Painting done in Painter X by Rita J. Maggart.

In today’s hectic world, with both spouses working and struggling to raise a family, art often remains no more than a sideline or a hobby for many talented, would-be artists. But once the kids are grown, it’s time to dust off the brushes, or just maybe, the digital stylus, and get to work! Rita J. Maggart, one of our readers, kept her hand in through photography. She photographed children while working as a teacher at a Montessori school, and flower arrangements while running a floral design business. “When I left teaching I devoted myself to studying fine art as well as photography and began oil painting again after years of putting drawing and painting on the shelf for another day,” she says. “Now the day has come and I have never been happier or more excited about each new day what I can learn today in my creative endeavors.”

When Rita decided to switch to digital, she dove in with both feet. “When I decided to upgrade to a digital camera, I had no idea what would be involved in the learning process required to be proficient with a Canon SLR digital camera, a Mac computer, Photoshop CS3, Apple’s Aperture, Corel Painter X, and an Epson 3800 printer,” says Rita. “To say that I was and still am overwhelmed is an understatement!”

With her Canon 20D in hand, Rita began studying at Nashville State Community College in 2005. She took classes in digital photography, image editing and printing. “I have been studying at the community college for almost four years nows,” said Rita, who credits the school, her fellow students and her teachers with helping her stay motivated. She says they “push me to achieve works of art that I never could have dreamed possible before I started…at NSCC.”

Flower still life, by Rita J. Maggart
Flower still life, by Rita J. Maggart

“Oil painting and digital painting are two very different mediums, but what I learn from one I apply to the other and they fit together beautifully in the end results of my artwork. I am a life long learner and would need several life times to learn all I need to know about digital photography, digital painting and oil painting, but for now I will be satisfied to learn at my own pace with great instructors and supportive fellow artists. We are all together in striving to reach the level of skill that takes us into a new dimension of our art.”

Rita was nice enough to send along a painting (“Eva”, below) she completed recently, after working through the “Painting the Eyes with Corel Painter” tutorial. “My goal is to continue to refine my artistic skills and to market my portrait painting skills to families with young children,” says Rita. When asked what lessons she has learned along the way on her digital adventure, Rita mentions persistence, being patient with herself and technology, and staying firm to her mission statement: “Always, always, I must communicate and create.”

Painting of Eva, by Rita J. Maggart
Painting of Eva, by Rita J. Maggart

I’m always happy to hear from readers, and I’m always looking for stories to share. How about yours? Send it along to bob at bobnolin.com and we’ll try to include your story in an upcoming article.