Sunday, March 19, 2017

"I Love to Tell Stories in Pictures."

The Norman Rockwell Museum is located in the town of Stockbridge in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts. If you are a fan of this remarkable artist, as I am, it's the place to be to not only learn more about the artist but to see many of his most famous paintings "in person." They remind of us a gentler time, and as I walked through I thought more than once that I wished that I was living in that gentler time -- although as you'll see, those times weren't perfect either, as he captured details of war and racial unrest and its affects on everyday people.

"I love to tell stories in pictures," he says in the video that highlights his life. It's something he does well and is greatly meticulous in doing so.

Take the photos above and below, for example. In the photo above, the first version telling the story of a little boy running away from home, you'll note that he is in a more polished restaurant with a state trooper. (You'll also note it is unfinished -- check out the detail on the stools and the runaway knapsack and compare with the photo below).

This one is completed -- but also more "realistic." The officer is now a town officer (that detail is told in the arm patch), the diner more something like you would find in a small town. This little guy has run away from home -- but hasn't gone too far yet. And chances are, this kindly officer will return him to his home, or the friendly fountain cook will give the child's mom and dad a quiet call for a pick-up.

One of his most famous paintings was done for "Look" magazine and documents Ruby Bridges on her first day of school after desegregation, begins escorted by U.S. Marshals. Note the smashed tomato on the wall.

Another in the series tells a story of a family discovering their new neighbors. Will the children become friends? One hopes so. Will the woman peeking out of the curtain in the upper left accept the new family? One can only hope that as well.

Rockwell often used his neighbors as models and frequently worked from photos. He also, as filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock did, often put himself in the story. In the painting below you see him bringing his artwork to the newspaper in Monroe County, Iowa, young and enthused.

Rockwell stories of daily life -- a couple getting a marriage certificate...

Detail from an enormous painting of a family at the doctor's office. This was painted during war time and you can see the doctor has someone serving.

The famous telephone tree! Do you think Lily Tomlin might have taken her Ernestine costume from this painting?

And one of my favorites -- "A Day in the Life of a Girl."

We also get to see his initial sketches for that painting.

Rockwell's career included working with Boy's Life Magazine (many of his scouting paintings are at the National Boy Scout Museum in Dallas through May 2016, after which the museum will be closed; you can see more on that HERE) and the collection at Stockbridge on this topic is minimal. But you'll see many of his popular Saturday Evening Post covers in a Cover Gallery.

It was fun to see this one in person, as well as note some of the authors featured on the various  covers -- F. Scott Fitzgerald, Agatha Christie and many other famous names.

You'll also find large paintings done to illustrate stories in a variety of magazines, including this one. The story tells of a woman who takes her granddaughter on a trip into town to buy cloth for a dress. This one, as are several others in the collection, very long and narrow.

I loved this one. Always have, always will. The gentle details -- the make-up on the floor, the movie magazine, the doll tossed aside. This thoughtful study of the young girl resonates with heart and hope.

He also takes his gentle pokes at his own profession, everything from creative block... the study of art itself.

One of my favorites is actually a fairly small painting, though it is very long. It focuses on Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas.

It took Rockwell more than ten years to finish this painting and he had to add a 1960s car to update it from his original. Depicting a typical rural New England town, Stockbridge itself looks much the same.

The studio above the general store in the center of the painting was once Rockwell's studio, as was the little red building on the far right, nestled in the trees at another point in his career. You'll also see the Red Lion Inn on the right of the original photo of the full painting.

We decided to check out the town of Stockbridge after our visit (and I'll have a bit more about our visit to the museum in future posts, including the Hanna and Barbera exhibition and Rockwell's famous Four Freedoms.) We wanted to step into the Red Lion Inn, which you see on the far right of the full photo (up a couple of pictures!)

It's simply lovely. The kind of classic hotel that has nooks and crannies in the lobby and adjacent areas where you can play a game of chess, read a book or check out the art and interesting pieces of furniture and accessories.

I loved this big rocking horse!

If it wasn't mid afternoon, we might have stopped into the pub! It was charming and struck me as a classic Old English pub.

How I would have loved to go up those steps to a cozy room! Maybe someday.

There is much more to share but for now, settle into one of these paintings and make up your own story. What a writing prompt!

I'm sharing this post with Monday Social! Check out the delightful links.


  1. Gosh he was so talented. I love how he can make ordinary moments into something extraordinary with his art. That street scape is one of my favorites!!

  2. What a wonderful post, Jeanie. The images you showed were some of my favorites, although there were some that I'd never seen before. I really enjoyed the two with the boy who ran away, and how they morphed.

    The Red Lion looks like just the sort of place Rockwell might have drawn his characters from. This is a super adventure you had at both the Rockwell Museum and the town afterward. SO glad you shared this with us.

  3. What a fantastic post, loved the place you visited, and then so much of Norman Rockwell, just wonderful. Thanks for sharing! Hugs, Valerie

  4. Such lovely images dating back to an age I so love, darling Jeanie, thank you for sharing this stunning post with us !

    Wishing you a most wonderful remainder of your Sunday and new week ahead, Sweetie, with sincere thankfulness

    XOXO Dany

  5. I love Norman Rockwell and have been dying to visit the museum. Now that I have seen your lovely pics of the museum and town I will be sure not to miss it. Have a wonderful week, dear Jeanie!

