Michael Parkes - Southwest Art Magazine



Michael Parkes - Southwest Art Magazine
the World of
Michael Parkes
Masterworks on Vellum
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The Journey from
Stone Lithographs to Masterworks
“Literally from the first day that I walked into the stone lithograph atelier outside of Zurich,
Switzerland in 1982 to make my first stone lithograph, I began working on vellum. The stone
lithography process entails transferring an image multiple times where the registration has to
be exact. The transparency of the vellum and its extra weight made it perfect for lying on the
stone and drawing the transfer designs for the different colors.
Over the years while working on a stone, I found myself
also making notes and sketches on scrap pieces of vellum
for future stone lithography ideas. The material was so
enjoyable to work on that I preferred it to a paper sketch
book. At the end of each session in Switzerland, I started
to bring these vellum sketches, drawings and ideas back
to my studio as references for future stone lithographs or
often for the beginnings of paintings.
The years of these sketches built up to quite a composite
of ideas. It never occurred to me that this material could
be used to produce a finished product until my long
experience with stone lithography came to an end in 2007
with the retirement of my master printers.
More than a year passed, and then one the owner’s of
a Gallery that represents my work caught a glimpse that I
had posted to YouTube explaining my painting techniques.
In the video there was one passing moment when I
opened the vellum drawer to show the viewers what I had
collected throughout the years. In just that split second the
Gallery Owner saw me open the drawer, which prompted
her to ask me if I would ever consider selling the drawings
and sketches.
I then revisited the idea of these sketches becoming a more
complete art form. Ironically this was easier to accomplish
than I would have originally thought because I used the
multiple layered techniques learned in my more than 30
year experience with stone lithography in the creation of
a colored finished drawing. So instead of doing each color
separately and printing it for an edition of stone lithography,
I laid one color transparently on top of another on one sheet
of vellum to create a unique one of a kind drawing.
Velum however is not like paper and it takes a different
technique of drawing to slowly build up the subtle colors.
Everything drawn must be transparent to a certain extent
because the idea of the vellum drawings is that the light
passes through all the layers of color and then reflects off
a white background back to the viewer. That is the reason
for this wonderful luminosity quality to the drawings.
Light is a composite to the finished product.
After the positive response to the first few completed
vellum drawings, we decided to produce an entire
exhibition of these vellum drawings. I was very skeptical
that a collective group of these soft, illusive drawings
could have the strength to create an effective impact for a
strong exhibition. Every artist knows when the strength of
the exhibition as a whole is significant enough, it is more
than the sum of the individual pieces.
And wow was it ever a success! Now that I had an ever
increasing demand for the drawings, I ran into a unique
and somewhat paradoxical situation. The ideal next step
for me as an artist would be to take some of the ideas
from these vellum drawings and recreate them as stone
lithographic editions. However there was no longer a
printer, either working or alive, who could successfully
print them. It was then suggested, why not turn to a new
process and print on special etching paper to try to create
the subtle effects that are present in stone lithography?
With the help of Marcel Salome, a master printer in
Amsterdam, we began to research the possibilities of
techniques that could reproduce the subtlety of these
drawings transferred from the vellum originals to both
paper and now to Vellum.
Keep in mind, the effect of the vellums is created by
light passing through the color and hitting a white ground
bouncing back to the viewer.
The result was numerous editions on paper that have
been very well received and all sold out. But we wanted to
continue our research and experiment on printing directly
on other materials including vellum to see if the ultimate
image could be achieved that directly matches my vellum
Discussions with companies from Germany, Belgium,
England and the United States produced a variety of
vellum samples to begin our tests.
The new vellum prototype had to be tested for ultraviolet
resistance and longevity. It had to be an acid free material
to further reduce aging. Ultimately the printing surface
had to be able to accept archival inks that are water proof
and still produce the most beautiful images.
Now, for the first time, and after considerable testing
we are able to show you a limited edition print on vellum
with the identical luminosity and quality of the vellum
originals…a completely new creation, thus the term
Masterworks on Vellum.” —Michael Parkes
On Front Cover: Angel of August | Master work on Vellum Edition
Traveling Circus
Master work on Vellum Edition
on Vellum
Michael Parkes
Vellum was originally discovered and developed by the Hebrews in the early
years of the first millennium BC.
In art, Vellum was originally used for paintings, especially if they needed
to be sent long distances, well before canvas became widely used. Vellum
continued to be used primarily for drawings, and watercolours. Old master
prints were often printed on Vellum.
