Photo of Thomas and Norman Rockwell working on "My Adventures"

Photo of Thomas and Norman Rockwell working on “My Adventures as an Illustrator,” 1960. Photo by William Tague. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

In his 1960 autobiography, My Adventures as an Illustrator, Norman Rockwell provides a revealing chapter that documents his process of creating the iconic painting, Family Tree (1959).

Keeping with the family theme, Rockwell’s son Tom, a writer, was asked to help with the book, and in the foreword found in later editions he recalls working with his father: “He started by talking into a dictaphone all by himself in the kitchen after supper; even a book about his life and work couldn’t be allowed to interfere with his work. But he wasn’t comfortable with this arrangement, either… so finally we gave up the dictaphone and I just took notes while he talked. When I thought we had accumulated enough material, I would organize and write it up and then we would read and correct it, often adding sentences or remembering other things to put in. A lot of his memories he had already organized into stories, often funny, since he liked to be entertaining and kid himself.

Norman Rockwell Museum is fortunate to count the artist’s original dictaphone recordings as part of its permanent collection. Over the years, the Museum has served as an important resource for other authors who have written books about Norman Rockwell, and its newly digitized collection now makes the job that much easier.

Learn more about the challenges of this time-honored craft during Norman Rockwell Museum’s upcoming lecture series, “Impossible Craft: The Artist’s Biography,” to be held Thursday evenings in July, starting at 5:30 p.m. Book signings with the authors will follow each lecture.

Upcoming Lectures: 

July 10: Norman Rockwell: A Life
An evening with Norman Rockwell biographer, Laura Claridge

July 17: Cecilia Beaux: A Modern Painter in a Gilded Age
An evening with Cecilia Beaux biographer, Alice Carter

July 24: Edward Hopper: An Intimate Biography
An evening with Edward Hopper biographer, Gail Levin, Ph.D.

Purchase Norman Rockwell biographies in the Norman Rockwell Museum Store