Last week I had a chance to go see the Norman Rockwell Exhibit at the BYU museum of art. I went with friends from my critique group. It’s so much fun to go to things like this with other artists. We had a great time analyzing the paintings together. This post is about some of the things I learned by staring at the awesome art.
Norman Rockwell was great at using lost edges.
For example if you look at this painting called Triple Self-Portrait you can see how the man’s trousers are the same color as the canvas. In the original painting there isn’t a line to distinguish the two elements. Your brain fills that line in all on it’s own. Pretty cool.
Norman Rockwell used color grouping. (and you can paint a white dress against a white background too.)
See in that image how the three jackets are all the same color. Tan, tan, and tan. They are three separate elements but since the value/tone and color are similar your brain can read them as one. This is a busy picture full of lots of people and things. The color grouping really helps lead your eye through the image.
Here is another example of color grouping.
Another thing Norman Rockwell did all the time is harder for me to explain, but this image illustrates it very well.
See how that lady has a white dress on. See how the background is white. If I was painting this painting I probably would have made her dress purple or blue. White would have been out of the question. I would have been too afraid of her blending into the background and the image being out of balance. But Norman did it here and I think it’s working. I’m excited to start trying to do more of this type of thing in my paintings.
Norman Rockwell painted a ridiculous amount of studies and took tons of photos.
To see more of his photos into paintings you can check out this blog post.
But it wasn’t just that he took a lot of photos. He did drawings and color studies and more drawings and more color studies until he got what he needed.
Norman Rockwell Painted big paintings.
This is one of my all time Norman Rockwell Favorites. It is 35×39″, and is typical of many of the paintings I saw at the museum. It’s not a mural by any means but it’s much bigger than the sizes I usually work at. He was able to get a lot of detail into the art at this size. I’ve been working the size of my scanner. I think I’m going to try some larger stuff so I can get more of the effects that I want.