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A Digital Artist

A Corel Painter Master Brings Classical Sensibilities into the Digital Age

by Thomas Franklin

Part 6 of a 8-part Series

Art has infused Fay Sirkis’ life. "When I look at the world, I see one big painting," she says.

Sirkis is never without a camera, ready to capture a scene and transform it into a piece of art. In years past Sirkis, whose background is in traditional fine art, would bring her creations to life under the noxious fumes of oil paints. Today, she uses Corel Painter X.

"Art was a major part of my life, but I had to give it up because of the fumes," she says. The dawn of desktop publishing led to a personal reinvention—designing children’s books. However it was not, she admits, the "real deal."

She turned her creative energies to wedding photography and "one fine day" while walking the floors of a tradeshow in New York City, she discovered Corel’s Painter—then on version 6. "My jaw dropped," she says. Sirkis is, as she will readily concede, an unapologetic enthusiast for the program. "I talk about Painter online and at the grocery store," she admits.

Upon seeing the program "I thought, ‘how cool would it be to mix photography with painting?’"

That thought turned into a thriving portrait studio transforming images into pieces of art. Sirkis prints her own portraits in her Brooklyn, NY studio on a 12-color Canon imagePROGRAF 8000. Indeed, she describes her business as the culmination of three digital trends: the emergence of high quality digital cameras—she shoots with Canon digital SLRs—lower cost but higher quality wide format inkjet printers, and software, like Painter. "I was lucky to jump in at the right time," she says.

Some works she paints entirely by hand. Others, she will springboard off of photos imported into Painter.

"I do my thought process in Photoshop," she explains, "sizing the photo and determining whether it will be a water color or oil." Then, she imports it into Painter and sets about creating. The process can take "two days or two weeks" depending on the sophistication of the approach.

The benefits of the digital approach are most apparent when working in larger sizes, Sirkis notes.

"Can you imagine how long it would have taken Monet to paint a wall? It would have taken forever. In digital, there is no extra effort to produce larger pieces," Sirkis says.

Today, on her Canon, she prints a range of portrait sizes as large as 30x40 inches without investing any more time.

Color matching has also made large strides, Sirkis says. "With 12-color printing, what you see is what you get."

"As an artist, I knew in my mind what the color would look like," she says. But when the gamut constricted as the file progressed toward output, frustration would set in. If the color was not right in the print, she said, what was the point?

"We’re nothing without prints."

In addition to her portrait studio, Sirkis also teaches courses on Painter. While Corel has built out a vast array of brush strokes and styles to replicate the classic styles, going so far as to have digital paint bristles dry up, there are some students who are initially hesitant about signing digital art.

Such trepidation, Sirkis states, is unwarranted. "It’s real, the only thing that’s missing is the smell."

Click here to read Part 1 of this exclusive online series, How Suite it Is 
Click here to read Part 2 of this exclusive online series, Mimicking the Masters
Click here to read Part 3 of this exclusive online series, Sign Making Gets Productive
Click here to read Part 4 of this exclusive online series, Hop on the QuarkXPress
Click here to read Part 5 of this exclusive online series, Come Fly With Me

Jun2007, Digital Output

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