To the Max

When I first met my wife I didn’t have much appreciation for art. About the only thing you’d have found on my walls back then was white paint (and food). My favorite artist was the guy who put all the tiny numbers inside the little outlines on the kits I bought as a kid. That may have been because I had a better odds drawing to an inside straight than trying to draw a recognizable picture.

All that aside, today is the birthday (1870) of one of my wife’s all-time favorite artists, Maxfield Parrish. Thanks to her, I’ve also come to appreciate Parrish’s work and I love to look at prints of his dreamlike landscapes and portraits. The unique colors and “glow” in his work are so rich and interesting and it is fun to picture yourself standing (or reclining) in each scene. I even have an outline in my head for a story that I hope to write one day, set in a world that looks like his paintings (I’ve named the woman in the image below “Calla”).

I obviously can’t claim to be too fine in my artistic sensibilities, or unique in my appreciation of Parrish. He’s probably more of a “popular” artist than what the more sophisticated might consider a “master” (at one time in the 20th century it was estimated that one in every four American homes contained a Maxfield Parrish print), but I enjoy the fantastical elements and sense of fun in his paintings and I’ve always had the sense that they were fun for him to paint as well. There are other “popular” artists such as Thomas Kinkade and Terry Redlin who have made luminescence part of their trademark, but it seems to me to be an almost forced quaintness on their part (or at least profitable repetition), rather than something emanating from the artist’s imagination.

Parrish was pretty prolific, but I still wish there was more of his work.

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