Norman Rockwell’s Reference Photos For His Iconic Paintings Revealed

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Norman Rockwell (1894–1978) was a celebrated 20th-century American painter and illustrator, whose works became the imagery depicting everyday life in the States. It appears, Rockwell’s photo-realistic artworks were often accompanied by staged photographs which artist then used as a reference to paint his nostalgic scenes.

Storytelling is a natural part of all of Rockwell’s paintings. Often disguised, the true story would reveal itself through the smallest details which the artist always considered beforehand. Take his illustration called “Marriage Counseling” (below): the intention is clear but there are many unfolding details like the man’s black eye or even the books stacked in the shelves reading Van Eyck and Giovanni Bellini. Due to these impeccable narratives, even the reference photographs become works of art.

“There were details, accidents of light, which I’d missed when I’d been able to make only quick sketches of a setting. A photograph catches all that.”

At first, Norman Rockwell was hiring professional models but after awhile he switched to having his friends and neighbors posing for the photographs. For example, the tattooed sailor (below) was also Rockwell’s neighbor, Clarence Decker. During his career, artist produced over 4,000 original works and snapped more than 20,000 reference shots. The collection was revealed by the Norman Rockwell Museum and its curator, Ron Schick. It was also turned into a traveling exhibition and book titled “Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera”. (via NPR)

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Roberto Foddai Turns The Camera On Himself In His Dramatic, Erotic, And Comedic Self-Portraits

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It is the age of the selfie, and yet Roberto Foddai’s self-portraits feel like anything but. His images range from dramatic, erotic snapshots to costumed and posed portraits. The Photoshop manipulations he executes, notably in the “make it double!” series, are both subtle and transformative. He merges pictures of himself into the same frame, doubling the impact. Two Robertos laughing together, two lying on the same bed, and, memorably, one pleasuring his “other” self. The effects are transparent and the narrative in the pictures exists outside of their computerized genesis.

Why the costumes, the playacting and grimacing? Why two Robertos in the frame? He answers:

1. I like to be other people as I am often bored of myself.

2. It is easier to be boring in my daily life and dressing up in photographs fills the need I often have to be different.

3. I think, as Feminist and writer Carol Hanish said “The Personal is Political” so it is me in the pictures but they are often a political statement and maybe not as personal as they look.

We see Roberto Foddai as Freida Pinto. Roberto Foddai as a pink gowned ingénue. Wearing a necklace of shuttlecocks. In a swim cap, a nightgown. In underwear and red socks. Cindy Sherman’s self-portraits in disguise are called to mind, but unlike Sherman, Foddai makes very little effort to camouflage himself completely.

I always liked the idea of documenting my own life for myself. Keeping a visual diary of my life also gave me other ideas or other subjects I could work on. This is clearly a work in progress and without any doubt one of my favourite parts of my work. I often struggle with the way I look but it helps me to look at my life in a more objective way.

In many of these self-portraits Foddai is not conventionally attractive. Sweaty, with decayed looking teeth, and testicles poking through his underwear, these images are raw and unadorned. And it’s that truth in the images, in the portraits, that makes it difficult to look away.

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Cornelia Hediger’s “Doppelgänger” Self Portraits Capture Her Multiple Personalities

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Cornelia Hediger‘s series of “Doppelgänger” portraits portray contrasting aspects of her self, creating suspenseful and awkward narratives. For this series, Hediger shoots single images in the same environment and composes them in a grid. Her style of composition allows for the distortion of sizes in both space and body; the grids she uses to configure these distortions also break up her images, further reflecting the presented fractured sense of self. Hediger prefers to work alone as an artist because of the time and patience it takes to design her set and capture all of the images in just the right positions.

Of her series, Hediger says, “I was interested in exploring the concept of the Doppelgänger in a broader way. Doppelgänger in German means ‘double walker’, it is a ghostly double of a living person, an omen of death and a harbinger of bad luck. The idea of the Doppelgänger also allows me look the alter ego, the conscious mind vs the unconscious mind, inner conflicts, the duality between good and evil and split personalities – the concept gives me plenty of material to think about and work with.” (via this isn’t happiness and feature shoot)

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Figurative Paintings Of Girls Empowered By Their Own Crafty Muses

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Sean Mahan - Painting

Sean Mahan - Painting

Sean Mahan’s refreshing acrylic paintings on wood depict girls as creative spirits deeply empowered by and engaged with their own crafty muses. Unlike the classical order, where female figures were often shown as objects that inspire– here, the buzz of breathing maker is most present within the the young lady subjects themselves. Each portrait shows a confident furrowed brow or contemplative daze completely focused inward on a project at hand, unaware of the artist’s gaze. Their identities appear to be emerging from within, not dependent on an external eye.

