Norwegian Folkarts: Rosemaling

One of the activities my children most enjoyed about summer camp was the opportunity to explore the folk art of Rosemåling in more depth. We had been introduced to this delightful art a year or so ago when I invited one of our talented lodge members to give a presentation to Barnesklubb (Scandinavian Kid’s Club).

You ask, What is Rosemåling? If you have seen the latest Disney movie, Frozen, you are likely familiar with Rosemåling.

Rosemåling, or rosemaling, Norwegian for “decorative painting”, is the name of a form of decorative folk art that originated in the rural valleys of Norway. Rosemåling is a style of decorative painting on wood that uses stylized flower ornamentation, scrollwork, lining and geometric elements, often in flowing patterns. Many other decorative painting techniques are used such as glazing, spattering, marbelizing, manipulating the paint with the fingers or other objects, etc.

When the kids wrote home, they hinted about a project they were doing in Rosemåling class but they didn’t give any details because they wanted it to be a surprise.  When I picked them up at the conclusion of camp, I was indeed surprised. Their work was astonishing … especially for beginners!

Pictured below are the two Mangebørds they painted in class. Traditionally, Mangebørds were made by young men wishing to marry a young lady.  He would place the Mangebørd on her porch or doorway and return the following day. If the Mangebørd had been brought into the house, her reply was yes. However, if the Mangebørd was still where he had left it, her reply was no. If he wanted to marry another young woman in the future, he would have to make another Mangebørd (on a cautionary note: beware of the man with many Mangebørds).

rosemaling

Question :: Can you identify which style of Rosemaling is shown here?

Various Styles of Rosemaling:

  • Telemark
    The Telemark style is asymmetrical with a root center from which a scroll branches out with leaves and flowers that are varied and irregular. Designs are “fantasy-like” and transparent. (In recent years a shaded, opaque Telemark is preferred.)
  • Hallingdal
    Baroque scrolls and acanthus leaves wrap around a central flower. The designs are symmetrical, using opaque color and not generally shaded. Backgrounds are red, black-green, dark green, and a lighter blue-green.
  • Valdres
    Flowers are grouped in a bouquet or garland, gathered in an urn or hanging from a rope. Realistic flowers can be identified and given a name. Leaves are slender, long, s-shapes with a second s turning it at the end. Flowers grow from blue landscapes.
  • Rogaland
    In Rogaland, flowers are more important than scrolls and leaves. Tulips, stylized roses, 4 and 6-petal flowers, and the daisy pull-out are used. Designs are symmetrical. Opaque colors on dark backgrounds, and the use of cross-hatching, dots and teardrops characterize Rogaland.
  • Os
    Typically backgrounds are white or red. Designs include geometric shapes such as cubes and squares, and architectural motifs such as churches or fine houses. Flowers, both symmetrical and asymmetrical are grouped on stems. Heavy line detail on leaves. Transparent, bright colors,and saw-toothed borders are used.
  • Gudbrandsdal
    Gudbrandsdal style is an imitation of carving. Acanthus scrolls and leaves predominate in a C with an S extension. Shading gives leaves a 3-dimmensional look. The flowers used are tulips and 6 or 8-petal roses that center in the C and, again, in the S above. Often symmetrical.
  • Vest Agder
    Symmetrical and somewhat geometric. Typified by light colors on a dark background, teardrops by the dozen along the leaves and scrolls. Opaque colors, not shaded, and with red, black and white overlays are typically used. Oval flowers are split down the middle with contrasting colors.
Answer :: The Rosemaling style that is pictured above is Valdres.
 

Upon their return from camp, the kids said they wanted to explore Rosemåling in more depth and to earn the Cultural Skills pin. In Barnesklubb, we thereby kicked off the new school year with an introductory lesson.

My kids, now more knowledgeable than I, gave a short lesson to their peers about the styles of Rosemåling and then led them through a few simple strokes.

About Eva Varga

Eva is passionate about education. She has extensive experience in both formal and informal settings. She presently homeschools her two young children, teaches professional development courses through the Heritage Institute, and writes a middle level secular science curriculum called Science Logic. In addition to her work in education, she is an athlete, competing in Masters swimming events and marathons. In her spare time she enjoys reading, traveling, learning new languages, and above all spending time with her family. ♥

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