Art @ Home: Roadline Painter’s Problem

Make a New Friend: Roadline Painter’s Problem

When you make friends with a work of art at the museum, you begin a friendship that will grow and grow, just like when you make friends with a person. And, you’ll discover that whenever you spend time with your friend, you’ll learn new things about what you see and how you feel about it.

Let’s make friends with a work of art from the Colby Museum. We’re going to use a picture to get to know a work of art that might make you laugh, Roadline Painter’s Problem by Norman Rockwell.

Norman Rockwell, Roadline Painter’s Problem, 1937. Oil on canvas, 31 in. x 25 in. (78.74 cm x 63.5 cm). The Lunder Collection. Accession Number: 2013.246.

A couple of things to know about this work of art and the artist:

  • Norman Rockwell was born in 1894 in New York City; he died in 1978 in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. 
  • He worked for most of his life as an illustrator for Boy’s Life, The Saturday Evening Post, Look, and other magazines.
  • Inspired by a 1943 speech by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, he painted a series called Four Freedoms. These paintings toured the United States during World War II, as part of an effort to sell war bonds, raising more than $130 million. 
  • He used models, often his neighbors, to pose for sketches and photographs–often for hours at a time. He then used those studies to create his paintings.
  • Norman Rockwell once described his work as “sharing the America I knew and observed to others who might not have noticed.”

Artistic Inspirations

It’s great to get to know a work of art by sketching it. It helps you notice all the details, as you slow down to draw what you see. All you need is paper and a pencil to sketch what you see. 

You also could create your own work of art, inspired by the way that Norman Rockwell tells a story of the trouble a cat and dog are causing for this man. At the art Museum, we like to create art inspired by works of art in our galleries–we often do this by using similar materials or similar ideas as the artist.

With this work of art, the artist has shown us the entire story in one painting. Another way to do this is by breaking up different parts of the story into separate drawings. By doing it this way, you can actually create lots of stories by changing the order of your sequence of events.

Like most of you, we are at home, so we don’t have quite as many materials available as we would in the Museum’s studio space.

We found some old slide cases and pushed out the film to create little frames. Then, we drew little pictures–each one captures one moment in a story. We taped them to the back of the slide case to make a little picture. You also could find images from magazines to create these parts of a story.

If you don’t have old slide cases, you could create your own little pictures in frames by taking your drawings and gluing them to the front of pieces of cardboard that you’ve colored. Or, you could just hang a piece of string on the wall and attach pictures with clips so they’re easy to move around. 

However you create your work of art, you can have fun creating many different stories by arranging and rearranging your sequence of events.

Have fun being creative—we can’t wait to see how this work inspires you! Have a parent tag @ColbyMuseum on Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #ArtAtHome, and we might share your creation with our followers.

Inspiration by Kristin Bergquist, Mirken Curator of Education and Engagement