Norman Rockwell Biography
Norman Rockwell Biography (continued): In 1918, Rockwell attempted to enlist in the US Navy. He was denied entry, at first, for being seventeen pounds underweight.
The doctor on duty was allowed to waive the first ten pounds. So Rockwell had to gain seven pounds to be eligible to enlist. The "treatment" for being underweight was a quick diet of bananas, doughnuts and water. Several hours and seven pounds later, sloshing and dizzy, Rockwell was in the Navy.
On his way to his first Naval assignment in Queenstown, Ireland, the ship was diverted because of submarine activity. The ship sailed to Charleston, South Carolina. Rockwell ended up being assigned there instead of overseas. He became the art editor for the Naval Base publication, entitled Afloat & Ashore. He was put in charge of the camp's morale.
In 1924, Rockwell produced his first painting for a Boy Scouts of America calendar. This began a fifty year streak that only missed two years. Brown & Bigelow published the Boy Scout Calendar. The painting was then given to the Boy Scouts and published on the cover of Boy's Life. Most of those paintings now reside at the National Scouting Museum.
In 1927, Norman Rockwell made his first trip to Europe. He traveled with his friends, Dean Parmelee and Bill Backer. He toured England, Germany, France, Italy and Spain, sketching the whole way. Then he lost his sketchbook in Madrid. He had sketched the trip purely for his own enjoyment. The loss was greatly felt.
Then, after a tour of Morocco, Rockwell, Parmelee and Backer returned home.
In the summer of 1929, Rockwell traveled to Europe with friends, three couples. He lived the high life in Europe that summer. His wife Irene had stayed behind. Upon his return, his wife Irene asked for a divorce.
In 1930, he traveled to California to visit his old friend and studio mate, Clyde Forsythe. Forsythe had urged Rockwell to get out of New York for a while. Rockwell had been miserable as a bachelor and man-about-town.
While in California, he met Mary Barstow. They were married April 17, 1930 in Alhambra, alifornia. The August 23, 1930 cover of The Saturday Evening Post features Mary on its cover. She was the model for the wife in the painting, The Breakfast Table.
In 1931, Jarvis Waring Rockwell, the couple's first of three sons, was born.
The next year, in 1932, the new family traveled to Europe. Rockwell had reached a point in his work where he couldn't satisfy himself, feeling that his paintings were lacking. So he and Mary packed Jarvis and their belongings and went to live in Paris for eight months. The trip didn't help his feelings that his work was "third-rate." Finally he painted through those feelings and his self-confidence returned.
In 1933, Thomas Rhodes Rockwell, the second son out of three, was born to the couple.
In 1935, Rockwell received commissions from George Macy of Heritage Press to illustrate Mark Twain's classics The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (published 1936) and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (published 1940). Rockwell's illustrations remain the standard today for those books.
In 1936, Peter Barstow Rockwell, the couple's third son, was born.
A life as big and full as Rockwell's can't be told on only one page.
Norman Rockwell Biography, page two (1918-1936)...
Norman Rockwell Biography, page three (1938-1953)...
Norman Rocwell Biography, page four (1953-1978)...
Do you have a personal story about this painting? Do you know the model personally? Do you have a different take on the commentary?
Norman Rockwell Quotes:
I'll never have enough time to paint all the pictures I'd like to.
No man with a conscience can just bat out illustrations. He's got to put all his talent and feeling into them!
Some people have been kind enough to call me a fine artist. I've always called myself an illustrator. I'm not sure what the difference is. All I know is that whatever type of work I do, I try to give it my very best. Art has been my life.
Right from the beginning, I always strived to capture everything I saw as completely as possible.
The secret to so many artists living so long is that every painting is a new adventure. So, you see, they're always looking ahead to something new and exciting. The secret is not to look back.
I can take a lot of pats on the back. I love it when I get admiring letters from people. And, of course, I'd love it if the critics would notice me, too.
You must first spend some time getting your model to relax. Then you'll get a natural expression.
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Norman Rockwell Biography