We are traveling here in the beautiful Berkshires and have had a chance to visit the Norman Rockwell Museum and studio in nearby Stockbridge.
Although he was born in New York City, Rockwell lived in the kind of small town America that he loved -- a friendly, intimate town steeped in American tradition and American values.
Rockwell selected many of his models among the residents of this small town and their faces became familiar to millions. Just as Andrew Wyeth drew on Chadds Ford and the people of the surrounding Pennsylvania countryside, Rockwell drew on his own environs.
But Rockwell also traveled the world. He journeyed throughout America and to several continents and painted what he saw.
Far from being provincial in any way, Rockwell was a worldly man who was curious about and understanding of many different cultures, traditions and beliefs. And all of this is reflected in his paintings -- IF you look closely enough. It's important to note that he was also inspired by European masters including Vermeer.
At the same time, Norman Rockwell was a businessman. He was a commercial illustrator though nonetheless a fine artist. He felt a deep responsibility to earn a living through his work -- to make a comfortable life for himself and to support his family. And he worked very hard. While standing in his studio (where everything is just as he left it) we learned that he spent time painting every day of his life -- every day, including Saturdays, Sundays, Christmas and all holidays.
This gentle, perceptive man taught us many important lessons. His ethic remains an inspiration.
Here's something that Norman Rockwell said that is worth remembering:
"Commonplaces are never tiresome. It is we who become tired when we cease to be curious and appreciative."
Norman Rockwell never tired. He never stopped being curious and appreciative. He kept faith -- not just in America but in humankind.
BTW: In future postings I will run photos from the Norman Rockwell Museum and other places that we've visited during this journey through the Berkshires.
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