Monday, April 27, 2009

What I Did OverSpring Break & What I am Doing Now.

I know, I just got back to work from helping my husband with his eye condition and then I had another hiatus for the kids' Spring Break. My mom flew in from Chicago and had a visit while the kids were off - so I was busy busy busy - just not with drawing. I did take the family to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge MA which is art blog worthy. I had wanted to go since I found out about it and finally I had the excuse of going with someone (my mom) who would also appreciate it. The kids actually loved it too - they had a fabulous scavenger hunt for the kids to do which lessened the "I'm bored" factor.

The paintings were as fabulous as I thought they would be, if not more. Its always fun to see famous work in person and since I grew up with Norman Rockwell prints throughout my house - his work  is up there with the Sistine Chapel ceiling. The things I was most surprised about were the size of his paintings - which I knew about about but to see them large in person made that fact real. It was reassuring too - since I had decided recently when working on my portraits I would only do them life-size or right around life-size. Every minute detail in a small portrait can make or break a likeness or the emotion of the sitter. 

Another thing I noticed throughout many of his paintings was how much he pushed back lesser significant details into the background using low contrast values or desaturated colors. Take a look at the famous Thanksgiving painting by Rockwell and really look at the objects on the table and how low contrast the values are. The low contrast on the table really lets the faces pop out around it - which are the important bits. He uses this throughout his paintings with the backgrounds as well as objects. I wish I could find the boxing painting which is a really great example of desaturating the colors as well as lessening the contrast - but I can't seem to find it on the net. 

Another surprise was how on certain paintings Rockwell added an overall texture t the paint for effect. Not on certain objects - but over the entire painting. They even had a photograph of him adding this texture to a top layer of paint using a broom! 

Since my visit I am a bit obsessed with the idea of doing a modern version of the painting below complete with all the modern toys kids seem to bring along with them on car trips... I'm amassing the props now - I've got my friends car that would be perfect complete with kayak on top, my kids of course... but I need to borrow a dog from someone??? Anyway - I greatly recommend going to the NR Museum if you get a chance. 

As far as what I am doing now... I have started a still-life and should be doing several as I need to bring some to the Monadnock Gallery in Keene. I bought a bunch of produce and various items today and had a photo shoot. I'll be bringing them (washed) to class tonight... to eat not to draw. :-) 


Teresa Mallen said...

Great post Nicole. I love Norman Rockwell's work, but then who doesn't? :-) I also love your idea for a car, kids, toys and dog piece. Can't wait to see it as a wip!

Casey Klahn said...

Thanks for the museum report, Nicole. Great idea on the car painting idea - who's got a station wagon, though?

Nicole Caulfield said...

Me too Teresa! I plan on doing it s-l-o-w and B-i-g!

Casey - lots of people have that Subaru wagon here - the new version looks more SUV but still similar. My neighbor has one that is 7 years old and very station wagon like - and a kayak!