“Triple Self Portrait” – 1960
All images supplied through “Google Images”
by Felicity Blaze Noodleman
It would not be an exaggeration to say that Norman Rockwell is the greatest artist this country has ever produced! There are not enough superlatives to describe his work nor enough praise to complement his genius. He was and still is simply the best of the best. As a nation, the United States has produced some great artist. Depending upon your taste in the world of art, one look at a Norman Rockwell painting will hook you drawing (no pun intended) us all into his world. I would even classify his talents listing him among some of the world’s greatest artists placing him with Michael Angelo or one of the Dutch Masters.
“Girl At Mirror” – 1954
Rockwell captures a very intimate moment as the young lady
compares herself with a magazine photograph. In truth she is
More beautiful than the model in the publication.
Rockwell’s eye was sharper than any camera lens. His whit was sublime. His perspective was so human. No other artist has ever come close to paralleling the mastery and perfection that was his and his alone. Some have tried to replicate his style and if “imitation is the highest and most sincere form of flattery” than this alone speaks the loudest in tribute. I am envious of all those who are fortunate enough to own one of his original paintings. The canvas which bear his famous and distinctive signature; Norman Rockwell. He and his paintings are national treasures.
“The Homecoming” – 1945
Classic Rockwell “Saturday Evening Post” Cover
His studio was the world around him – the people and the American landscape of his time which was probably learned during his youth. He brought all he saw into a “still life” portrait of humor and satire. A slice of Americana which touched us all to our core. If he had been a writer in the 1800’s he would have given the great novelist, Mark Twain an equal to measure up to. In fact, I could classify the two men together. Maybe this is Rockwell’s secret. Maybe this is why he is so beloved, not only by his own generation, but by all those which have followed.
“The Young Lady With The Shiner” – 1953
When I was studying photography all those years ago I soon learned there was more to the mechanics of the camera and the chemical reaction between light, film and photographic printing paper. I began to look beyond the books and instruction offered in my classes to learn not only how to take a picture but how make a great illustration of my work. I wanted to make every print a “Rembrandt” and a “Master”. Technically and artistically correct in every aspect, or at least as many points as possible.
April Fools – “Girl With Shopkeeper” – 1948
I began to study the work of other great photographers: Eisanstat, Adams, Liebovitz and Capa. The photography of these legends then lead me into the world of art and guess who was there? Rockwell, Remington, Disney and a host of other world class painters who taught me that there was more to the subject being photographed than just their physical form. Seeing more than what my camera lens was showing me. This is something which can’t be taught, it is only felt and interpreted by expression. This is where Rockwell excelled. This is why he is my favorite artist above all others. He has been my mentor.
(Above) Rockwell’s style imitated by artist Mark Dos Santos
(Below) Computer “Wall Paper” illustrates Rockwell’s popularity
Norman Percevel Rockwell was born in New York City February 3, 1894 where he lived and grew up. Leaving high school at the age of 14 he attended three different art schools; Chase, the National Academy of Design and the Art Students League. Rockwell’s’ artistic prowess was becoming evident at an early age publishing his first book of illustrations in 1912. By 1913 - 16 at the age of 19 he became the art editor for “Boys’ Life”, published by the Boy Scouts of America. This would point the direction he would follow for the remainder of his life.
Small Town America
During the time that Norman began his career in the early 1900’s magazines were the main stream media of the day. Movies and radio were still in their infancy; there was no television and certainly no computer and Internet. Magazines and publishing were very, very big in the day so it would be fair to say that he was becoming a media star at a young age publishing his first magazine cover in 1913.
“The Problem We All Live With” – 1964
Throughout his professional career working for a number of publications Norman continued his unique style illustration and is best remembered for his work with the “Saturday Evening Post” where he painted an incredible 323 magazine covers spanning some 47 years. As a result of his success Rockwell received a number of commissions for projects ranging from presidential to record album covers. “Look” magazine became Norman’s new home for 10 years where he worked on more serious topics such as civil rights, poverty and space exploration.
“Grissom and Young” – U.S. NASA Astronauts
In 1977 the “Presidential Medal for Freedom” was presented to this prestigious painter and illustrator, the highest civilian honor available from the United States. He is known to have painted some 4,000 works and a custodianship (the Norman Rockwell Museum) was established near his home in Stockbridge, Massachusetts as a conservatory for his work. Other Rockwell originals may be found in various public collections.
“Freedom To Worship” – 1943
Norman lived to be 84 years of age and died November 8, 1978. Fortunately his best works are available for viewing on Google Images and his web site. A number of books have also been published illustrating a great number of his paintings. This article has been dedicated to highlighting some of his most memorable works.
(Above)“John F. Kennedy” – 35th. President of The United States