Vellum is known to add elegance and class to artwork. Even during the olden
times, people recognized that Vellum is not just like any other type of paper.
It is special and should be used only for writings or artworks worthy of its
standard. One of the reasons why Vellum is preferred to be used is because it is
very sturdy and durable and with proper care, can last centuries.
During the medieval times, the finer manuscripts were written on Vellum
and this does not only encompass countries in Europe but even Buddhist texts
were known to be written on Vellum as well. In 1455, Johannes Gutenberg’s
first Bible was printed on Vellum because it was marketed as a book of the
highest quality.
When it comes to visual art, painters chose to use Vellum for their masterpieces
as early as the 1500’s. In fact, prior to the use of canvas, artists painted primarily
on Vellum until the late 17th century. Vellum was also used for very important
Indeed Vellum is special because it is extremely durable and superbly elegant
in its warmth and simplicity. The translucent nature only adds to its stylishly
high-end appeal.
In the late 1980’s a new type of Vellum with the same properties as the original
vellum emerged. This new Vellum was manufactured by embossing treated
pulp and cotton fibers. The result being a translucent, milky white in color, and
slightly thicker form of Vellum which is referred to as Vegetable Vellum.
Michael Parkes presents his Mastery of the Art of Drawing in his new
Royal Cheetah
Master work on Vellum Edition
Golden Lotus
Master work on Vellum Edition
Tiger , Tiger
Master work on Vellum Edition
Master work on Vellum Edition
Shade of the Rose
Master work on Vellum Edition
Master work on Vellum Edition
Lion's Song
Master work on Vellum Edition
Winds of Change
Master work on Vellum Edition
Q:What appeals to you about drawing as a medium?
a: If a large atmospheric oil painting is like a
blockbuster film, then a drawing is more like a
boutique independent production. A drawing gives
you the chance to talk about subjects in a much
more intimate setting on a smaller stage. Subjects
that do not need the grand production can be
personal. There are certain themes that simply
work better in a smaller, less complex format.
In recent years I have tried to push the drawing
medium a little further in the direction of painting
to give me the broadest scope in subject matters.
But ultimately drawings have the wonderful ability
to allow the viewer to access the subject personally
because a drawing, by definition, is a work in
progress and more open to interpretation.
Q:How have your drawings changed by using vellum?
a: The technique for drawing on vellum came from
my many years of making stone lithographs.
In making drawings on vellum, layers of
transparent color are applied to the vellum
so that light shines through the surface and
bounces back to the viewer. The technique is
more complicated than a normal drawing or
watercolor but the luminosity it achieves is well
worth it.
In the process of refining this technique of using
transparent colors in stone lithography, I believe
I have produced something quite new in these
drawings on vellum. The drawings have stretched
beyond what is possible on paper and have become
something uniquely their own.
The vellum drawings have become an extension
of the technique I used in stone lithography, and
therefore, to some extent, a continuation of the
imagery that I developed while I was doing the
stone lithographs.
Q:Why is it so important that collectors understand
the vellum medium?
a: When people see the vellum originals they are
struck by the luminosity and softness of the
images. They want to know how these drawings
are different from normal drawings or watercolors.
When they understand the idea that light is passing
through the transparent colors on the vellum and is
reflected back to the eye of the viewer, the reason
for the images’ uniqueness becomes clear. In other
words, to make a successful drawing, I have to
consider subject, composition, color, AND light.
Q:How do you compare the Masterworks on Vellum
editions to the originals?
a: The ultimate goal for the vellum editions was to
be able to duplicate the luminosity of the original
drawings. When we first translated the originals
on vellum to paper the result was excellent but it
was a translation from one medium to another.
When we discovered a way of transferring a
vellum original directly to another vellum surface,
we were able to exactly duplicate the luminosity
of the original. This makes these artworks truly
Q:How close are the Masterworks on Vellum to the
a: There is nothing like this in the marketplace
today. The quality of the images in the
Masterworks on Vellum is so remarkably high.
I normally work on several original vellum
drawings at the same time. Honestly, with test
images on vellum from the editions, lying in my
studio, I cannot tell the difference between the
originals and edition proofs.
To make sure that there is no confusion between
the original and the edition vellums, the size of
edition image is different from the original, and
of course, each image is signed, numbered and
comes with a certificate of authenticity.
Q:Since this new process you have created is
revolutionary, can you tell me of the safe guards you
have put into place for the vellum editions?
a: My prototype vellums were tested to be UV
safe with an acid free surface for printing. Then
archival inks were used to produce the highest
quality and added longevity. They are also
Q:Will this new method replace printing on paper in
the future for you?
a: We are at the point of releasing the vellum
editions to the public. Since our paper editions
have been so successful, we will continue
releasing both paper and vellum editions.
