FIELD TRIP: Storytelling with Norman Rockwell

IMG_2957_2Over spring break, we took a family field trip to the Newark Museum to see the exhibit “American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell”. Organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, the exhibit chronicles Rockwell’s artistic contributions to American culture. This not-to-be-missed exhibit runs through May 26, 2014 at the Newark Museum.  Its next stop will be the Fondazione Museum in Rome, Italy, followed by a stop at the Tampa Museum of Art in Tampa, Florida.IMG_2960

This exhibit especially appealed to me because I partially credit Norman Rockwell for infusing me with a love of storytelling.  My parents owned a book of Norman Rockwell’s most famous illustrations and, as I child, I would often grab that book, curl up in my favorite wing chair, and use the illustrations as a springboard to tell myself story after story.  First, I’d pick which character I wanted to be, then I’d be off on some adventure. I literally spent hours savoring all the wonderful details in his pictures, carefully incorporating them into my stories. I never wrote any of these stories down, but they enriched my thoughts and were, in hindsight, a much better way to spend time than watching television for they made my imagination soar.

Thank you, Norman Rockwell for inspiring me with your illustrations. Now, in celebration of the power of pictures to spark storytelling, here’s a challenge for my writing friends.  (It’s good for kids too.) Ready?  If this week you find yourself stuck over what to write next, or just want a good warm up exercise, grab your favorite art book and randomly pick a picture.  Steep yourself in all the details, then let your imagination take over and write, write, write! Even if your scribblings don’t result in a new story, I think you’ll find some little gem there that could be the start of something.

Happy writing, all!

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15 thoughts on “FIELD TRIP: Storytelling with Norman Rockwell

  1. Sounds like a great exhibit! I love that photo of you! You know, writing a story to match an illustration or photo was one of my favorite activities as a child. I still have the mermaid story I wrote in fifth grade. It was based on a photo of the ocean. Thanks for reminding me. I could use some inspiration today!

  2. Laura, first I have to say how impressed I am with YOUR “self portrait” (photoshop?)!

    I’m glad you posted this, especially since I’m forwarding the info to my ex-sis-in-law who always had a thing for his work 🙂 I’ve always loved it, though never did what you did. I know there’s an artist who obviously tried to mimic Norman Rockwell’s style, and although the work was really well-done, the expressive quality that Rockwell infused into his paintings was totally lacking in the copy-cat. Just as writer’s have a unique voice, artist’s possess the same thing, only they use images rather than words 🙂

    And I just LOVE how his word affected YOU! It’s obvious your writer’s soul was inborn and certainly active throughout your life 🙂 What a gift. What a blessing 🙂

    Also, I can tell you, the few times I’ve been inspired to take the time to write first pages, it was through Kathy Temean’s blog when she would post picture prompts. It’s a GREAT way to kickstart ideas and writing. I totally agree with you! 🙂

    Thanks for the great post, Laura 🙂

  3. I’m glad you enjoyed the post! To answer your question, I have no photo-shopping skill whatsoever. My daughter snapped the picture of at the exhibit where they have the whole scene set up with props so that it looks as if you’ve entered Rockwell’s self-portrait. We took pictures of the whole family posing. It was fun.

  4. This reminds me of my son, who loves to make up stories about wordless picture books. Mr. Wuffles (Wiesner) was a recent favorite.
    Now I see this would be fun for me to do as well. Thanks for sharing about your trip!

  5. A teacher I worked with let her students choose a Normal Rockwell postcard to use as a writing prompt. They became very attached to them. I have a big book of his paintings I inherited from my mother.

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