Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Norman Rockwell - Behind the Camera - Ron Schick

Norman Rockwell is an American icon. His style is easily identifiable, but I had no idea of the processes he used to produce his paintings until I read Behind the Camera.

At first, Rockwell posed his ideas using live models and made preliminary sketches to paint from later. But this proved difficult, as it was hard for the models to hold the expressions that are a hallmark of his style. The next step - photography.

"Photography opened a door to the keenly observed realism that defines Norman Rockwell's art."

But Rockwell struggled with the idea of using photography as a tool to prepare for his painting. Indeed, he took criticism from some of his peers for this decision, but realized he could capture moments in time quickly and reproduce them at leisure.

Thankfully, those photographs have been kept in the Massachusetts Norman Rockwell Museum. This book was produced with those photographic archives.

It is utterly fascinating to see the finished painting on one side of the page and then view the photographs that he used to achieve the look he wanted. Rockwell always used everyday people. All of the props used in a picture/painting were authentic. Details were very important to him.

"I love to tell stories in pictures."

And his pictures do tell stories. The expressions and the details make his work fairly leap off the page. You have to explore every corner. Many times Rockwell painted himself in as an extra.

There are detailed descriptions accompanying every plate. The book itself progresses linearly, from his early work, though to his last completed work - a self portrait in 1976.

The book is beautiful, produced on heavy, glossy stock with hundreds of images. A wonderful coffee table book and one to share. I'm taking mine over when I visit my grandmother. I know she'll enjoy looking at remembered images.

Rockwell's career began in 1916 when he sold two covers to the Saturday Evening Post. His partnership with them lasted 47 years. It is this publication that his work is most closely linked to, although his work appeared on the covers of 79 other publications. His career spanned 65 years and will live on in history.


Patti V. said...

This book looks great! I remember so many of those Saturday Evening Post covers!

fredamans said...

I love Norman Rockwell. My mom has a lot of his plates. Good review!

GirlwiththeBraids said...

His paintings are one-of-a-kind. I remember he was the first artist I ever learned about. Good review! It was very interesting.

bermudaonion said...

I love Norman Rockwell's work, so I'm sure I'd love this book. Great review!

carolsnotebook said...

What a great idea for Christmas.

Teddy Rose said...

This books sounds fascinating! I had no idea what his process was.