Norman Rockwell is the quintessential American painter and illustrator of all-time. Yep, the man so permeated American culture that even modern-day artists still channel his art deco-inspired style up to this day! Yep, seeing Norman Rockwell paintings are indeed the real deal!
And speaking of “style”, don’t you ever wonder how you can paint like the man himself? Well, you really don’t need to go to a fancy-schmancy art school to learn doing so (but, of course, that helps as well: all you really need for this purpose is to know the proper “techniques” behind his processes and, of course, having the proper “inspiration” for it! Here are some tips we have below for you so you can draw and paint like Norman Rockwell himself!
Choosing the right mentor
Artists are defined by their “teachers” as much as by their output. In this regard, Norman Rockwell is also the same as any artist who came before and after him. And who was his mentor through all of those budding years of his? Well, it’s none other than J.C. Leyendecker, the Jazz Age painter who first came up with the “art deco” style that eventually permeated Americana as we know it for much of the ‘50s and ‘60s!
In typical fashion, Rockwell didn’t idolize Leyendecker as much as consciously “imitate” his style and his demeanor, even: in his autobiography published in 1960, Rockwell basically admitted to “stalking” Leyendecker as much as studying his techniques and drawing patterns. So, whilst it can be safe to say that their relationship was not a traditional mentor-student ideal as much as fan-idol one, Rockwell was still able to find his own voice, thanks to the pervasive influence of Leyendecker. So, all’s well that ends well, yes?
Drawing from photographs
One of the many reasons why Rockwell didn’t get the recognition he deserved from the famously snobbish art circle during his peak was that because his “style” itself was an inversion to all the concepts that every contemporary of his held to be true. By that, we mean that he really did not draw using “freehand”: he always used some form of photograph or any kind of still-life medium to bring his vision to reality.
And really, there’s nothing wrong with that: many kids learned drawing by simply imitating from pictures, after all. On the other hand, no one can really accuse Rockwell of “imitating” anything since all the photos he used as templates for his drawings were all conceptualized by him, using a revolving cast of photographers and “models”—many of which are his neighbours and friends—to help him achieve this purpose.
So, can this method work for you? Well, it certainly did for him! His paintings were all full of whimsy, but it still contains a sense of “earthliness” because he chose to represent REAL people than make up one from scratch! And since we’re still on this manner, this next item should show to you why his paintings became iconic for the way they still are today…
Using everyday life as “inspiration”
Many of Rockwell’s works stood out in the first place because of the fact that he did paint what he was seeing from his everyday life. In particular, his ‘Four Freedoms’ series illustrates many of the scenes that are typical of regular American life, even up to this day. His ‘Freedom from Want’ even got known to be as the “Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving”, for goodness’s sake!
In another life, Rockwell may have been a stellar photographer because of the fact that he has an eye for lively details that so many garden-variety photogs miss out so much. But, at the very least, we’ve got these paintings of his to remember him by!
So, are you confident that you can create your own version of the Norman Rockwell paintings? Well, you probably may not, but at least you can learn many things from his techniques! Good luck!