Archive for the ‘Our Lives: Nothing is Easy!!’ Category

Laughter and Tears: Giving Thanks

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

This has been on my mind for a while and I have been mulling it over and thinking of when and how to write this. Someone has passed that had a great influence on me and it made me sad that I had not followed up with her to tell her how much she meant to my professional life and sanity.

As I thought about the loss of Lizbeth Guerrina who was one of the most talented and graceful portrait photographers I ever met, it occurred to me that I never followed up with her about how she came to me at the right time with the right message. I don’t remember what year it was, but I was deep in my portrait business in Miami in my large 2600 sq. foot studio with employees and I should have been supremely happy. But I wasn’t. It was also ironic to me and shocking that we lost her to colon cancer. I fought and beat colon cancer in 2009 so it sort of took my breath away in one of those “there goes I” moments in life.

I was lost. In the pressures to keep things organized, be a single mother, pay the mortgage and the studio bills, I lost my balance. I lost my passion and my creativity. I sat and pondered this. After much soul searching and questions I asked myself, I decided to change my entire direction of my portraits and close the big studio. But, I wasn’t sure. I knew I wanted to pursue more creative venues and stretch my creative muscles by working solely on location. But, I wasn’t sure.

The photography industry had not yet changed as profoundly as it has now. It was still the private world of truly talented and professional photographers who sought strength as a family of creatives who always were looking to learn “more” or something new and to always be inspired. We knew our equipment and how bend our lights to what we needed, but for staying inspired we usually reached out to others in the industry.

Feeling lost, I went to the convention and the one speaker I wanted to see was Lizbeth. Good Choice Girlfriend! She inspired me and gave me confidence in my decisions and she gave me inspiration in her totally controlled yet beautiful portraits of my favorite subject: children and families. I was lit up from within. My mind was racing. I CAN do this!

The new perspective moved me forward in my work. I did speak to her after the program and being who I am (those that know me, know this is true) I could barely speak without tears and choking up. She looked at me in my teary speechless eyes and reached out and hugged me. She said “I know.” Two simple words that connected me to her.

So it got me thinking about so many people who have totally influenced my life and profession in so many ways. I want to share a few with you and I am sure I am leaving out so many who I will think of later and who are just as important.

(I’ve decided to use Facebook links to these people and groups unless there is something else to link to)

Florida Professional Photographers (FPP) Before there was Facebook you actually had to go out and meet people face to face and interact and get to know them. I am grateful for my entire career to Bobby Becker who had a studio in Dadeland in Miami. I took my first photography class with him. After the six week course he continued to mentor me and made me join the FPP and PPA. He made me join the Miami Professional Photographers Guild and triggered the full chain of events that started me down the road.

I am grateful to have met, laughed with, worked with and create with so many amazing people I met during that time. Bobby told me I had to get “involved” to get the most out of it. It was pretty scary going to conventions and meetings not knowing anyone but him. If he wasn’t there it was fantastic the way others stepped up to talk to the “new member”.

Thank you Luis Melendi for teaching me to Never Take a Vote Unless you Know the Outcome and never ask a question you don’t know the answer to. We had so much laughter and love between us those years. Later we had many tears together over the terrible loss of his daughter Shannon and from that I learned, Never Give Up even if It Hurts. Thank you Luis.

Ted and Theresa Saylor words cannot express my feelings for teaching me that it’s okay to speak out and Theresa for many things she took me aside to say to me that moved my world. She was someone I knew never judged and always supported. She also could make me laugh til I peed telling stories about when she and Ted met.

Bruce Evensen low talking, always teaching, always making me laugh with his stories (especially fishing stories) and making me a better person. If not for Bruce I would not be a Master Craftsman CPP photographer recognized by PPA. How did that happen you say? Well, I’m not much of a competitor. I did compete in PPA and Southeastern and FPP competition for years and then, I stopped. I just stopped. It was during that time that I needed inspiration. At the FPP convention Bruce asked me if I had entered. I said “No”. He asked me when I had competed last…”two years ago”. Then he said “How many merits do you need to get your degree?” (gulp) “Three”. He shook his head. “Marilyn, you are leaving this as unfinished business. You will always regret not finishing this. Do it.”. Thank you Bruce. Following year I got my three merits and degrees. It was after that I finished my Florida Degree of Photographic Excellence. No one was prouder of me than Bruce. I love you Man! Most in Florida know him as “Poppa Bruce” cause he brought up so many photographers. He taught me so many lessons starting with you never make a bourbon and coke with diet coke.

