“In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: It Goes On.”
Robert Frost

Friday, January 4, 2013

Winter Inspires Folk Art . . .

What do you do in the winter when you have no TV, no radio, cell phone, or PC and the only light you might have is from a lantern or from firelight? If you lived back in the 1700's in Norway, you worked on crafts like Rosemaling.

The folk art painting style called  Rosemaling (Norwegian rose/flower painting) began in Norway during the 1700’s to the late 1800’s.  It was Inspired by painted church interiors and influenced by the Baroque and Rococo styles. The locals in the rural areas, not wanting to be left out, decorated their farmhouse interiors and functional items such as trunks, bowls, and cabinets with this colorful art form.

Rosemaling on unpainted wood plate, probably from the 1950's. CraveCute
The plate above says something like, " Smorgasbords Are So Good!"

Rosemaling designs use C and S strokes and feature scrolls and flowing lines, floral designs, and subtle colors. Script lettering, scenes, figures and animals may also be included. These pieces are still admired today and I have found several of them at estate sales. The plate above is available in my shop.  Some of the other plates below have already been sold or are borrowed from my Pinterest board called Scandinavia.

This was a very old plate (1930-1940), and was covered with a lot of grime when I found it. 
I think it had been hanging in a kitchen for years. I believe this is in the Telemark style because of the predominant scroll type leaves and vines.

Rosemaling artists often worked as farmers during the summer, subsidizing their living in the winter months painting rooms and furniture for more successful farmers, receiving little more than room and board for their compensation.

                                                            photo Cathys Folk Art
      Valdres Style - New, and very ornate.

Each isolated mountain valley in Norway developed their own unique style.  Over time the styles started to merge with other Scandinavian art forms and blended with Danish and Swedish folk art. Further blending occurred in areas such as Minnesota and Wisconsin where the immigrants lived in close proximity to one another.  Rosemaling here changed somewhat and the decorative painting was often applied over plain wood as opposed to the traditional style of painting over a colored background.

This is a plate I sold last year. It is probably from the late 1950's or early 60's.
I feel that it looks like a modified version of the Valdres style.

          photo Cathys Folk Art                          New Plate in the Telemark Style

Telemark Style Rosemaling Hand painted; in Norwegian...It reads, ""Love...bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails." I Cor. 13:7 & 8a

When my husband and I stop by the Flea Markets or estate sales, we are always on the look-out for the older versions of these paintings. I find them charming and interesting and wish I could find out the stories behind them. I'm sure back in the 50's and 60's many an hour was spent during the winter months in Minnesota, lovingly painting these beautiful folk art pieces that were given as gifts or keepsakes. Rosemaling is still a lively art form and a cherished tradition today.

I will be exploring more winter fun in Minnesota in upcoming posts.


  1. These are all lovely examples, Diane. I especially like the last one you've shown. I often think about doing something other than watching tv but I don't think I've got the skills for this type of work.

    1. Don't be so hard on yourself Sulky! I am sure those paws could create some fine artwork! Notice the examples I found were much more simplified than the professional artists examples. I mean look at the first plate, the chicken (below the dancers feet),is really goofy looking, but hey it's folk art!

  2. These are beautiful. I'd probably get a lot more done around here if I had no TV, internet, computer, etc. We lost our internet for a couple of days and I was as busy as a bee!

  3. I love folk art. These plates are so beautiful :) Thanks for sharing the interesting history behind their design.

  4. I also meant to say that the internet and tv nowadays sure take valuable time away from us - like Martha, the times I've been away from these distractions were my most productive...

  5. These are really beautiful pieces of art. I'm heading over to your pinterest boards now.

  6. These are beautiful Diane. The first one is particularly special - I think it is the yellow background. There were definitely advantages to be had in the days before TV etc - people could express themselves in crafts that would last! Its also very interesting to see the connection back to Scandinavia in your part of the world. Hope the New Year has got off to a good start!

  7. I love the colors and the designs! Very beautiful!

  8. Dear Diane - how lovely. Do they have workshops or books on how to do this type of art. Looks somewhat similar to one stroke decorative painting that so many artists use today. These older versions though are so much more vibrant. Thanks for doing your homework on this subject. Hope you find many more of these treasures in the new year.

  9. Yes, Rosemaling is still taught around here and there are many books on the subject. It is similar to One Stroke and Tole painting. I love the old works the best! Thanks I hope I find many more of these older pieces!


Thank you for leaving a comment! I do read them all and will try to respond if I'm able. Please know that all comments are appreciated, I love to hear your thoughts on my posts! ~ Diane