In traditional art, it was a custom to have a saying or Proverb decorating the border of a bowl, utensil or piece of furniture. Especially this is seen in the old decorative art of Norway, called Rosemaling.
The following words of wisdom were indicative of a social art history as they were penned by the artist of that time and reflected their thoughts and values. A time capsule of advice.
Norwegian Proverbs on Rosemaling Decorative Art
Here are a few to ponder:
– Alderen kjem ikkje aleine; han fører så mye med seg.
Age comes not alone; it brings so much with it.
–Det gror ikke til på veien mellon gode venner.
On the road between the homes of friends, grass does not grow.
–Ingen kan hjelp den som ikke vil hjelpe seg sjøl.
Noone can help someone who will not help him/herself
Too much cleverness is foolishness.
For mye klokskap er dårskap.
Curious to know more about Rosemaling, an art form that has experienced a Renaissance in America, particularly the Norwegian areas of the Mid-West?
Since medieval times, one of the main routes Traders and Pilgrims used to traverse Norway between Oslo and Bergen, was via the Numedal Valley, which stretches from Kongsberg in the south, to Geilo and the Hardangervidda Plateau, in the North west.
Due to this long history, Numedal has one of Norway’s most concentrated collections of medieval buildings and artefacts, comprising over 40 heritage timber buildings dating from the Middle Ages. www.visitmiddelalderdalen.no
The Norwegian Stabbur
By necessity, Norwegians had to find an effective way to store food over a long harsh winter and designed a uniquely shaped log ‘Stabbur’, or food storage house, that would prevent food from spoiling, or being eaten by mice and rats.
In latter times however, the visitor to the Numedal Valley will find that most of these historic Log buildings have been converted into authentic and traditional guest lodgings.
You can sleep the night in one of these beautiful Stabburs, some which contain walls and everyday objects that have been decorated with the traditional Norwegian Art known as Rosemaling, in a style peculiar to the Numedal Valley.
The highest number of Stabburs of any Norwegian valley are located in Numedal. And if that is not enough medieval history for you, the Valley also is home to no less than four Stave churches.
Rollag Stave Church
The Rollag Stave church is one of the better known Stave Churches in Numedal, but as all are off the main highways, they are a little hard to find. ‘Rollag Stavkirken‘ is located a few kilometres north of the village Rollag, in the Numedal Valley. It was probably originally built in the second half of the 12th century, though not all of it is original.
Initially, the church has been a simple church with a rectangular nave. First mentioned in 1425, it was rebuilt around 1660 into a cruciform church. Around 1760, the church was extended to the west.
Early Rosemaling and Hanseatic Art
The walls of Rollag Stave Church are adorned with fruit and biblical motives, which were painted in 1683, and the forerunner to the more traditional forms of Rosemaling. This was following on from the reformation. The close ties with the Hanseatic countries is exemplified in the religious figures of Mary with child, which originated in the German city of Lubeck, around the 1500’s.
The baptismal font dates from the middle ages whilst the altar dates from 1670. The blue lattice like structure in the left of the above photo is known by the archaic term which translates as: Wife’s or Widow’s ‘cage.’
Shocking as it may seem, women were seen as property in medieval times and as such, if a married Priest passed away, the next Priest assigned to that Parish, would inherit not only the Church and its land, but the Widow and any children as well! Times have changed!
This was a logo I painted and tweaked in a photo editor for my artwork. One of the reasons for visiting Norway in such depth was to study the Norwegian Rosemaling first hand, as inspiration for further artwork and fabric designs.
Forestwood is the name of my website and online shops.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Something to Ponder About
[Parts of the description of features of Hallingdal style was taken from Rosemaling in the Round by Pat Virch, 1976]
Many people feel that they are not at all artistic. Yet there are many things you can do to create artistic flourishes or decorations, on objects in your world, with a few simple household tools and very little artistic technique. If you can hammer in a nail, you could paint a primitive, and delightful, border design.
A border can provide structure to a loose, flowing design. It will frame the design which pleases the eyes’ sense of order. Not only that but a line or motif border can direct the viewer’s eyes to the rest of the design, whilst still allowing for “breathing room” – negative space around the design itself. This, in particular, applies to primitive or folk art/ traditional art.
