Norman Rockwell is one of the world’s most beloved illustrators likely because of his tender, funny and poignant renditions of familiar situations such as the scene he has captured in Choosin’ Up. His art makes us smile perhaps not so much because it is exactly what life is like but because it is what we would like life to be like and what we imagine it was like in the by-gone days when times were gentler or so we like to think!
Norman Rockwell drew from real life models and often, especially early on, he drew pictures of children as he worked almost exclusively for children’s magazines. As with Choosin’ Up Rockwell would first of all have to find the perfect boys and then persuade them to model for him (not an easy task especially when they just wanted to be playing ball and not standing still for fifty cents an hour!) He also had to find the right dog (like the one we see poking his head between the two little guys on the right). He claims to have chased more dogs all over town than dog catchers. Finding them was nothing compared to posing them though.
In the case of Choosin Up’, he had to make not just one but four little boys stand still long enough to capture that intense moment of picking who goes up to bat first. Not an easy job but very few have ever captured those precise moments of childhood the way Norman Rockwell has. You can almost hear the kids as they hold their breath just waiting to see who the lucky one will be. Also, even though the boys are standing still you can feel the little boy energy just waiting to burst out of them; with their legs a little bent it is as if they can’t wait to be running around!
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