Two women that totally changed my professional life and gave it meaning are Seraphina Landgrebe and Joyce Wilson. Each of these women at different times gave convention programs that had me nodding my head “yes” the entire three hours and tears of joy that I was once again inspired that I was on the right track. They both came to me at times I truly needed to be lifted up and see that a sister had gone before me to do and it was okay.

Skip Cohen Starting with AOL in the Kodak chat room I made a friend for life that also saved my professional life when I needed it. I’m not sure he even knows he did this. From calling me “Sparkle” in front of a packed room in Fort Lauderdale at a Hasselblad sponsored event to literally sitting on the floor with me years later at WPPI and asking me to give a platform program the following year to the Rangefinder article that came from that and the cover of the magazine and this all led to the launch of my new artistic life.

There are so many more people who have helped me down the road….Tim Kelly who I could never beat in FPP competition. I always took 2nd or 3rd to his first place (well deserved). So one year I kidded him and said “How much would it take to get you to not compete in Childrens category next year?”.  His answer was memorable and brilliant, “Not that much Marilyn. But, would you really felt you won if I wasn’t competing?”. DUH! Brilliance from a true photographic artist.

Chuck Neubauer 18 years of twice a year meetings with love and laughter and serious business. I would never have survived without our Electrolux club. Terry Harris, Bruce Evenson and Skip Weigel plus others that came to meetings. I could never do it without you. During my times of divorce, being a single mom, owning a business trying to build it, you guys were my rocks I knew I could count on to get me through it all.

Paula Herman I forgive you now for cleaning my desk into boxes every time I left town on business. I wish you were here now to do it. 14 years of working together like sisters and bringing our kids up. Remember the time we closed for Chicken Pox? OMG…did we laugh so much it hurt or what? And you are the queen of swaffeling a corned beef sandwich from Corkys! (our own vocabulary).

I just wanted to remember and thank people that helped me through life. But as I read this I realize that all my success as a photographer and artist has always been on a track of personal relationships and education in the industry. I hope that I did something good for others when I have spoken at their events. It’s all good. It’s all “pass it on”.

Forgive me for those I have not mentioned (Like Maria Claridge and Tanya Cunningham and Robyn Tauber and Paul Slutsky you know our connection is forever). More recently Paul Wingler for warmly bringing me into the PPNC family and more. I could keep writing forever but this post has end in a perfect way: In Laughter and Tears

In a Perfect World….

Monday, March 28th, 2011

In A Perfect World…..

Nothing would go wrong. Life would be as we plan it and live it. Days would pass and we would accomplish all we want to do and all our loved one would be safe and sound. We would be all we want to be and the same would be accomplished for everyone we love and cherish.
“We make plans and God Laughs”

This is an old saying that was told to me many years ago as I was building my photography studio business and “tree trunks” kept falling in my way and I had climb over them, brush myself off and continue on the journey that was to be my life and the roots of my professional life.

“Honesty Alert!”

I have over 5000 Facebook friends, the truth is most of them know me better than I know them. But there are many things they don’t know about me. Things I have kept private and to myself. As the years have passed I no longer feel a need to tell my “life story” to new friends who didn’t live it with me. But sitting down today to write a long overdue blog post makes me feel like sharing what has been going on and how it relates to us all and the past and the future. Todays post is not about my art or photography or what I teach or what I learn…it’s about lifes lessons we all learn the hard way.

So much happens to us and there is little we can do to change it.

Where Have I Been?

Well, the truth is that one of those things happened to me. Or rather to my best other half, Michael. In February on an ordinary night in an ordinary house, while watching ordinary tv, our lives were turned upside down with the few words of “I don’t feel good” while waving his hand over his chest. After the 911 call, the seven good looking emt guys in our living room, a fire engine, an ambulance and two unmarked cars on our small street, we started a new journey. To a triple bypass for his heart. The week before the Barbara Walters special about major heart surgery was on and I flipped the channel to something else. Now I had to live it with my loved one. The time in hospital saga is too long to go through here, but the bottom line is we are so lucky that we researched Asheville and it’s hospitals before moving here. Their heart unit is incredible.Every person we dealt with was amazing. And he survived it. And so did I. The call to 911 was made on February 10th and the surgery was the 15th and they sent him home on the 21st.