Beginners can easily create borders by combining a few basic strokes with dots made with the handle end of a brush dipped in paint, or press a series of dots with a Q-tip cotton bud, or a worn pencil eraser to form a four or five-petaled daisy.
Here are a few ideas:
Elongate the dots made form dipping the handle of a brush into oval shapes to make flower buds.
Place two dots of paint side by side, pulling each to a point, with a fine brush or brush handle, to form a heart. Use the chisel edge of a flat brush to make carefree straight lines. These irregular lines result in a more primitive look, less rigid and more free-flowing than lines carefully painted with a liner brush.
Children can begin to develop an appreciation of border art by dabbling decorative edges on photo frames or the cover of study books. Cover the books with plain paper or card stock and arm the kids with a q tip or paintbrush as a “dotting tool.”
Rule some lines in pencil as a guide and let them create patterns in rows across the paper with Q-tips or brushes. You will be surprised as what they come up with. They are limited only by their imagination. And you can even incorporate apply a bit of mathematics at the same time, teaching division skills.
Something to remember when painting strokes and border designs is to aim for a flowing design. Otherwise, the rhythm of the design will appear disjointed and the eye will not flow smoothly from one section of the design to another.
Decorate an object with one colour and then add a solid, contrasting colour border design
A solid contrast border colour can be further embellished with geometric shapes, dots, stripes or swirls.
As your confidence and ability grows, build up each row upon row, to form an intricate border designs, based on basic shapes and form such as can be seen in this preliminary sketch below.
Rosemaling is a little known traditional art form unique to Norway and is characterized by stylized flowers and ‘c’ and ‘s’ shaped scrolls, inspired by the Renaissance and Acanthus motifs. It is a regional folk art that is timeless and dynamic.
How did Rosemaling evolve?
From rudimentary beginnings in the woodcarving decorations and religious art of the Middle Ages, Rosemaling first appeared in Norway during the Renaissance and Baroque periods of 1550 –1700. Early examples, such as stylized plant motifs and acanthus scrolls, can still be seen in the traditional Norwegian churches dating from that era. In addition, regular trading of goods, with other countries in the Hanseatic League, provided the opportunity for East Asian influences to reach the shores of Norway and this provided further inspiration and influence for development of Norwegian folk art.
International trends in religious and modern art were relatively slow to reach the rural areas of Norway, and it was only as church furniture and fittings, (manufactured by the fashion-conscious urban craftsmen), were gradually installed in the country parishes, that new designs and ideas were introduced to the country folk. Well-to-do farmers and Government officials and the fashion conscious, urban Norwegian elite were more heavily influenced by international trends in decorating and thus Rosemaling was confined mainly to the households and churches in the distant, rural Valleys of Norway.
In this relative isolation, rural Norwegian folk artists adapted the Renaissance inspired religious motifs and changed it to suit their own purposes. Over time, this folk art developed into an original style that evolved into a new art-form, with individual characteristics pertinent to each Valley. Between 1700 -1850, lavishly painted objects were often seen as status symbols. Therefore, itinerant or local folk artists were in high demand painting Rosemaling designs on cupboards, dressers, bridal trunks, saddles, harness parts, sleighs, and even clocks
The symmetrical designs of acanthus vine elements, so popular in the Renaissance era, were heavily influenced by Rococco trends from Europe, and later adapted by folk artists, finally emerging, in the Telemark region of Norway, as the distinctive ‘C’ curves and ‘S’ scroll forms, of Rosemaling, on an asymmetrical central root.
This is the very popular style that we now identify as Telemark Rosemaling.
As the twentieth century approached, Rosemaling declined in popularity and it was only the political situation in Norway that saved it from complete obscurity. Once Norway gained its independence, as a nation, there was, amongst the Norwegian public, a groundswell of interest in all things Norwegian, particularly crafts and painting. The revival continued throughout most of the 20th century and ensured Rosemaling had a promising future, both in Norway and in immigrant communities around the world, especially in the United States.
An opportunity to see the rich heritage of Norway should not be missed. By studying the Rosemaling in the Stave churches, museums and contemporary exhibitions in Norway, a folk artist can, like those painters in centuries past, become inspired to create individual masterpieces and hopefully, their own original style.
