Local artist takes top prize at national pastel show

Published: Apr. 20, 2016 at 8:32 AM CDT
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A local artist is getting recognized for her work on a national scale.

For Marla Rush Parnell, her favorite artwork is all about pastel and pups. She paints dogs for customers and also for fun.

"There's something about it, because they have a personality," she said. "I have three shelties myself and they're little people almost and I love to catch that personality for the owners, because they're here for such a short time and it's a keepsake that they can use for years and years and years."

The dogs are the perfect subjects and for Marla, pastels are the perfect tools to create deep color and detail.

She starts with a photograph to use as a foundation and then adds her own personal touches as she creates the artwork.

"I have found that pastel is very, very forgiving," Parnell said. "And that's the one thing that I was really afraid of at first, to jump in and try it. But if you want to make a correction, you can just knock it off with an old brush and just layer and layer and layer the colors and just totally change something."

Marla has submitted her work to many shows over the years, but she just took home her very first top prize for her painting called "Ghost". The painting is a portrait of her friend's Weimaraner named Max. Hundreds of submissions came in from across the country to the National Pastel Exhibition and about 75 were selected to be displayed. Out of those pieces, "Ghost" took first place.

For Marla, the recognition from the Pastel National Exhibition is an opportunity to spread love for art.

"What it is about art that appeals to most people is just that you're creating something," she said. "That you can take an idea that you've got and take the materials that you've learned to use and create something that's just really special for you, or for someone that you're painting it for."

"Ghost" and another of Marla's pieces, "Promise" will be on display at the Wichita Center for the Arts until May 8.

Marla and her husband, Hue, own Creava School for the Arts in Springfield.