Deborah M. Parks
Contemporary Artist Creating Art for Healing
"Nature always wears the colors of the spirit." Those words by Ralph Waldo Emerson so closely describes my spiritual relationship with Nature; it has always been, and always will be, my inspiration for my art.
I believe that Nature's energy is subtle yet powerful and I learned as a young child that I was spiritually connected with all the flora and fauna surrounding me. Flowers like the small, unassuming violet, or the stunning, but rare, lady slipper were my early subjects for drawing. I loved birds and animals also but I was too young, too untrained to create anything of merit; at least to my critical eye.
Ever the perfectionist, I would sit for hours and draw and re-draw my subjects. A lot of drawing paper went into the trash! I was too young to know at the time that it was the elusive, spiritual energy in my subjects that I was trying to portray. Fortunately, through years of formal training, I finally arrived at that critical point of connection. Now, when I begin a composition, an energy takes over and I become lost in the drawing. It is as if the force of Nature is guiding my hand (I do believe this happens.) Also, focusing on the inner design and color of a natural object expresses this force or energy.
Another synergistic connection occurred when I learned about Mandalas. Mandala is defined as Sanskrit for circle, polygon, community or connection. "As for the center, that is the essence. As for the circumference, that is the grasping. Thus, grasping the essence." Early in my college training I began incorporating circles in my drawings to focus on the essence, or energy of my subjects.
The sky, oceans, mountains, animals, birds and flowers have existed for millions, maybe trillions of years. This energy that sustains our earth and people are all interconnected. My creative process is a joyful one, and one that connects us all to that higher energy called Nature.
"In all things of Nature, there is something of the marvelous." Aristotle
This statement becomes all the more powerful when viewing the graphite and color pencil drawings of Deborah M. Parks.
As a young girl, Parks spent her summers in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley in Luray, Virginia with her maternal grandmother. Nana, as all of the grandchildren called her, was instrumental in teaching Parks the hidden treasures and beauty of Nature. A quiet and shy child, Parks spent most of her days alone exploring the woods; finding the first violets of Spring, collecting wildflowers, discarded bird feathers, unusual rocks and many other natural objects. Parks recalls fondly her happiest moments in childhood as those where she could climb the big pine tree in the front yard and sit and observe the clouds in the sky or watch the sun rising over the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her mother once observed that "Deborah was such a peaceful baby. I could place her in her playpen with a stuffed animal or small toy and she would sit happily for hours."
Her solitary childhood surrounded by the natural environment blossomed into her desire to genuinely portray the subtle energy of Nature. Not wanting to leave her safe and natural haven where she was so happy, Parks received formal training at a small private college in Bridgewater Virginia, in the same area of the Shenandoah Valley where she received her BFA in drawing and painting. Here Parks developed her fine sense of portraying the detailed patterns and colors of Nature. Under the tutelage of well-known artist and professor Robert Purvis, Parks found her true calling. However, coming from a strict and formal background where her parents insisted that art was not a career but rather a hobby, Parks entered the corporate world and remained there for many years. Still, she never let go of her true purpose, creating drawings and paintings whenever she could.
Several years ago Parks was rudely awakened, by Nature itself, to the fact that she had wandered too far from her chosen path. Years of discontent and frustrations with her daily work life slowly took their toll; Parks was faced with a life-threatening diagnosis of cancer. Armed with new faith and courage, she turned back to her art and bravely conquered her cancer. By utilizing creative visualization and positive energy while recovering, her drawing, "Flowing Energy" became her statement that clearly documents the powerful "chi", or life force in each of us and all of Nature. It is recognized by many in the medical field that art as therapy consistently aids a patient in healing. "Flowing Energy" is a testament to this belief.
Parks remains committed to her life as a full-time artist. Finally back in the mountains, this time in North Georgia, but still part of the Blue Ridge Mountain range, she is creating new painting and drawing series with Nature again as her canvas.
She is continuing her work on the series titled "Feathers", which concentrates on the patterns and colors of bird feathers. Each drawing focuses on the powerful, complex, and yet subtle energy of these natural phenomena.
Parks has won several awards throughout the eastern and southeastern region of the country including the National City Arts, Orlando, Florida award and various awards from cities in Virginia. Her work is exhibited in both public and private venues.