Archive for December 13th, 2012

Yesterday, I pulled  a book off the shelf about the work of the great illustrator/painter Maxfield Parrish.  I’ve always been drawn to his work and feel that it’s been a definite influence on my own.  I had someone who had seen my show at the Fenimore Art Museum say that he was attracted to my work because they were the paintings he wanted to paint.  Looking at the work of Maxfield Parrish, I think I understand what he means.  Below is a reposting of a blog entry from January of 2009 that I think really summarizes what I see in his work and how I have incorporated some of these things into my own.


parrish-christmas-morning-1949Today I want to just show the influence of Maxfield Parrish on my work. He is certainly well known for his fairy tale-like scenes of scantily-clad young women or children in fantastical settings but I have always loved his other, lesser known work, particularly his landscapes and homescapes. 

There’s an intensity and warmth of color that I find completely compelling, drawing you in immediately and immersing you in a luxurious blanket of warm tones. For instance, in the piece above, Christmas Morning 1949, even though it is a wintry, snowy scene there are warm tones in the snow fields. It changes how you look at and feel about the scene, differentiating it from the normal, obvious winter landscape. 

parrish-hunt-farm1I am also visually excited by the way Parrish used gradience in the colors of his skies, taking a deep rich color at top and drawing it down in lighter fragments of the colors that make up the original color. It creates a brilliant effect. 

The trees often took a central part in his compositions as well, something to which I was obviously attracted. Many were boldly colored and powerful. 

The houses were mainly long range and very idyllic, warm interpretations. More home than house. There was never a specific story conveyed in these homes, just an overall feeling that was formed by their part in the overall picture. parrish-hill-top-farm-winter

I have also been influenced by the way Parrish put his compositions together, how all the elements were placed to create mood. The way the trees fill the picture plane. The way the houses are shown, never in full view. More about feeling and inference rather than representation. 

I could go on and on about his work and all the little things comprising his magic that I’ve tried to incorporate into my own work but the images tell the story much better. Enjoy…


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