OK computer

Graphic artist Maryann Sterling is all over the World Wide Web

Photo By David Robert

Maryann Sterling’s digital art can be seen at www.maryannsart.com.

Most graphic artists probably could never imagine their lives without Photoshop’s latest edition or any of the other user-friendly graphic programs. Creating digital images without these advanced technologies would be long and grueling.

Maryann Sterling said that when she first began designing digital art on her Atari 400 with homemade software, what now takes her less than a half-hour to create would have taken weeks or months to complete.

“My husband, Tom, wrote my first paint program in 1983,” Sterling said. “It had two colors and one line. The first 125 sceneries I did were drawn pixel by pixel. It took 10 years to create these. Now it takes me 20 minutes.”

More than 2,000 images currently fill the 14-year Reno resident’s Web site, www.maryannsart.com.

The 48-year-old Sterling said that she’s been interested in art since childhood. She said she has worked in every kind of media, including oil and acrylic painting, sculpture and pottery.

“I tried everything,” she said. “When I got the computer, I quit everything else. About 20 years ago, I traded my cameras for computers.”

Her interest in computers also led her into opening her own business. Two months ago, Sterling and her husband opened RenoSparks.com Internet Café. On the walls inside the cafe is Maryann’s Art Gallery. Bright colors pop out of the beautifully framed scenic images she designs.

“Color is the most important part of my work,” she explained. “Black and white is artificial, so not real. Color is reality. It catches the eye, draws you in. I’ve never been drawn into a black and white picture. When I see a black and white picture, I try to imagine what color it was.”

The world Sterling arranges on her screen reflects and refracts color, creating smooth geometric shapes that demand her audience to look deeper into the spectrum of color and design of the world. A sort of spirituality radiates from her work and fills the room. Her art works in unison.

“I’d like the world to be how I paint,” Sterling said.

While digital art is still not always considered fine art, Sterling has apprenticed just as long as any of the masters of oil painting did. Her talents are in high demand because of this dedication and discipline.

Her work has been used on book covers, in magazines, as illustrations, on Web sites and in schoolbooks in European classrooms.

“I get online and surf and see my art all over the place,” Sterling said. “I get requests every day from people to use my art. And my attitude is, when they want it, I say yes. I don’t make much money on the art, because I’m too free with it.”

She said she’s not worried about making a lot of money from her art.

“Web design pays the bills,” Sterling said. “Money doesn’t drive me. I just need enough to pay the bills and maybe take a vacation once in a while. I’m driven to make art, because it makes a lot of people happy. You can’t make money on art, not during your lifetime, anyway.”

Sterling isn’t stingy with her knowledge, either. She said she believes information should be shared and offers free classes to anyone interested in computers or graphic design.

She said her cooperative attitude comes from her upbringing.

“I grew up on a farm in the country where people either worked together or they starved,” Sterling said.

She hopes her example will inspire others to act the same way.

“Can you imagine six billion people working together?" she said.