His Art Lives On . . .by Martha Rogers
As a child growing up in the 1940's, I remember my grandfather and his Saturday Evening Post magazines. He loved Norman Rockwell, and I grew to love them as well. I'd always rush in to see Grandpa and ask him right off where the new issue was, and it was always by his chair.
Over the years that love grew, and now I have a collection of items based on his paintings. When the opportunity came for us to go to New England in 1999, one place went on my must see list, and that was Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
Here is the scrapbook from which I took the picture up above.
This remarkable artist was born in New York on February 3, 1894 to Jarvis and Anne Rockwell. From the type of art he produced, many may believe he grew up in the country, but he grew up in the city of his birth where he experienced the violence of neighborhood gangs. His family liked to spend holidays in the country, and from that the artist developed his idyllic vision of rural life.
He exhibited his talent at the early age 14, he enrolled in art classes at what is now The New York School of Art. Two years later, in 1910, he enrolled at the National Academy of Design, but then he soon transferred to The Art Students League. There he studied with Thomas Fogarty and George Bridgman. He received instruction in illustration from Fogarty, and that led Rockwell to his first commercial commissions. He also learned technical techniques, on which he would rely for his career, from Bridgman. His goal in school was not to become a painter but a professional illustrator.
When WWll started, Rockwell was commissioned to paint a series of covers featuring a recruit named Willie Gillis. The paintings, from 1941 to 1946, described the life of an American boy starting with his first day in uniform and on until his happy return home. No combat images were used. Instead Rockwell chose the soldier's ideal rather than war.
President Franklin Roosevelt's speech in Congress on the four fundamental freedoms inspired Rockwell to paint his now familiar The Four Freedoms. First published in 1943, they were reproduced into thousands of posters and exhibited in cities across America. Too old to serve in the army, Rockwell saw this as his way of helping America win the war. This is my favorite one. Freedom from Want
By Norman Rockwell - U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16925987
He ended his collaboration with the Post in 1964 and began a new work experience with Look and illustrated for them for over ten years. His main interests in those years represented his deep interest in civil rights, poverty, the Viet Nam war and the conquest of space. In 1977 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom which his son Jaris received for him.
He spent many years in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where he had a studio. Below is Rockwell at the door to his red studio. I have a model of it along with the Main street collection.
One of his paintings is Main Street and depicts the shops of that street in Stockbridge. That's the town where he died in 1978 due to complications of emphysema. First lady Rosalyn Carter attended that funeral. Below is a section of re-creation of Main Street in a collection of the buildings in the painting. I have the painting so that I can get the buildings in the right order. A few others have been added including a church, his studio, and home. All are numbered and labeled from the Hawthorne Authorized Collection.
I will always remember the great trip to Stockbridge where we visited the stores and toured his studio.
If you ever have a chance to visit Stockbridge, do so. It is a marvelous experience to see all of Rockwell's paintings in the museum and walk the streets he so beautifully depicted.
Are familiar with Norman Rockwell and his paintings? If so, do you have any you particularly like?
The first book in my new series, Treasure Quest, is now available.In Treasure for the Heart, Addie Wingate discovers a letter from her great-grandfather while searching for books in their attic. The reference to a great treasure and a cryptic poem leads her on a search for the treasure, but what she finds on the way may turn out to be more valuable than any treasure she could uncover on the ranch where she lives.
Martha Rogers is a multi-published author and writes a weekly devotional for ACFW. Martha and her husband Rex live in Houston, Texas where they are active members of First Baptist Church. They are the
parents of three sons and grandparents to eleven grandchildren and great-grandparents to six. Martha is a retired teacher with twenty-eight years teaching Home Economics and English at the secondary level and eight years teaching Freshman English at the college level. She is a member of ACFW, ACFW WOTS chapter in Houston, and serves as President of the writers’ group, Inspirational Writers Alive.