An Interview with Marilyn Sholin

Marilyn Sholin has been a pioneer in digital paint education and an early adapter not only of using Corel Painter for producing high-end fine art pieces for her clients but in terms of embracing internet technologies and social media for marketing and information. Marilyn is the Founder and owner of the digital Painting forum at digitalpaintingforum.com. Her blog is located at marilynsholin.com. (Editors note: the forum was sold to Digital Paint Magazine in Feb 2011)

DPM-Marilyn there seems to be a huge influx of people who are clamoring for information on how to produce digital art.  Let’s talk about that. Where do you think the buzz is coming from?

Marilyn-I think we have to thank the soccer moms because soccer moms all went out and bought digital cameras.  They learned enough about how to photograph their kids themselves and how to photograph their families. They became photographers with very little education.

So what happened is that now professional photographers are in competition with uneducated photographers working from home. The professional photographers needed to figure out what else they can produce that was unique.  Everyone can use the same framing supplier, the same photographic technique or same Photoshop action.  If you learn to digital paint you can produce a product that no one else can because it’s right from your hand, it’s no longer a click action.I think it’s all these young photographers coming in who are more comfortable with the technology saw that digital painting was a great way for them to go. I’m getting kind of a new mix of people in my in my classes now. One group is the new young photographers and the other is retirees.  Retirees are producing incredible high-quality work after just a few days of training.I think the influx of interest in painter is partly because painter has matured enough to prove its reputation. Its reputation is that it really is the digital arts premiere software for painting.

DPM– Do you see the primary interest from newcomers being selling for profit and a developing a high end product for their studio?

Marilyn– The newcomers want to produce a product they can sell. The retirees want to use it for relaxation or creativity although many of them want to sell online to develop an income from home.

DPM– So in addition to Corel painter which of course is the big daddy, what other software pieces or plug-ins are on the horizon. What else are you using?

Marilyn– First give you let me give you my philosophy on this.  Photoshop developers around version 6 or so really began to develop plug-ins for the software.  Corel painter is a much younger software, maturity-wise it may be around what Photoshop 7 was.  So what is happening is that if you are on a PC any plug-in that you use with Photoshop will work with painter, only on a PC. If you are on a Mac unfortunately that is not the case the plug-ins will only work for you in Photoshop.

Alien skin for example has a plug-in called Snap Art. It is a plug-in that will allow you to use it as a layer for example. I sometimes use it as a texture allowing you to add much more depth to your art. I’m also a big Nik software fan. Color Efex Pro for example is awesome. Sometimes I think I have finished painting and I take it into Nik and start playing with the filters and I find that I have now created much more than just a painting. There is AKVIS sketch that is a terrific sketch tool. There are just so many nice plug-ins it’s hard to keep track of them.

 

I do have them on my blog at marilynsholin.com. You can hover on the books tab and move down to the software area, many of them even have discounts.

 

DPM-I generally encourage new painters to study with a variety of people so they can develop their own style taking pieces from many different areas. What is your philosophy on that?

Marilyn-I encourage people to study with as many different painters or instructors as they can’t the same as you would with Photoshop. Each time you take a class with another person you learn something else, a new piece that you can apply to your style. I still study and take classes all the time.  I like online classes. The nice thing about online classes is that if you don’t have the time right then you can download the classes, put them in a folder and revisit when you have the time. I highly recommend online learning.

Digital Art Academy is a great place to go and learn online. Karen Bonaker is a good friend of mine and incredible businesswoman and a really fine artist. You have a choice in digital art academy to learn from multiple people, multiple styles, multiple painters.

I highly recommend online learning .

Each time you take a class with another

Person you learn something else, a new

Piece that you can apply your style.

 

DPM-Learning online is very inexpensive also. You don’t have to worry about time out of the studio, travel expenses, lodging,  or even food costs so it’s a great way to expand your knowledge and experience of digital painting.

Let’s talk about selling arts online. Are online galleries really a valid viable way of selling art?

Marilyn-Yes.  I know one person who has been selling on eBay for three years. She does small prints, 4×6 or 5 x 7’s and her prices are from $10-$25. She has sold over 4000 prints in the last three years. A great resource if you do want to sell online is emptyeasel.com.

DPM-Sure, Dan’s site. He reviews several different websites like Zatista, Redbubble, Imagekind, and Zazzle and others.

Marilyn– Yes Dan has done the most intense and thorough testing and investigation that I have seen. So in Empty Easel would be one of the best places to start for people to see where they may want to sell their work online.

DPM-One of the other things that’s cool about emptyeasel.com is the huge number of articles specific to search engine optimization. Keyword research is also covered. How to select the proper keywords and various other optimization aspects that will help us be successful with our websites are written about as well.

Let’s segue into talking about the forum. You were the first person to put together a forum specifically for digital painters, at least on the fine arts side. How did that come about and what is the state of the forum today?

Marilyn-I started digital painting forum April 2005. The forum is designed to be totally private so it has a very small annual fee. Artists and photographers that are just learning don’t have to be worried about the forum being searched by clients being able to come see the work in progress.

We went through a lot of growing pains and everything is fine but we decided to change the interface and move to the next level. So we are starting a new website. The website will have video tutorials and is called thedigitalpaintbrush.com. So the forum will be housed inside the digital paint brush. In the new site we will cover everything; plug-ins, painting with Photoshop, painting with illustrator. It’s not just for Corel painter. It is to cover any kind of digital painting. It’ will cover every different type of painting that can be done digitally.

The tutorials are not just from me but from all over the Internet and other people producing them. The new interface is awesome, very clean, very fresh, very new. We will be having a painting contest starting out one time a month. The goal is to move to two times a month after that. Lark books has agreed to donate some very nice gifts and prizes for the contest.

DPM-When will the new website rollout?

Marilyn-The forum should be actively working inside the new software by July and the remaining part of the website should be up shortly after.

DPM-Tell me where our readers can find your workshops.

Marilyn-People can check my website at marilynsholin.com we have the workshops listed on there. We built our own workshop facility in Asheville that can house up to 14 people.

DPM-Are all of your workshops two or three day workshops? Or is there a variety of choices in length as well?

Marilyn-We do two day workshops for beginners. Twice a year in October and May we do a four-day advance painter workshop called the painter blast. Those workshops are intense interactive workshops. You are not just sitting,  we do some photography, we visit galleries and have a blast.

Marilyn Sholin has taken the journey from portrait photographer to  international artist. Her paintings are in collections all over the world and her commissions are always for paintings first and portraits secondary to her artwork.

Her line of City Art stands on it’s own as an international body of work that has been exhibited internationally and sold. She teases the viewer by her use of both digital and natural medias and finishes each painting so it can be produced both as posters or as it’s own original one of a kind canvas. Marilyn’s creativity and dynamic presentations keep her busy speaking and presenting all over the world.

She is one of only 36 Corel Painter Masters in the world, and is recognized as a Master Craftsman by the Professional Photographers of America.

Marilyn is a multi-published author of three books, and has written the forwards for other well known authors. Her newest book “The Art of Digital Photo Painting” is the best selling digital art book on Amazon and is already in the second printing. Her articles have been published in magazines including: Rangefinder, Shutterbug, Studio Photography & Design, Imagine Publishing’s Painter magazine, plus many more.


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