These Norman Rockwell Art Projects for Kids are perfect to celebrate the all-American painter and illustrator, & remind us of simpler, happier times!
“I’ll never have enough time to paint all the pictures I’d like to.”
What’s common between President Eisenhower, Jawaharlal Nehru, Gamal Abdel Nasser, and Colonel Sanders? This does seem like a rather strange crowd, but they do have something in common – they were all painted by a celebrated American artist – Norman Rockwell!
Although Rockwell painted many major political figures in his lifetime, he is known mainly for his depictions of everyday American life. Take this painting for example:
This is one of the paintings in the ‘Four Freedoms’ series, inspired by the State of the Union Address by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The painting seems like a photo capture of a family Thanksgiving meal. Notice how everyone seems happy, and there is a general air of festivity and fun. That’s Norman Rockwell for you!
Norman Rockwell’s most famous works are the illustrations he made for a magazine called ‘The Saturday Evening Post’. His works depicted everyday American life in a fun, cheeky manner. His work became so famous and an iconic part of American culture that he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor of the United States.
With Norman Rockwell’s birthday coming up on 3rd February, we think it’s a great opportunity for kids to learn more about the celebrated artist and illustrator. To this end, we’ve rounded up some fun and fascinating Norman Rockwell art projects for kids that are sure to stir up some conversations!
10 Norman Rockwell Art Projects for Kids
Norman Rockwell started his work at a young age, with his first major job coming in when he was 18 years old. By the time he was 21, he had submitted his first illustration for the Post, after which there was no looking back! Have fun learning more about his art with this fun project from Layers of Learning.
Probably because he started early, but Norman Rockwell was a rockstar when it came to creating content – he produced over 4,000 original artworks in his lifetime! Besides illustrations for the Post, he created artwork for over 40 books, including classics like Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. See if you can find those original illustrations as you enjoy this project from A Glimmer of Light.
Since we started this list of Norman Rockwell art projects for kids with a mention of the Four Freedoms series, it seems only right to try and recreate it ourselves, with the help of this tutorial from Chalk Pastel!
Norman Rockwell read a lot, and he also studied multiple religions. He found that they all preached the same lesson, the ‘Golden Rule’ – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This is the thought behind his artwork called the Golden Rule, which features people of all ages, from different religions, races, and ethnicities. Hip Homeschool Moms inspires us to make our own version of this beautiful work of art.
Norman Rockwell was deeply patriotic, and many of his works reflect his feelings, which have been beautifully captured in this book. The book combines Rockwell’s illustrations with the verses of the song “You’re a Grand Old Flag” by George M. Cohan. The book also includes a forward by John Rockwell, Norman Rockwell’s grandson, and is a great addition to our Norman Rockwell art projects for kids.
Norman Rockwell wasn’t big on self-portraits, but when he did them, he went all the way! His famous self-portrait is called ‘Triple Self-Portrait‘ and features three versions of him – one doing the painting, one in the mirror, and one in the painting. The original painting also contained nods to artists who were experts in self-portraits – Van Gogh, Picasso, Rembrandt, and Durer. Check out this tutorial from Your Best Homeschool to make your own triple self-portrait!
It is no doubt that Rockwell owes his popularity to The Saturday Evening Post – he produced a whopping 323 illustrations over the course of 47 years! Besides the Post, he also created cover illustrations for other magazines like the Literary Digest, Leslie’s Weekly, Peoples Popular Monthly, and Life. If you’d like to try your hand at creating a magazine cover, this project from Meet the Masters should inspire you!
While Norman Rockwell is known for his fun illustrations, towards the latter part of his career, he began to create art that was more socially conscious. The Golden Rule was just the beginning – it led him to create many more paintings about serious topics like racial integration. One of the most famous ones in this genre was ‘The Problem We All Live With‘, a painting of Ruby Bridges, which was displayed in the White House when Obama was president. See if you can learn more about this painting, as you create a portrait like this one from Education.com.
Here’s a fun story to go with these Norman Rockwell art projects for kids – Rockwell wanted to enlist in the U.S. Navy during World War I, but he was rejected due to being underweight. He went home, spent the whole night gobbling up loads of bananas and doughnuts, and went to enlist the next day. He did get selected, but as a military artist! Learn more such stories about the artist with this Wordsearch from Making Art Fun.
Even though Rockwell’s work was immensely popular, he also had his critics. Their main point of criticism was that Rockwell’s art was too idealistic and far removed from real life. However, Rockwell countered this by saying, “I consciously decided that if it wasn’t an ideal world, it should be, and so painted only the ideal aspects of it.” Go ahead and color in this page from Super Coloring, which depicts the ‘ideal world’ Rockwell loved to paint.
Norman Rockwell is one of those artists who’ll instantly appeal to children, which is why we think these Norman Rockwell art projects for kids will be a huge hit with them! It’s also a nice look at how an artist’s work develops over time, and how he brings in social messaging in his art. Ask your child what message he would like to convey – you’ll get some interesting answers!