Faculty Profile: Rick Parson

More stories from Maggie Symons

At the age of 10, a Little League baseball player took his first swing in the world of arts.

“I’m dyslexic and my mom knew then that I would need some kind of back up,” said Rick Parsons, associate professor of Fine Arts at Sierra Nevada College. “So she decided that art would be a good one for me.”

Parsons took his disability and used it as a pathway to guide him to where he is today.
“I took a landscape painting class,” he said. “I was in a class with a bunch of women over the age of 60 and then there was 10-year-old Rick doing seascape paintings of Galveston, and pelicans, sand dunes, shrimp boats.”

Parsons, who excelled in the academic art world, holds an MFA and MA from the University of Dallas, and a BFA from Stephen F. Austin State University. He is not afraid of new experiences or challenges, pushing himself outside of his comfort zone, a trait he passes on through one-on- one relationships with his students.

“Parsons is really good at understanding you as your own self and as an individual artist,” SNC junior Shawnie Personius said. “He is always thinking of his students, which is really crazy because
he has two kids and plays volleyball on Tuesday nights.”

Recently, Parsons had an art show in Carson City at the Carson City Court- house. For this show, his two young children (Mia and Marshall Parsons) influenced his use of bright colors in his work – bright greens, blues, pinks, and reds drawn from the plastic and wooden kid toys that litter the floors of his home. The work was a departure from his usual color palette of browns, dark hues, and rust.

“It’s just what I do every day,” Parsons said. “ e goal is to make sure that my children have an artful life too, so a lot of that is about play and allowing them to play and discover.”

Work-life balance is key for Parsons. He is able to manage work, teaching,students, kids and a family, and still find time for his personal art in his home studio.

“I usually work in my studio from around nine to twelve or one in the morning, and then I am back up at six with the kids,” Parsons said.

“See ya in the blue” is a favorite salutation of his. He finds pleasure in its ambiguity: blue having the ability to portray a color, a mood, or even a place like Tahoe and its blue sky and water. The vagueness adds to the connection he finds between himself, the saying, and the person on the receiving end, he says. They have to provide context for what blue means to them, a kind of “See you later” that leaves people thinking.

“Man, I want to be like him when I grow up,” said SNC freshman Kacie Orrego. “He is living proof that it is possible to live the life you want to every day.”