The Imagist & the Novice - Andrew Taylor

Posted on | Monday, May 28, 2012 | 4 Comments

illustration by Andrew Taylor

The Imagist & the Novice


A casual observer may take “The Triple Self-Portrait” for a photograph, at least from afar. But, upon closer examination, you can see strokes of paint. Then an epiphany strikes like a bolt of lightning, “Dear Lord, it’s a painting!” This is the trademark of the great imagist of American illustration, Norman Rockwell.

illustration by Andrew Taylor

Rockwell was a tremendous inspiration to me as a kid in elementary school. Art class, was my favorite place because I could doodle without being harped at by my teachers. I remember one particular project in which we had to draw from laminated prints of famous paintings like da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Homer’s Snap of the Whip, and many others which I no longer recall. I gravitated to a painting called Outward Bound by Norman Rockwell of an old sailor with a small boy in a Navy uniform looking out to the sea. I imagined them to be grandfather and grandson. I think that I decided to try to draw, emphasis on try to draw, that picture because I was born in New England and loved the sea and sailing and PIRATES! I soaked up all the books on Rockwell I could find and studied every detail. In college, an assigned essay drew me once again to Rockwell where I discovered similarities between him and me: He was inspired by another artist as I had been with him.

Born in New York City in 1894, Norman Percevel Rockwell and the entire Rockwell family thrived in the city. But it was the countryside that Rockwell called “heaven” that provided a pleasant getaway and inspiration for the young artist. He found solace in painting and drawing. He found inspiration from the Golden Age American illustrators like Howard Pyle, Maxfield Parrish, and N. C. Wyeth (basically artists who attended the Brandywine School in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania). He particularly admired: J. C. Leyendecker who was famous for his advertising art (e.g. the Arrow collar company) and paintings that adorned the Saturday Evening Post (particularly during each New Year where Leyendecker painted a baby to signify the next year)--something Rockwell would go on to do after Leyendecker. Rockwell was so obsessed with Leyendecker that he even moved to New Rochelle in 1915 just to be within the vicinity of Leyendecker’s studio. A comparison of Rockwell’s early work for the Saturday Evening Post, with J. C. Leyendecker’s work, reveals an almost rigidity in the figures and brushstrokes resembling hatching and cross-hatching. Over time, Rockwell began to hone his own very detailed style as seen in the twenties and the Great Depression. Afterwards Rockwell’s stylistic and idealized paintings became what we recognize today--art riddled with details to such an extent that they take on a life of their own. Rockwell’s caricatures captured life in America at its most simplistic, most sympathetic, and even its most complicated and troublesome times. While Rockwell inspired my artistic side, he also made me want to be an all-around better person. Paintings like the one with the Golden Rule (1961) printed at the top, do unto others as you would have them do unto you, reveal a set of morals that show how the world should be, how the world should be without prejudice or racial bigotry; how the world should respect and care for one another. Rockwell tried to help the world through his paintings, be they humorous or serious. He sought civility, and I admire that. In combining both Norman Rockwell’s artistic talent and his morality, he gave us Americana at its finest.
----illustration by Andrew Taylor
Andy Taylor is a young, local artist - an inspiration! Please come back for more posts from Andy.


4 Responses to “The Imagist & the Novice - Andrew Taylor”

  1. Sharon Gerow
    May 28, 2012 at 8:08 AM

    So great to see it on our site. What a talent. I truly look forward to seeing what else he does. Sharon

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