Friday, December 11, 2009

Norman Rockwell's Reference Photographs

Norman Rockwell was one of America's Prime Illustrators. His photorealistic magazine covers and posters made him a household name. His illustrations are etched in our collective memory. But, if your memory is as bad as mine I have included a google image search below:
In addition to his biography...

I got interested on his creative process. The mechanics from which he created an idealized version of the United States. The Mayberry town. Happy folk. Walk to the river stuff. Have some hot coffee with the guys at the grocery store. Back when America was living in innocence. Before the interstate highways. That is where these two articles come in:

So...Rockwell used photographs as a reference point to create the pictures. Does this make him a lesser artist? In my opinion it doesn't. Some sketch, some make thumbnails, rough drafts, pencil sketches to get that perfect angle going. He went a step further. He comissioned familiy, friends and neighbors to pose for artistic black and white photographs where he adjusted the just perfect picture composition. No color photos, just plain black and white photographs.

This was a way to determine the perfect composition. Anyone can take a picture. Just push a button some may say. But the thought and artistic vision of arranging all the right elements and put them together is incredible. And this was just as a reference point.

Here is the reference picture used to generate the finalized art above. Note that most of the compositional elements are similar but the characteristics and implicit comedy are not on the picture. He modifies the art as he goes to make it comedic and entertaining. That was his genius. Want pure realism, just paste a picture. Want a soul, even if it is make believe, that is in the master's strokes.

Oh! - and by the way, there is no pun intended on the use of the marriage counselor art and the fact that Mildred and I celebrate our 17th aniversary today...

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1 comment:

antigonum cajan said...

Nuestro Norman Rockwell es un adventista que siempre pintaba casas tipo bohio i escenas del viejo san jauan con bastante geometria rigiga sin imaginacion.

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