Ralph Parker received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Houston in 1972, and worked for many years as a draftsman in the oil industry, a freelance architectural illustrator for architects, developers and graphics firms, and produced technical illustrations and marketing materials in the automotive armor industry.
For most of his adult life, his fine art was an extension of his work experience as a draftsman, consisting of detailed, highly rendered drawings in pen and ink and graphite and colored pencil like the examples on the left.
His small book, Becoming a Painter in Only 45 Years, chronicles the ups and downs of a lifetime of working at non-art jobs, while pursuing artistic endeavors late into the night and during weekends. It contains over 40 images of drawings and illustrations done during those years. It can be previewed here.
In 2007, Parker shifted his focus from just drawing and turned to brushes and paint, choosing gouache as his medium. In February 2009, he retired from regular employment to paint fulltime. He and his wife, Nell, have participated in art markets and festivals from Texas to Ohio.
His paintings have been described as peaceful and serene, with a quiet power to invoke memories of familiar places in the viewer’s own past. His favorite themes involve quiet creeks and streams, winding paths and back country roads, and old structures with rusty roofs and missing boards, struggling to stand against the inevitable forces of time and weather. While the bulk of his work in recent years has consisted of painting the landscape, his attention has turned increasingly to the development of whimsical illustration and storybook art.