Parker attended the school of the Art Institute of Chicago from 1948 until 1952 and worked during the following months at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine and at Stanley William Hayter's Atelier 17 in New York. Since his first solo show in 1954, Parker has exhibited extensively, and his credits include set designs for opera and film as well as book illustrations. In his watercolors Parker combines areas of pure color with design conceived in terms of silhouette and shape. He takes his subject matter mostly from the natural world—dogs, trees, mountains, people, birds—and condenses and simplifies imagery with a swift, expressionistic technique. During his career Parker has worked in such distinctive locales as Arles and Saint-Remy in France and the Himalayas, where a 1981 walking tour provided the subjects for a series on landscapes and fellow trekkers.
Virginia M. Mecklenburg Modern American Realism: The Sara Roby Foundation Collection (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press for the National Museum of American Art, 1987)