The Charlottesville Arts and Entertainment magazine stated:
"Sarah Parks demonstrates her skillful talent to blend Impressionist elements with the Classical Realist tradition. She brings a contemporary sensibility to classical compositions and subjects. Parks’ polished brush strokes are softened by her natural palette. Her magnificent attention not only to detail but to surface texture is evident in her figure paintings…her figures are shaped by the accurate use of light and shadow. Parks’ unique style only heightens the artistic experience with her visually beautiful masterpieces."
As an artist, I’ve always aimed to blend Impressionism with Classical Realism, especially when drawing and painting the human form, which is my favorite subject. I feel this balance between styles is best shown in my ability to capture the form and in my use of light and shadow.
I like to think I was born to be an artist, growing up in an artistic family where watercolor, ceramics, and oil painting all cropped up in various branches. So when it came time to earn my degree, what better fit than Art History and Studio Art magna cum laude degrees from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA? (Go, Monarchs!)
It was earning my degrees that exposed me to all sorts of artists and I felt a visceral attraction to the works of John Singer Sargent who I felt mastered that perfect blend of realism and impressionism. I’ve also been fortunate enough to travel, so visiting major museums in New York City, Philadelphia, London, Paris, Rome, and Florence continued to open my eyes to the sheer variety and stunning talent of artists throughout modern history. It was through this continuing education and my own hunger for beautiful art that I discovered artists such as Nicolai Fechin, Anders Zorn, Joaquin Sorolla. I’m inspired by artists as far back as Hans Holbein the younger and those still living today such as Zhaoming Wu.
As I’ve delved into painting, I’ve observed how important solid drawing skills are to creating an excellent painting. It’s this opinion, which only grew stronger as I observed more paintings by more artists, that motivated me to create my online drawing course, “Drawing Secrets Revealed.” I built on my own college art education to make it on the comprehensive and academically rigorous level of college drawing courses. But I laid it out in an organized, step-by-step way that even a completely beginner would be able to manage it.
Since 2012, I’ve partnered with Artists Network University, a subsidiary of F+W Media, to teach my “Drawing Secrets Revealed” course with them as one of their online art instructors. This has been a tremendously rewarding experience where I have been able to actively help my students achieve their drawing goals and continue to improve my course.
In 2013, I was contracted by North Light Books, another subsidiary of F+W Media, to write a drawing instruction book based on my “Drawing Secrets Revealed” series. It will be published and available for sale in mid-2014.
Early in 2014, I will also be producing three instructional DVDs with ArtistsNetwork.tv, yet another F+W Media company, which will focus on my passion: the human face and form.
And while education and teaching has become a real joy for me, I will of course continue my painting journey as I remain so inspired by so many of my fellow artists. I’ve been a member for some years of Oil Painters of America, Portrait Society of America, and the American Society of Portrait Artists and have had many terrific opportunities to participate in contests and exhibitions both group and solo. My charcoal drawing, “The Shawl,” was one of only 30 out of 1,100 entries juried into the American Woman Artist Association Exhibit in Pasadena, CA. I have been so blessed to devote so much of my life to my heart’s desire and I’m excited to see what unfolds in the future!
Oil painting has flourished throughout history because of the unarticulated need in humankind to see a better world, a truer truth that could be hiding just behind the veil of the world they see every day. Within all of us lies a wistfulness to see the way things ought to be, beyond the way they are. I hope to provide through my paintings not only a clearer, more compelling reality, but the lens through which to view it. It is a thrilling thing to create a painting that gives a mundane sight a new light, richer colors, and more compelling emotion.
When painting a portrait, I enjoy getting to know the sitter. The challenge then becomes capturing the personality and likeness of that person because that portrait will forever exemplify its subject’s spirit. I try to show through my art that my primary passion is drawing and painting faces. The hours of making tiny adjustments to achieve a likeness may seem tedious for some, but are for me an invigorating challenge as I attempt to render all the little details that make that person unique. I truly consider it an honor to recreate on canvas the essence of an individual created by God.
Drawing has been something I’ve done instinctively for as long as I can remember, and for many years pencils were my medium of choice. But when I discovered oil paint, a whole new world opened up to me. The glow and transparency of oil that makes a face so lifelike, the juxtaposition of cool and warm tones, and the various textures and brushstrokes of paint are what make a painting a joy to look at over and over. This requires a process of learning that can’t be mastered overnight. In fact, the artist is in a constant state of learning. But when a painting is successful, it can bring delight to the painter and the viewer. My aspiration for every painting is to capture the perfect play of light, shadow, and color, embodying the spirit and composition of my painting.