Home » Crocker art students inspired by Norman Rockwell
Community Voice

Crocker art students inspired by Norman Rockwell

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

With facial expressions of deep concentration, absorption, creativity and pleasure as they worked, the participants in a recent Crocker Art Museum art class would have made excellent models for a Norman Rockwell painting on the personal power of making art.

In his paintings and illustrations, Norman Rockwell communicated strong emotions and stories through the vivid facial expressions of his subjects. Had Rockwell seen the faces of the artists at the Crocker class, he would have been thrilled to have them as new subjects for his works.

In conjunction with the Crocker Art Museum’s current exhibition, “American Chronicles: the Art of Norman Rockwell,” the museum offered a weekend studio art class where students employed Rockwell’s art processes and techniques in creating their own works.

The course opened with students viewing selected pieces of Rockwell’s art in the exhibition gallery. Led by Docent Education Coordinator Jill Pease, the group learned that Rockwell made many preliminary versions of his works and kept modifying them until everything on the canvas contributed to the story he was telling. Rockwell made thumbnail sketches and then took photographs of live models to capture the details of the facial features he wanted before he ever started painting.

Rockwell‘s finished works portrayed the common person in “commonplaces of America.” With the artist’s recognizable and relatable images, “You don’t need an intermediary to explain what the works mean,” described Pease.

The class then moved to a museum studio for the lab portion, led by artist and community college instructor Kristine Bybee. Bybee guided the participants in making their own sketches, thumbnail drawings and paintings using Rockwell’s techniques. With pencil, charcoal and paints, the class applied their new understanding of subject, line, shapes and color to produce their pieces.
The goal is “not to imitate, but to emulate what Norman Rockwell might have done,” explained Bybee.

Participant Ann Kerr appreciated the opportunity to “look at artwork and then try to apply what I learned, such as composition and the value of simplifying.”

Danielle Mandella and her grandmother Diana Mandella took the class together. Danielle said that her grandmother, a former museum docent, told her to “pick a class” as her Christmas present. Danielle chose the Rockwell class and was delighted to have instruction in his painting techniques. She and her grandmother were the picture of contentment as they worked side-by-side.

Bybee created a supportive and relaxed studio environment and it was not long before classmates were chatting amiably like old friends while composing their Rockwell-esque creations.

Rockwell lived from 1894 to 1978 and produced more than 4,000 works over a 60-year period. He is best known for his Saturday Evening Post magazine cover illustrations that portrayed common American life. His later work focused less on idealized life and more on social issues, such as civil rights, poverty and the Peace Corps.

A few of Rockwell’s most famous works include “The Four Freedoms” series (1943), “Going and Coming” (1947), “Saying Grace” (1951) and “The Problem We All Live With” (1964).

The Crocker Art Museum exhibition includes a wide range of the artist’s illustrations, drawings, war bond posters and magazine covers, including some works from the Norman Rockwell Museum in Massachusetts that are rarely circulated. The Crocker exhibition continues through Feb. 3.

Studio art classes are offered at the museum throughout the year. Classes include a gallery viewing, discussion and hands-on art creation and are open to artists and non-artists. A few of the upcoming classes include a new Life Drawing Open Studio, Paint Like an Art Star for kids, Mosaic Madness for adults and Embroidery Chronicles. For a complete list of classes or for more information, contact Emma Stone at (916)808-1961.

The Crocker Art Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and has extended evening hours on Thursdays. The museum is located at 216 O St. in Sacramento. A recorded message with general information can be reached at (916) 808-7000 and the Admissions desk can be reached at (916) 808-1184.xx

Support Local


Subscribe to Our
Weekly Newsletter

Stay connected to what's happening
in the city
We respect your privacy

Subscribe to Sacramento

Share via
Copy link