Skirt as Art series with Skirt Fixation: Norman Rockwell

Welcome, Skirt Fixation readers! Today I am participating in the fabulous Skirt as Art series (which is one of my very favorites). The artist I chose is one my family has loved for many years: Norman Rockwell. A few years ago I made a dress inspired by another Norman Rockwell painting (here) called “Girl at Mirror“, which, funnily enough, is the same girl in the painting I chose today (although it is a different daughter of mine modeling).

Skirt as Art: Norman Rockwell

This one is called “Triumph in Defeat” and was originally for the Saturday Evening Post. I adore it,  BUT let me tell you, it was dang near impossible to find a location to photograph it in. I decided to zoom in on the little girl in the photo, to simplify things, so that all I would need to do is find a suitable bench, and wall. I ended up shooting in two different locations, and then chose the one I liked best (which was from a local school). To make things interesting, my daughter and I made up a story about the girl in the photo, and we documented that, first.

Skirt as Art: Norman Rockwell

This is the “before” scene.

Little Mary Whalen (her actual name) was headed to school, neat and clean like her Mom liked her to be, but she rarely enjoyed. Just as she was approaching the school,  another little girl who was a known bully, knocked Mary’s books out of her hands. A great fight ensued and even though Mary got punched in the eye, and called to the Principal’s office, the other girl was taught a lesson, and would not bother her again.

Skirt as Art: Norman Rockwell

Outfit details: I sewed up a Bookworm button up by Blank Slate Patterns (affiliate link) like I have sewn before (here and here). The only change I made was to shorten the sleeves (so they could be rolled up for the photo).

Skirt as Art: Norman Rockwell

The skirt is the Betty Skirt by the Shaffer Sisters which was perfect for this pleated uniform skirt.

Skirt as Art: Norman Rockwell

Clearly, this is the “after”.

The story goes that Rockwell was having trouble painting the black eye, so he put out a call and offered $5.00 to a person with a black eye willing to sit for him. A little boy, named Tommy, from Massachusetts happened to get two black eyes while playing, and his Father drove him all the way to Vermont to sit for Rockwell. For my model, I had face paint, and photoshop.

Skirt as Art: Norman Rockwell

I have to say, getting the expression of this girl was the other challenging part of this project. Take a second to try it. Let me know how you do. It is super tricky to get right! I was trying to demonstrate it for my girl, and really could not do it. We took a whole bunch of photos, and this was the best I got. I wonder how much liberty Mr. Rockwell took with the eye and expression and how much was the ability of the model.

This was so much fun to reenact. You know I love a good challenge. The sewing part was easy, surprisingly. Thank you for joining me.

If you were to recreate a painting, which one would it be?

Now hop over to Skirt Fixation to see which painting Audrey chose to recreate!

24 thoughts on “Skirt as Art series with Skirt Fixation: Norman Rockwell

  1. Michelle~You are simply amazing! Once again you’ve surpassed all expectations. I’m so in awe of your talent…thanks for playing along with my series.

  2. What a fun read this morning. Great work Michelle and your daughters are both wonderful models.

  3. Absolutely fantastic! I love this and both those and the earlier one will be such wonderful treasures for your girls!

  4. I love it! I know you put a lot of time and thought into getting it to the right location. I think it looks very close to the original. So fun!

    1. Thanks Stacy! I cannot believe how hard it was to find a bench like that out here!! Rockwell’s world does not exist out in the West.

    1. Aw Thank you Suzanne! I love this sort of thing so much. It would have been better if I used garbage to create it, though. Hmmmm. Maybe next time!

  5. What fun and so many years later to see someone try to capture what Norman Rockwell was about, oh those many years ago. When I posed for this cover I wore a light blue corduroy skirt my mother had made for me. I was surprised to see a plaid skirt on the cover. Congratulations to the seamstress and to the lovely model! A splendid recreation.
    Mary Whalen Leonard

    1. What an honor! Thank you, Mary! I have always wondered, did you pose with both eyes open?
      It was the most challenging thing about this to recreate!
      Thank you for taking time out to look at what we did.

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