That is they sent him home to my care and feeding, plus the Care Partners that do home health. But I was living this as much as he was. After my own colon cancer surgery in December 2009 I thought we were home free. Now I saw that I had to live this with him. To get his diabetes under control, the gadzillion medications he was taking and “just us” to take care of us. So that is where I have been.

Life Lessons

I remember the first time I complained and whined and I wailed “That’s NOT Fair!” stamping my foot and was told “Life is NOT Fair”….ah, how true. But life is for living and while things get in the way, we must move on. While Michael was in the hospital for his heart surgery, my good friend tried to hide from me that her beautiful 18 year old daughter was in a life threatening car accident. She was dealing with that three hours from me and I felt helpless to help her when I needed all the help and strength I could get to deal with my own problems. Thankfully, both her daughter and Michael are on the road to recovery and both will be fine. It was like time was standing still.

Another time things didn’t seem fair was when my first baby was born in 1974 and he entered the world with all the drama that a first time mother dreads and fears. He was a beautiful baby, but born with multiple problems that changed our lives forever. After eight years we were again put into shock when he suddenly passed and was gone from our lives.

In between our lives were full of joy having another beautiful and healthy baby boy and the decision we made to take our healthy baby and run, closing down the factory and moving on with our lives.

Many, many other dramas,dreams that came true and some that didn’t. Dramas that make up life and death happened through the years. I successfully kept my private life separated from my professional life and enjoyed sharing my portrait clients lives and celebrating the big and little things in their lives and being able to document their images and create their family history was an incredible feeling.
Which Brings me To:

I truly love blogging here and sharing what I learned yesterday to pass it on to you all, but sometimes we have to disappear and regroup and clear our heads as life comes at us from the blindside. We have all been there. We have all done that. I needed a little time to get away. Clear my head, think about what I want to share with you all and gather up the links, webinars and art techniques that I can share. Thanks for understanding and listening. I enjoy all of your stories and sharing your lives on Facebook and Twitter…but now….it’s

Counting down to Gallery Opening in Asheville

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Aah Asheville

Here we go ASHEVILLE counting down to the gallery opening of my newest Asheville,NC paintings. Hopefully you will be amazed and thrilled and you can even pick up a matted print also of your favorite place in the whole world.

We need you to come to the Opening November 27th at Ananda Studio in downtown Asheville directly across the street from Wasabi. It’s Thanksgiving weekend and you know you are going to want to be downtown!

We will have some Bruisin Ales beer and some snacks and of course all the ART you could want. Holiday Gifts is what we are thinking! We have worked really hard on getting this event off the ground and now all we need is you. There will be awesome LIVE music from Chris and you have got to check out his solo on the resonator! Come on out friends in AVL and enjoy the holiday weekend with us.

You can also check out the Facebook invite and respond there to the invite which is public. BRING FRIENDS!

(Don’t make me feel stupid sitting all alone with my family!)

Inside Out turns Life Upside Down

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

Usually I don’t hide much from my internet family, but this time I had to and I know all will be forgiven for it this time. So here’s my story and I’m sticking to it. From my insides turned out, our life was turned upside down.

I have successfully avoided having my first baseline colonoscopy for the last two years since we moved to Asheville.
In Miami my primary doctor never sent me for one. (Still don’t know why that was. He sent me for mammograms and pap smears, why not the colonosopy) As soon as we got to Asheville my primary sent me for one that I ignored and canceled the appointment. Then at my checkup in October my primary really put it to me that it’s time to bite the bullet and do it. Since I had met my deductible for the year it seemed like I should. But even the day before I almost canceled again, but nope, I went.

So the details were that they found two tiny polyps. So that is good, right? That was Dec 9th and my doctor said he would send it to pathology and all looked good and I should hear in a week or two on the pathology.

