Chasing Light Artistic Tools for Creatives

Sandra Pearce - Painting in Photoshop

Nikki Harrison1 Comment
Sandra Head Shot 1st.jpg

1.  How did you get your start in photoshop painting?

I painted in Corel Painter, took classes from many great Corel Painters, upgraded it every year and still was not happy with it.  I knew I should be able to use PS.  I started out on my quest to be able to make it happen.  I used the Air Brush and smudge tool before the Mixer Brush.  From there people started asking me to teach them how.  That was over 12 years ago in a PPA Super Monday class. I have not looked back and have taught people all over the  country to Paint in Photoshop.

2.  You do a lot of teaching, where can people find information on your courses? 

Well, not anywhere! Not an answer people want to hear.  I have never sold anything with my classes.  I have no excuses other than I enjoy teaching, not making videos.  I have emails almost daily asking for courses.  Maybe soon or maybe not.

3.  What would you say is the hardest hurdle your students have when learning to paint in photoshop? 

I really don’t see a lot of hurdles.  I like people to learn painting by using one layer as they would in traditional painting.  They only concentrate on painting, not layers. Since most people are already familiar PS the learning curve is small and they catch right on. I believe anyone can paint in PS.  Of course some better than others as in all things.

4.  Why do you prefer Photoshop over Corel? 

I got tired of opening in one program and having to  take my piece in another program.  The colors were not the same in both programs.  I didn’t use Painter enough  so each time I opened it I needed to  a little time to learn it all over again.  I also had a problem, as did others, with Painter crashing and I had not saved my art piece.  Gone and never to be found in that file it said it was saved in.  Thus I decided to paint in PS full time.

5.  How long does it take to get good enough at painting in Photoshop to be able to offer it to clients? 

Different amounts of time.  Some people with the artistic talent will fall right into great pieces in class.  Others have to spend more time and work harder.  All people can paint in PS because you have the image in front of you rather than a blank canvas.  PS is such a tool to enjoy.

6.  From your experience, which portrait types are best for painting and which sell best to clients? 

Family & Children Portraits, Composites & Sports  all have a place in the market place.  Once you have learned you need to find what works for your area.  All paintings are up to the person doing the marketing.  If you specialize in High School Seniors that is where you concentrate on first.

7.  On the business side of things, how much more should a photographer offering painted images charge, compared to regularly edited portraits?

One thing to remember  never print on photograph paper, that  is not a painting – canvas or water color paper is your media of choice.  What sets you apart is  whether you are in a high end studio and area as opposed to not.  I see photographers with great reputations charging more than a new person.  If you are established, with a great reputation, of course you charge different prices.  Some artists paint photo realistic, (Me) and some artists paint with lavish brush strokes.  That is called style. Market yourself in area’s you want to sell your work.

8.  For those who are not interested in learning to paint either in Photoshop or Corel, can they hire people, such as yourself, to create painted works for them? 

If that is the line you want to take of course you can.  If people know you are painting for other photographers, and doing it for a lesser price, it can cause a little problem when they are paying you more.  There are labs that do painting for photographers.  I do not paint for other people for the price they offer.  They have to make a profit but I don’t have that amount of time. That is totally up to the artist.

9.  Lastly, is there a website or other place online where potential students can go to learn from you, or is there a link to upcoming workshops you  might be teaching?

Facebook or Instagram

Sandra Pearce is one of the most sought out digital artist in the photographic industry today. She makes her home in Okeechobee, Florida with her husband David.  Her local photograhy group is the Professional Photography Guild of the Palm Beaches. She is a Master of Electric Imaging, Master Photographer, Craftsman and CPP. She is an Image Excellence & Image Excellence 2 Bar Recipient.  Sandra has had the opportunity to speak to thousands of professional photographers across the country from guild level programs to state and national conventions. Her experience in digital imaging has set her apart in competition and she has been awarded Artist of the Year by the Florida Professional Photographers numerous years, Canon Par Excellence 2015, 2016 and 2017, Kodak Awards, Fuji Awards and other awards through the years. Sandra has been in the top ten for GIA awards many times since it’s inception in 2010. Sandra won the GIA Award for 1st place in the Art Category in 2010, 2016 and 2018 at the Grand Imaging Awards. She serves as an IPC Juror for the Professional Photographers of America.

