Rockwell and Mann
An ATF focusing on
interpreting images created
by Norman Rockwell and
Put these terms on your ATF sheet
• Foreground and Background
• Rule of Thirds
• And, remember from last time
• Color (figurative and literal), Contrast
• Shape, size, spatial arrangement
Consider these composition
questions in the following picture:
• What are the compositional elements?
• What is the main focus of the image?
• How is that object framed?
• How are the other elements arranged
– In terms of foreground and background
– Horizontal and Vertical layout
– In relationship to each other
• How are color and contrast used?
• Note how your eyes move. Do they follow down
the stair railing?
The Rule of Thirds
• Divide the picture into thirds horizontally
and vertically (like a tic-tac-toe board)
• Don’t put your main subject in the center
box if you want it to look natural, like it isn’t
posed. Portraits etc. might be centered.
• Consider the intersections of the horizontal
and vertical lines good places to put your
• Check out the next slide…
Notes on Composition
• See how the main figure follows the rule of
thirds. Note the doll’s position.
• See how the girl is framed on 3 sides by
the hall railing and step she is sitting on.
• Note how the light dresses of the women
in the background also frame the girl by
contrasting with her skin tones.
• One easy story about this picture is that it’s a
holiday party (note wreath) and the girl has been
put to bed (note darker upstairs) but woken up
and wants to join the party.
• Additionally, the doll is a symbol. Dolls
symbolize childhood. Recall the position of the
doll – literally behind the girl. Thus, it functions
symbolically to show the girl is trying to put youth
behind her and join the adult world below.
• But, note, she isn’t walking down the stairs…
she isn’t ready to join them yet.
Some Possible Twists
• The girl’s family seems to be well off financially.
Maybe the girl longs for attention from parents
who leave her with maids and nannies.
• Maybe the girl is lonely, all alone in contrast to
the super-crowded party, and reinforced by the
gloomy dark upstairs.
• Maybe the bars on the railing remind us of a
cage, like childhood, that she wants out of.
• Maybe the unrealistically crowded party
represents the way an adult party looks thru the
Next Image, also Rockwell
• Look at the image and think of what you
would say about its composition
– What things are in the picture
– Color and contrast and framing
– Spatial arrangement
• The rule of thirds (and what is in the center)
• Posture of the girl and of the doll
– Texture and color of the dress and magazine
Now, try to come up with an interpretation of the
Your interpretation should be based on what you
think about what you see, how you provide
context for it from our shared cultural
background (i.e. we all kinda get what’s going on
here) and especially on the compositional
elements you’re taking note of.
The net slide has the rule of three layover.
• Note how it follows the rule of three, but also that
the picture looking out at us dead center. I’d say
this marks it as important, but not the center of
• Note the tossed-aside position of the doll and
the make-up in just about the same place as the
doll was in the other image
• The continuity of white across dress, magazine,
and into the mirror suggest something….
Photograph, by Sally Mann
• This next image is black and white. Pay
attention to contrast more than color.
• Otherwise, first get your initial reaction,
then start thinking thru the compositional
• The second following slide has the rule of
thirds overlay on it.
Questions to think about:
• How does the girl’s body language affect
• How does the image work with the rule of
• What’s up with framing?
• How is the interpretation of this picture
similar to or different from the previous 2?
Your 1-Page Assignment
• Rockwell and Mann ATF
• Choose a picture from list
– Hopper, Nighthawks
• Describe the story being told in the picture.
• Discus the compositional elements that help convey that story.
– Picasso, Geurnica
– Homer, Breezing Up
– Caillebotte, Rue de Paris
– Van Gogh, Cafe Terrace at Night
Edward Hopper, Nighthawks
Pablo Picasso, Guernica
Winslow Homer, Breezing Up
Gustav Caillebotte, Rue de Paris
Vincent Van Gogh, Café Terrace