I love Maxfield Parrish. His colors are so bright and dazzling that you can get lost in his works. I have this painting hanging in my home. It was given to us by some friends that moved into our neighborhood from Holland. This was in their apartment when they got here and they just didn’t care for it and knew that I would love it.
The Rubaiyat 1907
If you are not familiar with Mr. Parrish I hope this will introduce you to his work and you will become a fan as I have.
He was and American painter and illustrator, born in 1870 and died in 1966.
He started drawing for his own enjoyment early in his life. From there he moved on to a wonderful career that lasted for many decades.
Genderless nudes in out of this world settings were an a theme that was repeated often.
His work was featured on posters and calendars.
What I love is his use of color, it is dazzling and luminous! He is known for his “Parrish Blue” which he accomplished by means of a special technique involving several coats of oil and varnish applied to his paintings. Because his work was truly original it is virtually impossible to categorize it. Maxfield Parrish was the most popular American artist from the turn of the century until Norman Rockwell succeeded him in the 1940’s
I absolutely love that this wonderful artist continued painting until he was about 90 years old and died at age 96.
What is interesting is that each new generation rediscovers him and his prints now sell of thousands of dollars.
Here is the process in which he captured his vibrant paintings.
The panels were treated with linseed oil, then dried before painting. After they were dried he would outlined in pencil before the first strokes of his brush would touch the surface. Then he would apply an undercoat which would be a transparent color that was strong enough to be the dominant color in that area.
Next he would lay the canvas out in the sun to dry, the under painting had to be completely dry before he could move on. If it was not dry there was always a possibility of a “bloom” which is a cloudy white haze that is caused by moisture.
Next he would apply a varnish that was heated up all over the canvas. Once again he would let it dry and then he would lightly rub the canvas with a dampened cloth dipped in fine pumice stone. This would remove dust particles clinging to the surface and it also allowed the varnished surface to have a slight texture in which to hold the layers of color to follow.
Now he would wash with a wet cloth, after it was dry he could start to apply the glazes.
He built his colors up with thin layers of glazes. He used a small palette knife to thin the paint to the appropriate transparency. He used a regular paint brush to apply the glazes and he used linseed oil as a thinner to keep the layers of glazing as thin as possible.
Between each layer of paint he applied an equally thin layer of varnish. The varnish kept the underlying layer from mixing with the following layer and added the gloss that increased thetransparency and the brilliance of the original oil color which dulls on drying.
To create smooth gradations between two colors he used a stipple brush.
He would also use blotting paper, this was used to create the texture of rocks and cliffs.
He would use Cheesecloth to wipe his brushes and areas of glaze that were not perfect and to break up strong textures.
Then he would apply a thick layer of varnish.
Because the drying process was very lengthy he often worked on several works at a time.
The main thing to remember if you want to try this is that you need to use only pure, transparent color, and isolating each color between layers of varnish, allowing the varnish to dry completely, before proceeding with the next color.
Looking at his masterpieces I can see that the many steps he took is the reason he got such vibrant, luminous paintings.
DINKEY BIRD" - 1905
"HILLTOP" * "LUTE PLAYERS" * "MORNING"
This is a very rare edition
This is a very rare edition
LUTE PLAYERS" - 1924