The way light plays across and unexpectedly illuminates forms whispers “Paint!”
It is the challenge of depicting light and the nuances of colors that truly pulls me into the creative process. It is when the magic happens and the piece takes on a voice of its own. When I step back from the work to see what has transpired, I still experience that childlike wonder.
I am passionate about painting children and pets. My work is influenced by the American Impressionist Mary Cassatt, whose works captured the freshness and vitality of everyday life of mothers and their children in the late 19th century. Over the years, as I raised my family, I discovered that the treasure of being a mother is the life and memories we create with our own children. It is with this theme in mind that I paint each portrait.
After earning a BFA from Missouri State University, Marla Rush Parnell continued her art studies with master pastel artists, learning to truly see the subtle hues in the colors of light and how to replicate those hues with lush layers of soft pastels.
She has created well over 400 commissioned pastel portraits, primarily of children and pets. Her work can be found in private collections throughout the United States.
Marla has received awards in numerous regional and national shows. Her vivid painting of her granddaughter’s colorful socks won the Art du Pastel en France award in the Pastel Society of America’s annual national exhibition in New York City in 2017. In April, 2016, she earned a First Place award at the Pastel National 2016 at Wichita, Kansas. In March, 2010, her painting of a sheltie won Best in Show in the national juried Art Show At The Dog Show in Wichita, Kansas. Her winning entry was purchased by Purina and was subsequently donated to the permanent collection of the American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog in St. Louis, MO
Marla is a signature member of the Pastel Society of America (New York), Gateway Pastel Artists (St. Louis), Piedmont Pastel Society (Charlotte, NC), International Association of Pastel Societies, and Mint Hill Arts (Mint Hill, NC). She is represented by Xanadu Gallery in Scottsdale, AZ.
Marla and her husband, studio potter Hue Parnell, relocated their studios from Springfield, Missouri to Mint Hill, North Carolina in 2018.