Two days later on Friday at 4pm the phone rang and my doctor was on the other end…Not Good! Pathology called him because they found that one of the tiny polyps was cancer and a particularly nasty kind of carcinoma. He gave me a referral to a surgeon to be seen asap on the following Tuesday morning. I go see the surgeon and he schedules me for surgery the following week on December 23rd. He actually was going on his holiday vacation that day, but instead he wanted to come in that morning and do my surgery before he left on vacation. He thought it was that important.

So now the questions you are all asking in your heads will be answered. The carcinoma they found was so early it actually was not even a “stage”. The surgery was called a Right Colectomy which is the complete removal of the right ascending colon and then the large colon is reattached. The colon lymph nodes in that area are also all removed to be tested by pathology. This does NOT involve a colostomy which is when an external bag is required for waste. What I had is a completely contained surgery and there was no external bag needed. The surgery was all done laproscopic and staples closed my belly up.

I was in the hospital from Dec 23 to Dec 29th. Without going in more details, to be brief…ouch, ugh and tired. Soooo glad when I got to go home and two days after getting home my appetite returned. I was released on a regular diet and anything I want to eat, go ahead. (YAY!!)

Right before I was released from the hospital we got the awesome news that the pathology report from surgery was back and it’s GONE! No more colon cancer. All gone and after full recovery, move on with my life. No chemo needed! ( MORE YAY!)

The only bad part is that I had to cancel any events that involved travel or being away from home for at least a minimum of four weeks home recovery to let my insides heal despite my feeling good on the outside. Saw my surgeon and had the staples out and am recovering quite nicely Had to cancel our trip to Nashville for PPA convention and my trip to London, England to speak at SWPP. There was no way I could make either of those trips. Not a problem. We did not have anything planned for February and by March I will be perfect!

So the good side is that I do NOT have colon cancer now and I did not cancel my colonoscopy appointment. I get to spend weeks now putting together new tutorials, catching up my old work I am behind on, doing new paintings, updating the forum and my websites and I look at this as a gift that I was given to stay home and enjoy the enforced relaxed time to be the best I can be for the future and to put together an amazing kick ass program for WPPI Master Class!

I kept this quiet because it was the holidays and above all, it is very important that there are no rumors about my health that are not accurate. Today I am fantastic and am strong and thankful that this was all caught so early. So you know….I had ZERO symptoms, am in great health otherwise. Low cholesterol, low blood pressure and take no medications other than for sinus and thyroid. Doctors always comment on my good health and I always credit good red wine with being the secret to my success!

So here is to your good health in the New Year! Go for your checkups. Listen to your doctors! They already told me that if I had waited six months longer to get my colonoscopy the results would have been drastically different. Think about that!

My good wishes for you all to have even more success in the coming year than ever before and I am glad I will be here to see it all happen for you and to share my future plans and the steps I am taking to get my art out there more and also selling online, We have a lot of good things to look forward to and I am grateful for my online family and all our friends both online and in Asheville who have been incredibly helpful and supportive to Michael and I. The love and support of my family goes without saying and to those who I asked to keep this quiet over the holidays, thank you for honoring my wishes.  My thanks to the fabulous nurses at Mission Hospital who really do listen and care about their patients and don’t cut corners on their care.

So that is the truth about where I have been! Let’s move on and enjoy the year! I am ready to ROCK it!!


At WPPI in Vegas for the Digital Paintbrush

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

bannersmGoing to Vegas to the biggest professional photography convention of the year. Staying at the MGM for a change and the entire event is there including two floors of tradeshow!

I will be speaking Monday 16th in the Millers Professional Imaging booth and showing easy techniques for doing digital paintings and creating true digital art. Our new You Tube channel already has many videos uploaded so be sure to subscribe there to get the latest uploads. I am planning one or more short video lessons each week. Look for new pictures from this event both on my FACEBOOK page and on my Flickr site.  Hoping to have some new VEGAS paintings from this trip also! Stop by and say hello and introduce yourself!

Touch of Fall 08 Painting

Saturday, October 11th, 2008

Touch of Fall 08 Painting, originally uploaded by marilynsholin.

Early Fall in Asheville painting here is a Touch of Fall as it starts spreading across the area. Tomorrow we will take a Blue Ridge Parkway drive to get better early fall foliage photos!

Finally Art Hung

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

Finally Art Hung, originally uploaded by marilynsholin.

