Rachel Parker is a self taught artist who works mainly in watercolors. As the daughter of artist Gretchen Parker, she was raised going to art lessons and watching her mother paint. She has been drawing since she was old enough to hold a pencil, and began painting in 2000.
Her motivation for creating is to capture what may otherwise go unnoticed, to reveal the beauty in simple moments and objects. Making an image come alive on the paper is her inspiration. Rachel has sold her work nationally and internationally through www.rachelsstudio.com. Her work has appeared on the cover of the Journal of the American Veterinarian Association. She has studied with world renowned watercolorist Tom Lynch.
Rachel maintains a blog and enjoys interacting with her patrons on a daily basis. Visit her website at www.rachelsstudio.com to participate. Rachel accepts commissions of pets, people, and anything else under the sun.
Join Rachel online:
When did you start painting? Have you always loved watercolor?
I started painting around 2000. I tell people that I began my art career as a used car salesman. While in grad school for social work, I was trying to find a way to make extra money without getting a 'real' job (yuck, who wants one of those???). So I started calling people in the newspaper selling cars or jewelry and offered to list their items on eBay for a fee. I sold a few cars and Rolexes, but it was a lot of work for very little money and even less fun.
I've always loved to draw and paint, but never took myself seriously as an artist. Hmmmm, what could I sell on eBay that would be FUN? One night, I decided to put a little painting on eBay for $1 and see what happened. It got bid up to something like $30 and I was hooked; I didn't sleep at all that night, I was so excited. That was over 20 years ago, and I still love sharing my online art studio with the world.
Please describe your creative process.
These days, most of what I paint are commissions for other people. However, when I paint for myself, I find an image that I fall in love with and go from there. I almost always paint in watercolor.
I found you through your YouTube video - "How to Paint a Ragdoll Cat From Start to Finish" which was really well done.
Do you do videos for every piece that you do?
I don't do videos for every piece, but lately I've been putting more energy into my YouTube channel, so I usually have at least some video of each painting I'm working on.
How did you get into painting cats?
I've always loved animals, so since I paint what I love, it was a natural choice. Also, I found that paintings of cats were my best selling paintings, so that gave me some incentive to focus on cats as well.
Where do you sell your work and why?
I sell my work through my website, on Etsy, eBay, Facebook, and anywhere else I have a social media presence. As an artist, I do this because the more people that see my work, the more I will be able to find people to paint for, which is my bread and butter income.
Do you sell your products in a local store in your area?
I don't sell in brick and mortar establishments for the most part. Once in a while I'll get invited to do a show, but usually it's a lot more efficient to sell online. I recently did a big show at the airport here in Columbia, SC which ended up being a very rewarding experience as you will soon understand.
Have you been successful at selling your paintings online?
Success is relative, but I've grown my art to the point where I can live off of it if I have to. I find the more I paint, the more interest I get as an artist. I find selling online a lot better than selling in brick and mortar or art fairs because I don't have to frame my work, schlep it around, and in general put it in harm's way.
Do your customers ever give you new ideas for paintings?
All the time! I paint mostly commissions.
Do you have a favorite commissioned piece that you would like to share with us as well as the story behind it?
I did a painting recently that went through a bizarre set of circumstances. A man contacted me through his website - his niece, whose name was also Rachel Parker, bought him a Father's Day card with my painting on it. She did not notice that the artist's name, inscribed on the back, matched her own. Unfortunately, she died in an accident a few months later. The man found meaning in this and reached out to me to inquire about buying the original, which I just so happened to still have. So he bought the painting. Then, only a couple months later, his wife contacted me and said that a couple days after he received the painting, he died. She was deeply moved by all the coincidences surrounding the painting, and we have stayed in touch since. Although this story has a lot of sadness in it, it means a lot to me to become entwined in people's lives through my art. The painting has a lot of meeting to that family now, and will be handed down for generations with the story that comes with it. I feel humbled and blessed to be a part of people's lives in this way.
Do you have a blog?
I have a blog on www.rachelsstudio.com that I should probably do better at keeping up with. However, I post almost daily on Facebook, and weekly on YouTube and Instagram.
You do commission pieces - if I want a commission painting for my cat, etc. how do I start the process?
If you want to commission me, you would send me the picture you would want painted for a quote. Then if we agree to move forward, you would send me a deposit to get on my waiting list. My waiting list is usually about 3 months long. Then when the painting is done, I send you a final image for you to approve before collecting final payment and then sending you the painting.
Do you want to tell us about your cat?
Of course! Her name is Sadie. I found her as a tiny kitten in a park. She was full of fleas and ringworm and of course, I found her irresistible. Now she is getting into her late teens, and she is still my number one muse. I have painted her dozens of times, and those paintings are always very popular!