Friday, February 7, 2014

Norman Rockwell ~ May 1921

Norman Rockwell ~ The American Magazine, May 1921

"But it is not enough to draw things as they actually are, declares Mr. Rockwell. Behind every drawing that means anything must be an ideal…"

The article explains what things in the picture may symbolize. I would like to add that each thing has an ideal, not through association, that is, each thing doesn't symbolize other things, but that each has it own qualities; structure, texture, color, rhythm, energy …the nature of the thing which the artist attempts to bring forth in an ideal form. The intelligent design of line, pattern, value and color.

or as Rockwell's drawing master said ~

Once in a life class George Bridgman said to me, "My boy, you have drawn a leg, but you have missed the design of the leg." ~ Andrew Loomis, Eye of the Painter 


  1. Yes, but have you considered just how form means? Why is it that muscular structure is significant? If it is only significant as a method of achieving a more illusionistic representation, then all we are talking about is being a better meat camera. "Oh, what a nice leg you've painted" is only a marginally better remark than "you've drawn a leg, but missed its design." Or, "my how well you painted that vase, that wallpaper, and that bed post." All are myopic.

    Everything takes its value from its context. Gold is worthless in a culture that doesn't decorate itself. The deepest thoughts you can have about art regard the generalities.

    1. Kev, I know that you know, plenty of legs, arms, heads, fingers, chairs, and cars have been drawn with little appreciation of there design.

      Style & degree of finish is a veneer upon the underlying knowledge. A synthesis of conceptualizations abstracted from physical/visual reality, and the ability to delineate two-dimensionally this understanding. The volume of the forms, their relationship to each other, part to part, wedging and interlocking. The linear relationship through and across the form, side to side, up and down (the form). The interweaving of the contour into the form (planes, anatomy,) from part to part. Downplaying and accentuating salient aspects of the anatomy re the action. But to transcend the merely academic the art then requires that "certain something," or risk being anemic pastiche.

      Of course this goes beyond the life-class (just a single figure,) and into picture-making. The design of a composition, shapes: interlocking, overlapping; lines flowing through the picture, interweaving from thing to thing; tones massing and scattering ……every shape is designed, constructed in relationship to the whole, so as to produce/elicit the desired effect. (Something the denizens of a certain blog fail to understand.)

  2. That's all true, but you're still talking design, not composition. Which is why I was pointing out that you still aren't considering how form means. Or for that matter; what is the nature of these "desired effects" that are to be produced or elicited compositionally, which allow us to distort drawing in good conscience.

    (Just trying to give you a gentle push in your thinking.)