Finally hung Gabriel Shaffers painting and Cynthias triple sculpture ceramic. Have another of Cynthias in another room. This spot for them is temporary until we finish the house renovation. Right now they are hanging in our studio. Visit Gabriels flickr site

You can view more of Cynthias ceramic art at

Interview with Marilyn Sholin

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

This week Red River Paper sent me an email to do an interview for the Digital Imaging Cafe. I thought it was so much fun to write and to think about their questions that it seemed like I should share it on the blog. So here’s the interview and when it’s actually posted on the site I’ll add the link to it also.


Marilyn Sholin

PPA: Master Craftsman Photographer, CPP

Corel Painter Master

Author, Artist & Educator

1. What is the most valuable advice that you had received and found most useful in your career?

Advice comes cheap doesn’t it? But valuable advice comes rarely! I was extremely lucky to have a mentor early in my career who gave me advice I have tried to follow for over twenty five years. He said to always follow my own creative style and not to let education change my style. He emphasized to me that education in photography should be about learning the techniques but not to let that infringe on my own style. Don’t try to copy what others are doing instead use the technology to create your own visions.

He also taught me that the more we give back to teach others, the more we learn ourselves. That is why I enjoy teaching and speaking so much. I get to meet others at different places in their careers and to join them on their journeys and become a part of it. There is nothing more exciting than to see the light bulbs starting going on in people’s heads while teaching!

2. What is the most important thing you could teach another photographer about succeeding in photography, whether technical, business or artistically?

I absolutely try to leave everyone I meet with this one piece from my own life. BE FEARLESS!

Learn that everyone is afraid! Fear is what holds back success. Get over the fear and just do it, try it, shoot it and show it. Nothing bad will come from it. The most successful people have learned from their failures. Failures are a learning experience. Never stop creating no matter what it is. Whether it’s a day spent in the kitchen cooking or out shooting flowers or working on an image in digital image programs….it’s all about creativity in your entire life. Go visit other studios, galleries and museums to keep the creativity alive! Take notes, draw sketches even if you can’t draw. Make yourself unafraid to try things you never did before.

Fear=Absolute Failure from lack of exploration.

3. Which is more important to you…composition or content? Why?

Without composition there is no content. Composition is what leads the eye through the image and creates the content and transfers it to the brain. Content could be a glass of water but when it is put off center and maybe a leading line to it with background interest it becomes composition that creates the art. Without all that, it’s just a glass of water.

4. Are there certain mistakes made in your career that have taught you important lessons? If so, what?

Oh wow, which one of my gadzillion mistakes should I talk about here? Mistakes are what make a career! I always tell new artists and photographers that the number one mistake I made starting out was not charging enough for my work. It took too long to raise those prices and get into a new clientele in the right price market. Start out at the beginning to charge what is right, not what you think you are worth! Compare your prices with the best in your market and set your own prices reasonably similar. What matters is not how good you think you are, but how you present yourself to the market and where you put yourself in the marketplace. Wherever you start makes it harder to change later.

5. Was there a particular photo that inspired you to become a photographer? Is it your own or someone else’s? Can you show or describe it to us and explain how it moved you?

My inspiration for visual arts and photography was my family. As a child my mother took me to all the museums in New York City and had art books all over our house. She had art on the walls and also had 16×20 black and white portraits on the wall in the living room of my brothers and myself. My mother had a great joy and love of photography and all visual arts and passed that on to me. As a child I thought I could never be an “artist” because I couldn’t draw. Instead I opted for photography which was very much a part of our lives. My brothers had a darkroom in the house and my uncle had one of the first Polaroid cameras. My mother always hired the local town photographer for family events and cameras were always a part of our lives. So I started out as a photographer and for my sixteenth birthday I got my first camera that was all mine. I became the family photographer and gradually moved up to classes in 35mm and developing and printing my own work.

When I discovered Corel Painter software my life became complete because I could finally do with it what my mind had been seeing whenever I photographed. I always looked through the camera and saw much more than was there but had no idea how to make it more “my own” and not just a photo. With the current digital painting world I am now able to fully realize the art I always wanted to create. My influences now are more in the painting world than the photography world.

6. If it was your last day on earth, what would you want to photograph?

Color COLOR and more COLOR. Color is life to me. If it was my last day on earth I would want it to be the height of fall colors in the mountains and that is what I would want to photograph and paint. I live for color now and the ways to bend it and make it my own.

