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As my life changes my paintings have changed. I did not have the opportunity to pursue my early interest in painting until much later in life. I initially concentrated on studying watercolor but changed to oil after my Parkinson’s tremors caused marks that could not be corrected. Oil paint is more forgiving because you can always paint over a mistake.

The contentment I feel while painting helps me cope with Parkinson’s. Learning to relax was important in dealing with Parkinson’s. I was a type A personality and concentrated on how much I could get done and how fast. Painting helps me slow down and relax. When I concentrate on a painting I forget about my pains, aches and tremors. I have to set an alarm to remind me to eat, drink or take my medication. 

One of the biggest challenges I have had in improving my skills is dealing with instructors that are not familiar with Parkinson’s. I had one instructor tell me painting is challenging and with my Parkinson’s she did not feel that I was up to it. Another told me I would never be any good if I sat down when I painted. I have found some instructors that were helpful.

Plein Air painting is my way to really see my surroundings and express what I see on the canvas. While painting on the coast I watch the waves cresting, breaking and crashing over and over. I try to express the beauty, power, light and color of the water. In painting a redwood I am taken by its power and energy rather than its actual color. Whereas with Oak trees I work to capture how it bends and sways, the pattern of the light on the branches and their shadows on the ground. 

When painting from my photographs I return to places I’ve visited such as the small Italian village where my grandmother grew up. Many of my paintings are scenes from my travels or objects which evoke memories of people and places. Most paintings evoke an emotion, which makes it difficult to part with them. 

I attempt to find a balance between experimenting with colors and representing the beauty of nature. I like the freedom of large brushes and palette knives. I sometimes use a cane looped over the easel to steady my hand or t-square to make straight lines. I am constantly learning and growing which influences the direction of my art.  The challenge, satisfaction and joy I receive from painting helps me see the beauty in my life.


 Eugenia Parker