Summary: Norman Rockwell the beloved and talented artist always set out in his paintings to depict life in America and the importance of American Values. In our fast paced society today we need to re-discover these same values this year during the Christmas season
A Norman Rockwell Christmas
Opening video Illustration: The Nativity (clip) – Remembering who the reason for the season is- Jesus.
Opening hands on Illustration: Show some of his pictures from his books and pass the books around!
Thesis: Norman Rockwell the beloved and talented artist always set out in his paintings to depict life in America and the importance of American Values. In our fast paced society today we need to re-discover these same values this year during the Christmas season.
Norman’s brief Biography:
• Americans were extremely receptive to Rockwell’s "Saturday Evening Post" covers. In fact, Rockwell went on to create 321 covers for the Post, each portraying typical American life and values.
• In 1916, the 22-year-old Rockwell painted his first cover for The Saturday Evening Post, the magazine considered by Rockwell to be the "greatest show window in America."
• The 1930s and 1940s are generally considered to be the most fruitful decades of Rockwell’s career. In 1930 he married Mary Barstow, a schoolteacher, and the couple had three sons, Jarvis, Thomas, and Peter. The family moved to Arlington, Vermont, in 1939, and Rockwell’s work began to reflect small-town American life.
• In 1943, inspired by President Franklin Roosevelt’s address to Congress, Rockwell painted the Four Freedoms paintings. They were reproduced in four consecutive issues of The Saturday Evening Post with essays by contemporary writers. Rockwell’s interpretations of Freedom of Speech, Freedom to Worship, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear proved to be enormously popular. The works toured the United States in an exhibition that was jointly sponsored by the Post and the U.S. Treasury Department and, through the sale of war bonds, raised more than $130 million for the war effort.
• See the 4 paintings done by Rockwell
• In 1963, after 47 years at "The Saturday Evening Post," Rockwell parted ways with the magazine. He went to work for "Look" magazine almost immediately. There he was able to express his deepest concerns and interests, such as civil rights and the war on poverty.
• July 1976 brought Rockwell’s last published work, the cover of “American Artist.” He painted himself draping a “Happy Birthday” banner on the Liberty Bell in observance of the Fourth of July and the 200th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
• In 1977 President Gerald R. Ford presented Rockwell with the country’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The award was given for Rockwell’s “vivid and affectionate portraits of our country.”
• On November 8, 1978 Norman Rockwell died in his Stockbridge home at the age of 84, leaving an unfinished painting on his easel. His now nostalgic paintings and illustrations continue to live on in American history, depicting decades of pleasantry and pain. A second edition of his autobiography was published in 1988, with new material from Tom Rockwell, covering the final 20 years of his father’s life. Norman Rockwell’s ability to relate to the values and events of an evolving society made him a hero, a visionary and a friend, not only to Americans but also to individuals all over the globe. In his own words, "Without thinking too much about it in specific terms, I was showing the America I knew and observed to others who might not have noticed."
Quotes by Norman Rockwell
"Without thinking too much about it in specific terms, I was showing the America I knew and observed to others who might not have noticed. My fundamental purpose is to interpret the typical American. I am a story teller."
“I unconsciously decided that, even if it wasn’t an ideal world, it should be and so painted only the ideal aspects of it—pictures in which there are no drunken slatterns or self-centered mothers … only foxy grandpas who played baseball with the kids and boys who fished from logs and got up circuses in the backyard.”
“I cannot convince myself that a painting is good unless it is popular. If the public dislikes one of my Post covers, I can’t help disliking it myself.”
"Commonplaces never become tiresome. It is we who become tired when we cease to be curious and appreciative."
"Every single object shown in a picture should contribute directly to the central theme."
-- From book: Rockwell on Rockwell: How I make a picture, by Norman Rockwell, Watson-Guptill Publications, New York, 1979
“If a picture wasn’t going very well, I’d put a puppy in it.”
"The view of life I communicate in my pictures," Rockwell wrote, "excludes the sordid and ugly. I paint life as I would like it to be."
"If there was sadness in this creative world of mine, it was a pleasant sadness. If there were problems, they were humorous problems."
Quotes about Norman Rockwell
"Even the most brittle cynics melt in the presence of all that wholesomeness. They drop the Armani shield, and they rediscover that this is part of our culture."