For more information about Marilyn and digital painting visit one of her web sites.

Marilyn’s Events, Workshops, Webinairs and Online Classes


The Art of Digital Photo Painting: Using Popular Software to Create Masterpieces (A Lark Photography Book) (Paperback)

by Marilyn Sholin (Author)

Studio Portrait Photography of Children and Babies (Paperback)

by Marilyn Sholin (Author)

Tutorials and Free Downloads

Join the Digital Painting Forum

Gabriel Shaffer Art

Friday, September 19th, 2008

Gabriel Shaffer Art, originally uploaded by marilynsholin.

This is our new painting for the house. It’s not hung yet but we are so excited to own it we wanted to share it with you. Gabriel is an amazing Asheville artist that we found through a number of places and then met in person at the Biltmore Art Festival where we fell in love with this NYC piece of his. We also went to his opening at the Satellite Gallery in Asheville to pick our painting up. We wish him all the success he deserves! Visit his sites!

Click on the photo and it will take you to more close up views of this painting on my Flickr site.

Digital Painting Workshop in Vancouver, BC in October

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELLED. Instead,come to the Asheville Beginner Workshop in October!

Just updated all this info with many specifics. Please read through it all and if you have questions, email direct.

October 5 and 6 2008

We do have EARLY BIRD PRICING for this workshop. To take advantage of it please email Marilyn DIRECT at:

Register by May 15th….get a whopping $75 OFF plus a BONUS FREEBIE of my Photoshop Mixed Bag CD FREE
(CD’s will be delivered on site AT the workshop and not shipped)
After May 15th the price is $50 off until June 30th NO FREE CD
After June 30th…Full Price….NO FREE CD…NO EXCEPTIONS!

Join us for a PAINTER X Workshop in Vancouver,BC.
We will be covering all the tips and tricks to paint from photo
reference skin,hair,eyes,backgrounds and details. Everything
you need to sell paintings in your studio. Learn the right
brushes and how to customize them for each type of portrait

We will cover studio,environmental and even wedding portraits.
This is a Beginner/Intermediate Workshop.

SEATING IS LIMITED! We will be at Karen Anne Learmonth
studio: 21308 RIver Road, Maple Ridge, V2X 2A9. Canada
Call Karen for directions: 778-840-5676

Register Here or go to the Workshop site.

By reserving your place, you are agreeing to the terms and conditions for this workshop.


You do NOT need to have Photoshop for this workshop.
I will not spend time in there. We will do it all in Painter, but
if everyone has Photoshop I will just show a few things in it.

Painter X (not 8 not IX not IX.5…you MUST have Painter X)
Wacom tablet with stylus to paint
power strip
recommend a wireless mouse

If you are PC download Alien Skin Snap Art the week of the workshop and install it to the PLUG INS folder of Painter X.
It has a free 30 Day download.
If you are PC you can download Alien Skin Snap Art and install it in Photoshop or the pther host applications.

Here is the info for Snap Art:

On the Windows system, here are Snap Art’s tested and supported hosts;

* Adobe Photoshop CS or later
* Adobe Photoshop Elements 4 or later
* Adobe Fireworks CS3*
* Corel Paint Shop Pro XI or later

… on the Mac;

* Adobe Photoshop CS2 9.0.2 or later
* Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0.1 or later
* Adobe Fireworks CS3*

WORKSHOP INFO: This is a TWO DAY Workshop which is a short time to try to cover everything I like to cover and share all my new techniques for painting. I will DISCUSS embellishing the final prints but will NOT be doing it on site. That would take too long and be too messy. We can schedule another workshop that includes that at another time, or please come to NIAGARA SCHOOL in Ontario where we will be doing that in depth.

Also, we will be discussing the business of being an artist, but again, we are really there to PAINT. I will share my ideas and marketing and most current successful campaigns and resources for more information on selling your art.

HANDOUTS: Everyone will receive a CD with documents on it and files that are printable. They are NOT meant to be the workshop instructions on a CD. They are a supplement to the class and include articles,resources,magazine articles and other information that I share with my students. Brushes and images for class are also included and we will be installing them. The CD is my gift to each student.