Saturday, December 18, 2010

Did Norman Rockwell Trace? & Dining in a Rockwell Painting

Book: Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera
Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera
During the first half of the 20th Century, radio brought news and music into American homes but the visuals, for adults, came through the mail, in the form of slick national magazines. The Illustrators who decorated these magazine covers were household names at that time. How many people can name a working illustrator today? One of the last celebrity magazine illustrators was Norman Rockwell (American, 1894–1978), who became mostly famous for his 47 years of Saturday Evening Post covers (332 covers total). 

For the first 10 years or so of these commissions, Rockwell would hire professional models to pose all day while he sketched and painted the preliminary art for his cover paintings. Sometime in the late 1930s Norman turned to photography to replace the live model. This freed him up in many ways, most importantly he was able to capture expressions and gestures which were impossible with life drawing. Also the black and white photographic images allowed him to choose his color scheme and more easily add details by combining many photo references to create one painting. These photos he would project onto the canvases to get the exact proportions.

Rockwell was never proud of this photo / tracing technique, he thought it was cheating, but as they say everyone was doing it and although he was a great draftsman, this process made for a better final product.

"Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera" was organized by The Norman Rockwell Museum where they recently digitized and organized all 20,000 of Rockwell's negatives. The exhibition shows the exact photos behind the paintings. Most of the photos are fairly bland and have no sense of completeness or overall warmth, they are just pieces of a puzzle. Only the final paintings have a friendly glow and in many ways are more realistic. These photos were completely cast, composed and directed by Rockwell although taken by a professional photographer. The relatively quick photo sessions allowed him to use friends, neighbors and real people, who just looked right, to be the models for his paintings. 

First and foremost Rockwell was a storyteller. For most Americans who do not follow the art world or who seldom go to an art museum, Norman Rockwell is the ONLY American artist they really know and respect.

In this exhibition, his process is revealed and some of his "super hero" varnish is removed, but Norman Rockwell's paintings will forever be how American history remembers the first half of the 20th century. He thought America should be portrayed as nostalgic, friendly and positive but slightly awkward, and many people in his paintings have very thin necks - ie: "every painting is a self-portrait".

You can go to this exhibition to see these never before seen photos, but I think a better motivation for going is to see inside the mind of this talented storyteller and artist. Look closely at his original drawings and paintings, they are masterfully painted, often with very little paint applied to the canvas. Better yet, schedule a trip to Stockbridge, Massachusetts and The Rockwell Museum to learn even more about (most of) America's favorite artist.

Norman Rockwell, The Tattoo Artist, 
1944, Oil on canvas, 43 1/8 x 33 1/8 in. (109.5 x 84.1 cm
All Art © Norman Rockwell Museum is used as a courtesy to promote the exhibition at The Brooklyn Museum of Art

"Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera" runs through April 12, 2011 at The Brooklyn Museum, Robert E. Blum Gallery, 1st Floor, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, New York 11238-6052 Hours: Wed.–Fri. 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Sat.–Sun. 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Contact Telephone: (718) 638-5000  Admission / Suggested Contribution: $10 Students with Valid ID: $6 Adults 62 and over: $6 Children under 12: Free 

The Famous Four Freedoms Prints are among the many custom Rockwell prints available from $20.00 to $75.00 depending on size.

Freedom of Speech Giclee Print

Freedom from Want Giclee Print

Freedom to Worship Giclee Print

Freedom from Fear Giclee Print


Give the opera lovers on your holiday list a full year of unlimited access to more than 300 great Met performances with a gift subscription to Met Player. Your gift can be sent immediately via email, or on one of the six new elegant gift cards in the mail. 

Met Player, a one-of-a-kind online opera destination, features spectacular productions from the Met's award-winning "Live in HD movie-theater transmissions", along with a wide range of other unforgettable Met performances—all available for viewing or listening on your computer. Enjoy the stars of today—including Plácido Domingo, Renée Fleming, Juan Diego Flórez, Elīna Garanča, and Anna Netrebko—and rediscover such legends as Luciano Pavarotti, Leontyne Price, Beverly Sills, and Joan Sutherland.

Every month, your present will bring exciting new releases on Met Player, including more Live in HD productions, like January's: Anna Netrebko in Donizetti's Don Pasquale.

And, you can always treat yourself to Met Player this holiday season as well. The Met invites you to try Met Player free for 7 days, choose from several subscription options for unlimited access, or purchase a one-time rental of any opera title.
Click To View Video of Executive Chef Brian J. Alberg talk about his food.

Red Lion Inn Mug, Stockbridge, Norman Rockwell, 1967
 Available at The Norman Rockwell Museum Shop   TROYM  $10,1399.html
To actually dine inside of a Norman Rockwell Painting check out the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. In the Berkshires, this restaurant offers gourmet cuisine and New England hospitality. The Red Lion Inn (Hotel) is a destination in itself and only a short distance away from The Norman Rockwell Museum. The Restaurant's wine list offers more than 200 selections and has received the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for seven consecutive years. For a great mid-winter meal and escape for the weekend,  call 413-298-5545 to inquire about dinner reservations. For lodging availability go to

$49 adults, $24.50 children (12 & under)
 * * * choose a starter
Scallop & Shrimp Bisque
Roasted Squash & Apple Soup  
Porcini Mushroom Gnocchi
Farm Girl Farm Heirloom Tomato Puree & Rosemary Toast
Hudson Valley Duck Confit
Berkshire Blue Risotto & Dried Cranberries
 * * * salad
Equinox Farm Field Greens
Ioka Maple Vinaigrette, Pears & Candied Walnuts
 * * * choose a main course
- Roast Pheasant Breast
Zehr Farms Braised Mushrooms, Anna Potatoes & Sautéed Spinach
- Grilled Filet Mignon
Rosemary Potato Cake, French Beans & Burgundy Reduction
- Pan Seared Organic Salmon
Lobster Mashed Potatoes, Buttered Asparagus & Creamed Leeks
- Root Vegetable Risotto
Rainbow Chard, Acorn Squash Puree & Parsnip Crisps
 * * * choose a dessert
Mascarpone & Ricotta Cheese Cake with Lemon Crust
Banana Bread Pudding with Maple Bourbon Sauce
Flourless Chocolate Torte with Espresso Cream
Pecan Balls with Vanilla Ice Cream & Caramel Sauce


Early Seating - Adults $89, Children 12 & under $44.50
The Gala Event - Dinner, Dancing plus Midnight Toast $150
 Please call 413.298.1690 for reservations 

New York City Event at James Beard House

On February 4, 2011, the James Beard Foundation presents The Whole Hog, an evening showcasing the culinary talents and farm-to-table efforts of several of the most innovative chefs of the Berkshire region, led by the Red Lion inn Executive Chef Brian J. Alberg. The dinner takes place at 6:30PM at the James Beard House located at 167 West 12th Street. The price is $125 per person for James Beard Foundation members and $165 per person for the general public. For reservations, please call 212.627.2308.

Until Later,

© ARTS&FOOD, ( All rights reserved, © Copyright Jack A. Atkinson  2010 Under All International, Digital, Intellectual Property and Copyright Laws. Images © Copyright individual Creators, Lenders or Fabricators.

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