Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Maxfield Parrish

Maybe I'm just slow, but I tend to find it easier to understand my influences in the rear view mirror. With a little space and distance between us the idea will often relax and make himself at home until he's comfortable enough to share information.
I became interested in the importance of the use of color in my artwork in graduate school and ended up writing my thesis on the topic. In the years since, I've continued to explore my curiousity regarding color and focused that interest in how the viewer will interpret particular colors based on their personal histories with those colors. I've researched the symbolic meanings of specific colors and how those colors can influence how a viewer may respond emotionally to a work of art.
I can admit that over the course of all this research I never remembered to look up Maxfield Parrish.
I used to love Parrish's work and remember looking at his illustrations as a child and buying those cheesy calendars featuring his most famous paintings just to cut them up and post them on my walls. I could justify this interest by explaining that Parrish was a master of composition, rendering, and visual communication but that wouldnt be the whole truth. What truly attracted me to his painting and kept my interest over the years was his use of color. Specifically his use of the color blue."Interlude"

Now I understand that the blue I responded to in reproductions of his work were not always true to the original. I also understand that his powerful use of blue was, in part, a by-product of the processes he experimented with in order to overcome the problems of ink reproductions and that if anything the blue existing in the original painting was even more powerful and stunning than the reproduction.
But, then.....I dont really care. I still can't stop looking at that blue. It is beautiful and ethereal. Majestic and mysterious. I has the ability to stop you and hold you just out of gravity's grasp.
It took me actually walking into a gallery show of Parrish's work last week to remember all this. As soon as I walked inside and was bombarded by blue the connection was made. This is about color. This is about the sublime. This is about the power of color to communicate.

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