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What Type of Medium Did Norman Rockwell Use?

Norman Rockwell was an American illustrator and painter whose popular works often depicted everyday people and current events. He used a variety of mediums for his magazine covers and illustrations, books, calendars, murals, advertisements and portraits.


Once Rockwell had an idea, he drew quick sketches (no larger than 6 inches) with a soft pencil on paper.

Rough Drafts

Next, Rockwell worked with charcoal (he preferred Fusains Rouget No. 3) on architects' detail paper (which was slightly raised, so he smoothed it with a kneaded eraser). The paper size was the same size as his final painting.

Final Painting

Then Rockwell used architects' tracing paper to transfer his final charcoal drawing onto a double-primed linen canvas or sometimes a wood panel. His paints were oil, particularly Winsor and Newton, mixed with Grumbacher's Oil Medium No. 2, using turpentine to further thin the colors. His favorite brushes were Rubens' long bristle flat brushes, and he occasionally used sable brushes for details.

Sources for Rockwell's Illustrations

Rockwell often drew directly from a setup of live people (usually from his own neighborhood) and background pieces (found anywhere from flea markets to auctions). Later in life, he had his sets photographed and then worked from the 8 by 10 prints.

Other Materials

When Rockwell traveled, he used ink, oils and watercolors. Many of his book illustrations and other black-and-white images were made with Wolff crayons (carbon pencils).

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