August was a busy month, and my few entries here is proof of that. Apart from work and other activities in the real world that filled up my time, August was my birthday month too! My family and I spent a weekend in the beautiful Puerto Princesa in Palawan. Everyone HAS TO visit that place!
While celebrating my birthday dinner at KaLui – an open-air, all-seafood, artsy and homey restaurant – the ceiling right across me had these series of paintings. Whose these are, I didn’t get to read.
The kids as subjects were adorable, and I love how they look and feel distinctly Filipino. Immediately I thought of my faaavorite American artist — Norman Rockwell.
My friends know how obsessed I am with Rockwell’s work. Out of the many artists I read about, I have the most books about him. One of these books is the source for this entry entitled Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera.
It’s a bit difficult to find Rockwell’s paintings in museums because, unfortunately, many don’t consider his work as “art”. Primarily it’s because he’s known more as an illustrator for publications like The Saturday Evening Post. Another big reason why many museums shun his work is because he’s pretty open about his method of photographing his subjects and painting over them.
Many have said that Rockwell is “cheating” because of what he does, even if the photos he bases his paintings on are by him too!
But honestly, if you see how lovely his paintings turn out based on the photos he took, you wouldn’t really care. Observe:
Rockwell uses neighbors, friends, relatives, his wife and children, and even himself — as his photographic subjects. He meticulously styles and poses them — complete with props! — to achieve his artistic vision.
The soda jerk Rockwell photographed below is his son Peter! And this was based on Peter’s actual experience working as one.
He became a famous and sought-after illustrator, and many of his cover illustrations were lovingly looked forward to and collected every week. Because of the quick and many deadlines by the publishers, Rockwell’s use of photography worked to his advantage.
One of my faaaavorites, entitled Day in the Life of a Little Girl, is a series of anecdotal illustrations of an American girl living in the 50s. Rockwell worked on photographing every single image as hard as he did painting them!
It’s pretty obvious that Rockwell enjoys having children his subjects. He succeeds in getting the kids to trust him, resulting in the cutest and most honest expressions and poses. Rockwell is more than a painter and photographer — he’s also a director.
Norman Rockwell is world famous today, and his original illustrations are hugely coveted. Reproductions of his work are everywhere, and each one leaves the viewer with a pleasant sense of familiarity and nostalgia, even if the viewer is not an American or didn’t live during the 40s-50s. This is the magic of Norman Rockwell’s hand, both as a painter and photographer — whatever his methods are, it’s the emotions his works bring out that leave an unforgettable and indelible mark in our lives.