Norman Rockwell: Painting is a New Adventure

Norman Rockwell Studio

“The secret to so many artists living so long is that every painting is a new adventure. So, you see, they’re always looking ahead to something new and exciting. The secret is not to look back.” –Norman Rockwell

Norman Rockwell’s Commercial Success

“The 1930s and ’40s proved to be the most fruitful period for Rockwell. In 1930, he married Mary Barstow, a schoolteacher, and they had three sons: Jarvis, Thomas and Peter. The Rockwells relocated to Arlington, Vermont, in 1939, and the new world that greeted Norman offered the perfect material for the artist to draw from. Rockwell’s success stemmed to a large degree from his careful appreciation for everyday American scenes, the warmth of small-town life in particular. Often what he depicted was treated with a certain simple charm and sense of humor. Some critics dismissed him for not having real artistic merit, but Rockwell’s reasons for painting what he did were grounded in the world that was around him. “Maybe as I grew up and found the world wasn’t the perfect place I had thought it to be, I unconsciously decided that if it wasn’t an ideal world, it should be, and so painted only the ideal aspects of it,” he once said.

“Still, Rockwell didn’t completely ignore the issues of the day. In 1943, inspired by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, he painted the Four Freedoms: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear. The paintings appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post and proved incredibly popular. The paintings also toured the United States and raised in excess of $130 million toward the war effort. In 1953 the Rockwells moved to Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where Norman would spend the rest of his life.” –Biography

IN DEPTH:

BOOK: Best of Norman Rockwell
by Tom Rockwell
Norman Rockwell’s son, Tom, has put together the absolute finest collection of his father’s bounteous body of work, illustrations that bespeak the golden glow of pre- and post-WWII Americana. Rockwell senior, who said he depicted life “as I would like it to be,” chronicled iconic visions of American life: the Thanksgiving turkey, soda fountains, ice skating on the pond, and small-town boys playing baseball-not to mention the beginning of the civil rights movement. Now, the best-selling collection of Rockwell’s most beloved illustrations, organized by decade, is available in a refreshed edition. With more than 150 images-oil paintings, watercolors, and rare black-and-white sketches--this is an uncommonly faithful Rockwell treasury.(...more)
BOOK: Norman Rockwell- Behind the Camera
by Ron Schick
Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera is the first book to explore the meticulously composed and richly detailed photographs that Norman Rockwell used to create his famous artworks. Working alongside skilled photographers, Rockwell acted as director, carefully orchestrating models, selecting props, and choosing locations for the photographs--works of art in their own right--that served as the basis of his iconic images. Readers will be surprised to find that many of his most memorable characters-the girl at the mirror, the young couple on prom night, the family on vacation-were friends and neighbors who served as his amateur models. In this groundbreaking book, author and historian Ron Schick delves into the archive of nearly 20,000 photographs housed at the Norman Rockwell Museum. (...more)
READ & WATCH: American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell

This title is a must-have for all lovers of America's favorite storyteller. "American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell" explores Norman Rockwell's unparalleled role as an American icon-maker and storyteller. The book, a catalogue to a special exhibition at the Norman Rockwell Museum, traces the evolution of Rockwell's art and iconography throughout his career - from carefully choreographed reflections on childhood innocence in such paintings as "No Swimming" (1921) to powerful, consciousness-raising images like "The Problem We All Live With" (1964), which documented the traumatic realities of desegregation in the South. "American Chronicles" demonstrates how Rockwell's images provided Americans with a vocabulary for describing and celebrating themselves, their country, and their experiences in the twentieth century.

'Written in an engaging style and from an insider's point of view, the book begins with Rockwell's early life, student years, and career in Manhattan, Mamaroneck, and New Rochelle, New York. In subsequent chapters, the author explores Rockwell's life and artworks when he lived in Arlington, Vermont, and later in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where he enjoyed the life of a famous working artist for his last 25years. Of special interest to Rockwell aficionados will be the color reproductions of Rockwell's art, color-corrected to the Museum's original paintings. Readers will delight in an array of intriguing archival portraits of Rockwell throughout his life. Many of these images are being published for the first time, for they existed until now only as fragile negatives on acetate film in the Museum's archive. The creation of his 1965 painting "Murder in Mississippi" is told in step-by-step detail, illuminating the artist's working process. Research materials, handwritten notes, reference photographs, preliminary studies, the final painting, the published image in the magazine tear sheet, and portraits of the artist in the midst of creation all make for a captivating and in-depth documentation of Rockwell's working process and methods. The book concludes with 28 pages of rarely or never-before-seen black-and-white photographs of Rockwell's studios from the Museum's comprehensive photographic collection. Photographs by Rockwell's assistants Gene Pelham, Louie Lamone, and Bill Scovill capture the artist and his models at work during the height of his career."...(more)...