Benjamin Parks

Monday, May 2 to Sunday, August 21, 2022

Kansas City based artist Benjamin Parks focuses primarily on painting large-scale portraits and figurative work. Benjamin adds personality and life to his realistic pieces through multiple layers and strokes, which represent the emotional history of both subject and painter. Parks’ work is on display at the Blue Valley branch until August 21, 2022.


Introduce yourself and describe your work and the genre you work in.

My work is an exercise in capturing the essence of a soul. I paint subject matter in a state of being unmasked emotionally. I look for unguarded moments where the true nature of a person is visible. Emotional in nature, I paint these real moments on large scale canvases. As I am painting, I transfer my own emotional experience into the process while also being affected by my perception of the subject. This ranges from my imagination of a stranger to real interpersonal relationships with close family members. Each step and layer of paint mirrors a life experience. Not all layers of paint are visible, yet they affect the outcome of the whole just as the subconscious mind affects our outer lives. My goal through painting is to bring the subconscious into awareness.


What about people and the human face do you find captivating?

I think it's a way to connect to life and consciousness.


Describe your creative process.

I do a lot of preparation before I start painting.  I usually do a photo shoot that results in 1-2 reference photos. This can be a long process of finding that right moment where the subject lets their guard down and is seen for who they are. From there I size and edit the photo into a composition. I print out several different sizes and colors. Then I study the shapes and 'plains' of the subject, breaking out each section. I paint the entire piece in a blue and white tonal painting to create shape, value and structure. Then I paint in thin layers of color over the top of the underpainting. I paint until I cannot improve the painting anymore and I feel like I am not sure who painted the picture.

Realistic self portrait painting of the artist


What has been a seminal experience?

I survived a carjacking attempt that completely changed my life and prompted me to take creative endeavors seriously.


What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?

The filbert brush.


Please list 5-10 books, movies and/or music that currently inspire you.

  1. Kevin Morby (Musician)
  2. Better Call Saul (TV series)
  3. Fionn Regan (Musician)
  4. Gerhard Richter Painting (Documentary Film)
  5. There Will Be Blood (Film)
  6. Lubomyr Melnyk (Composer, particular the piece 'Pockets of Light')
  7. Ram Dass, Be Here Now (Book)
  8. Kriya Yoga: Continuing the Lineage of Enlightenment (Book)
  9. The Shining (Movie)
  10. DIIV (Musicians/Band)