Finding one’s calling sometimes takes a series of life events to discover the right path. Artist J.d. Parker, of Sedalia, took the long route to creativity but is now showing his work publicly. 

Parker, who enjoys drawing portraits, landscapes, nature, animals, architecture and automotive subjects, participated in the NoBro Art Walk in downtown Sedalia on Saturday. Once busy with family and work, Parker’s life has slowed down enough for him to begin creating and showing his art.

Parker said his love for art began as a child growing up in Hughesville. He draws with a mechanical/disposable pencil only and doesn’t use charcoal or art pencils. 

“I’ve drawn as far back as I can remember,” he said Saturday. “I can remember before pre-kindergarten having a pencil in my hand.”

He added he loves art because it’s an “escape.”

“It can take you anywhere you want to go,” he noted. “Even as a child, I remember being pretty much outside all the time. 

“That’s the correlation with art, because wintertime was kind of being stuck inside,” he continued. “I would tend to draw more when it was winter … I really think that’s the escape or coping mechanism.”

After his children were grown and he became disabled, he once again picked up the pencil and began to draw. 

“When it got down to where it was just my wife and I, I had a little bit more time to invest in an art desk and sitting down and drawing something,” Parker noted. “But, over the years I’d piddle. I would draw tattoo patterns for friends or family that knew that I drew.”

Although he began to draw again, he was reluctant to show his work publicly. That’s when the encouragement of his wife, Jennifer, and friends proved fruitful. 

“Actually, my first show was this past March,” he said. “If it wasn’t for John Shull, Justin Lawson and my wife, Jennifer, I never would have shown.

“John has pretty much been the driving force in pushing for me to do certain things,” he continued. “He’d send in my address for those draw-me deals you used to find in magazines, and he would push for me to try and do stuff like that. I would always resist … I never thought about being an artist, per se.” 

Parker added Shull told him he was “better than average” and that he needed to “do something” with his art.

Parker recently created a portrait of Lawson, who operates a recording studio and is the founder of Making the Band. Lawson has his portrait hanging in his studio. 

“J.d. is a person who would give his shirt off his back to anyone,” Lawson said. “His work has been something that has been an outlet for him most of his life. Until recently, most of us haven’t had the opportunity to see it.

“The work he does with just a No. 2 mechanical pencil and an eraser is unbelievable,” he continued. “It comes from his heart and shows a side of him that most people don’t get the opportunity to see. He doesn’t know a stranger and will always strike up a conversation when talked to in public.”

Lawson added that Parker can envision what a client wants and will draw exactly what they are looking for. 

“Even special orders,” Lawson noted. “The amount of talent and his personality combined, to me makes him an incredible and unique artist.”

Parker said when drawing, he uses a one-to-two-grid method. When creating a portrait, he usually works from a photograph.  

“I’ll take a photograph and print it off, close to 8-by-10,” he explained. “And, I’ll grid it off in 1-inch, then I’ll upscale it up to 18-by-24. So, that gives me a perfect 1-to-2, 1-inch to 2-inch grid.”

Parker added the 18-24-inch size “seems to make a better portrait.” 

He added his advice for beginning artists would be to never stop growing, never become comfortable and “always challenge yourself.”

“I’m pushing 50-years-old so it’s never too late to start showing your artwork,” he added. “Don’t stop the pursuit.” 

Parker accepts commission work and can be contacted on his Facebook page, J.d. Parker. 

Arts & Entertainment Reporter

Faith Bemiss is a reporter for the Sedalia Democrat, covering general assignment, arts, food and entertainment stories. She can be reached at 660-530-0289.

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