  6. This was marvelous, Jeanie. What a talented, fascinating man.

  7. These photo are great and I think I need to take a little road trip to see Stockbridge. I can't believe I've never made this trip since I grew up only a little over and hour away from here. I can't wait to see more photos from your adventures. hugs-erika

  8. Your post inspired me to look up the "four freedoms." They are all in danger!


    Thanks for this inspiring post... mae at

  9. Both my older brother and sister (both artistic) had art books about Norman Rockwell. I spent hours pouring over them and this was a wonderful post, reminding me of why I loved his art so much. Thanks, Jeannie! -Jenn

  10. What a great place to visit. Thank you for taking us along!

    I think "those times" may have been better in some ways, for some people, but for others -- much worse than now. Fewer opportunities, more prejudice, more roadblocks in the way..... (Glad I don't feel the need to wear heels like that young woman working on getting a marriage license!)

    My favorite (of his work I am familiar with) is "The Problem We All Live With." This is always the image in my mind when I hear our national anthem, or look at our flag. I want so badly for our country to be about protecting the vulnerable......

  11. Jeanie, I have looked at ever picture twice. I love Norman Rockwell's work and how each painting tells a story. How I would love to visit, but thanks sweet friend for taking me along. Loved it all!

  12. Mmmmm...memories of lunches at the Red Lion Inn (great onion soup).

  13. You write a wonderful post Jeanie . . .
    I would enjoy a visit to Rockwell's Museum . . .
    I too have been a fan . . .
    The stories he tells in his art are like no other . . .
    The Artist Indeed . . .

  14. Jeanie, just as I suspected, I loved your impressions and recount of your visit to the Rockwell Museum. I purchased a framed copy of that girl in front of the mirror when we visited. It hangs in my guest bedroom. :) Thanks for sharing and yes, I do bet Lily Tomlin got her inspiration of Ernestine from that Rockwell work.

  15. I love everything about his art.
    Every one invokes a feeling..every face so real with so much personality:)
    Looks like a fun escapade.

  16. Such an amazing artist and his snippets of everyday life.

  17. The painting of Main St would be a favorite of mine too. What remarkable art! I have another blog friend that loves Norman Rockwell. I'll let her know about this post! And thank you so much for your prayers and sweet words of encouragement. They mean the world to me! Hugs, Diane

  18. Wow! I love Norman Rockwell paintings and you've shared some beauties with us.

  19. I would love going up those steps too. There were teapots there. There must have been a place to sit just up those steps for tea, I just know it. I do love this village and the museum. Your post brought back wonderful memories of visiting there some years ago. What a lovely part of the country. I really now want to go back.

  20. Dear Jeanie,
    This is where my heart is.. Rockwell is one of my favorite artists. There is a story in each painting, and all so very detailed.. I cannot remember the gentleman's name, but he used the same man for several of his paintings.
    I have always wanted to visit the Museum. What a treat that would be if one day I was able.

    Thank you so much for visiting. Lily does love the camera. This is a good thing, yes? Brit takes all her photos and she is such a good baby.
    Yep, I realized the older I get the faster time goes..

  21. What a great post Jeannie! Norman Rockwell is an American icon, his work is a visual history of our nation...thanks for sharing all these great paintings!

  22. Great post Jeanie of this classic artist and his work.
    The Red Lion sure looks inviting.
    Happy Spring to ya oxo

  23. Jeanie, you shared Rockwell and his art wonderfully. I never really looked at it before. I truly enjoyed your post. Sounds like you had a great time.

  24. I remember reading the Saturday Evening post and Look magazine as a child. I also remember my dentist and doctor had framed Norman Rockwell pictures and they were interesting to me.
    I know it was good to view all you shared in person.

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  26. Jeanie, Thank you for sharing these photos and all the information. I love Norman Rockwell's paintings. In fact we have our 2017 Norman Rockwell calendar hanging in our kitchen.

  27. Stockbridge? Are you going to share Alice's Restaurant with us? Surely they have an Alice's Restaurant!

    I don't need to go very far to start making up a story from one of the paintings. The one of the young man bringing the drawings in to the newspaper in Monroe County, Iowa? One of the towns in that county is Hiteman, where my dad was born. Several relatives lived in Albia, and the grandparents I spent so much time with ended up just one county over.

    Look at Rockwell, and you see my roots -- quite literally.

  28. What a fun post! I love the Rockwell Museum. His work is so full of goodness - sometimes taking a stand and sometimes poking some fun. The picture of the marriage certificate was appeared in the paper the day my parents were married. It has some special meaning for me.

    I have many happy memories of Stockbridge. It was fun to see this posted here and your reactions.

  29. I am such a fan of Norman Rockwell paintings, Jeanie. I've never seen some of these, thanks for sharing. I really like the girl looking in the mirror, it's interesting. What a pleasure to be able to go to this museum showing all his fantastic art work.


  30. LOVED this sooo much! TJ & I are big Norman Rockwell fans... We hope to visit Stockbridge on trip Stateside this autumn! :))) Must remember that inn to stop at! Thanks for sharing all this beauty, Jeanie ((HUGS))

  31. I'm putting Stockbridge on my list of places I need to visit. It looks charming. We have a Norman Rockwell print of a dad and two sons playing golf that I just treasure. It looks like he came and painted my husband and our boys at a certain point in time. He had such talent! Thanks for sharing this great post at Monday Social.


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