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Maxfield Parrish, Inspiration

February 16, 2011

I Love Art.

Have I mentioned that I really love art?

All shapes, all forms, all sizes, all locations.  Art feeds me in a primordial gooey goodness of ecstasy and soul filling way.  Too many adjectives?  Maybe.

Not everyone is a fan of art museums and art galleries….I definitely don’t fit into that category.  I am one of those people who when wandering through new cities or other places loves to walk through galleries, stop for street artists, look at architecture, and visit museums (and enjoy the delicious cuisine, of course!).  I love to look at art, read about art, talk about art and just experience it!  It leaves me feeling whole and in awe of this amazing universe.

Ecstasy by Maxfield Parrish

I have a wide range of artists whom I find inspirational, all for their own distinct collection of reasons.  But today I want to talk to you about Maxfield Parrish, an artist whose work I always enjoy.

I started to think about him again recently as I was watching this lecture a friend of mine had passed on to me.  I could write buckets on this lecture alone…and probably will.  But in particular I was thinking about Dr. Ramachandran’s point that art gives us a hyperbole of realism, the rasa, the essence, of the subject and thus stimulates our brain in a way that makes us sit up and say “My God!”  He made the point that while Picasso and others play with the exaggeration, the concentration of shape and form, other artists play with color or even sound.  This to me is where Maxfield Parrish’s work fits in.


I know his work is some of my favorite because I want to stare at it, sit and stare at it for extended periods of time and I can’t place exactly what about it keeps me looking because it shifts each time I come back.  Composition? color? texture? contrast? yes. yes. yes. yes.  Particularly though, I am drawn to his use of color and the contrast of shapes.  Something in his palate and composition keeps me coming back, keeps me hungry for more.  When I see sunsets and clouds or the shrouded light of the evening in the physical world, I often think they look like subjects for a Parrish piece.  Which is probably why I am so drawn to photographing them.  They, like Parrish’s work, are so hyper-realistic they cut to the core of how I experience color.

Princess Parizad Bringing Home the Singing Tree

Another mark of astounding art!

To me, the best art, the best artists bring me to my knees with the raw experience of their work.  I once had a professor who said that much of appreciating art was tied in “opening yourself up to an aesthetic experience”–in other words, you don’t have to worship the Roman gods to be moved by their shrines in Italy and you don’t have to be catholic to be awed walking into the cathedrals of Europe.  His thought was that one could prime oneself for these aesthetic experiences but I would add that the greatest of art transcends our openness to it because it hits us at a level that is fundamental to the human experience.  Art moves us all, good art in ways so powerful we don’t always understand it.  Parrish’s work reminds me what beauty lies in our world if I am just attentive enough to see it.

Seeing his art, I look for the seeds, the signs of it in my daily life.  And I approach those colors with greater appreciation and awe than I otherwise would have.  Now that to me, is great art!

Clouds in the Style of Parrish 1

Clouds, in the style of Parrish 2

Works by Maxfield Parrish reproduced here as they currently fall under the Public Domain in the US. (eHow not being the best source, here is another and wikipedia’s explanation, most of Parrish’s work falls under the pre-1923 category)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 14, 2011 11:44 am

    Isthmus: a fine essay; Mr. Parrish certainly is underappreciated…what a gorgeous style! RT

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