Thursday, May 31, 2012

Norman Rockwell

Going along with my previous post regarding getting out of the artist "Funk", one of the ways I've found to jolt myself out of it is by taking one of my many art books off the shelf and allow myself to get lost within its pages.

Today I decided to pull out one of my many Norman Rockwell books. What an inspiration for capturing scenes of everyday life and those special moments that tug at our hearts. About a year or so ago I read an autobiography of Rockwell, titled Norman Rockwell my adventures as an illustrator. I could not put the book down, it was very humorous in the way that he wrote it and much like his paintings, you felt as if you wanted to be a part of his world. Although some have criticised Rockwell for not being a "real" painter and only an illustrator, I believe he was a great communicator, inventor, story teller,  visionary and yes a great painter.  Really someone who could capture a feeling, idea, an aspect of humanity and communicate it so clearly and beautifully.

                                                    Norman Rockwell Behind the Camera

I enjoyed reading about his process of paintings and seeing some of the photos he worked from in some of these books. If he needed an image of say a child running for example, he would prop their feet up with books to look as though he or she was running. If it was a girl he would tie her braids up to look as if they were blowing in the wind. Then he would put himself in that position and animate the action himself so that his little model could see and feel at ease about posing in such a ridiculous pose. I learned a lot from reading his biography especially since I work with children so much.

                                             Norman Rockwel my adventures as an illustrator

When he found a great character to use as one of his models he would use them over and over again until they moved out of town or the Evening Post would nag at  him "enough is enough", and then he would disguise that favorite model somehow to keep using them. the secrets out, I've done that myself as well.

Another favorite subject of his was none other then man's best friend, the dog. I guess it adds a certain nostalgia to the paintings, it confirms our need for companionship as humans and just adds to the universal truths Rockwell so often painted. I've not added the trusted dog yet to any of my work but I'm sure it will come about sooner or later.

I love paintings that evoke some sort of emotion or feeling within, something that I can relate to on a deeper level. It may speak to the reality of life, family, friends, good times, bad times, it speaks to the core of who I am.  I can connect with the piece and therefore I am a part of it and I believe the artist has communicated something profound,  not just a surface level but a much deeper level at the core of every human being.  Many artists have done this in a variety of ways, some, dare I say in a much more illustrative way as in Rockwell's work and others in a more painterly way as maybe Sorolla and others like him. I think in either way, if you are able to  speak to the viewer at this deep level you are an artist, a visual communicator and that I believe is a blessed, and amazing gift.

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