling, time-tested compositional principles of traditional painting.Students learn through a combination of discussion, visual aids, and hands-on painting exercises.
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2. Workshop Logistics
How many students are in each workshop?
Class size for my New Hampshire studio will be no fewer than 6 students and no more than 10. Each student gets their own, 4' table and basket of supplies.
What time is class?
Class meets from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm each day.
Can I come early to class?
The studio doors open at 8:30 am, so you are welcome to arrive at that time to set up or enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. Please remember that the studio is part of my husband Jeff’s and my private residence, and we would prefer no arrivals before 8:30 am.
Can I stay late after class?
Class ends at 4:00, but I will keep the studio open until 5:00 pm each afternoon. You are welcome to stay until then, but no later.
What materials do I need to bring to class?
There is no materials list for any of my NH workshops. You do not need to bring any supplies to class. One of the advantages of teaching out of my own studio is that it is well stocked. I have everything you will need: paints, palette, brushes, water bowl, easel, scissors, tape, etc….even an apron! You need not pack a single art supply.
However if you have favored art supplies – a brush you can’t live without, a drafting pen you prefer above all others - you are of course welcome to bring them to class.
Can I bring my own pigments?
I supply all the necessary pigments for class. However sometimes students want to bring their own. In an effort to minimize dust please do not bring powdered pigments to class unless they are in a secure, unbreakable container. Pigment pastes (pigments mixed with water) are fine to bring.
What about imagery? What should I paint?
I also supply imagery for the egg tempera workshops. I have photos of still lives, floral arrangements and portraiture, as well as copies of old master paintings that you may work from.
However many people prefer working from their own imagery. This is fine and I welcome people bringing their ideas to class. However if you are going to work from your own imagery please carefully read the following…
Can I work from my own photo or from life?
I welcome students bringing their ideas to class. However I do not want you struggling all week with your imagery, so I make the following requests:
If you are working from a photograph, please be sure…
- It is either your own photo or you have permission from the photographer to reproduce his/her photo. (If you do not have permission from the photographer but the borrowed image is significantly altered and/or comprises a small portion of your overall composition it is acceptable to use.)
- The photo shows your subject clearly and is a good quality reproduction (I don’t want you struggling to see your image).
- The subject is illuminated by a clear light source. The best way to illuminate an object is with a single light source (versus a subject who is illuminated by a flash, or multiple light sources). If you are not sure what one source lighting is please feel free to contact me.
- You bring at least one extra copy or color copy of your photograph.
If you are working from life, please be sure…
- To come prepared: bring not only the items you wish to paint, but something to set them on, a light source, a box in which to set them and control the light source, etc.
Do I need to bring a drawing of what I want to work on to class?
If you plan to work from a photograph (one of mine or your own) you do not need to do a drawing of it. You will work directly from the photograph. However if you are working from your imagination or from life, it is best to do a drawing in advance so you don’t spend valuable class time on the drawing. In our short time together I want you to accomplish as much as possible on your painting.
Do not worry about the size of your drawing or photograph relative to the size of the panel you’ll be working on. During the workshop you will make copies of your image (for transferring and for cutting masks). You can size the image on the copy machine to fit your panel. If this seems confusing, all will be explained in class.
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3. About Koo’s Teaching
What is Koo’s teaching experience?
I have been teaching painting workshops around the USA and abroad since 1997. I’ve taught in a variety of venues from private studios to internationally recognized art academies. Some of the places that I’ve taught are the Copley Society of Art in Boston, MA; Gage Academy of Art, Seattle, WA; The Sharon Arts Center, NH; The Hudson River Valley Artists Workshops, NY; The Sedona Art Center, AZ; The Wethersfield Art Academy, CT; Irving Art Association, TX; Andreeva Art Academy, Santa Fe, NM; Amelia Island Artists Workshops, Jacksonville, FL; and many other places.
Are your workshops for beginners or advanced painters?
All of my workshops are open to all levels of painters. My students have ranged from complete beginners (not just to egg tempera, but to painting in general) to professional, nationally recognized artists. You do not need to complete certain workshops before taking others. In other words, you can take my classes in any order.
How do you teach?
Throughout a workshop I alternate between group demonstrations (in which every one watches while I work on a specific technique) and individual, one-on-one instruction (in which each student works on a painting of their own and receives my personal attention). Demonstrations are accompanied by numerous props and visuals aids. Because of the mix of group and individual instruction, students are compatible and learn from one another despite the range of abilities.
In regards to egg tempera I teach both traditional and non-traditional ways to work in the medium. I instruct students in durable, long-lasting materials and working methods but I am also interested in helping students to work efficiently, to make clear progress on a painting. I am happy to discuss or demonstrate whatever subjects students request as time permits.
Learn what past participants have said about the workshops.
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4. Food and Accommodations
What about lunch?
There is a one-hour break for lunch generally from 12:00 -1:00 (lunch hour may vary a bit depending on the timing of demonstrations, etc). The studio is located in a rural area and the closest place to eat is 20 minutes away, so there isn’t enough time to go out. Instead I recommend that you...
- Bring a lunch. Koo will provide a list of places in nearby towns where students can pick up lunch en route to class.
- If you are a light eater, nibble on the snacks provided in class (more on that below as well)
What drinks and snacks are provided in class?
Your tuition includes "good coffee, assorted teas, and healthful snacks all day long." Freshly ground and brewed organic dark roast coffee is made throughout the day. A wide selection of black and herbal teas are also available. Bottled water is not necessary as we provide cold, filtered well water with lemon slices. For snacks there are nut bars and fresh, organic fruit and veggies.
What about breakfast and dinner?
There is no place to eat in the small town of Alstead where my studio is located and the general store’s offerings are limited. However there are plenty of dining options in the surrounding areas. I provide a list of suggestions in class. The town with the most eateries is Keene, NH, about 13 miles from my studio.
Are there accommodations near the studio?
Please visit the Where to Stay page for information on hotels and B & Bs in the area.
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Where is your studio located?
The studio is located next to my home in Alstead, NH. It is in a separate building from the house. On the first floor is my private studio; the second floor is for workshops.
Alstead is located in a quiet, rural corner of southwest New Hampshire. It is about 10 miles east of the Connecticut River and Vermont border; about 40 miles north of the Massachusetts border. The scenery is beautiful. There are many outdoor and cultural activities. For more on what to do while visiting the area see the Things to Do page.
Accommodations in the area are varied and good – but limited. Please book early. Also note that public transportation is extremely limited and a car is requisite.
Is there an art store in the area?
You do not need to bring any art supplies to class as my studio is well stocked. I have everything you will need to paint, even an apron! I also have a small "store" in my studio stocked with extra brushes, pigment kits, notecards of my work, etc, that you are welcome to shop from.
The nearest commercial art store is Michaels (a well stocked, arts and crafts "chain" store) in Keene, NH, about 15 miles from my studio.
Are there things to do in the area for non-painters?
Yes, there is plenty! Check the Things to Do page for a list of suggestions.
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