Traditional Art – DIY Hallingdal Rosemaling

Norwegian Rosemaling is the style of traditional painting very popular in parts of America, where it is a favoured style of interior decorating, especially amongst those folk with Scandinavian heritage.

Each region, or ‘fylke’, in Norway, developed its own individual interpretation of traditional Rosemaling style and design, which initially appeared around the 18th century.

Hallingdal style on a cupboard in Geilo

History of Rosemaling

As early as the 17th century, itinerant painters brought new ideas and artistic trends from the cities of Europe into the mountains and Valleys of rural Norway, painting Renaissance and Baroque motifs on the walls of the wooden Norwegian Stave churches.

The relative geographic isolation in the Hallingdal, Telemark and Vest Agder provinces led to further development and evolution of this peasant folk art form into a highly distinctive and unique art.

Reaching its zenith in Norway during the 18th century, Rosemaling was then revived by the Norwegian peoples during a fiercely Nationalistic decorating movement in the 19th and 20th centuries, following the country’s political separation from Sweden.

A similar resurgence in Norwegian traditional painting began amongst Norwegian immigrants, living in the American Midwest, in the mid to late 20th century, and this trend continues to flourish there today.

Read more here

Hallingdal style of Rosemaling

The Halling Valley, itself, is situated in an area of southern central Norway, covering towns such as Gol, Ål and Hol and this is where one finds many examples of Hallingdal Rosemaling, appreciated and loved, even today.

Elements of Halling style can be found in the Embroidery on the Norwegian women’s national costume, (called the Bunad), in Norwegian wood carving, on hanging cupboards, and on wooden objects around the Norwegian home.

Features of this Style:

  • Hallingdal Rosemaling colours: rich, varied, exuberant and strong
  • Background colours: red/orange-red, in later years, blue and green
  • Black appeared as a background colour following influences from Telemark
  • Flowers colours: – Blue, White, or Gold on Red grounds; Red and gold on blue/ green backgrounds
  • Early Hallingdal Rosemaling had more floral elements; scrolls were minor. Over time, scrolls became a frame around which the flowers were placed, in order to achieve a sense of balance, either side of the design’s vertical axis. Scrolls still maintained a simplistic form, with little or no shading, and were heavier than the lyrical scrolls seen in the Telemark area
  • Motifs: symmetrical in round/rectangular design shapes, often depicted in mirror image split along the vertical axis
  • Round floral patterns could also be segmented into 4, 6 or 8 divisions, typically with blossoms of four or more petals
  • Leaves: large, often surrounding a central flower,  or mirror image split vertically
  • Design elements are sometimes filled in with fine, cross – hatched lines.
  • Flower shapes of Hallingdal are classified into 3 groups: circles, triangles or half circles.
Claudine Schatz

Circle Flowers

  • A circular centre is painted first and then concentric bands of colour added
  • Petals are added around the central circle in an even number, four or more, with petal length limited by the sectional diameter of the circle, and defined with liner work.
  • Ball flowers are circular flowers painted as a series of round balls surrounding a centre circle.

Triangular Flowers

  • Simple flowers with three petals, similar to a tulip; usually painted in strokes from the outside tip down to a base at the centre.
  • Blooms with more than three petals can have an oval centre, similar to a daisy.  Are  also combined into more elaborate and complex floral designs.
  • Triangular flower petal strokes can double as leaf forms.

Half circle Flowers

  • Usually are seen as larger elements within the Hallingdal design.
  • Comprise a semi-circular band of colour around a base.
  • Adorned with over strokes and details that illuminate the flower in a new way.
  • Half circles can also become petals of a flower form.


Two types are seen in Hallingdal Designs

  • Stroke – work leaves, similar to the triangle flower petals
  • Shaded leaves, which are large and heavy and used in conjunction with large round central flowers. They do have some liner work stems.


  • Scrolls may represent leaves, but take the form of C and S shapes.
  • They are not shaded or blended in Hallingdal designs.
  • Used as a frame around flowers or as a cartouche border in a band that circles a round floral motif.
  • Painted in one colour; the light source is indicated by over strokes of white/ lighter colour on the top side of the scroll.
  • Scrolls are quite tight. They are not airy and lyrical, as in pieces seen in Telemark regions

Hallingdal Rosemaling even had some features borrowed from Oriental art forms. It was although typical in many ways, also malleable to outside influences. These characteristics overlap and interlace with other Rosemaling styles, and as such, should not be used as limits or boundaries, in one’s own Rosemaling journey, but merely to establish guidelines when one is starting to study this beautiful art form.

Free Hallingdal Rosemaling Designs

Why not get a feel for Hallingdal Rosemaling by painting or colouring in this design:

Free project

Something to Ponder About

[Parts of the description of features of Hallingdal style was taken from Rosemaling in the Round by Pat Virch, 1976] 

17 thoughts on “Traditional Art – DIY Hallingdal Rosemaling”

  1. Hi Amanda. I’ve only ever been to Scandinavia one time and that was to Oslo. It was shockingly expensive there. What will you do today, Amanda. I have a guest arriving this afternoon so maybe that means a little wine and lots of chat.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have loved Rosemaling for most of my life as I’ve said before. Growing up in Germany, a version of it was prominent. I’ve tried my hand at it many years ago an hoped to get back to it one day. I’m not sure I’ll get to it again though. You never know though. Thanks for all the good information.


    1. I am so happy to hear that you not only know of, but love Rosemaling, Marlene. Europe and Scandinavia has an enormous legacy of traditional art that only can inspire those with artistic bents. I have painted on and off for the last twenty years, but around having children, working and life. That might mean I go for months without lifting a brush, but I do come back to it, eventually. I like that it is my legacy!! What style did you paint? Was it the German Bauernmalerei or Rogaland Rosemaling, which is ever so popular in the US?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I took some classes in the late 80’s but not sure anymore what the style was. It took a long time to get comfortable painting and I do miss it so much. Quilting and sewing took over after a while. I seem to find too many ways to express myself. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Andrea. Whilst it is not my moist favourite style, There are many inspiring things one could learn from Hallingdal designs. That is what look for. And all older designs can be renewed and revitalised, using the original as inspiration, don’t you think? Bringing the old to meet contemporary decor trends?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello Amanda…
    Reading your profile, seems our ancestors went to high school together. Mecklanburg, Prussia, Zakopane, Silesia. So thought you might like to see what we have done to remember our family heritage. We refer to it as architecture “from the land of the blue eyes”.

    Took ten years in the design and several more to accumulate all the components from China, Indonesia (we had 75 carvers working on our project at one point) and then the construction part.
    It’s called Zakopane in the Sierras, due to the distinct roof lines from the Polish/Slovak alpine village of the same name, but it is very much a Scandahoovian delight. With inspiration from the stavkirka of Urnes, Gol, and Heddal, to the cathedrals of Bremen and Kiev, to the rosemaling (both carving and painting) of Telemark and Hallingdal, we incorporated karveskurd, hand stacked stone work, and architectural accoutrements from both the Norsk Vikings to the Rus clans of Sweden and Finland.

    If you’d like more information, just give me a holler here in northern California.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. We seem to share a common ancestry. Perhaps we should compare DNA profiles? (LOL) What a magnificent testament your property is to your good taste. The finest way to honour one’s heritage. I can only imagine how inspiring it might be to live amongst all those treasures! You have really combined the best of the best!! Congratulations! I would love to see some more detailed photos of the Rosemaling and Viking elements, if you should wish to share them with me. Many thanks for connecting!


Everyone is important. What do you have to say?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.