Mani Parkes: feel the joy

What could be better than sitting down for a nice brekkie with your best furry friend? 

For me, Mani Parke’s art was love at first bark. Her pictures make me happy — and no wonder, they check all the right boxes: lots of British charm, quaint buildings nestled in villages with narrow, winding streets; restful coastal views, congenial tea drinking, people relaxing and being neighborly, couples (young and old) in love sweet love, adorable dogs (napping, cuddling, snuffling), not to mention all the beautiful BLUES! *sigh*

Her palette is subdued, chalky, refreshing and calming. She incorporates shades of grey, sometimes green, surprising the viewer with an occasional pop of red or pink. The predominance of blue + dogs reminded me of Gary Bunt, but with a decidedly softer, more feminine and detailed touch.

Mani hails from Lincolnshire, a county in the East Midlands of England. She’s loved drawing ever since she could hold a pencil, and studied illustration at the University of the West of England (UWE) at Bristol before graduating with a BA in Visual Communication from the Edinburgh College of Art. 

She works primarily in acrylics and was initially inspired by the charming old buildings and quirky characters she would see in her hometown while bicycling down the “higgledy piggledy streets.” As her work developed, she began leaning more towards painting special places she’s visited, to include fishing cottages, boats, and coastal scenes (at first I assumed she lived near the sea).

Though she earned her degree back in 1997, Mani didn’t seriously pursue painting until her youngest child started school in 2009. She worked for 10 years at the living room table until last Fall, when her father and husband finished converting an old brick shed in the garden into an art studio, complete with its own wood burning stove.

Once she has an idea, she typically begins with “a simple, scruffy doodle” in her sketchbook, jotting down notes until a sketch takes shape. When she’s satisfied with it, she settles down into the actual painting, a peaceful experience as she retreats into her own little world. Nothing she likes better than painting with a cup of tea and the radio “tinkling along in the background.” If things aren’t going well, she’ll take a walk with her dog Florence who’s also her trusty studio assistant.

She counts among her contemporary artistic crushes Mary Fedden, Dee Nickerson, Valeriane Leblond, Emma McClure, Sarah Bowman, Mary Newcomb, and Hannah Cole. Classic influences include Toulouse-Lautrec, Sandro Botticelli and Giotto.

She does believe her art reflects her character, as she thrives on the simple pleasures of life and a slower pace. She considers herself an optimist who enjoys sharing the loveliness she sees in the world through her paintings.

I especially appreciate all the wonderful details in her work. It’s fun studying the crockery in the kitchens, looking at what her subjects are reading or eating, what mischief the dogs may be up to. It’s good to envision an ideal world, where everyone seems content, the sky and sea are so beautifully blue, streets and gardens neat and tidy. Each scene, imbued with a touch of whimsy, is a gentle invitation to enter the story in progress and feel the joy.

Mani’s work is exhibited in galleries around England and she happily accepts commissions. You can purchase framed original paintings, tiny paintings on wood, limited edition prints and greeting cards via her Folksy Shop, or directly through galleries listed on her website Stockist page

For lots more, visit her official website “Mani Annie Art.” 🙂


*Copyright © 2021 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

12 thoughts on “Mani Parkes: feel the joy

  1. Oh my my such consoling wonders! An artist of praise and joy. Thank you Jama! I wish I could have a whole book of her work. . . . I can see poems beside them. . .

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  2. What a wonderful way to begin my day. Thanks to both of you. There is so much joy in all of these–in the settings, the colors, the relationships between people and between people and dogs (and dogs and dogs), and in the stories each illustration hints at. In so many of these, a narrative is about to begin or is in process. Thanks!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Mark. Glad you enjoyed Mani’s art. I like imagining the ongoing stories in each of her pictures. Nice to see people talking to each other face to face!

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  3. How many gorgeous scenes you’ve shared, Jama. Obviously, Mani’s love of calm & serenity shows through, often coming from dogs! I do love that winter/bicycle scene, too. Thank you!

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  4. These are wonderful! Each one has so much detail, I can image the story that goes with each picture. Hard to pick a favourite, but I love the one of the lady & black dog leaving in the car with the boyfriend, I’m guessing, waving goodbye. The look on the dog’s face is wonderful! I need to go back and enjoy each one again. Thanks Jama & Mani.

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