Whilst working on a craft for my holiday gift venture, I purchased a Christmas book chock full of Norman Rockwell works. Although I ended up cutting up most of the pictures inside, I just had to take a flips through to bask in nostalgia. Rockwell’s paintings seem to embody the holiday season to me: a return to familial subjects in warm tones and with a playful style. There is a delightful sense of caricature here, with those slightly stretched smiles and bulging rosy cheeks, but that cartoonish air is balanced with delicate detail. The laboring over line and color gives each illustration a maturity that balances the lightness of formal exaggeration.
It is also the subjects that make the seasonal images hit home for me. The christmas trees, carolers, children playing in the snow…even the Santa Clause paintings do not exude a sense of “this is just another picture for Christmas”. Granted, I think Rockwell contributed to the start of the over-produced images in American holiday commercialism, so perhaps
he wasn’t so weighted by the now looming overcast of tired icons every Christmas season. The pictures retain a novelty about them, then. They depict simple scenes of the American family and Christmas tradition. I love how some of the pieces feature images that do not reach the side of the page, as though captured in their own little illustrated world. Everything of matter to them, everything that gives them joy, is there with them in that paper home. Oh, it makes their lives seem so simple and so pure! If only…
Happy holidays, all!