Q:Is there anyone else who has the skill or number of
years doing what you are doing today?
a: I started working with vellum making stone
lithographs 30 years ago. It was the not easiest
material to work with. Thinking of color in terms
of transparencies and what happens when one
color is laid over another can also be difficult.
However, I think to some extent, it is what each
artist relates to. I find watercolor impossible but
am comfortable with oil painting. The vellum
drawing process somehow seems to fit my
The drawings on vellum and the resulting
Masterworks on Vellum evolved over a long
period of time and therefore has the legitimacy of
something that has grown naturally. I would never
have started this process with the idea of just
making something new. It is way too difficult.
Michael Parkes
Master of Magic Realism
Michael Parkes is the world’s leading magical realist painter,
sculptor and stone lithographer. His decades of success as a fine
artist stand out in the art world and his body of work stands
for the ages. That being said, Parkes continues to create new
works with the latest being his Masterworks on Vellum which
is truly revolutionary. What is unusual about Parkes is that
in his art, metaphysical and spiritual elements are joined in
our reality. His work evokes
a mysterious atmosphere
infused with mythology and
eastern philosophy.
One thing is certain. Whenever a work of Michael Parkes
is encountered, and whatever
its medium, one would never
for a moment be in doubt who
had created it. There are few
artists working today who
inhabit such a compelling, unified private world, and have
such an immediate gift of inviting everyone else into it. The
experience of entering Parkes personal domain is in general
a pleasant one. Parkes states “I like to bring the viewers
into my world, they may say ‘I know we are not in Kansas
anymore, Toto, but I feel comfortable here—I think I’ll take a
look around’.”
Michael Parkes is American, (born 1944) currently spends his time
between the US, Spain and India.
On Back Cover: Shade of the Rose | Master work on Vellum Edition
on Vellum
Drawing – The Language of Art
While oil painting is considered to
have the highest status in Art, the
Art of Drawing has provided the key
to artistic talent at the highest level.
Great Drawings require the important
elements of art such as dexterity
and steadiness of hand, as well as
knowledge of anatomy, proportion,
perspective, and composition.
Drawings by Michael Parkes are
fascinating because they offer all of
these important elements and the
most immediate contact with his
imagination. Out of the handling of
simple materials, come marks, signs,
figures and ultimately narratives.
We find meaning in the most casual
of his lines. The drawings offer an
intimate communication between the
imaginations of both the artist and
viewer. We need to take time to look
closely at these drawings to enjoy
them for their own sake, for their own
beauty as well as for the narratives
they formulate. Michael Parkes is the
Master in Imaginative Drawings.
Located South of San Francisco & North of Half Moon Bay
Sculptures, Originals & Fine Art Editions | 1.650.712.2111
To Meet Michael Parkes in-Person, Visit: www.borsini-burr.com
© 2011 Michael Parkes all rights reserved. www.theworldofmichaelparkes.com
E x p e r i e n c e
the Wor l d of
T h e M a ste r of
M agic a l Re a l ism
Nov ember 5th & 6th 2 01 1
Morning Light | Original Painting
Golden Lotus | Masterworks on Vellum
Michael Parkes
one m a n show
Embrace The Magic
Saturday, November 5th, 2011
The World of Michael Parkes ART GALLERY
Dianne Borsini-Burr will be available to answer any of your one on one questions prior to the show
Mark Eaker will be presenting the 10 revolutionary vellums with exclusive light options
Magical Realism Master
Join Michael Parkes in this special celebration of his largest most comprehensive show in the last 40 years
Michael Parkes will be unveiling his new collection of sculptures including a Life Size
There is a feast for your eyes as never before as you revel in the many mediums created by Michael Parkes:
Original Paintings, Original Drawings, Original Sketches, Stone Lithographs,
Sculptures, and Fine Art Editions
Sunday, November 6th, 2011
• Book Signing and Art Dedications • Photos with the artist • Precast Sculpture •
• Personal time with the artist for stories on his paintings • Masterworks on Vellum Presentation •
Montara-by-the-Sea, CA | 1.877.712.2111
South of San Francisco & North of Half Moon Bay
Located South
& visit
of Half Moon Bay
For of
our website:
RSVP | [email protected] or call Dianne’s cell at 650.302.2049
Angel of August | Sculpture
to be unveiled at the show with several other new sculptures (sculpture model shown in wax)