Every now and then, as artists and creative people, we run into someone or something that truly inspires us down to our core. If you’ve been lucky enough to experience this feeling, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. You’ll sort of stop in your tracks and sense that butterfly in your stomach feeling—that excitement where everything stops for a moment and you just think to yourself “wow.” Or, if you’re anything like me, you may even say out loud to no one in particular, “That is freakin’ awesome.”
As a child, my grandma would take me to these large flea markets that were set up inside of old barns. It would take us hours to drive there, but I loved every second of it. Most children would find this flea market to be extremely boring, and to be honest, I could have cared less about the actual items being sold there—I simply relished in the “feeling” I got in that place. Grandma liked to shop the outside tables, but I’d drag her into the barns and pretend to be interested in some random trinkets, just to squeeze a few extra minutes out of being inside structures that felt so ancient to me. The walls, the floors, the antiques, even the smells of these barns and old buildings made me feel like I had traveled back in time, like I was part of a different world.
And then came the day that I found the “Norman Rockwell Booth.” I’ll never forget that little space. It was partially blocked by a display case of aging sports memorabilia and set up with re-prints of Rockwell classics on tables covered in old clothes. I practically had to crawl my way into the congested booth each time I visited, but those Rockwell paintings captured the feeling that I got when I was inside those old buildings. I’d stand there staring at every detail in those pictures for as long as I could while my grandma patiently waited and chatted with the little old man that ran the booth.
Now don’t get me wrong, I was born in the 80’s so I’m not sure why as a child I felt so connected to generations and decades past, but if I were to guess, it’s because every one of those images told a story. I may not have understood every story or statement in his paintings at the time, but I loved them anyway. I found it fascinating how they could be so simple, yet so detailed at the same time.
As an adult, I still find myself charmed by Rockwell’s works. If you take one look at the paintings I guarantee you’ll understand why. The stories depicted are simple, yet strong. They invite your eyes to wander around and explore every corner of the painting in order to take in all of the incredible detail found within. Rockwell would often add several little elements into his paintings until he got every scene to look perfectly imperfect. As I began to find myself as an artist, I knew that I had to at least attempt to recreate some of his works.
In 2015, I began recreating some of my favorite Rockwell paintings as a personal project. The challenge of replicating another artist’s work and style, yet making it my own at the same time has been such a welcome change to creating my own original pieces where every idea and detail depends on me. I didn’t want this to be one of those projects that gets rushed just to have them under my belt and done. The time I’ve spent recreating these images has truly been one of the most therapeutic exercises I’ve had the pleasure to practice, and I’ve thoroughly cherished and enjoyed working on each piece.
The first image in my Rockwell-inspired tutorial series has just been released. Now you can recreate your own version of a Rockwell image when you follow along with me. I hope you enjoy recreating your image as much as I did!
"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." -Norman Rockwell