Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Appreciating Rockwell

-By Dan dos Santos

Norman Rockwell is so well known, and so universally admired amongst Illustrators, that it sometimes makes it easy to overlook him. We hear his name, and immediately think of Thanksgiving, puppy dogs and band-aids... so we don't bother to explore him further.

Norman Rockwell was an incredibly versatile storyteller, and deserves a second look more often than many of us give him. Whenever I go through his work, I find something new to appreciate. That's why over the next few days, I'd like to show off our buddy Norm a bit. Some great paintings, his photographic reference, and his personal inspirations.

For starters, let's get rid of that 'puppy-dog' notion right off the bat.

Southern Justice (Murder in Mississippi), 1965. 


  1. Wow! speechless.....Thanks for posting this can't to see what else you've got!

  2. Went to his Stockbridge museum over break... !

  3. wow cool!! didn´t know he painted these themes too.. allways saw him as an "happy world" illustrator!

  4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The-problem-we-all-live-with-norman-rockwell.jpg

    Ruby Bridges walks to school in 1960.

    Thanks for posting this!

    Nina Hoffman

  5. Wow...great work...thanks for posting this!

    And it's true, you always find something new to appreciate :)

  6. I love his Lincoln paintings. And Freedom of Speech is one of my favourite paintings, ever. Sadly, I've never seen any of his paintings in the flesh.

  7. I've been to the museum Stockbridge a few times. It is amazing. ....People criticize his work for being overly sentimental, nostalgic, or even jejune. But his images are incredibly optimistic and innocent, and in a world saturated with nihilistic messages, and dark imagery, I always found his work a welcome addition to my illustration library. ...Besides, not a bad legacy, to leave the world a little better than when you entered it. You know?


  8. Yes, this is very different than the Norman Rockwell that I am used to seeing.

    Like Steve (above) said, I really enjoy his "...sentimental, nostalgic..." imagery. I can't imagine a world without those iconic images :)

    this new (for me) look in to his other work is something I am looking forward to as well.

    Thanks for the post!

  9. Thats one of my favorites. He really captured a dark moment.
    Thanks for sharing!

  10. This calls to mind Phil Hale's work.

  11. Oh man! how fitting to post about our mighty Illustration Master! this Friday I am excited to say that I will have the pleasure to visit the Dayton Art Institute for the weekend. They are hosting a pretty massive collection of his work which will be on display for the rest of January.


    Open invitation for anyone interested to come join me in the drool-fest that is 200+ Rockwell Originals!

    Man.. on a side note.. for all fledgling Illustrators who may still be in school.. take a look how many FINISHED illustrations that man would pump out in a year.. then talk about how hard it is to pump one out every 6 weeks. hehe. Talk about a real ass kicking reality check!

  12. Correction...

    "42 original artworks, as well as a complete set of 323 Saturday Evening Post cover sheets spanning 47 years."

    Either way.. 42.. or 2 it's still worth the 5.5 hour drive from Nashville. :)

  13. I agree, he was a painter and storyteller first. I had a chance to see his work in San Diego a few years back and was bowled over by the originals, some in a palette different than his illustration work, and work not typically seen.

  14. Dayton has a great little room dedicated to this story and development of the image. Really worth seeing, along with the other works.

    Oddly enough the publication printed his color study instead of the final

  15. I just saw this piece in person today at the Normal Rockwell exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. It is unbelievably powerful in person. The exhibit also included the incredibly powerful "The Problem We All Live With". I have always admired Rockwell's talent as an illustrator, but after seeing this exhibit, I have to count him among my all time favorite artists.