Learn English – Norman Rockwell painted ordinary American Life

Norman Rockwell is best known for his magazine covers depicting/showing American life. In this episode you’ll learn a bit about him and explore 3 of his most famous paintings.

Hey there! Do you know who Norman Rockwell is? The American painter? This picture on the screen of a barbershop is one example of many pictures that Norman Rockwell painted. He is iconic in American culture.

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Yes, Norman Rockwell. Who was he? He was an American painter who was born in……let me check…. 1894. And he died in 1978. He is famous for saying “I paint life as I would like it to be.” He represents with his art basic traditional American cultural values. And he has captured the hearts of many. 

How did Norman Rockwell become famous? He left school at the age of 14 and went to art school. And got a job, illustrating (drawing, painting) magazine covers. The first magazine cover that he painted was for a magazine for boys called Boys’ Life. It’s the magazine that goes along with the Boy Scouts of America.

He happened to have a roommate who was working for another magazine called The Saturday Evening Post. And pretty soon Norman Rockwell got a job there, painting, designing their covers. He worked for The Saturday Evening Post for four decades. A decade is 10 years and he designed covers for magazines for over 40 years. And every time his design was going to be on the cover, the magazine had to print more and more copies. Everybody loved Norman Rockwell’s art.

I’ve picked some of the most famous pictures to give you an idea. I’ll tell you somebody who you probably know and what he has said about Norman Rockwell. Have you heard of the film director, Steven Spielberg? He produced/directed Jurassic Park, the movie about sharks called Jaws and the movie about the extra-terrestrial from space called E. T. 

Here’s what Stephen Spielberg said about Norman Rockwell. Let me check…..”Norman Rockwell is the best person who has ever painted the ‘American Dream’.”

What is the ‘American Dream’? We often talk about the ‘American Dream’ as the opportunity that everybody has when they come to America to work hard, make a living and provide for their family. That’s called the ‘American Dream’. And Norman Rockwell has depicted, he has painted, he has shown the ‘American Dream’ –  ordinary, not rich, ordinary family life.

One of the most famous paintings is this one. It shows a family at a holiday around a table, and it’s probably Thanksgiving in November. You see a grandpa looking very proud. You see the grandma holding a big platter of Turkey, roast Turkey. And you see all the family members waiting: many generations, you see children, you see parents, you see some older people. 

You know it’s a special event because look at the white tablecloth. It has a crease. It has a fold. This is showing that the best times in life are with family, around food. Of course, family and food go together.

This other one is also at a mealtime. It takes place in a restaurant, a small restaurant. There’s an older woman, maybe a mom or grandma. And she and the little boy have their heads bowed. And they’re praying. We call that: “they are saying grace”. They are thanking God for the food and all the blessings of life. There are other people watching. Look at the two young men who share a table. They’re sitting at the same table. They’re watching. Then there’s a man standing up. He’s watching too. And I think it’s also a man, somebody sitting at a table toward the left front of the painting and he’s watching, as well.

The mom and the little boy are not afraid to thank God in public, in front of people.

Finally, this one of this woman. Her name is Rosie, Rosie, the Riveter. She wasn’t a real person. She was a symbol of American women during World War 2. When the men went off to the factories (when the men went off to war), women went to work in the factories. They did very important jobs, like this woman, for example. 

A riveter is a factory worker who takes a, a screw called a ‘rivet’ and the rivet fastens together two different materials, very well, very securely. People use rivets on ships and on airplanes and on boilers, different kinds of metals.

And if you look at this woman, she’s, she’s eating. She’s strong. She has her foot on a book. And the book’s title is Mein Kampf, which was a famous book written by Adolf Hitler, the bad guys in World War 2.  Nazi Germany was run by Adolf Hitler. 

Rosie, the Riveter inspired women to work and to keep up with families. They made a movie of her. There were songs, but she was imaginary, just a symbol representing women who filled, who did the jobs of men because the men were off fighting in World War 2. 

I have a question for you. What do you think? What do you imagine to Rosie, this working woman, when her husband came home from war? Did she continue to work in a factory? Did she quit and go back home? What did her husband think of her having worked? Did that bother him? I don’t know. Tell me what you think. Leave me a comment below this video.

And remember if you would like the words to this episode, just go to www.englishwithoutfear.com and there you can download the transcript. Well, that’s it for this episode. I’m Maria from English without Fear. Talk to you next time. 

(Outro: Thanks for watching. For questions or comments, here’s my email.)

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