Wednesday, April 6, 2011

For The Love of the Game

I have been to the Norman Rockwell Museum five times. I used to go once a year- like a pilgrimage to Mecca. It was my way to stay connected to art, while I was a stay at home Mom, not producing any art of my own. I thought I knew all I could about this artist I loved. I was wrong.
 New sparks flew as I walked the Norman Rockwell exhibit: Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera
@ The Brooklyn Museum  exhibit 2 weeks ago. 

The exhibit was a look into Norman's process. 

Norman's - brain.

As I stood - my eyes:feasting, my heart: pitter pattering at the glimpse into his way of thinking and doing things, these words entered my brain,

"For the Love of the Game".

So the phrase is from baseball. Years and years ago- baseball players played because they loved playing. I'm sure, even today, all over the minor leagues, and sprinkled throughout the majors, you will find many who still do. Those who would play for peanuts. Those who would play for nothing. Those to whom throwing, fielding, hitting, catching- are like breathing.

Norman loved the game.

The game of Illustration.

Norman could be seen in some of the reference photos- just at the edge of the frame.. laughing, smiling - acting for the kid's in the pictures. Norman was prolific in his preparation. He did more than he had to and wound up not using a lot of his prep work. Lost in the process- he'd go more than the extra mile to see what would work better in an illustration.

Norman walked away from the Saturday Evening Post when he wanted to continue to reflect America's attitude in his work. His young man's optimism and the country's own optimism gave way in the second half of the twentieth century. Norman's attitude had changed along with America's as the 50's turned into the 60's. He made a choice to follow his instinct. Norman evolved.

Norman vocalized doubts about his own work. As he grew older, he questioned what value his career held. What contribution he made. How good was he?
He compared his work to others. He had moments of feeling "less than".

Yet - Norman painted and drew until he became too old and ill to. Norman went on to see the Brooklyn Museum hold the very first retrospective of his work in 1974. 

Whenever I hear that an artist that I admire- idolize even, doubts their own skill, my initial reaction is that it's hard to believe. How could they be so good and not realize it? It even pains me a little. 
Norman Rockwell? Self Doubter?
Then, it humanizes. I have self doubt. I compare my work to others. I question what value is there in what I create? - So I go back to thinking of the commonalities- the thrill of the process, the fun of the figuring it all out - The Love of the Game. Artists like Norman Rockwell inspire not just in the beauty of the end result- the illustration, but in the life they lived, the way they lived it - the way they moved through their lives as a creative.

I've done it for peanuts. I'd draw for nothing. The pencil and the paper are the bread and water for my soul. I love the game. Batter up.

The exhibit ends April 10th in Brooklyn! 
The museum in Stockbridge, MA is a national treasure!

Another blog about Norman from a talented painter I went to college with.

Another GREAT blog "Today's Inspiration"  - about Norman


Laura Zarrin said...

Thank you so much for this post!! I grew up idolizing Norman Rockwell. Someday I will make it to his museum! This post made me cry and came just at the right time.

Kelly Light said...

Isn't it comforting to know- we all have the same ups and downs? Keep going Laura - I'm right there with ya!

Ingvard the Terrible said...

Great post! I was just thinking about this very subject!

Casey G. said...

This post is wonderful, I got misty eyed at the end. It is incredibly hard to believe that Norman Rockwell doubted himself.

Once a friend said if you don't doubt yourself or look critically at your work you have stopped improving. It helps me through my own skeptical thoughts.