When I entered the traveling exhibit of Norman Rockwell's art to explore these paintings, I left myself open to explore. I wanted to give each painting a chance to capture me and then to move on if it failed. There were three paintings that I came back to and treasured. Those three will stay with me and be part of me. Those three I will continue to reference and use as fuel.
The first one, touched me by showing a profound moment. A little boy and his grandfather stand together looking out at the sea. They are both wearing sailor suits. The sea is sparkling and a white ship is shining in the sun in front of them. They are clearly looking at the father / son departing on great adventures. I see the life of a pursuit of values and the profound moment of contemplation of those observing this action. It is called, The Stay at Homes. Here is one link to this painting. (None of the links I found did justice to the colors or details of the paintings I saw.)
The second painting, touched me by making me laugh out load with mirth. There are jokes on so many levels as a student bends close with his magnifying glass to study the pendant on a portrait lady's breast. Her coquettish expression compared with the one in his art appreciation book and the looks from the men in the accompanying portrait combine with his clear lack of appreciation of the full, um, picture make me smile. It's a purely playful moment and my playful spirit loved it. It's called The Art Critic.
Finally, the third painting touched me by showing an inspirational moment of human achievement. Abraham Lincoln stands as a young lawyer, before he becomes president, before he grows a beard, before he is a profound, historical figure. He stands, all in white, and behind him we can see a shadowed man in shackles. We look up at Lincoln who is almost glowing in white, but he is an approachable figure that is not pristine or intimidating. One hand is formed into a powerful fist, pressing down with emphasis while the other holds an almanac. This is a moment when a man whose case was thought to be hopeless because witnesses had testified to seeing him commit the crime on a brightly lit night, is saved by Lincoln noting that, on the night in question, the moon had mostly waned and thus the man could not have been clearly seen. It is called Lincoln for the Defense.
I also enjoyed looking at each of the magazine covers Norman Rockwell painted and the paintings: The Problem We Live With, The Law Student, Artist Facing Blank Canvas, and Marry Christmas (such jolly, twinkly eyes). But, the top three are the ones that will stay with me and which I'm especially grateful to have experienced.
"Since a rational man’s ambition is unlimited, since his pursuit and achievement of values is a lifelong process—and the higher the values, the harder the struggle—he needs a moment, an hour or some period of time in which he can experience the sense of his completed task, the sense of living in a universe where his values have been successfully achieved. It is like a moment of rest, a moment to gain fuel to move farther. Art gives him that fuel; the pleasure of contemplating the objectified reality of one’s own sense of life is the pleasure of feeling what it would be like to live in one’s ideal world." - Ayn Rand