Monday, October 06, 2008

Missing Norman Rockwell

I like to consider myself an artist--whether I am or not, isn't the issue, I guess. I paint the covers for my novels, and I write the pages beneath them. Both the writing and the painting is art to me. Like most artists, I do want to be a great at it someday. I know it's something that's subjective and something I'll always strive for, not achieve--but I can relate to artists. I admire them, no matter if they depict life or earth or heaven or cats--whatever the subject, artists are fascinating because they see things and want to express them to other people. They feel compelled to share what they see.
Last weekend I was in a cute little town called Fairhope, Alabama. I was walking down the streets, window-shopping, when I passed a barber shop with a great big window. In that window sat the reddest-haired boy I'd ever seen with the barber poised, scissors in hand, over him. The look on this boy's face--the whole scene--stopped me in my tracks. I wasn't looking at a boy in a barber shop window, I'd suddenly been transported back to a Norman Rockwell painting, back to simpler times, some would say more innocent times. It was an inspiring moment for me. You see, Norman Rockwell was an artist of his times (1894-1978). His days weren't all roses and glory, they were tough times--wars, the Great Depression, civil rights issues. But what did Norman Rockwell paint? He painted the absolute best of humanity. The quiet, sweet moments that everyone could relate to. The bits of us that were innocent and pure. He reminded us all that those parts of us still existed.

“I unconsciously decided that, even if it wasn’t an ideal world, it should be and so painted only the ideal aspects of it—pictures in which there are no drunken slatterns or self-centered mothers … only foxy grandpas who played baseball with the kids and boys who fished from logs and got up circuses in the backyard.” -- Norman Rockwell (from his official site,

Not all of my works--paintings or books--are twinkling and show the best of humanity. Many times they show the struggles we face and the triumphs of overcoming those challenges. I like to give people hope with my work because I have hope. I imagine that Norman Rockwell really did see the best in us, and for that, I thank him. For in that moment last weekend in Fairhope, Alabama, I saw in a red-headed boy's eyes all that I needed to see in this world of politicking and warfare. I saw pure hope for our future and a window into our humanity. And that's something everyone needs to be reminded of now and again.

1 comment:

Catherine West said...

I love Norman Rockwell! My sister and I visited the Norman Rockwell Museum last year and it's amazing to actually see the real paintings up close - what a talent he had!