Main Street U.S.A. comes to life in “Hi, I’m Norman, The Story of American Illustrator Normal Rockwell,” a book that celebrates Americana at its best—folks rocking on front porches, flags waving overhead and apple pie cooling on windowsills. This stunning tribute, by Robert Burleigh, has marvelous illustrations by Wendell Minor that do Rockwell’s work proud.
The book opens with readers being invited into Rockwell’s studio by the master artist himself. He shows us the implements of his craft—his easel, paintbrushes, sketches and finished work that lines his walls. Though he always wanted to be an artist, Rockwell explains it took him years to reap the rewards of his success.
Early on, Rockwell realized he had a gift—not one like his brother—who had athletic prowess. Rockwell’s expertise lay in “…telling stories with pictures.” But even his natural born talent didn’t negate formal training, and that was tough at times, especially when his teachers would critique his drawings. “You might say I entered art school raw—and came out cooked.”
Rockwell’s big break came with “The Saturday Evening Post,” the most popular magazine of the time with its full-size, front-page illustrations. Over the years, over 300 of Rockwell’s paintings appeared in the publication. To get ideas Rockwell would doodle, a form of brainstorming that worked for him. Other times, Rockwell was inspired by what was happening in America or the world.
Rockwell “couldn’t paint ugliness…” Though he knew life “wasn’t perfect. (He’d) paint only the ideal aspect of it….my pictures showed the best of things.”
This wonderful book is a tribute to Rockwell’s life, one that will appeal to readers of all ages. Accompanying materials can be found at the back of “Hi, I’m Norman,” as well as examples of five of his paintings.