Thursday, February 5, 2009

Maxfield Parrish

I decided to change gears today because I, until recently, had studied more of the old masters work than more modern painters/illustrators. One of these is relatively unknown to me illustrators is Maxfield Parrish. Once I heard the name, I kept hearing it over and over again and today I decided to give this man a better look. I was really interested in his work as it seems to be a more modern version of a combination between the Pre-Raphaelites and the Hudson River landscape painters. I found this image, Cinderella, and would like to discuss it further as it seems to have been able to distill the idea of warm light, cool shadow into an almost geometric simplicity. The figure here which is the centerpiece of this painting is illuminated with a very strong warm light, which also is used to render the form of the steps and pillars on the steps. It also illuminated the tree leave adding texture and interest to the upper right portion of the painting. Almost modeled as I have done with value paintings of spheres, the light rolls away over the edge of the figure into neutralized grey tones and then over to darker cool tones. These cool tones also act as a backdrop for the leaves and floral pieces making the warm foliage pop away from the canvas. I am truly amazed at the effect that can be attained by simply working warm against cool.


  1. I love the artists that you've chosen so far Mark. Parrish has been one of my favorites for a long time, though as my teacher told me this past year that Parrish's father was good friends with Fredrick Leighton and as a boy Parrish was very familiar with Leighton's work. I guess there became an uneasieness as Parrish grew up and painted a bit too much like Leighton for his liking. But Parrish made it big in the advertising field and was better known. I still like Parrish's work but Leighton has become one of my favorites.

  2. I am glad you are liking the artists that I am choosing. I am trying to actually get out of my comfort zone and look at artists that I am not familiar with or works that I am not familiar with from artists that I know. I have not found the artist yet that said "Don't look at other people's art. You won't learn anything." LOL

  3. I love Parrish - he's been a favorite since childhood. His working ethic and methods are fascinating. And I love the illustrative work he did - a fabulous mix of graphic and realism.

    (I'm enjoying your comments on these artists btw).