Rockwell was undoubtedly America's most popular artist in the middle of the twentieth century, having painted over 300 covers for the weekly Saturday Evening Post. His style was exaggerated realism, with realistic-looking characters and circumstances tinged with caricature.
His subjects ranged from patriotic themes such as "Freedom From Want" to social commentary such as "The Problem We Face Today." Although best known for his cover paintings, which often featured small groups of ordinary Americans doing their part to promote or protest something important to them, Rockwell also produced extensive body of work on a variety of other topics including military life, travel, and history.
His most popular series is The Four Seasons, which includes portraits of young women representing each of the seasons. These illustrations have become symbols of hope during times of turmoil because they reflect an optimism and spirit of cooperation that we need now more than ever before.
Besides being extremely talented, Norman Rockwell had other advantages when it came to becoming America's favorite painter. He was careful not to compromise himself by producing works that were controversial for their time or that would alienate any potential customers. Instead, he focused on telling stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary things, which has made him particularly relevant for today's society where real change needs to come from within our own communities rather than waiting for it to happen at the federal level.
Rockwell painted 321 Saturday Evening Post covers, one fewer than his admired guru, Leyendecker. It was clearly Rockwell's humble show of ultimate respect to the man he regarded as his teacher.
The first Saturday Evening Post cover art by Norman Rockwell was done in 1939. He continued to paint covers until just before his death in 1978 at the age of 91. During that time, he became one of the most popular artists in American history. His paintings brought an end to the era of the gloomy Depression-era portrait and ushered in a more optimistic time when families enjoyed activities such as bowling and dancing.
In addition to his covers, Rockwell also did numerous illustrations for other magazines including McCall's, Ladies' Home Journal, The New Yorker, and Time.
He has been called "the father of modern illustration." His artwork has sold for up to $1 million at auction.
There are six museums dedicated to his work: the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts; the Norman Rockwell Center for Painting and Printmaking in Wilton CT; the Norman Rockwell Museum & Gallery in Great Mills MD (opened February 2016); the Norman Rockwell Museum & Shop in South Dennis MA (opened July 2015); and the Norman Rockwell Museum & Gallery in Pawling NY (opened December 2014).
Paintings that are modeled after Norman Rockwell's structural style will have a rather flat backdrop. Rockwell was an illustrator well known for his work on magazine covers. It was critical that his paintings be immediately identified and that his subjects stand out from the backdrop. A flat, black or white background serves this purpose very well.
If you look at some of Rockwell's early covers, you'll see that he used a brownish-yellow color for the backdrops of his scenes. This is because most original art stock was printed using four colors: red, blue, yellow and black. When multiple colors were needed to print an image, they were mixed together in large containers called "swatches" and then applied one at a time with oil paint or ink. The colors used in these backgrounds were chosen to match as many items in the scene as possible to give them more realism. For example, if there was a yellow chair in the picture, the background swatch would also be made of yellow.
After World War II, when Rockwell started painting social commentary subjects such as poverty, racism, and war, he often included people of different races, religions, and nationalities in his works. For these subjects, he required his artists to include human figures and faces in their paintings. This was something that had not been done before by any other artist and it caused quite a stir in the art world.
Norman Rockwell witnessed key creative trends such as Impressionism, Cubism, Surrealism, and Abstract Expressionism throughout his career. However, by pursuing a career as an illustrator, he became as well-known to the American public as the images he drew. During World War II, Rockwell created more than 1,000 paintings that were published in newspapers across the country to show how Americans were fighting back against Hitler's tyranny.
After the war ended, Rockwell continued to create popular illustrations, including some of the most famous scenes from American life. In 1958, he received the highest honor that any American artist can receive: He was elected into the National Academy of Design.
Even after his retirement in 1978, Rockwell remained active as an artist and political activist. In 2004, he was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush for his efforts to promote American patriotism during World War II and since then have increased awareness of important issues such as peace, freedom, and democracy around the world.
In addition to being an accomplished painter, Norman Rockwell was also a writer, director, and actor. He wrote several books about his experiences as an illustrator and painted several scenes for films and television shows. One of his most famous paintings is "The Problem Solver," which has been used as inspiration for many advertisements over the years.