The sketchbook was Parsons’ constant travel companion and a fundamental part of her artmaking practice. This untitled gouache comes from one of the more than 200 notebooks and sketchbooks that Parsons filled over the course of her career, and its bottom edge bears the line of holes characteristic of spiral binding. As art historian Lisa Peters has observed, sketchbooks “provided a forum for Parsons to work out her visual ideas, reflect on her experiences, summon memories, and capture emotions.” This work is a key example of Parsons’ lively sense of color, with a range of blues and purples peppering a field of amber. In a further activation of the compositional surface, Parsons has used the back of her paintbrush to etch into the wet gouache.
2020: Betty Parsons: 1950s Works on Paper, Alexander Gray Associates, Germantown, NY