History and Art is Something Beautiful to Ponder About
If we are ever to begin to design our own art, we need an understanding of the various elements and principles of design, and how they combine to create an overall pleasing visual effect. So far, in previous posts, we have looked at Line and Shape, and how they contribute to art forms. This week, we focus on the element of ‘SPACE’ and find how it can assist to create a better design.
Week 3 – Space
Space as an element of art that refers to the area around objects: either Positive Space: that is areas occupied by an object or form and, Negative Space: the area in, between, around, or within objects. Every positive shape is surrounded by negative space.
You can further divide Negative spaces into: –
– Passive negative space – this separates visual elements, and includes things like margins and the spacing between letters, words, or lines.
-Active negative space – this draws the viewer’s eye to something, or help viewers focus on the objects that they should see, instead of making their eyes look all over the place.
Rosemaling is an art form that evolved in Norway post Renaissance. It is a stylized form that is highly parochial due to the relative isolation of the valleys in Norway. Consequently, each valley developed their own particular style adapting what the influences brought to them via itinerant artists roaming the countryside.
Some of us don’t feel very artistic, but I believe we can learn to tap into that side of us. We can start by coloring in Rosemaling designs. This develops muscle memory and our brains learn the forms, shapes and lines used in this style of art. That makes it easier when we come to reproduce our own.
These designs are for your personal use in coloring in, or to paint, in practising Rosemaling design
A simple Rosemaling flower with Telemark Scroll like leave
You can also find more images to colour on the net, like this one:
I love art but I don’t feel I am artistic; I love to draw, but don’t feel I am adept; I love to design but don’t have any technical training. What to do about it? Thanks to the World wide web, we can learn a lot more about design techniques and apply them to our art.
Every artistic piece contains some, or all, elements of design. These elements are then combined with a number of design ‘principles,’ in order to bring together an eye-pleasing, cohesive visual unit. Knowing these elements and how to use them, can make all the difference between being able to produce an eye pleasing piece of art, or a disjointed, unattractive one.
Elements and Principles of Design*
Every visual piece is comprised of certain design elements or parts which may include Line, Direction, Shape, Size, Texture, Value and Colour – in that order. Design Principles, (which I will talk about later), are applied to the elements in order to bring them together into a cohesive unit. How the principles are applied, determines the overall effectiveness of a design.
Week 1 – SHAPE
Firstly, let’s look at the element: ‘shape’ and its role in design.
“A shape is defined as a two or more dimensional area that stands out from the space next to, or around it, due to a defined or implied boundary, or because of differences of value, color, or texture. All objects are composed of shapes and all other ‘Elements of Design’ are shapes in some way.”[Kovalik and King]
Mechanical Shapes or Geometric Shapes might be the shapes drawn i,n a design, using a ruler, compass or drawing template or tool. Mechanical shapes, whether simple or complex, produce a feeling of control or order.
Organic Shapes are freehand drawn shapes that are complex and normally found in nature. Organic shapes produce a natural freer feel.
Rangoli is a traditional and transient form of art drawn in chalk by Hindu women, in southern India, on the front steps and entrances of buildings as part of a daily devotional practice. The decorations use ‘shape’ in a variety of styles and motifs which vary according to different tribal groups and festivals. There is more information about Rangoli here.
The Acanthus leaves is an organic shape used prolifically in Norwegian Rosemaling: particularly Gudbrandsdal style. Os Rosemaling frequently uses mechanical shapes such as circles and diamonds.
I am currently running a Design Sketching Challenge in a Facebook group I admin, and I’d love to extend this invitation to you, to join a blogging version of this challenge here, on our blogs. The challenge is a great way to encourage those who would like to sketch, but don’t yet have the confidence or motivation, to try.
Seeing others strive for, and share, their artistic journey can increase inspiration and awareness of one’s design skills. You never know what you are capable of, unless you try! You can opt in and out as you wish. See more about joining in below.
Here are my sketches based on the first prompt: Shape
Using organic shapes of leaves and flowers I found, in my garden, I created this sketch:
It needs further adjustment and improvement, so I try another.