Stylist & Photographer Kalina Schneider

Artist FeatureNikki Harrison1 Comment

Styling for Artistic Portraiture

20280270_1820210158019796_4639143523547654012_o copy.jpg


1.  Kalina you work in a Museum in Washington, D.C. so you are literally surrounded by the most amazingly styled beauty constantly! I’m so jealous! How would you say this influences how you style for photo shoots?

The collection of art at National Gallery of Art is most definitely a constant source of inspiration
for me. Every time I walk thru the galleries I rediscover a painting that I have seen a hundred
times It’s either a color or detail in a dress that catches my attention and makes me study it all
over again. In addition, the curators rotate the artwork constantly so there is always new
paintings to admire.

DSC_4353-Edit copy.jpg

2.  Your husband is an amazing photographer/artist in his own right, you two must have so muchfun with your passion for art, photography and beauty. Is the style and forethought that goes into styling your sessions always your idea, or is it a group effort?

Kelly usually gives me a vague idea, a key word – sort of “one-liner” of what he envisioned and
what he want’s the final image to be and I take it from there. I put together a costume/ outfit
sometimes I make one. Then I work on details, jewelry, shoes etc. and then present it to him.
Sometimes he has a suggestion- usually he wants things “bigger, puffier, longer” rarely smaller!
Once the outfit is ready he set’s up the scene and we take it from there. If it’s my own shoot, I
usually do both. Sometimes an outfit/dress is an inspiration and that would determine my
scene selection, colors, accessories and props. But sometimes is the other way around.
For the most part it is definitely a group effort because each one of us look at things from
different perspective and will pick up on different things.

3.  What is your most current styling, artistic obsession?

Kelly and I have been working extensively on low light studio portraits. Inspired by Dutch
Masters, specifically Vermeer, Gerard Ter Borch and Gabriel Metsu. We love not only the
subject matter but mostly the intimacy of a quiet scenes unfolding in private houses and the
masterful lighting always coming from one direction and bouncing off textures and objects
surrounding the main subject. It looks completely casual yet very calculated. Kelly and I find it

4.  If you could work with one time period, what would be your favorite and why?

I have been fascinated for years with the movement of Pre-Raphaelites. It was a secret society
of young artists (mostly painters, one writer) founded in 1848 in London, who were opposed to
classical norms embraced by British Royal Academy and their promotion of Raphael and the
Renaissance beauty cannon. Their subject matter was anything from mythology, biblical scenes through medieval legends to romanticism. And because of that I find it so interesting and
inspiring. So the short answer would be the Romantic period- with a very broad definition of it.

5.  Who is your favorite artist?

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Singer Sargent, John William Waterhouse and Boticelli. For me it is very hard to name just one.


6.  How would you define your personal style?

I’m a Libra – so if I had to describe my own style I would say is “Bipolar”  I will wear for weeks
black on black accessorized with black or over the top flamboyant-Iris Apfel like.

7.  Do you follow designers and trends? Where do you get your inspiration from?

I love fashion and always keep an eye on what’s new. This does not necessarily mean I run to
the store and buy something in neon lime, but I’m always interested where my favorite
designers find their inspiration and how it evolved. I love Roberto Cavalli and and his prodigy-
Olivier Roustering who is a creative director of Balmain. I think fashion- especially High Fashion
is a form of art, art that we can play with and enjoy on daily basis.

8.  What advice would you give to other photographers looking to style their own sessions?

Don’t copy others. Go out there and be YOU. Go out there and discover what makes you tick.
Read a book, watch an old movie, travel and look around. Very often we overlook or ignore
wonderful objects that are right in front of us. Maybe a family member has a great collection of
something that would make a great image? It could be something very simple, you just need to
have a vision. Find your inspiration. They say “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” but we
all as artist should strive to be us, to be different, to be one of a kind!



