Norman RockwellNorman Percevel Rockwell was born on Feb. 3, 1894 in New York, New York. As a boyhe grew fond of the country, where he moved to a few years after he was born, and stayedaway from the city as much as he could, which would later be shown in his works(Buechner, Retrospective, 24). When he was 14, he had to commute to New York Citytwice a week to attend the Chase School of Fine and Applied Art. After awhile hedropped out of his sophomore year of high school, and became a full time student at TheNational Academy School (Buechner, Artist, 38). He illustrated his first Saturday Evening Post cover on May 20, 1916, which was his first big break. Norman Rockwell says, “If one wants to paint covers for the Post, one must begin by accepting certain limitations.”
The cover must please a vast number (no matter how: by amusing, edifying, praising; but it must please); it must not require an explanation or caption to be understood; it must have an instantaneous impact (people won’t bother to puzzle out a cover’s meaning)” (The Norman Rockwell Album, 29). More people have seen Rockwell’s work, mostly on the covers on the widely circulated Saturday Evening Post, more than all of Michelangelo’s, Rembrandt’s, and Picasso’s put together, estimated by Life magazine(Walton 7).
Rockwell creates his pictures in separate stages. First he makes a loose rough draft of his idea. Second, he gathers costumes, props and models. Rockwell’s models areusually his friends, because he knows them and likes them (Walton 16). Later on inRockwell’s lifetime he would stray away from using real models, he would usephotographs to do this step instead. He would take either sketches or pictures and thenpaint them onto canvas. Next he draws individual parts of the picture. Fourth, he wouldsketch the whole drawing in great detail. Fifth, he would put color into his sketches, and sixth he would put all the parts together into the final painting (Buechner, Artist, 44).
Rockwell used foreground invitation in many of his works. Foreground invitation means that the picture suggests that the viewer is entering the picture and into the scene.
Rockwell’s subject matter is average America. For his first 30 years, he paintedscenes of the country, childhood embarrassments, discomforts and humiliations (Buechner, …
…earlystages of childhood innocents, he told us the idealistic American Dream was and hepersuaded us as a country to fight for what is right and protect our freedoms that ourancestors fought so hard for during World War II. Norman Rockwell had a style uniquelyhis own, his illustrations looking so real at times, that it looks like he had justphotographed the image onto canvas. His style was so simple but told you everything youneeded to know, this defined American art perfectly. This style was seen for the work hedid in the Saturday Evening Post and different advertisements thorough his life. His work will be remembered always.
Buechner, Thomas S. Norman Rockwell A Sixty Year Retrospective. New York: HarryN. Abrams Inc., 1972
Buechner, Thomas S. Norman Rockwell Artist and Illustrator. New York: Harry N.Abrams Inc., 1970
Rockwell, Norman The Norman Rockwell Album. Garden City: Doubleday & Company,Inc., 1961
Walton, Donald A Rockwell Portrait. Kansas City: Sheed Andrews and McMeel Inc.,1978
Meyer, Susan E. Norman Rockwell’s World War II Impressions From the Homefront.USAA foundation, 1991