The pinhead art of Mary Ann Normandin

Artist Mary Ann Normandin used one of her husband's eyebrows to paint pictures on pinheads. During the 1950s, she got quite a lot of publicity for this. But today she seems to be entirely forgotten. In fact, I can't find any pictures of her paintings.

Asheville Citizen Times - Nov 30, 1952

Boston Globe - Nov 11, 1953

Apparently she completed four pinhead paintings — the Old Man of the Mountain, an Egyptian pyramid, an autumn scene, and a lighthouse — then she gave it up because it was too emotionally and physically demanding. A 1977 article about her work in the Boston Globe offered some details:

"It took a total of two years and 5000 hours to complete the four earlier paintings. It took me six months alone to learn how to paint between heartbeats. The slightest movement could ruin a painting."
"I started each one of those paintings about 500 times before I finally got it perfect. It wasn't a simple task..."
Her brush was a hair from her husband's eyebrow, which she still keeps in a small container.
"I would paint one thin line, then let it dry," she explained. "Then go on to the next line. The slightest mistake or wrong movement, and the painting was ruined. You'd have to wipe the pinhead clean, and start all over again."
"I completed four paintings, and tried a fifth. It was supposed to be Lincoln, but the paint blistered, and Lincoln ended up looking like Foodini The Magician, a character they had on television years ago."
"You know, I have a nightmare every once in a while. In it, one of my pins is dropped on the floor and rolls into a crack, and I'm unable to find it."
     Posted By: Alex - Mon Nov 09, 2020
     Category: Art | 1950s

She used one of her husbands eyebrows to paint pictures?
Posted by F.U.D in Stockholm on 11/09/20 at 06:31 AM
This is the sort of art that ought to be in a Ripley's Believe it or Not museum.
Posted by Patrick on 11/09/20 at 07:26 AM
Un-huh. With no optical aids. By the way, I painted a completely accurate reproduction of Rembrandt's "The Night Watch" on a pinhead.
Posted by Virtual in Carnate on 11/09/20 at 11:52 AM
I knew Mary Ann Normandin and have seen the pins. They were written up in a Ripleys publication in the 50's. She should be recognized not just for them but her amazing talent as an artist and wood carver. The town of Methuen, MA has many examples of her work including the town seal.
Posted by Bonnie Ellis on 01/02/21 at 11:57 AM
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