Kalina Schneider was born and raised in Poland, Europe. In her early years she was interested in art and was drawing and painting. She had a few successful exhibitions in her home town- Katowice. 
She has a Maters Degree from Silesian University in Katowice, Poland where she studied Art History and Cultural Studies.
After finishing college, she took a sabbatical and was working as a travel agent in Turkey. In 2000 she moved to London, UK to study English where she had a short love affair with fashion design and started her own small fashion line… but ultimately she gave it up and accepted a job as a flight attendant.
In 2006 she moved to Kingdom of Bahrain to fly for their flag airline, where she met and married her husband Kelly Schneider.   Kalina’s passion for traveling the world combined with the same love of Kelly, ignited their mutual interest in photography.
After moving back to the US Kalina helped her husband run a successful landscape photography studio.   Selling prints at local galleries gradually faded as the world of portraiture brought a new life and vision to their work. 
Today they are based in Washington DC and specialize in Fine Art Portrait and Boudoir – as well as teaching photography to professional photographers in the USA and in Europe.


Painter is More than Just a Pretty Face says Heather the Painter

Nikki HarrisonComment

French words. Lots and lots of French words. And not the appropriate, family friendly ones. 

It’s too often that words get in the way and block us from moving from beginner to expert level especially when we make the leap between software. And even greater, software jumps outside of the comfort zone of our favorite Adobe Photoshop. 

Hi, I’m Heather, known as “Heather the painter” and I’ve spent a decade helping creatives make the leap from buying the software, to actually using the software known as Corel Painter proficiently. It always blew me away when I’d go to a conference and ask “how many people own Corel Painter?” Most hands go up. “Okay, now how many of you have OPENED Corel Painter?” Only a few hands remain. Even fewer would use it on a regular basis.


It’s okay. I get it. It’s a totally different beast than Adobe Photoshop. A completely sexy, gorgeous beast, but a DIFFERENT beast. When I first opened it 14 years ago I thought oh crap. What have I gotten myself into? At that time there were few resources available on learning the software with the steep learning curve, and that was always crashing.  What I can tell you 14 years later is it was the one of the best decisions of my life sticking with her. She’s needy, highly intelligent, craves your attention, but works harder than anything out there! Her brush engine is unlike any I’ve ever seen. Coming from an organic painting background (oils, acrylics, watercolors), the brush engine was the closest thing to traditional media on the market. So making the transition to digital painting from the easel tool-wise made sense. Stick with it. There are plenty of resources out there nowadays with and my personal channel or full length tutorials at You can even find Painter loving groups on Facebook such as Brush Strokes. 

Click the button below and use the following code to take advantage of a $15 savings on Heather's new Intro to Corel Painter 2018 - also good if you have an older version of Painter as well!!

I had used Adobe Photoshop for about 3 years before diving into Painter. And the interface was deceptively similar, but only in user interface. When you started using terms like “cloning” or “tracing paper” the glazed eyes come out and the French words surface.  Photoshop “cloning” was a different term than Corel’s “cloning.” Semantics. They get in the way especially when you’re relying on terminology specific software. But, push through. It’s worth it! The more I explored cloning in Painter, the more I realized the KEY TO PAINTER. The reason it’s so expensive. Cloning in Corel Painter is simply loading your brush with any image you’d like (yes, even photographs!) and painting it in that brush’s style! You control the brushwork. You can even control the detail that comes through. This changed my world forever. Cloning meant I didn’ t have to freehand paintings from scratch, but marry the workflow of cloning plus freehand brushwork! The key to cloning is setting up your workspace correctly. In versions from Corel Painter X3 (also known as 2013), and newer, simply open your retouched file and click file/clone to start your new document. Before you get excited, start a save file/save as and rename it. I’ll borrow the retouched file’s name, and place “1 ptr” in front of it saving as an uncompressed PSD. You can also do this as a File/Quick clone instead, which will apply a set of actions to your document that are setup in your preferences. This is typically what I use in everyday paintings.


