Parkes studied graphic art and painting at the University of Kansas. As a student, Parkes was fascinated by various graphic processes, and he later became proficient in the difficult medium of the colour stone lithograph. Many of his recent works have been produced as Aurographics, limited edition giclée prints.
His unique style evolved in isolation, after a period in which he gave up the practice of art altogether and went to India in search of philosophical illumination, a location that he and his wife continue to visit annually.
Early on, he painted in the generally abstract expressionist style common among his teachers. However, he later began to draw and paint in a meticulous style of detailed representation. This style is realistic in principle, but often uses magical subject matter, with imagery drawn from a range of traditions including the cabalistic and the tantric. Strange beasts encounter mysterious winged women, good and evil fight out their eternal conflict.