Still not satisfied, my final sketch for this first prompt, comprises circles, semi-circular arches, some natural elements in the leaf like scrolls and the heart-shaped flowers. I used a simple border to frame and hold together the design in one cohesive unit.
Would you like to join me in the Design Challenge?
What you Need to Do:
Draw a 15-20 minute sketch or sketches using your own idea, or the prompt ‘shape.’
Write a post about titled Design Challenge Week 1, upload your sketch and include a link back here to Something to Ponder About
Next week I will post links to those blogs that participated.
Leave a comment here on this post, so others can find their way to your blog.
Follow me to view each week’s prompt posted on a Sunday.
Something Creative to Ponder About
* N.B. I am not a tertiary qualified Art teacher and don’t purport to be one. I have based this information on my own research and experience. I am happy to take on board further input and or any corrections, deemed necessary, by way of comments on this post.
When it comes to darning socks, almost no-one does it anymore. Cheap items and time poor couples with high disposable income, have relegated simple repairs to low priced essentials, to the pages of history books.
Shouldn’t we be overjoyed that we are freed from the yoke of menial tasks?
If so, why do I feel relaxed when making something with my bare hands; why am I so drawn to up-cycle items where possible, or feel desperate to create an individual item that was designed and made by me even though it is not so appreciated in today’s world? I am hopeful that design trends may come full circle and a retro movement will one day re- introduce hand made objects in preference to ready made, shop- purchased, mass- produced items? Or am I just ‘dreaming?’
Factory made items lack the durability and quality of hand made and not only do they not last, but are sterile and you can see them duplicated in almost every home. Is this really what we want? No need to travel except to see the difference in natural landscape as no cultural individuality will exist?
Children are not taught practical hands-on skills either at school or by their overstressed, time-poor parents, so we are fast becoming a consumer in all senses, and are no longer creating. Where will this end? Do we realise fantastic one offs such as this wood carving will no longer be obtainable?
For these reasons, and more, I am drawn to any hand-made items on my travels. For these are items usually developed from crafts, that have evolved, in a small locale and been handed down over many generations. They scream workmanship, love, beautiful, naturally-synchronous ‘form’ and function. They inspire me to create – more and more!
The Elements of Design Rhythm and Repetition. Rhythm is the repetition of design elements at regular intervals. This helps to give a composition visual harmony by creating unity in a layout.Examples include the repetition of similar shapes, colors or textures.
In the above design, you can see some various lengths of stylized acanthus leaves, in the form of ‘s’ and ‘c’ shaped scrolls, repeated throughout the design. Can you also see the repetition of floral elements: main flowers, heart shaped petals, and lilies, as well as the repetition of colour.
The Elements of Design Direction. The lines and forms that lead the viewer s eye through a composition are referred to as direction. Direction can help to create flow of how information is processed. (FLOW – rhythm in a design, everything going back to the root)
The following design has ‘flow’ and direction, but is it balanced in terms of colour?
The Elements of Design Weight. Weight refers to the contrast in thick and thin lines within a layout. Variation in visual weight can add interest to selected areas of a composition and can help draw the viewer s eye through a piece of art, emphasizing important areas of information and de-emphasizing others. (Variation in liner-work and embellishments)
The Elements of Design Contrast. Contrast refers to any variation between elements within a composition, such as difference in weight, size and texture of a composition. (Differences in sizes of flowers/scrolls/elements)
The Elements of Design Balance. Balance refers to the distribution of visual weight within a composition. Lack of balance disturbs the harmony of a composition. A work that is unbalanced visually creates tension. (Divide a round plate into 1/4s and ensure each colour in represented, and each elements in the design albeit different sizes, for rectangular designs see note re Rule of Thirds, below)
The Elements of Design. Symmetrical Balance. Symmetrical Balance is when elements are arranged in a mirror image of one another on the vertical or horizontal axis of a page. Also known as formal balance. This type of balance is often seen in the architecture of buildings.This is the most familiar type of balance to the viewer. Rogaland Rosemaling has such balance in its designs.
The Elements of Design. Asymmetrical Balance. Asymmetrical balance occurs when elements in a design are not arranged as mirror images on a page. Also known as informal balance.Can be created through the use of value, texture and size of elements within a composition.
