Searching for Inspiration

Some of the artists I love the most include a few well-known illustrators. Beatrix Potter who authored and illustrated the Peter Rabbit book series for children. Frederick Remington gave us some of the most arresting images of a romanticized American West, and last but not least the late great Norman Rockwell.

I picked up Norman Rockwell: My Adventures As An Illustrator at the local bookstore because I was seeking guidance. How did the great artists of the ages get to be great artists? The book was heavy in my hands, an autobiographical account Rockwell dictated to his son who was an aspiring author at the time. Although Rockwell has long since died, I thought his words might hold some nuggets of wisdom among the pages.

I was not disappointed.

Rockwell began his adventures of an illustrator with nothing but the desire to be the best illustrator he could be. He became dedicated to his craft to the point of obsession, and having no money, worked his way doing various odd jobs to pay his way through art school. He got his first illustration work doing portraits of people and pets in his neighborhood. He knocked on the doors of the famous and intimidating magazine and book publishers in New York City until he began to get small projects for boy's magazines and children's books. Then finally, holding a custom-made suitcase stuffed with his canvases, Rockwell pitched his work at The Saturday Evening Post magazine, the publication that would make him famous.

Rockwell's account of his early days filled me with a sense of resolve. The greats don't become great by sitting at home and worrying. They worry while they knock on the doors of opportunity all around them. As I read Rockwell's thoughts on his life, often humorous and at times surprisingly honest, I felt a kinship. Reading this book was like being able to sit in Rockwell's studio while he painted and chatted with you about what he did.

For any aspiring artist out there, or even established ones, I recommend this book for the intimate portrait it offers of a man who loved what he did and inspired so many people with his art.

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