Photographers making the leap from Photoshop to Painter often get frustrated in what I mentioned above - the word “cloning.” In Painter, it does NOT mean cloning in Photoshop. Push through. The user interface is also more elaborate with more options and more buttons and customizations. The brush building alone have far more elaborate customizing options. Until you get over the initial shock of being in this new environment, don’t try building new brushes. Just ease yourself in. Baby steps. Painter provides you with several hundred gorgeous variants! Try the Artists Favorites: Impressionist brush or the Oils: Smeary Round brushes to start! Once you make friends with Painter, visit her on a regular basis. 

Layers. Painter has those, too. They’re not as sophisticated as Adobe Photoshop, but they’re perfect for painting. Let’s keep it simple while you’re adjusting to Madam Painter. I rarely paint in layers. Unlike the rule in Photoshop where you never touch your original file, you can do this in Painter. It’s okay! Remember, you’ve made a duplicate document from file/clone (or file/quick clone) so your original file is safe. In fact, I typically always paint on this original layer (Background). Go ahead, and be naughty. Paint on that layer! Feels good, doesn’t it? If you feel you’ve messed up beyond repair, go to Cloners/straight cloner and it’ll bring back your original file!

Painter is more than just a pretty face. I’ve used her for creating hand drawn words (calligraphy) that are used in logos, marketing, and more. Plus, you can hand paint your own backgrounds and save a library. It’s a wonderful marketing point telling your clients you have one of a kind backgrounds that you created! You can create clipping masks (black shapes for clipping masks in Photoshop), or illustrate custom cards. The list goes on. Painter is a beast. A gorgeous, sexy beast. 

Painter and Photoshop work together beautifully in the digital painting world. They’re not meant to replace the other. If you’d like to learn a methodical approach with every step covered (including mistakes), please consider visiting for detailed tutorials!

The tutorials will help you keep the French words to a minimum. 

Happy creating!



Heather Michelle Chinn is a Corel Painter Master Elite, Corel Approved Painter Educator, M. Artist, Cr., M. Photog., and Golden Artist Educator

Subscribe for free tutorials at

Master Artist, M. Ph. Cr, Corel Painter Master Elite, Corel Approved Painter Educator,

Golden Artist Educator,

Heather Michelle Chinn was born with a paintbrush. From early on she would

paint anything with any medium within reach from food to nail polish. Her earlier

masterpieces were found on ceilings and cafes in professional murals in

Fredericksburg, Virginia. For several years, Heather painted whimsical watercolors for

the international stationary company Mon Petite Chou as well as large scale backgrounds for photographers.

Heather “the painter” is an experienced presenter in live and recorded demonstrations. She has been teaching Corel Painter and mixed media at multi-day workshops, live seminars and webinars, and PPA affiliate schools all across the country for the last ten years. Known for what is consistently called her “calming” manner of speaking, being graceful under pressure, concise and thorough, with easy-to-follow Corel Painter tutorials Heather is a natural educator across multiple platforms. Her education style is methodical, and concise. Taking the Gestalt approach, she teaches what not to do to equally balance how to also correctly tackle a workflow, which has successfully and consistently turned out highly productive artists.
Her time is devoted and divided between being a Mom to her daughter (the “munchkin” who also loves to draw), mentoring artists, and producing educational materials. It is said that Heather’s “soul” is often very clearly seen in her work. Her elegant brushwork and transcendent color harmonies capture the ethereal essence of the subject and evokes an emotional dialogue between viewer and painting. Her belief that anyone can easily use Corel Painter to create their own keepsakes led her to a speaking platform at the beautiful Phoenix Symphony Hall for the Professional Photographers of America’s International Convention in Phoenix, Arizona in January 2014. Heather made her television debut on Lifetime Television’s “The Balancing Act” in April of 2014.