The Elements of Design Symmetrical vs. Asymmetrical Balance Piet Mondrian, Composition in Red, Yellow, and Blue (1930)- Very dark or saturated areas of color demand attention within a composition.An area of high contrast, even at a small size, will automatically draw the viewer s eye. (Especially the colour RED) Forms placed near the edge of a page can also draw more visual attention than forms placed directly in the center of a page.
The Elements of Design The Rule of Thirds. The Rule of Thirds refers to the idea of dividing a composition into thirds based on a grid. The most important elements of the composition fall on the lines in between to create a strong composition.A slightly off center balance is more visually interesting and harmonious than an evenly centered composition.
The Elements of Design The Golden Mean. Golden Mean: Relationship between sizes that is pleasing to the human eye. This concept was first formally recognized by the ancient Greeks, and examples of the golden mean can be observed through Greek artwork and architecture. The Golden Mean or The Fibonacci Sequence is also one of the most elemental building blocks found in nature. The golden mean appears in everything from atomic structures to galaxies. Graphic designers can use these proportions to create work that instinctively looks right. The Fibonacci Sequence is also one of the most elemental building blocks found in nature. The golden mean appears in everything from atomic structures to galaxies. Graphic designers can use these proportions to create work that instinctively looks right. Proportions for the Golden Mean are based on the number Pi, in which measurements are approximately 1.618 times one another in a layout. In the example above, segment A is 1.618 times the size of segment B, and segment B is1.618 times the size of segment C.B and C added together equal the approximate length of segment A. This principle is based on the Fibonacci sequence, which is a series of numbers to denote proportions: 2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55,89,144,233, etc. Each number in this series is the sum of the two numbers proceeding it. Each number in this series is the sum of the two numbers proceeding it. Keep in mind when adding elements to a design.
The Elements of Design. Design Harmony Design Harmony: The overall effect of design that is visually unified and in which elements flow together to make a successful layout. When all the elements of design work together in tandem, harmony is achieved.[Source: http://www.slideshare.net/JenniferJanviere/design-elements%5D
Good luck and practise lots. Your designs will improve.
Doodling with a pencil or paintbrush can assist in tapping into the right side or more artistic side of your brain as the logical left brain gets silenced.
I developed a new logo for my artwork a day or so ago, whilst doing just that. As there was blobs of crappy mistakes in the original taken with snapseed, I employed the phone camera apps Picsart and Aviary to help me edit and process the photo into something better and useable.
Taken on my Nexus 4 with snapseed.
This is posted for Sallys phoneography challenge which happens each week on a Monday US Time at Sally’s blog. Join in here
A new logo for your business from a phone photo of a product….
Telemark Rosemaling is the most beautiful of Rosemaling designs or Norwegian style of folk art, of all. It is dynamic and appears to move.
One motif less commonly seen in Telemark style is Birds. Traditionally birds when used as a motif, were featured looking backward. The meaning stems from religious times in the middle ages when one had to keep a watch out for evil that might sneak up and infiltrate the frailties of the human spirit!
Some say the bird’s ability to renew its tail feathers every year was seen as a symbol of (religious) renewal and this is why the bird looks back over its shoulder.
Whatever the reason, the addition of a bird motif becomes an asymmetrical focal point in and is surprisingly easy to achieve with some basic comma strokes and flat brush highlighting and shading.
Chalk or trace the pattern on your proposed project unless you want to work freehand. It can be card, wood, canvas, prepare the palette with three values of each colour, and paint the C and S scrolls. The first value used is the medium value. Make sure you then place the shading colour (the darker value) on the inside and the highlight or lighter colour on the outside of the scroll.
If you are unsure how to make a c and s strokes there is a youtube video below
The bird, is a series of c scrolls and s strokes with embellishment of comma highlight strokes on the body. The body is one large c stroke, the tail several overlapping comma strokes. The wing is completed with very small c strokes in a highlight or white colour over the top of the blue wing.
Finally, add a few detail strokes on the bird’s body, the eye, a yellow beak and the final liner embellishments and then it is complete.
Birds are something Rosemaling artists may ponder about.