Mahan’s collection “Invisible Threads” is up at Thinkspace Gallery in Culver City this month.

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Contemporary Paintings Of Women, Occasionally Nude, Sometimes With Food

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Megan Van Groll - Painting

Megan Van Groll paints women– mediating on the fine line between nakedness and nudity, or how these two concepts relate to freedom or identity. Likewise, from bathing in cocoa puffs to sensually brawling at a donut shop, her food motif is an interesting one, often working in tandem with the female form– provoking thoughts of fetish from the outside, but also, a much more personal and complicated binging ceremony.

Of her own craft, Groll states, “My narrative portraits of women are, at their core, a painted attempt to understand and portray how modern women create identity and meaning from the world around them. I am interested in exploring the way we perform our projected ideal personas, for ourselves and for others.”

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Paintings That Capture Sinisterly Sweet Nostalgia

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Born in Tehran, amidst the 1980s political suffering and strife, Nouar’s family fled to Germany and then the US, where she resides today. Her oil and acrylic paintings touch on vintage commercial Americana with a sinister twist– but without being too cynical. Instead, each dollop of cream or slice of pie provokes a more tempting side of advertising, where the taste of nostalgia and its childlike promises are the main indulgence.

On this theme, the artist elaborates, “I have always been completely fascinated by our massive consumer culture and often feel everything around us is a commercial, constantly manipulating us into desiring things we don’t really have a need for, or shouldn’t want in the first place.”

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Studio Visit: Marci Washington’s Paintings Tell Gothic-Romantic Tales

As part of our ongoing partnership with In The Make, Beautiful/Decay is sharing a studio visit with artist Marci Washington. See the full studio visit and interview with Marci and other West Coast artists at www.inthemake.com.

We visited Marci in her backyard studio in Berkeley. It sits just behind her home, a kind of garage/storage space that got converted into a cottage. It’s comfortable and functional, with an open feel to it. Marci is full of gusto— she talks with her hands, takes on all kinds of facial expressions, and she’s funny as hell. She enthusiastically moved through our conversations, at turns awkward and eloquent, but always unguarded and real. We talked about a lot of things, but her affinity for the landscape of the English moorlands, particularly within the context of Romantic Literature, really struck me. Those rolling, uncultivated hills covered in low-growing grass, shrouded under heavy fog and moody skies have wholly captured Marci’s imagination. And it makes sense that they have— much of what interests Marci is mirrored in that rugged, desolate scenery. In various Romantic and Gothic works of literature, the moorlands often represent mystery, mysticism, liberation, turmoil, and passion; they frequently echo the psychological state of the characters, and reveal their greatest desires and fears. Marci’s current work references not just the physical landscape of the moors, but also speaks to themes found in a lot of this kind of literature, and the universal emotions that are evoked—all those feelings and ideas that run wild with mystery, awe, darkness, terror and beauty. I think Marci is after a particular kind of mood that toes the line between terrifying and thrilling, creating a response that’s simultaneously overwhelming and invigorating. All of this plays into her sensibilities as an artist, but also as a person: her love of Edward Gorey and his eerie illustrated books, her unflinching need to feel everything very deeply, her leanings towards the bizarre and unique, and her fondness for the not-entirely-explained. It’s pretty damn amazing that come November Marci will be showing work in England, not far from the wild and lonely moors that have taken up so much of her imagination.

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Spooky (But Quirky) Graphite Sketches From Renee French

 

Renee French has been making comics for a long time. But for a few years now, she’s maintained a sketchblog full of spontaneous, faded graphite drawings that draw their appeal from creative character design and dubious narrative elements. Think of the black and white surrealist aesthetics of a Travis Louie painting, scaled and repackaged for children’s book production.

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